DAVAO CITY — The Philippines and Malaysia strike a deal in the deportation of 7,000 Filipino illegal immigrants detained in Sabah but no clemency will be granted to them.
This was confirmed by President Rodrigo Duterte in a press conference during his arrival at Davao International Airport at dawn Friday from a two-day visit to Malaysia.
The President said Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak even agreed to give time for the Philippine government to work on their document. He said most of them are Tausogs.
Duterte said the government will also give intervention to the Filipinos in Sabah by putting up a school and assisting on healthcare.
“Ang problema doon ang mga Filipino walang edukasyon (The problem there is that Filipinos lack education),” the President said, expressing concerns of their situation. He said the Filipinos there must be attended to by the government.
The President is also keen on asking neutral agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) to help the Philippine government in giving healthcare services for the Filipino immigrants.
“Nakakahiya naman kung sa kanila (Malaysians) na lahat (It’s embarrassing if they shoulder everything),” Duterte said.
The President said he discussed the situation of the 7,000 illegal Filipinos during a bilateral meeting with Razak in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay also confirmed this in an interview after the President’s press conference.
Yasay said the President has indeed agreed to the deportation of the 7,000 illegal Filipinos in Sabah and they will be working on their documentation.
Yasay said the education and healthcare services will not be available only for the legal immigrants but also illegal Filipinos who need government assistance.
The President said his meeting with Razak focused on the need to further strengthen the Philippines-Malaysia partnership for a safe and secure and stable region.
“As ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) brothers and maritime nations, we recognized that cooperation between our countries by the other stakeholders is key to ensure that our sea lanes are not used for illegal purposes or criminal activities,” he said.
He recalled that the signing of the Framework for Trilateral Arrangement between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines on Immediate Measures to Address Security Issues in the Maritime Areas of Common Interests showed the commitment of the two countries to explore all available options to ensure greater collaboration in the joint coordinated pursuit, the interdiction, and the arrest of criminal and terrorist plying the waterways between the two countries.
The President said the Philippines will always be unremitting in the efforts to address criminality on land, at sea, and between borders.
“We also committed to sustain the efforts to achieve just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” he added.
Now that the Philippines government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is now in the stage of implementing the peace process, Mr. Duterte emphasized Malaysia will continue to play an important role.
“The Philippines is ready to work with Malaysia and our partners interested in securing for generations of the Mindanaoans and Filipinos, a future free from fear and conflict,” Duterte said. Lilian Mellejor/PNA-northboundasia.com