Filipinos expelled from Sabah returning: report
Many Filipinos expelled from Sabah for working illegally have already or planned to return despite fear of arrest, media reports said Thursday. The Philippine Daily Inquirer said many were deciding to return to Sabah to work despite a crackdown on illegal immigrants who risk being “arrested. Jailed, humiliated and caned. Sabah, which lies between the Philippines to the north and Indonesia’s Kalimantan to the south, is a magnet for immigrant workers who for decades have travelled there to work on construction sites and oil palm plantations. The Malaysian authorities say 130,000 illegal migrants are in Sabah, but local politicians put the figure as high as 500,000. According to the Philippine Governmeht, an estimated 200,000 Filipinos are living and working in Malaysia without valid visas and nearly 3,000 are in jail waiting to be deported. The southern Philippine port city of Zamboanga has received more than 1,000 deportees since the crackdown, announced by the Malaysian authorities this month, and has asked the Government for help to house and resettle them. The paper said many of those deported see little future in the Philippines and have expressed their intention to return. The Philippines has a long-standing claim to Sabah which has been sitting with the international courts for years. Basit Nur, 40, who worked as a carpenter in Sabah but was expelled after three months in a detention centre, said the risk of being rearrested was better than the alternative of seeing his family mired in poverty in the southern Philippines. “Even if I don’t have the money for processing of my (travel) papers ... I will find other ways to return. And I will make sure that I will outsmart the police there,” he told the Inquirer. Carpenter Maximo Abduraid, deported from Sabah just three weeks ago, has already slipped back there last week, his relatives told the paper.