ISABEL, Leyte- The move of the government prohibiting residents to live in coastal areas has cause for the displacement of the members of the indigenous people, particularly the Badjaos.

This was asserted by Hazel Torrefiel of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), saying that this policy of the government, implemented after supertyphoon Yolanda hit the Visayas, would effectively displace the indigenous people who have been living in the seas not only as part of their way of living but due to their culture. Last week, the NCIP conducted a dialogue with about 75 Badjao families living at sitio Pasil, Barangay Marbel, this town, on post-Yolanda reconstruction and relocation plans.

The Badjaos have been living at the said coastline village for more than two decades now after they were displaced in Mindanao after a conflict broke out there.
Aside from fishing, which is their main source of income, the Badjaos sells used clothing to earn a living at the town market of Isabel.
After Yolanda hit this town, the local government unit prohibited the Badjaos to return to Marbel and reconstruct their houses, mostly in stilts, again using the no build zone policy as reason.

“The Badjaos were reluctant to move since the relocation site was too far from the coastline and from the town market where they make their living,” Torrefiel said.
Torrefiel stressed that special attention should be given to indigenous people in terms of shelter and relocation, taking into account their culture and way of life.
Their culture is intrinsically linked with the sea and the shoreline and disaster response measures should be sensitive to their culture, tradition and beliefs, she added.