Migrant Group Says RP-Malaysia Working Group on Migrants Workers Not Working

A fact-finding mission led by a group of overseas Filipino workers found out that the Philippine-Malaysia Working Group on Migrant Workers is not at all working.


A fact-finding mission led by a group of overseas Filipino workers found out that the Philippine-Malaysia Working Group on Migrant Workers is not at all working.

Migrante Chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado met with officials of an inter-agency committee for the said working group in Zamboanga City, October 3.

The RP-Malaysia Group on Migrant Workers was formed in 2005 amid international condemnation of abuses against deportees from Malaysia.

The group, which included Gabriela Rep Luzviminda Ilagan, and Atty. Claire Padilla of the National Union of People’s Lawyers and Engender Rights, is conducting a fact-finding mission in Zamboanga City from October 2 to October 6. The mission aims to document the plight of thousands of Filipino deportees from Sabah, Malaysia.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, 35,000 Sabah deportees arrived in Zamboanga City during the first eight months of the year. The agency is expecting that there would be more than 200,000 deportees arriving in the city by the end of 2008.

Members of the inter-agency committee are the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of National Defense, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, National Statistics Office, National Bureau of Investigation, Board of Investments and the Office of the Muslim Affairs.

Regalado said representatives from the agencies involved in the said committee didn’t even mention how the RP-Malaysia working group is working.

She said that officials of this inter-agency committee do not have coordination whatsoever with Malaysian government. “They’re functioning based on what their agencies can do without coordinating them with the government that is supposed to be their partner,” Regalado said.

The migrant leader also said member agencies of the inter-agency committee themselves are not coordinating their actions in responding to the deportation of thousands of undocumented migrant Filipino workers from Sabah, Malaysia.

“For example, the Department of Labor and Employment, which heads the committee, is only concerned with how the deported undocumented Filipinos could go back to work in Sabah. The same goes with the DFA, whose job is to process working visas so that deportees could go back to Sabah,” Regalado said.

Regalado said this is the group’s third fact-finding mission, which is looking into the plight of deportees from Sabah. The first two were held in 2002 and in 2005.

Migrante then found out that OFWs suffered inhumane treatment and sexual harassment while inside jam-packed prisons; deportees who arrived in the Philippines remained homeless and lacked livelihood support from the government; women became victims of sex trafficking; and there was a high number of migrants’ children born without documents.

Regalado said the government is again ‘putting band aid solutions to long standing problems regarding the issue.’

“The problem is that Filipinos keep coming back to Sabah because they can’t find jobs in the Philippines. They also seek refuge because of the historic and ongoing war in Mindanao,” said Regalado.

Regalado said their mission would come up with policy recommendations that will be presented to the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees, an alternative gathering of migrants protesting the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development, which is being hosted by the Philippine government on October 29-30 in Manila. (Bulatlat)

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