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DFA downplays claims of refusing to accept illegal migrants from Sabah

Philippines denies claims about alleged refusal to admit Filipino migrants from Sabah

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs denies the allegation of refusing to admit at least 5,300 Filipinos held by Malaysian authorities at detention centers in Sabah.

In a statement, the DFA said they received information about the thousands of Filipinos in custody due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The DFA in the statement “denies the allegation of refusal to accept the responsibility of caring for our nationals.”

“On the contrary, the Philippine government remains committed to monitoring the status of our nationals and stands ready to facilitate safe travel of Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic wherever they may be, as soon as possible,” the DFA added.

This was the DFA’s reaction to a published report at the Daily Express last June 5,2020 about the plight of 5,300 “stranded” Filipinos at temporary detention centers. The report revealed the prolonged stay of the stranded illegal immigrants was due to the Philippines’ refusal to accept the returning nationals.

The report even quoted the Malaysian Foreign Ministry hoping neighboring countries “can cooperate by willing to accepting the entry of their citizens who are being detained for illegal entry into Sabah.”

Since the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) last March 18 and the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) last May, there was no deportation of illegal immigrants from the Philippines.

In a previous briefing at Malacanang, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said they are preparing to assist the illegal migrants stranded in Sabah and may either opt to send a ship or airplanes from the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (Melo M. Acuña)

Department of Foreign Affairs. (Official Gazette Photo)

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