The Philippines is a country where marine animals are diverse and plentiful, making it one of the biggest industries in the economy.
However, many people take this opportunity to feed their greed and abuse the natural resources.
That is why the Department of Agriculture has tapped the Badjaos in Davao City to become “guardians of the sea” in the “Bantay Laut” program.
The first batch of these people have signed up as auxiliaries, according to DA secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Pinol. Under this program, the ethnic group will be a recipient of an honorarium of P3,000 but with the condition that they will allow their children to undergo a basic literacy program.
As sea gypsies, these Badjao fishermen were given fiberglass motorized fishing boats, IDs, and radio communications equipment to help them do their duties. The next batch of Badjaos who will be drafted as "Bantay Laut" will be those from Zamboanga and Basilan.
“They will be tasked with monitoring illegal fishing activities in the seas fronting their communities and also gather garbage floating in the waters,” Pinol said.
The Badjaos or the Sama Dilaut is an ethnic group who has been neglected by the government for a long time and is looked down upon by society.
The 22-year-old Badjao Roben Abdella, who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Tawi-Tawi, is eyed to head the special project.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio “Jun” Evasco earlier said that the President is set to sign an executive order (EO) formalizing the organization of “Kilusang Pagbabago.” The draft of the EO has been forwarded to the Office of the President.
“This is part of the social agenda (malasakit) of the Duterte administration. We have to organize our people, people in the barangays should be empowered to enable them to have the capacity to evaluate their needs and capacity to identify the responses to their needs,” he said.
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