More Badjao ‘bakwits’ in Zambo moved to transitory site

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/31 May) – The local government has transferred another 30 Badjao families from R.T. Lim Boulevard, also known as “Cawa-Cawa” Boulevard, to the transitory site in Sitio Masepla, Barangay Mampang here.

They were among the thousands of families who were displaced during the siege in September 2013 that broke out when hundreds of Moro National Liberation Front members loyal to founding chair Nur Misuari invaded some coastal villages in this city.

Assistant City Administrator Elmeir Apolinario, who is the head of the temporary shelter cluster, said the transfer on Wednesday of the 30 families brought the population at the Masepla transitory site to 137 families since it was opened on May 14.

The transfer Wednesday came six days after 28 families were transferred last May 22 to the Masepla transitory site from Cawa-Cawa Boulevard.

Apolinario said that a total of 30 bunkhouses will be constructed in Sitio Masepla, which is a former salt bed with an area of 17 hectares, to accommodate a total of 702 families. It is located near the shoreline.

He said the transfer of internally displaced persons (IDPs) or “bakwits” have to be done gradually as the construction of the bunkhouses and other facilities such as latrines and kitchens as well as the installation of light and water are also done by phases.

The bunkhouses are being constructed by the International Organization for Migration in coordination with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, according to Apolinario.

He said the IDPs from Cawa-Cawa Boulevard, as well as some from the sports complex, will occupy the Masepla transitory site given their cultural preferences.

Latest record of the city government showed that there are still 571 families comprising of at least 2,000 individuals still staying in tents along Cawa-Cawa Boulevard.

Apolinario emphasized that the phased transfer took place after the conduct of social preparation and after ensuring that the facilities are in place.

The transfer of the remaining IDPs at the Cawa-Cawa Boulevard will be done gradually in accordance with existing laws and guidelines, Apolinario added. (MindaNews)