Lobregat fears repatriations as Sabah situation worsens PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 March 2013 11:35

Zamboanga City has been alerted on the possible repatriation of undocumented Filipinos from Malaysia in the wake of the worsening situation due to a territory dispute over Sabah.

“We hope there will be no crackdown on Filipinos in Sabah so there will be no increase in the repatriation,” Mayor Celso Lobregat hoped, as he revealed that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has alerted the local government on possible mass repatriation of undocumented Filipinos to the Philippines through Zamboanga.

On a weekly basis, there are Filipinos repatriated through the local port. Upon arrival, the deportees, most of which are from Sulu and Tawi-tawi are brought to the processing center in Talon-talon after which are sent back to their places of origin.

Lobregat lamented that limited reports about the real situation are dished out by Malaysian authorities. “We are fully banking on the DILG [for the reports]”.

Reports indicate that about 200 followers of the Sultanate of Sulu have been holed up in Sabah since February 12 in an attempt to assert their ownership of the land.

The first major clash between Malaysian forces and the royal army erupted Friday, leaving at least 12 followers of the sultanate dead. Another alleged ambush incident on Saturday, meanwhile, left at least 6 Malaysian policemen and 6 royal army soldiers dead.

Lobregat said his office is closely coordinating with concerned agencies in anticipation of possible repercussions that may result due to the volatile situation in Sabah.

Unverified reports say that there are over 300,000 Filipinos are working in Malaysia. Of the total number only about 20% are from Zamboanga while about 70 percent are from Sulu and Tawi-tawi.

Lobregat also expressed apprehensions that activities of some local businessmen specifically those engaged in the so-called barter trading activity with Malaysia might be affected if and when the situation will get worst. — Sheila Covarrubias