The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) today warned people against using the country’s southern backdoor to illegally enter and work in Malaysia, saying they will face harsh and stringent consequences including possible arrest, detention, caning/whipping, and humiliating deportation back to the Philippines.

Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said that even as the Malaysian crackdown against illegal workers resumes on March 1, “it is our earnest hope only a few, or if at all possible, not a single Filipino migrant in Malaysia will be adversely affected.”

“Thus our efforts to assist them are three-pronged, which are, a) to persuade any illegal Filipino migrants in Malaysia to respond to that country’s voluntary surrender program while there is still time; b) to appropriately assist those repatriated at the DOLE-led inter-agency one-stop processing centers in Zamboanga City and Tawi-Tawi; and c) to dissuade would-be illegal migrants from entering Malaysia.”

The labor and employment chief said that “as important as the effort to provide assistance to returnees from Malaysia is the Philippine government’s effort to dissuade, and stop people from illegally migrating to Malaysia.”

“Huwag na po ninyong nanaisin pa, o magpumilit pa, na magtrabaho sa Malaysia nang walang kaukulang dokumento dahil kayo po ay maaring arestuhin, ikulong, at pabalikin sa Pilipinas (Do not enter Malaysia illegally or else you will face arrest, detention, and deportation),” she warned.

Sto. Tomas was recently apprised by Labor Attache Brenda R. Villafuerte of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuala Lumpur (POLO-KL) of the Malaysian government’s “final decision to arrest, charge, and deport” all illegal migrants in the country beginning March 1, 2005.

In view of these, Sto. Tomas said that a Philippine government mission led by representatives from the DOLE, and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), is now in Malaysia to take up the migrants issue, and encourage positive responses including the redeployment, and acceptance of, legally documented migrant workers from the Philippines.

“The DOLE’s programs are geared at ensuring properly-documented OFWs to ensure that those who wish to work in Malaysia, and other overseas destinations, are protected from adverse consequences, and are covered by social welfare insurance,” Sto. Tomas said.

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