Lobregat seeks Soliman’s help for 45,000 OFWs in Malaysia

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/28 Sept) – The city government has sought the assistance of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman for the approximately 46,000 undocumented Filipino workers in Malaysia who are given only until October 10 to process their papers or face arrest and deportation.

Mayor Celso Lobregat made the request after he received a letter from some Malaysian companies requesting to look into the possibility of seeking amnesty in the registration of their foreign workers, Filipinos among them.

The request came through a letter to Lobregat from a Zamboangueña who married a Malaysian managing a palm plantation in that country.

Lobregat said he called up Soliman and informed her about the request and to look into the possibility of bringing the matter to the Cabinet or cluster level so that appropriate steps can be undertaken the soonest possible time.

“It cannot be handled locally. This is a country-to-country issue, so it is best to elevate it to the national level,” Lobregat explained.

He said that based on reports reaching his office, over 100,000 undocumented foreign workers in Malaysia are affected by the October 10 deadline set by the Malaysian government for them to legalize their stay in that country. He said that of all the undocumented workers, 45,894 are Filipinos while the others are Indonesians and other nationalities.

Based on past statistics, Lobregat said that most of the undocumented Filipinos who are deported back home through this city are from the provinces of Tawi-tawi and Sulu and only about 8 to 12 percent are from Zamboanga.

Lobregat said he brought the matter to Soliman’s attention considering that the secretary is familiar with the situation as she was also the head of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) when the Malaysian government ordered a crackdown against undocumented foreign nationals, including Filipinos, years back.

Lobregat said it was the time when DSWD Assistant Secretary Parisya Taradji was sent to Malaysia to negotiate for an amnesty for the affected Filipinos.

“There might be a possibility of a repeat of what happened in the past when thousands of Filipinos were deported through Zamboanga City,” he added.

Lobregat convened a meeting with various agencies and discussed about the request from some Malaysian companies to look into the possibility of seeking amnesty in the registration of their Filipino workers.

Lobregat said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) also received similar requests.

The meeting was attended by representatives of DOLE, DFA, OWWA, DSWD, City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) and other concerned agencies. (MindaNews)