Thursday, January 27, 2005

NR0128: DFA secretary Romulo's inaction on Malaysia

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran
News Release January 28, 2005

Rep. Beltran lashes out against DFA secretary Alberto Romulo for not lifting
a finger to help Pinoys to be deported from Malaysia beginning February 1

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today urged the House of
Representatives and the Senate to pool their collective strength and urge
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to exert all diplomatic effort to secure from
the Malaysian government an extension on the January 31 deadline it set for
the deportation of all illegal migrants, including 170,000 Filipinos.

"It's appalling that the Malaysian government has been consistently sending out
announcements, calling on neighboring governments to assist their nationals in
Malaysia to avail of the amnesty program; but clearly, the deadline is right
upon us and Filipinos are going to be deported by the thousands," he said.

He slammed Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo for his inaction. "Romulo's
on the warpath, trying to get National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief
legal adviser Jose Maria Sison deported from the Netherlands, but he hasn't
lifted a finger to secure the Filipinos about to be repatriated from Malaysia,"
he said.

Last January 25 it came out in newsreports that Malaysia will press ahead with a
controversial plan to arrest and deport hundreds of thousands of illegal
migrants on February 1.

Malaysian Home Azmi Khalid told Agence France-Presse there would be no change in
plans to deploy more than half a million Malaysian members of volunteer
neighborhood security groups to track down and detain the illegal migrants.
The Malaysian government is also seeking to prosecute all arrested undocumented
migrants under the Immigration Act prior to deportation. Those convicted under
the Act are liable to imprisonment and caning.

The Malaysian government intends to deploy the People's Volunteer Corps, an
organization of uniformed part-time volunteers with some policing powers, to
assist the regular police and immigration officials in the planned mass arrest
and detention operations. Preparations are also underway to introduce biometric
identification cards to enhance the long-term regulation of the entry and exit
of migrant workers.

Beltran said that the Malaysian government' mass deportation plans may result
in serious human rights violations. As part of continuing efforts to regulate
migration flows, Malaysia has periodically implemented "special operation" mass
expulsions within specified time frames.

"There will be clear contravention of international standards on the treatment
of detainees, unsanitary conditions and inadequate provision of food, clean
water and health care during the deportation process. What happened in 2001
when the first wave of deportation took place should not be repeated, " he
said. In 2001, hundreds of Filipinos were herded like cattle and made to fit
into ships and repatriated to the Philippines. The inhumane conditions and
various treatable illnesses that broke out victimized scores of deportees,
killing at least six children," he said.

"It is the responsibility of the Philippine government to ensure the safety and
security of Filipinos in Sabah. Philippine officials led by President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo should hasten to protect these Filipinos, and exercise
diplomatic but very firm pressure on the Malaysian government to further extend
the deadline even as the Philippines also makes preparations for the
repatriation of its nationals," Beltran said.

Beltran expressed exasperation with statements from Malaysia-based Philippine
officials that the Philippines is is not prepared to rescue and attend to the
needs of undocumented Filipino nationals. Most of the undocumented Filipinos in
Malaysia hail from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi far-flung provinces that are
among the nation's poorest provinces plagued by war.

"At all costs what happened during the 2001 Malaysian crackdown should not be
repeated," he said.

The crackdown against illegal immigrants on February 1 is already an extension
as Malaysia extended the Dec 31 deadline by a month following the Dec 26
earthquake and tsunami tragedy. The deadline was first extended from Oct 29 in
conjunction with the Indonesian President's inauguration.
There are an estimated 1.2 million illegal immigrants in Malaysia, mainly from
neighboring Indonesia and the Philippines but also from India and Bangladesh,
who are drawn by jobs in construction, plantation work and services.#


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