ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—At least 289 Filipinos arrived here from Sabah early Sunday after they were deported by Malaysian authorities.
The deportation occurred amid the “homecoming” of the followers of the Sultan of Sulu to Sabah.
Jamila Arasid, head of the Social Welfare Department Western Mindanao’s Processing Center for Displaced Persons here, said among those who arrived at around 1 a.m. Sunday were women and children on a commercial vessel from Sandakan, on the east coast of Sabah.
But Arasid clarified the deportation had nothing to do with the tension in Lahad Datu.
“They are Filipino workers or Filipinos without proper working papers previously arrested in Malaysia, jailed and their papers are completely processed for deportation to our country,” Arasid said.
But she could not explain why Malaysian authorities only decided to send them home in the aftermath of the “homecoming.”
Pepe Manaloza, 49, a baker in Lahad Datu, said a business rival (“competition”) had him arrested for not having a passport.
Manaloza, a native of Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte, had lived in Lahad Datu for 10 years before his arrest. His wife was also arrested and is now jailed somewhere in Sabah. He is worried that his 16-year-old daughter was left behind in Lahad Datu.
He said he would immediately process his passport so he can return to Sabah.
Adzlina Sibung, 26, surrendered to the Malaysian police to escape from her abusive husband. To her dismay, she and her five children were also arrested and jailed for two months. Now she wants to return to her home to Tawi-tawi.
“I really wanted to go home. My children do not deserve to grow up in jail,” Sibung said.
The last time Malaysian authorities deported illegal aliens from Sabah was in January.
Putrajaya has been deporting Filipinos accused of illegally coming to Sabah for years now although in some cases, authorities in the Malaysian state would reportedly turn a blind eye on illegal aliens.
Arasid said that for 2012, a total of 7,532 Filipinos had been sent home, 5,622 of whom were males, who worked in oil palm plantations there. But in the last quarter of 2012, some 158 children of illegal workers in Sabah had also been sent home.