288 Filipino deportees from Malaysia, ‘not run aways’ PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 10 March 2013 17:08

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) clarified that the arrival of 288 Filipino deportees from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on March 4, 2013 has nothing to do with the Lahad Datu, Sabah incident.

DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman said they were deported by the Malaysian authorities because they lack or have no legal documents while working in Malaysia. The deportees are being assisted through the DSWD Processing Center for Displaced Persons (PCPD) in Mampang, Zamboanga City.

Mary Ann (not her real name), was a salon employee in Malaysia. She stated that she has no plans of going back to Malaysia but hopes to find work here in the Philippines and start anew. She revealed that it was not an easy time at the detention center where she stayed for almost two months. Intake records show that average stay in detention centers in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia is four (4) months with some detained for nine (9) months while others stayed for as brief as one month.

Secretary Soliman said that of the 288 deportees, 71 are from Tawi-tawi, 56 from Sulu, and 86 are from Basilan, while the others are from the provinces of Zamboanga Peninsula and neighboring areas of Region IX. Of these, 215 deportees have already returned to their hometowns, as of March 5.

“Our processing center in Zamboanga City regularly assists deportees who arrive through a local passenger boat (MV Mary Joy) plying the Zamboanga-Sandakan-Zamboanga route. Upon arrival, they are immediately given medical attention by the DOH personnel and ferry them to our center,” Secretary Soliman said.

The PCDP, a facility established by DSWD in July 2005, serves as a temporary shelter for deported and displaced Filipinos while awaiting for their return to their places of origin. Since 2005, the center has served 65,200 individuals.

While at the center, deportees were given food, medical assistance, counselling, referral services, transportation assistance and other interventions by the DSWD. From January 2013 to date, the DSWD has disbursed P658,922.50 for the operational expenses of the center.

Soliman also stated that the DSWD developed a reintegration program for deportees to ensure that they can properly relate with their families.

“The DSWD closely works with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide the deportees with skills trainings, livelihood and capital assistance as well as job matching,” the Secretary added.

From 1996 to December 2012, DSWD has catered to 118,913 Filipino deportees with P83,560,487.05 worth of assistance to these vulnerable group.