Treat Filipinos well, Kuala Lumpur asked
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines on Friday called on Malaysia to respect the rights of Filipinos who might be arrested amid the crackdown against undocumented workers.
This developed after architect Resty Rosales, a documented overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Malaysia, complained of maltreatment following his arrest in a raid on Tuesday when he failed to show proof of his regular status.
“We respect the right of the Malaysian government to implement its immigration laws, and at the same time, we are hopeful that the authorities implementing the crackdown will adhere to the rule of law and observe proper and humane treatment of those arrested,” the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement.
The arrest of the Filipino architect came to the attention of Malacañang on Thursday through his brother, a reporter who covers the Palace.
Papers in order
Rosales was released Wednesday after his employer, who apparently had possession of most of his travel documents, presented the Filipino worker’s papers to authorities, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Friday.
In light of the report, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario readily ordered the Embassy to “take the necessary steps to ensure the welfare of Filipino nationals” who might be affected by Malaysia’s crackdown, which began on Jan. 21, the same day Rosales was arrested.
DFA spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said the Philippine mission has reached Rosales and is touching base with Malaysian authorities to discuss the case.
When asked whether the government was mulling legal action against Malaysia over the reported abuse, he said the DFA would first study the case before deciding what steps to take.
“We will try to get more information, especially details on this case, before we take further action. But our Embassy is prepared to make representations and ensure that this case is addressed and that other possible maltreatment would also be addressed by the Malaysian authorities,” Hernandez said in a press briefing on Friday.
“We’re stressing that while they are doing this crackdown, [they should] respect the rights of foreign workers as well as protect their human rights,” he said.
Hernandez said that one of the foreign secretary’s orders to the Embassy was to provide repatriation assistance to Filipinos who wish to go home.
Embassy officials have also been sent out to check if other Filipinos have already been arrested, particularly in the disputed Sabah, where some 400,000 Filipinos are known to reside. Malaysia has long been exercising administrative control over Sabah despite the Philippines’ dormant claim to the territory.
“The Embassy is still verifying and validating other reports of arrest and maltreatment, but we are prepared to assist our Filipinos there during this crackdown period,” said Hernandez.
Malaysia is currently implementing Ops Bersepadu, a nationwide crackdown against undocumented migrant workers, which is expected to affect nationals from the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), Nepal, Laos, Vietnam, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, India and Bangladesh.
Kuala Lumpur initiated a similar program in September, prompting up to 5,000 Filipinos to seek repatriation from the Embassy.
There are some 700,000 Filipinos across Malaysia, according to DFA figures.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.