Press Release
March 5, 2013


The expected influx of Filipinos from Sabah would likely be among the major problems the country would face as a result of the outbreak of violence in the Malaysian territory which makes it incumbent for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to establish a diplomatic office there, Senator Chiz Escudero said.

Escudero called on the government to immediately attend to the concerns of an estimated 800,000 Filipinos, both documented and not, amid the conflict that had erupted in Sabah.

He said the government's concern should now be the welfare of Filipinos residing in Sabah as the standoff continues between Malaysian forces and followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who crossed into the Malaysian territory to enforce a centuries-old claim of the Sulu Sultanate.

Escudero said the plight of the so-called "halaws" or Filipinos who are being deported from Sabah is a growing concern.

Over the weekend, some 289 Filipinos from Sabah arrived in Mindanao after being deported by Malaysian authorities. Most of those deported were women and children, according to a radio report.

"The deported Filipinos will be uprooted from their source of livelihood in Sabah which the government should anticipate to prevent a humanitarian disaster as more of our countrymen are sent home," Escudero said.

While Malaysian authorities have been regularly sending undocumented Filipinos home, the repatriation of Filipinos is expected to speed up after the recent bloody conflict that erupted.

Some 26 individuals from the opposing sides were reported killed as a result of the armed clashes in several parts of Sabah since last Friday.

"A diplomatic outpost will allow the government to closely monitor the transit of Filipinos out of the territory while looking into the welfare of our countrymen still in Sabah," Escudero added.

"Of immediate concern is the welfare of Filipinos who were born and raised in Sabah which is the bigger humanitarian issue that must be addressed through diplomatic channels," the senator said.

Escudero said it is about time that the government addresses the plight of Filipinos in Sabah who Malaysia refuses to grant citizenship but who are constrained to obtain a Philippine passport out of fear they will be permanently sent by Malaysian authorities home where they don't have any means of livelihood.

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