The Anti Mendicancy Task Force rounded up about 40 Badjaos or “sea gypsies”, at Libertad Extension, in Bacolod City last week.
AMTF coordinator Ma. Socorro Detangco said they rescued 30 Badjaos across Police Station 6 and another group near a warehouse.
They brought them to the Reclamation Area because they wanted to return to Iloilo while some took the Ceres bus to return to Escalante and Cadiz. They paid their own boat and bus fare because they have money, she said.
Detangco said those recued across Bac-up 6 were drinking during their operation.
“They usually come to the city to beg and earn money in order to buy food. After that they just go home,” she said.
Their concern is that Badjao children climb jeepneys to ask for money by giving passengers envelopes, or by playing musical instruments. This is risky for them because they might fall off the jeeps and get run over by other vehicles, Detangco said.
“There are different groups or batches of Badjaos who come here. So our staff go around the city to monitor their presence,” she said.
Meanwhile, Detangco said Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia has a 3-year program for street dwellers, like rugby or street children. This is called the Street Dwellers Enhancement Program which was started last year.
They hope that if the output is good after three years, the program will be continued by the city, she said.
Detangco said that, under the program, the city provides these street dwellers, which they have identified, P1,000 worth of ration every month per family. If they get sick, the city provides them medical assistance worth P300 and their children are also provided educational assistance worth P500 monthly per family.
She said they encourage these mendicants to return to their homes so they could bring the food supplements being rationed to them to their families.They will also be provided livelihood programs by the city, she added.*CGS
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