COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Officials are drawing up contingency measures in preparation for the deportation anytime soon of about half a million undocumented Filipinos in Sabah, Malaysia.
The Regional Communications Group of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in an emailed statement, said members of the ARMM’s Task Force Basulta (Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi), and senior regional officials led by Gov. Mujiv Hataman will convene in Zamboanga City on Sept. 13 to discuss the issue.
The task force is composed of representatives from the provincial governments of the three island provinces and the ARMM’s health and social welfare secretaries.
The ARMM’s agrarian reform and the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority are also represented in the task force, organized to attend to the needs of Filipinos in Sabah and to implement programs needed to alleviate the plight of Filipinos forced to leave Sabah and return to the country by the hostilities last February between Malaysian security forces and the self-styled Army of the Sultanate of Sulu.
The ARMM’s executive secretary, Laisa Alamia, former regional human rights commissioner, presided over Wednesday an initial meeting of top officials at the Office of the Regional Governor in Cotabato City to discuss the formulation of contingency plans for the massive deportation of undocumented Filipinos in Sabah.
The September 13 meeting in Zamboanga City of members of the Task Force Basulta was prompted by a request by the Malaysian government for the ARMM to help in the expatriation process.
Alamia said they have received information that no fewer than 500,000 Filipinos in Sabah will be deported anytime by the Malaysian government.