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PH, KL agree to deport 7,000 Filipinos in Sabah

The Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to deport thousands of illegal Filipino workers from Sabah following President Duterte’s meeting with leaders of Kuala Lumpur.

Upon his arrival in Davao City early yesterday morning, the President confirmed the gradual repatriation of the undocumented Filipinos but made clear that no clemency would be given to them.

“Yes. Okay lang sa kanila and I said no clemency except that give us time,” the President said in a press conference at the Davao City international airport when asked to confirm a deal with Malaysia to deport 7,000 illegal Filipino immigrants back to the country.

The plight of the undocumented Filipino workers in Malaysia was among the issues tackled by the President in his meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak last Thursday. There was however no mention of the Philippines’ Sabah claim in the dialogue between the two leaders.

Duterte said the government intends to “intervene” and provide these Filipino migrants the access to health care and education services. He said it was embarrassing that Malaysia would shoulder all costs to address the needs of these Filipino migrants.

Duterte proposed the establishment of schools so the Filipinos could learn “our history, not the history of somebody else’s country.”

“Ang problema doon kasi ‘yung mga Pilipino walang edukasyon. And, we cannot expect also Malaysia to absorb them because hindi sila Filipino citizens,” he said.

Duterte said he plans to appeal to neutral agencies like the World Health Organization to help build a hospital for the health needs of the Filipino migrants. He said Filipino medical personnel will be deployed to man these health facilities.

The President returned to the country yesterday morning after his visits to Malaysia and Thailand.

In Kuala Lumpur, the President said he and Najib agreed to further strengthen the Philippines-Malaysia partnership for a safe and secure and stable region.

He said the two nations would forge “greater collaboration” in the joint coordinated pursuit, the interdiction, and the arrest of criminal and terrorist plying the waterways between the two countries. “The Philippines is always will be unremitting in the efforts to address criminality on land, at sea, and between borders,” he said.

Duterte said Malaysia also agreed to continue to play a key role in advancing the peace process in Mindanao. “The Philippines is ready to work with Malaysia and our partners interested in securing for generations of the Mindanaoans and Filipinos, a future free from fear and conflict,” Duterte said. Prior to his Kuala Lumpur visit, the President went to Bangkok to pay respects to the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej, calling him “a true friend of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

“His Majesty will be remembered by his dedicated efforts to foster goodwill, mutual respect, and friendship between our nations and peoples,” he said. (GENALYN D. KABILING)