Response to problems Filipino migrants face in Sabah continues: DFA
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured that problems besetting Filipinos in Sabah and other parts of Malaysia are being taken care of following reports that some nationals are having issues updating their travel and work permit documents required under the Malaysian law.
A report published Feb. 22 by Daily Express, a Malaysian newspaper, said some Filipinos relayed fears of being stranded in Sabah if the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur do not extend its consular mission services for a week.
According to the report, a team from the embassy already visited Sabah but travel document application slots are limited at 120 until Friday, Feb. 23.
Raul Dado, executive director for DFA-Office of Migrant Workers Affairs said response measure is continued and that DFA Manila is working closely with the embassy to address the issue.
Dado said there are at least 620,000 Filipinos in Malaysia.
Of this number, DFA has already issued 907 travel documents in Tawau, 1604 in Sandakan, 2062 in Kota Kinabalu and 4,573 in Sabah, Borneo as part of its intervention conducted from January to February 2018.
“The Embassy’s accomplishment in the recent issuances of travel documents, with operational support from DFA Manila, is the continuance and strengthening of immediate response measures to the perennial problem of undocumented Filipino in Sabah,” the official said in a text message.
Dado said there are about 5,000 undocumented Filipinos under immigration custody.
“As of now, some 1,000 Filipinos have been repatriated to the Philippines,” he said, adding that the effort continues. “The DFA, through the Philippine Embassy (in Kuala Lumpur) has made a commitment to do this on a regular basis.”
More than stop gap measures, he pointed out that the issuances of travel documents can be a humanitarian function until a permanent political solution is achieved on the matter of undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia.
At present, they are determining the frequency with which travel documents can be issued.
“Unissued travel documents will be the subject of continuing consular missions by the Embassy,” Dado said. “Movement by chartered ships have continued (and) this procedure is repeated as often as necessary.” (PNA)