MIRI: A total of 636 Suluks will be the third batch of Filipinos who surrendered voluntarily here to be sent back to Southern Philippines by sea.
State Immigration director Datu Robert Lian said they will be sent home after Hari Raya Puasa because Malaysian Navy staff would be celebrating the Muslim festival.
Previously, 287 Suluks and Bajaus had left Miri for Philippines under the 3+1 Immigration Programme in which they had to pay compound of RM300 and a ‘pass Jalan’ (travel pass) of RM100 per person besides paying for their own air tickets.
Robert said the first batch of 253 and second batch 260 Suluks and Bajaus were sent off through Malaysian Royal Navy ship KD Mahawangsa in the middle of last month and were already in Southern Philippines.
“This programme of sending the Suluks and Bajaus who surrendered voluntarily is made possible through the arrangement and cooperation between Sarawak government, Chief Minister’s Department and the Malaysian Royal Navy,” Robert told the press yesterday.
Also present was Miri Immigration chief Roy G. Fender Entusa.
According to Robert, immigration officers will assist the Suluks obtain their documents from the Philippines Embassy to enable them to return to their country.
With this batch, a total of 1,436 Suluks and Bajaus who had surrendered voluntarily had been sent back to the Philippines since March.
On the number of Suluks and Bajaus still in hiding or living in Sarawak, he said it was hard to make an estimate as some had been living in the state for many years judging by the record of those who surrendered as some already had grandchildren.
After the integrated operation during the first quarter of this year, he said some of the families fled out of Miri to Bintulu, Suai and as far as Kuching.
“The easy mobility now makes it easy for them to move from one division to another in the state, making the situation more complex,” he said further.
Stressing further, Robert said the issue of Suluks illegally entering the state would not have happened if there was close cooperation between the relevant authorities like the police, General Operations Force, community leaders in the villages, longhouses and district offices.
He added that Immigration Department depended on all parties to relay information on the illegal immigrants.
Thus, he advised community leaders to inform their villagers to report to the authorities if they see illegal immigrants or outsiders living in their area.
With cooperation from all parties, he stressed, the entry of illegals and their movements can be tracked down.
He pointed out that village leaders have the authority to arrest illegal immigrants under Section 51B (3) of the Immigration Act.
The Suluk or Tausug people are an ethnic group of the Philippines.
The Tausug are part of the wider political identity of Muslims of Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan known as the Moro ethnic group, who constitute the third largest ethnic group in Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan.
They originally had an independent state known as the Sulu Sultanate, which once exercised sovereignty over the present day provinces of Basilan, Palawan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, the eastern part of the Malaysian state of Sabah (formerly North Borneo) and North Kalimantan in Indonesia.
In 2011, Malaysia launched an amnesty programme codenamed ‘6P’ to reduce the number of illegal immigrants.
All illegal immigrants were given three weeks to take up the offer or face the law if they were arrested without any valid
travel documents or work permits.
However, some irresponsible people took advantage of the loopholes in its implementation, thus there was a call to strengthen the programme by monitoring management companies who had been appointed as intermediaries between employers and illegal foreign workers.
The crackdown on illegal immigrants had been carried out frequently by the Malaysian authorities, sometimes without any notice.
Since 2014, crackdowns have been more frequent as many illegal immigrants have been found to be using permits of the locals to operate businesses.
Through detention, the illegal immigrants will be imprisoned, caned and finally deported.
This is done to help regulate immigration and to remind them to return to their home countries by letting them know to ‘not flout the law again’.
Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2015/07/10/third-batch-of-suluks-to-be-deported-after-hari-raya/#ixzz3fXsdXJnN