By APD writer Melo M. Acuna
MANILA, August 10 (APD) -- The Philippine government called on thousands of undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia to avail themselves of the voluntary repatriation offer from the Malaysian government before it ends this month through the Department of Foreign Affairs.
In a statement, the DFA urged the estimated 400,000 Filipinos in Malaysia who have no legal immigration status to take advantage of the voluntary deportation program implemented by the Malaysian government.
There is an ongoing crackdown by Malaysian authorities against undocumented foreign nationals that followed the end of its rehiring program for foreign workers in June 2018.
Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Charles C. Jose appealed to undocumented compatriots to take this opportunity to be able to return to the Philippines.
“We assure you that the Embassy will assist you in your return to home through the voluntary deportation program of the Malaysian government,” Ambassador Jose said.
He explained the ongoing program allows undocumented migrants to leave Malaysia without having to serve jail time or settle compounded penalties.
He added that all they have to do is to pay a fixed discounted penalty of 300 Malaysian ringgits regardless of length of overstay and a 100 ringgit exit fee.
“From January 2016 to June 2018, the Philippine Embassy has assisted roughly 50,000 Filipinos under this program by way of issuance of travel documents and the payment of exit fees and one-way airfare to the Philippines,” Ambassador Jose added.
The envoy said the program coincides with the end of the Malaysian government’s rehiring program on June 30 that allowed qualified undocumented foreign workers to apply for valid working permits and regularize their status under Malaysian law.
Despite the vigorous campaign, Ambassador Jose said only 8,000 Filipinos, roughly two percent of the estimated number of undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia, applied for the rehiring program.
Ambassador Jose said Filipinos who wish to avail of the program but have no valid passports are advised to proceed to the Embassy for interview and processing of their travel documents. They will also be provided an endorsement letter they will take to the Immigration Department. They are also advised to make travel arrangements at this time.
It was learned that the Immigration Department will process the documents after payment of the penalty and exit pass fees and provide an exit pass valid for 5 to 14 days. The applicants should return to the Philippines within the timeframe set by the Immigration Department and have return arrangements within five days after issuance of the exit pass.
The Philippine Embassy reminded Filipinos in Malaysia to always carry with them their identification and legal documents.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)