DSWD readies for deluge of Filipinos deported from Sabah
There were children among the 203 Filipino deportees that arrived Thursday afternoon in Zamboanga City.
Roel Pareño
DSWD readies for deluge of Filipinos deported from Sabah
Roel Pareño (Philstar.com) - September 7, 2018 - 4:24pm

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development regional office in Zamboanga City is preparing to assist Filipinos deported from Sabah, where a crackdown on undocumented aliens has been announced.

Ivan Salvador, DSWD-9 information officer, said more than 200 Filipino deported from detention in Sabah arrived on a commercial ferry on Thursday afternoon.

The DSWD brought the deportees to the center for processing and assistance, he said.

The deportees — 99 men, 57 women and 47 children — are the first since a batch of 800 who arrived in August.

The DSWD has already recorded at least 7,000 Filipinos deported from Sabah since January this year, Salvador said. That number is likely to rise in light of the massive crackdown by Malaysian authorities.

The DSWD said that, based on the reports from Malaysia, there about 300,000 Filipino staying in Sabah without proper permits.

The DSWD is expecting deportees to arrive weekly.

"We are gearing up and ready to activate the task force once there will be massive arrival of deportees," Salvador said.

Sabah raids 

Malaysian authorities have been conducting raids on plantations and construction sites, where most of the undocumented migrants have been working.

"We were at the construction site when the Malaysian police arrested us," said 55-year-old Maro Palbasa.

Palbasa said he was arrested along with several minors, also undocumented, and were detained for six months.

Abdurajul Abduhalim, chief of the DSWD Processing for Displaced Persons office, said the deportees complained about the poor sanitation at the Sabah detention center, very poor quality of food, and a lack of medical assistance for sick detainees.

Palbasa said they were only served boiled eggplant and unseasoned fish.

Abduhalim confirmed two of the deportees who arrived Thursday had contracted tuberculosis and many others have rashes and skin diseases.

He said they have already placed the ill deportees in isolation and have provided medicine for the two with tuberculosis.

P9.86 million in assistance given since January

Since January this year, the DSWD Processing for Displaced Persons office has already provided P9.86 million in assistance to the 7,000 deportees brought to the center.

Broken down, the assistance went to:

  • Food (P3.87 million)
  • Fare to their places of origin (P5.68 million)
  • Personal effects like soap for deportees (P259,023)
  • Medical assistance (P20,920)
  • Clothing (P20,125)
  • Burial assistance (P7,000)

Abduhalim admitted difficulties in tracking the deportees who return to Sabah despite not having documents.

"The most that we can do while they are here, we encourage them to secure legal travel documents as we cannot really prevent them from going back because of the job opportunities there," Abduhalim said.

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