Filipino ‘abused’ in Malaysia won’t press charges

Paterno Esmaquel II
The reported abuse comes as nearly 2,000 Filipinos flee Malaysia in the face of a crackdown on illegal workers

MALAYSIA CRACKDOWN. This picture taken in the early hours of Sept 1, 2013 shows suspected illegal foreign workers handcuffed with zip-ties walking to a truck during an immigration raid shortly after midnight in Klang, outside Kuala Lumpur. File photo by Mohd Rasfan/AFP

MANILA, Philippines – In the face of Malaysia’s crackdown on undocumented foreign workers, a Filipino allegedly maltreated in detention has decided not to press charges, the Philippines said Tuesday, January 28.

The alleged maltreatment happened in Kota Kinabalu, Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez said.

The Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur sent a representative to assist the victim. The emissary also went “to determine the condition of other detained Filipinos, if there are.”

“During their conversation, he expressed gratitude to the embassy for sending someone to help him. He has decided not to pursue any legal case regarding his arrest and treatment,” Hernandez said.

“Nevertheless, the embassy brought this incident to the attention of the Federal Task Force in Kota Kinabalu on January 27 so that they can look into the case, and that steps may be taken to prevent a recurrence of this incident,” he added.

The unidentified worker is among thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) facing sanctions after Malaysia launched its crackdown on January 21. 

The DFA said at least 1,988 Filipinos left Malaysia from January 1 to 21.

Then, from January 21 to 27, the embassy helped 188 illegal Filipino workers in processing their exit passes. Before this, 240 Filipinos had also been brought to Malaysia’s immigration department.

The DFA added that from September to December 2013, the Philippine embassy had repatriated 5,106 Filipinos in Malaysia.

‘Always carry documents’

In an earlier statement, Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia J Eduardo Malaya reminded Filipinos “to make sure that their immigration or work documents are in order, and to carry with them proper documents, notably work permit or passport with valid visa, to avoid inconvenience in case of immigration checks.”

The embassy said Malaysia will detain violators while arranging their deportation. To make sure they can’t return to Malaysia using fake identity, authorities will get their biometric fingerprints.

Malaysia, on the other hand, will not prosecute but only fine those who leave voluntarily.

In its latest estimate, the Commission of Overseas Filipinos (CFO) pegs the number of undocumented, illegally employed, and overstaying Filipino nationals in Malaysia at 200,000 as of December 2010. It pegs the number of Filipinos in Malaysia at 316,273.

If this estimate is to be followed, the crackdown stands to affect 6 out of 10 Filipinos in Malaysia.

Malaysia has the highest concentration of irregular Filipino workers around the world, according to the CFO. It is followed by the United States, which has 156,000 irregular Filipino workers. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.