Aspiring president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and vice presidential candidate Sara Duterte-Carpio will tap Badjao or “sea gypsies” to guard the seas against illegal fishing should they become the country’s leaders.
For the duo, Badjaos can effectively fill the role of sea patrollers in coastal communities because they have the skills in implementing marine environment protection laws.
“Being expert fishermen, deep-sea divers, and navigators, Badjaos possess the skills to become effective ‘Bantay Dagat’ deputies,” Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio’s UniTeam alliance said Wednesday.
“Their heritage and culture have always been tied to the sea, and they can be an invaluable ally in our environmental protection efforts,” it added.
On the other hand, the alliance called on the local government units to treat Badjaos with dignity and respect as well as to prevent them from being treated harshly when they are rounded up.
“It is time for us to end this unwritten policy of exclusion against the Badjaos. They are Filipinos and deserve the opportunities available to everyone. They must be treated with respect and dignity and not herded like cattle every time they are apprehended. This kind of callous treatment must stop,” it said.
“Like most Filipinos, they [Badjaos] too aspire for a brighter future. We see livelihood and education as the two essential elements to lift them out of poverty. We commit to giving that to them. No one will be left behind. Sama-sama tayong babangon muli (We will rise up again),” it added.