Saturday, 16 March 2013 00:00
For fear of repression by Malaysian authorities, at least 282 Filipino immigrants left their homes in Sandakan, Malaysia and arrived yesterday afternoon on board a boat at the local port of Zamboanga City.
Jamila Arasid, DSWD Processing Center for Displaced Persons Center Head, disclosed the 215 adults, 39 minors and 28 infants departed their homes in Sandakan on board another vessel that took them to Taganak Island, to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi then finally to Zamboanga City.
Arasid said all refugees from Sulu will be transferred to another boat for their trip this evening to Jolo and their fares will be shouldered by DSWD.
She said refugees from Zamboanga City, Basilan, Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga del Norte will be taken to the DSWD center in barangay Mampang for processing of their papers before they will be sent back to their respective homes.
According to Arasid, health personnel from the Department of Health attended to some refugees who complained of stomach pain and a minor having diarrhea.
As this developed, Abraham Barail, resident of barangay Curuan, Zamboanga City, said he went to Sandakan three months ago to work as a carpenter but has returned because of fear of Malaysian authorities who are now on rigid checking of their papers.
“Nagtrabaho ako doon sa Sandakan dalawang buwan. Hindi ako binigay ng aking sweldo. Kaya nag apela ako sa gobyerno kung puwede sana ibigay sa amin ng financial assistance,” Barail said.
Aser Hayri complained that his son was having diarhea. He said they where staying in Sandakan for five years and his son Albasri, who is now one year and ten months was born there.
Thousands of Filipinos are affected in the ongoing conflict between followers of Jamalul Kiram III and the government of Malaysia. Kiram has long been fighting to retain the Sultanate of Sabah.
By Nonong Santiago
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