Press Release
March 7, 2013

Cayetano: Government must prepare for possible mass deportation
of Pinoys in Sabah

Senator Alan Cayetano urged the government to prepare a specific and comprehensive program for the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah who will inevitably be affected by the rising tension between the Malaysian Royal Security Forces and the armed men of the Sultanate of Sulu.

Cayetano stressed that the government must also be prepared to protect the interests of Filipinos in other parts of Malaysia who may experience discrimination from their host country due to the standoff.

"The reports of deaths are alarming and as such, security concerns must undoubtedly be prioritized. But at the same time, we must also be prepared to address the greater ramifications of this escalating tension like the possibility of a mass deportation of Filipinos in the area," he said.

Alarming Sudden Need for Jobs

"Imagine a situation wherein we suddenly need to find jobs for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos from Sabah and Malaysia on top of the present number of unemployed Filipinos in the country," Cayetano said.

The senator raised this concern as he commended Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz's statement that the agency already has a template prepared for dealing with the deportees.

"It's good that the DOLE has a template. But using the general template for rehabilitation of deportees is not enough because the problem that will arise out of the Sabah standoff may be greater than any other situation on deportation that we have faced in the past such as those that resulted from the Arab spring uprisings. This calls for a specific and comprehensive program for immediate employment as an emergency measure for this special situation," Cayetano said.

Send Food to Tawi-Tawi Now

Cayetano was also alarmed by reports that Filipinos in Tawi-Tawi are panic buying due to the conflict and urged the government to send food to affected areas as soon as possible. "On top of the security issue, the government needs to be pro-active in addressing the basic needs of those who may not be involved in the standoff but are nevertheless affected by it because they reside in the area or contiguous areas," he said.

The senator added that the comprehensive plan of action of the government should include how to address the issue of alarming rising commodity prices in affected contiguous areas. "These have to be addressed at the same time that the security issues are being addressed because these concerns will only become greater as the tension escalates. Our government must be prepared," he said.

In the ongoing conflict, dubbed the Sabah Standoff, armed men under the service of the Sultanate of Sulu asserted their alleged claim over the contested island of Sabah. Malaysian Royal Security Forces in turn asserted Malaysia's claim. The succeeding weeks have found the two forces engaging in armed conflict resulting to the deaths of 13 Filipinos to date. The conflict has also triggered panic buying in the neighboring Philippine island of Tawi-Tawi.

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