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By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — FILIPINOS deported by Malaysia numbering 395 arrived today, July 4, in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
The arrivals comprised the first batch out of more than 5,000 mostly undocumented Filipinos who sneaked onto oil-rich Sabah, one of the states of the Muslim country.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, minister of of the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG) in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), relayed this to SDN — Science & Digital News.
Related story: Malaysia Sending Home 5,000 Filipinos in Sabah
He said there will be seven more batches of deportees arriving in the coming days with a gap of 15 days each voyage to comply with the 14-day quarantine for arrivals from abroad.
“We have to comply with the quarantine protocols for safety and prevent the spread of Covid-19,” Sinarimbo, who traveled to Tawi-Tawi representing BARMM and assured them of the autonomous government’s assistance.
He said as per agreement with Malaysian authorities the deportees were subjected to the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) test for coronavirus before they were allowed to board their ship, M/V Antonia.
The same process will be followed for the remaining seven trips from Sabah to Mindanao.
He said the boat the ferried the deportees will sail on to Zamboanga City to unload the remaining passengers.
“They will arrive here (Zamboanga City) tonight and disembark early tomorrow morning.
“Everybody was tested in Sabah and all have negative results. A total of 314 disembarked at Bongao port; 81 will proceed to Zamboanga,” he adds.
The BARMM, he said, is providing food and accommodation as well as PPEs (personal protective equipment).
“We will come back next week to assess more throughly what needs to be done for a more sustainable program,” Sinarimbo assures.
It was learned the deportation process is being handled by Malaysia’s National Security Council (NSC), an unnamed Malaysian government official said.
Obviously, the case of the undocumented Filipinos who are mostly natives of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan and other Western Mindanao areas is covered by national security.
Tawi-Tawi is one of the provinces the comprise the BARMM, along with Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sulu, and the cities of Lamitan, Marawi, and Cotabato. Some villages in North Cotabato also joined the autonomous region. (SDN)
Featured image is the is the ship M/V Antonia that carried 395 Filipino passengers from Sabah deported by Malaysia. (Source: BARMM Minister Naguib Sinarimbo)