Cash-strapped Filipinos stranded in Malaysia

Published by rudy Date posted on March 18, 2009

AT least 40 Filipinos are stranded in Malaysia for failure to pay the penalties for overstaying, the Department of Foreign Affairs reported over the weekend.

The Filipinos cannot go back to the Philippines just yet and have taken shelter at the Filipino Workers’ Resource Center, because they have no money to pay the compound fees (overstaying penalties).

Consul General Renato Villa has raised the case of the stranded Filipinos during his meeting with Dato’ Raja Azahar bin Raja Abdul Manap, Senior Deputy and Acting Secretary General of the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Foreign Affairs said the progress made by the RP-Malaysia Working Group on Migrant Workers as well as other matters affecting Filipinos in Malaysia were discussed during the meeting.

In January of this year, the Malaysia has issued an advisory that it is set to speed up the deportation of illegal migrants under a pilot project that will see offenders handed a fine and a one-way ticket home, bypassing court and jail, because their prisons are not good enough to accommodate the illegal workers.

Philippine authorities, however, are confident that the Malaysian authorities would flush out the undocumented workers in a humane manner as previously agreed upon during the RP-Malaysia Working Group meeting in July last year in Manila. The same agreement also has provided that only those who are medically fit can be sent back to the country.

The meeting between the Philippine and Malaysian officials also came a few weeks after Vice President Noli de Castro urged the Malaysian government to help the Philippines in its continuing fight against human trafficking and prostitution.

De Castro made the appeal following reports from the Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment, which he also chairs, that several Malaysians are facilitating the deployment of local sex workers in Malaysia by providing them spurious travel documents, temporary shelters as well as funds until they start working.

He also cited the off-loading on February 9 of five Filipino women from a Kuala Lumpur-bound plane at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark, Pampanga, by officers of the Bureau of Immigration.

Immigration authorities learned that two Malaysian offered the five Pasig residents jobs at a bakeshop but in reality, they were headed to Kuala Lumpur to work as prostitutes.

De Castro, also the Presidential Adviser on Filipino Workers, said he is inclined to forge cooperation with Malaysian authorities for an immediate solution of the issue.

“These serious global concerns [human trafficking and prostitution] can be resolved easier through the collaborative effort of the two affected countries, Malaysia and the Philippines,” he said.
— Llanesca T. Panti, Manila Times

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