Philippine embassy’s passport mobile teams in Sabah until June 30
MANILA, Philippines–Filipino illegal migrants in Sabah have until the end of June to get passports through the mobile passport teams fielded there by the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
In a report to the home office, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J. Eduardo Malaya said the mobile passport processing teams would end their operations in Sabah on June 30.
That means Filipino migrants in Sabah–even those legally there–have less than two weeks to avail themselves of the services of the consular teams. After June 30, they will have to travel to Kuala Lumpur for consular services.
Malaya appealed to Filipino illegal migrants in Sabah, estimated at over 300,000, to “avail of the teams’ services to get their passports, which is one of the documentary requirements for the possible legalization of their stay.”
He said: “To facilitate the passport application of Filipino nationals in Sabah, the embassy and the mobile teams have made arrangements with their employers to streamline the requirements for passport applications.”
From Sandakan, the Sabah capital, one of the teams proceeded to Lahad Datu and “will remain there until June 26.”
Another team is based in Tawau, where it is receiving passport applications at the Tacoln Commercial Complex.
Late last year, the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources told visiting officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) there were only 35,338 documented Filipino workers in Sabah.
The same ARMM officials also learned that some 40,000 additional foreign workers, including Filipinos, were needed by the Malaysian Federal Land Development Authority in the expansion of the Southeast Asian country’s agricultural farms planted to palm oil, rubber and other value crops.
In August 2011, the online whistle-blower WikiLeaks released a confidential 2006 memo from the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur which said Filipino illegal migrants in Sabah were perceived as “especially troublesome” and a “potential security threat if they decide to become more politically active, or if parts of Mindanao become more autonomous.
The October 17, 2006 memo was issued by David Shear, then deputy chief of the US mission in the Malaysian capital.
The document quoted Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s minister of youth and sports, as having complained that the state was “flooded with foreigners,” estimated at over 750,000 in 2006.
Manjun “singled out Filipino Muslims from Mindanao as especially troublesome,” disclosed Shear.
The Sabah official also told the US embassy that Filipinos in the Malaysian state were “using our social services and not integrating into society” and that “vagrancy and violence were rampant within the Filipino community.”
Manjun “called Sabah’s maritime and land borders very porous and expressed concern that Sabah’s foreign residents were starting to become politically active. He acknowledged, however, the economic importance of Sabah’s foreign population.”
Shear also quoted Manjun as having said, “We need (Filipinos and other Southeast Asian illegal migrants) here, or our economy would collapse.”
The memo also said that Simon Sipaun, vice chair of the Suhakam, Malaysia’s human rights body, had “felt the large number of Filipinos on Sabah’s east coast represented a potential security threat if they decide to become more politically active, or if parts of Mindanao become more autonomous.”
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