BACOLOD CITY – Another group of Badjaos who have been staying in northern Negros Occidental in the past months has returned home to Mindanao via Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental over the weekend.
On Monday, the Philippine Army released photos of the Badjaos, who are mostly from Sulu, boarding the vessel bound for Zamboanga City after traveling from the other side of the island on Saturday.
Maj. Niňo Tornalejo, executive officer of the 11th Infantry Battalion, said the assistance provided to the Badjaos shows that government respects the traditions and way of living of all cultural tribes.
Data of the Provincial Disaster Program Management Division headed by Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian showed those sent home were 94 Badjaos from Victorias City and 32 from Sagay City.
From Negros Occidental, they were transported on two buses and eight vans on the way to Dumaguete City.
Caelian said the provincial government, together with the two local government units (LGUs), facilitated the return of the Badjaos to Sulu as part of the efforts to contain the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
A leader of the Badjao community in Sagay City was earlier tested positive for the virus.
They were the second batch who traveled home amid the pandemic after 73 Badjaos, who were sheltered by the Bacolod city government, also returned to Jolo, Sulu in October.
The Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Western Visayas, through the Hatid Probinsya Program, paid for the boat fare while the two LGUs provided the Badjaos with financial assistance of P3,500 each as well as food allowance.
Some 18 others, not included in the list of the two cities, received financial assistance from the Provincial Social Welfare Development Office.
The OCD of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao has been tasked to receive the Badjaos in Zamboanga City and ensure their safe travel to Jolo. (PNA)