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Jobs to discourage deportees from returning
Published on: Monday, July 06, 2020
By: Nikko Fabian
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The deportees attending a health briefing in Bongao.
Kota Kinabalu: To discourage them from illegally going back to Sabah to look for greener pasture, the Philippine government will assist returning deportees to find employment/business opportunities in their respective places.

This was the message to the first batch of deportees from Sabah upon their arrival in Bongao Tawi- Tawi on Saturday.

The deportees, comprising 351 males, 33 females, eight minors and three babies (below two years), left Sandakan Port Friday afternoon on board M/V Antonia 1.

The vessel was supposed to proceed direct to Zamboanga City but was diverted (last minute decision) to Bongao Port to disembark the deportees.

Present to welcome the returning Filipinos were National Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Task Force Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Presidential Spokesperson Sec. Harry Roque, Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael ‘Mang’ Sali and officials from different national and local government agencies and departments.

Credit: Wikipedia

During the briefing, Lorenzana told the deportees: “President Duterte wants national and local government officials to look for possible employment for the deportees or include them in the government’s livelihood programme.”

“We are now discussing the matter with Gov. Sali and other local officials of the affected provinces like Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga Peninsula and other areas of BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” said Galvez. 

All the 296 deportees from Tawi-Tawi were immediately directed to submit themselves for a 14-day quarantine at the designated Covid-19 quarantine centres (school buildings).

Tawi-Tawi still remains as the only BARMM province to be free of Covid-19. The remaining passengers who were not allowed to disembark the vessel during the short stop in Bongao proceeded to Zamboanga City Saturday evening. The first batch of deportees was part of the total 5,300 Filipino illegal immigrants held at the immigration holding centres in Sabah. 

The repatriation exercise will continue to be carried out every two weeks until all the deportees are sent home.

Meanwhile, Dakota Shipping, the agent in-charge of ferrying Filipino deportees in Sabah, thanked officials of the Sabah National Security Council (MKN), Immigration Department, police and other local government agencies and departments, and the Philippine Embassy for the smooth and orderly repatriation exercise carried out on Friday.

Dakota Chief Executive Juvy Tulipas also thanked the Sabah Government and Customs Department in Sandakan for allowing M/V Antonia 1 to load cargo during the exercise.

“The cargo has in a way helped my mother company, the Zamboanga-based Aleson Shipping Line lessen the operation cost of the special voyage exclusively for only Filipino deportees,” she said.

A representative of Aleson, who is not privy to release an official statement, said his company would appreciate if the Manila government could allocate a special budget to help subsidise the cost of every voyage in the coming trips.

“Our regular sea route is Zamboanga-Sandakan-Zamboanga. But now we have to pass Bongao before proceeding to our port of origin, which means additional fuel consumption and other expenses,” he stressed. 


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