DSWD to intensify services to Bajao families

LAOAG CITY — Owing to a number of homeless Bajao families roaming around the streets in this northern gateway of Luzon, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is formulating plans on how to address this problem and help them get out of poverty.

On several occasions, these Bajao families are spotted wandering in public parks, supermarkets and city streets, among others, begging for food.

In a recent consultation dialogue and focus group discussion with some Bajao families along with other representatives in Laoag, Batac, Vigan, Candon, San Fernando, Alaminos, San Carlos, and Dagupan, partner agencies were also invited such as Department of Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, Commission of Human Rights, National Economic and Development Authority and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

This convergence effort aims to collect responsive activities to improve the lives of these Bajao families living under vulnerable conditions.

According to DSWD Regional Director Marcelo Castillo, the results of these early social preparations will become the basis for appropriate interventions and help them establish a community with sustainable livelihoods in the future.

Castillo posed a challenged to partner stakeholders saying he recognizes the complex social environment of Bajaos that require an open mind and a responsive design of social protection program for them.

Hopeful Bajaos like Jerry Biri, 39, from Zamboanga City, said “Malaking pasalamat namin na may dadating na tulong sa amin, para sa amin ang gagawin ng gobiyerno para gumanda ang buhay namin (We are very grateful of this help for us to experience an improved life).”

Roaming the streets was never an easy situation. Such was what happened to Almeda Quinluman, a pregnant Bajao of four months who was teary-eyed as she recalled how they were driven away from their temporary shelter.

“Sa awa ng Diyos masaya na kaming mga Bajau at may mga nakikinig na sa amin na kagaya ng DSWD (With God’s help, we are now happy since there are already those who attend to us like the DSWD),” said Quinluman. PNA/northboundasia.com