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Filipino overstayers told: Go home

Published on: Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay as well as its Labor Department urged undocumented Filipino workers in Malaysia, including in Sabah, to leave in the wake of the nationwide crackdown on illegal immigrants which began on Jan. 21.

Binay said these Filipinos should seek assistance from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) to facilitate their safe journey home. They should also carry with them their respective documents like passports and work permits to avoid inconvenience during immigration operations.

At the same time, the Vice President called on Malaysia to respect the rights of Filipinos who might be arrested.

"Ensure humane treatment," Binay said in response to a report of an architect, Resty Rosales, a documented worker who complained of maltreatment following arrest in a raid recently when he failed to show proof of his status.

Rosales was released the following day after his employer, who apparently kept the documents, presented them to the authorities.

"But this should not cause panic among Filipino workers if they possess complete and authentic immigration documents," Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz added.

She assured that POLO in Malaysia is ready to assist those who may not only have documentation problems but also problems arising from their work.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said those who leave voluntarily will not be prosecuted but will have to pay the necessary fines for overstaying.

Those arrested would be detained and subjected to biometric fingerprint registration to ensure they cannot reenter under a different name.

Filipinos are also warned not to fall prey to unscrupulous individuals who claim to be able to convert their Social Visit Passes into work pass for a fee.

Embassy Consul General Medardo Macaraig said his office in Kuala Lumpur has dispatched another diplomat to Sabah to verify reports that Filipinos have been arrested in the crackdown.

"Our friends in Sabah (other Filipinos) will inform us (Embassy) of any developments," he said amid reports claiming that some 1,000 illegals arrested since Tuesday included Filipinos.

"We won't know if they are Filipinos until we are notified by the Malaysian government, see and interview them," Macaraig said.