KOTA KINABALU 18/10/2012: The Federal Special Task Force (FSTF) Sabah expressed the opinion that it would be difficult for Filipino refugees to return to their country of origin after having settled down in the state for several years despite the recent peace deal between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Its director, Datuk Haji Suhaimi Hj Mohd Salleh, said the reason may be attributed to many of their kind having attained economic stability especially by those who have stayed in Sabah since the early 1970’s.
“Many Filipino refugees have raised their families or have set up their own businesses in the state and many are found to be in possession of identification cards.
“It is therefore difficult for them to leave this country and to return to their homeland due to the economic stability in the state,” he told reporters at a press conference at the Federal Special Task Force office yesterday.
Suhaimi expressed hope for the Filipino refugees still residing in Sabah to return to their country voluntarily in view of the cessation of the 40-year acrimonious conflict which had claimed almost 150,000 lives and resulted in the destruction of properties and backwardness.
“The National Security Council through FSTF will continue to support the State Government by organising programmes to encourage Filipino immigrants to return to their home country,” he said, adding that the peace process would lend credence towards resolving the illegal immigrant problem currently plaguing the state.
Meanwhile, Suhaimi said between January and September this year, the FSTF has so far deported a total of 8,735 illegals to their respective countries of origin and Filipinos significantly leading the list with 6,314 followed by 2,223 Indonesians, with the remainder from other countries.
There are currently 3,777 illegal immigrants currently detained at three temporary detention centres in Papar, Sandakan and Tawau, with Filipinos numbering 3,059 followed by 650 Indonesians and the rest from other countries, he said, adding that a total of 67 street kids were also detained at the three centres.
Suhaimi said the temporary detention centre at Menggatal is presently being expanded and is expected to be completed in 2014.
“The project, costing about RM14 million, will have 14 blocks for detainees and other facilities such as a court and an immigration office,” he said.