Plea for time on Filipino workers
Published on: Tuesday, December 03, 2019
By: Hayati Dzulkifli
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Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Foreign Worker Recruitment Agencies Association (Pappas) is appealing to the State Government and Immigration Department to extend the deadline for processing over 120,000 applications, especially Filipinos working in Sabah. 

Its President Anthony Leong T.K (pic) said they are requesting extension until next year to enable employers to complete their applications due to the problem of issuance of passports by the Philippine Embassy.

According to statistics given by the former director of State Immigration Datuk Musa Sulaiman in early July this year, a total of 123,575 applications have been submitted to the department here for the State Government’s legalisation programme from April 1 up to Sept 30, this year, whereby 90 to 95 per cent of the applications were from the 58 Pappas members.

He said more than 50 per cent of the over 120,000 applications are still with State Immigration and cannot be processed due to incomplete documents, especially providing passports for their illegal workers.

“We do not have much problem with the Indonesian workers as there is an Indonesian Consulate in Sabah which facilitates our members.

“What make the employers worried is in getting issuance of passports for their Filipino workers because the consular services from their Embassy only come once every two to three months to issue birth certificates, identification documents and passports. 

“Even then, they only stay for five days that are again limited to 100 people per day or 500 people over the five days.

“Due to these procedures, the issuance of passports for illegal Filipino workers would take some time as the approval is given by the Philippine Government in Manila,” he said.

Speaking after attending a briefing and dialogue with new State Immigration Director Dato’ Dr Muhamad Sade bin Mohamad Amin, Leong said the legalisation programme processing time was for three months’ from July until Sept 30 after applications for employers’ quota for hiring foreign workers submitted from April 1 until June 30, this year. 

Once the employers’ quota applications have been approved by the department, the employers are required to submit passports of their foreign workers for further action to process their applications at any nearby Immigration office in Sabah.

He said Musa allowed the employers to complete their applications and the department would not cancel or revoke the applications although the processing time ended on Sept. 30 because he (Musa) understood the predicament faced by the employers in getting passports for their illegal Filipino workers.

Sabah Immigration is the secretariat for a committee set up for the Legalisation Programme of Foreign Workers for Plantation and Agriculture Sectors 2019 activated on April 1, 2019 that only applies for Filipino and Indonesian workers.

Under the programme, employers can register their foreign workers who do not have passports or those who are born here and have no documents, 

Once the employers’ quota applications are approved, the employers are responsible to obtain passports for their foreign workers from their respective embassies or consulate.

“During the briefing and dialogue session with the new Director we conveyed our concern and requested for extension of time for the processing period.

“Dr Muhammad (Director) replied that he needs to refer this to the State Government as this is a State government legalisation programme.

Although the processing period ended on Sept 30 and the department never said would cancel their applications, Leong said the employers are concerned and hopeful that such action would not happen as they did not purposely delay completing their applications but were at the mercy of the Philippine embassy.

In addition, he said employers are also concerned that because of the delay by their embassy, their illegal Filipino workers live in fear for being arrested for not having valid documents.

Leong said Pappas hoped the State Government would have a government-to-government interaction with the Philippine Government to tackle the problem of issuing Philippine passports to their citizens working in Sabah such as having more frequent visits of consular services to Sabah.


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