A fact-finding mission said the Philippine government failed to protect the rights of Filipino deportees from Sabah, Malaysia.
In a statement, Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of Migrante International slammed the inter-agency committee (IAC) for not monitoring the cases of Filipino deportees.
The IAC was created by the Arroyo government through Administrative Order 116. Its mandate is to ensure the implementation of the RP –Malaysia Working Group on Migrant Workers.
“The IAC doesn’t have a report on how these deportees are arrested, jailed and deported to the Philippines, it means that it is the least of their concerns, said Regalado.
Regalado, along with other members of the Fact-Finding Mission met with representatives of the IAC, Oct. 3 in Zamboanga City.
She said the government agencies are ‘only concerned if the deportees can still work abroad.’ “How about their human rights? Regalado asked.
Regalado said the IAC does not include women and children in Sabah who do not have legal status.
She maintained that the work of Bahay-Silungan (Shelter), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) center for deportees, is ‘very palliative and very cosmetic.’ “They don’t even monitor if these children and women are physically, emotionally or psychologically fit,” said Regalado.
Meanwhile, Arleen Alonzo of the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia said that children in Sabah are deprived of their rights to education and development. “Even more in the time of crackdown, they are deprived of their basic rights like food,” Alonzo said.
Alonzo held the Philippine government responsible for the violations of children’s rights, saying that the government is a signatory to the United Nations Charter for the Rights of Children. She said that she saw five or six minors in the DSWD center, contrary to official reports of the DSWD that there are no minors in its center.
Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Luzviminda Ilagan, also part of the mission, deemed that the Commission on Human Rights should be included in the IAC to look into the human rights of the deportees.
Regalado said they will present the findings of their mission to United Nations Special Rapporteur on Migration who will be in the Philippines to attend the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees organized by Migrante International and International Migrants Alliance.
The IAMR will coincide with the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development to be hosted by the Philippine government from October 28 to 30. (Bulatlat.com)