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Nearly 400,000 undocumented OFWs warned of Malaysia crackdown

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) warned nearly 400,000 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Malaysia to expect Malaysian authorities "to launch a nationwide immigration crackdown" beginning Friday, August 31.

The amnesty program for undocumented workers, which was announced in January 2016, ended on Thursday, August 30.

Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Charles Jose said on Thursday, "We are reminding our kababayans (countrymen) in Malaysia, particularly those without legal immigration status, that the amnesty program ends today."

"In view of this, we request our kababayans to exercise due prudence and to ensure they carry their legal documents at all times," Jose said.

Jose said the Philippine embassy in Malaysia "has assisted 5,844 Filipinos since the amnesty program was announced in January 2016." This number, however, "represents less than 1% of the estimated 400,000 undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia."

Before the amnesty program ended, the embassy helped Filipino applicants "by issuing travel documents free of charge, paying exit fees and airfare assistance (as needed), as well as issuing endorsements and even providing transportation to the Immigration Office in Putrajaya."

Malaysia's The Star published a news story on Thursday titled, "Illegal immigrants, beware." 

"Starting tomorrow, our efforts will only increase as we aim to free the country of illegal immigrants," said Malaysia's immigration director general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali as quoted by The Star. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. 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.

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