MANILA, AUGUST 24, 2008 (STAR) Malacañang has expressed confidence that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) would be able to sort out problems on the deportation of undocumented Filipinos from Sabah, Malaysia starting this October.

The Palace is also looking into concerns about abuses that might be committed against deportees.

In an interview over state-run dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Anthony Golez said President Arroyo had already directed special envoys and emissaries to go to Malaysia to iron out whatever problems that may arise relating to the immigration laws of the country.

Malaysia has set a deadline for all undocumented Filipino workers in Sabah to “regularize” their stay and avoid being deported.

DFA undersecretary for migrant workers affairs Esteban Conejos said the Malaysian government has given undocumented Filipino workers until October to come up with the necessary papers for their regularization.

After the deadline has lapsed, undocumented workers will be rounded up and detained before they are deported to Zamboanga.

Golez noted that the deportation of undocumented Filipinos from Sabah has been going on for a long time.

For decades, Filipinos in Mindanao have been traveling to and from Sabah with ease because of its proximity to the Philippines.

“The borders of Sabah have long been porous, thus the ease of entry of undocumented Filipinos,” he said.

He noted that a lot of the Filipinos consider Sabah their home and have families there already.

With the impending mass deportation of the undocumented workers, the government is working to ensure the process is smooth and trouble free, Golez said. – Marvin Sy

9 more Filipino seamen held hostage by Somali pirates By Pia Lee-Brago Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nine more Filipino seamen have become victims of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, an embassy report said yesterday.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Claro Cristobal said the Philippine Embassy in Kenya reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the nine Filipino seafarers were part of the 13-man crew of the German-owned Antigua and Barbuda-flagged freighter MT BBC Trinidad, which was hijacked by suspected Somali pirates on Thursday.

He said the local manning agency has also confirmed this.

Cristobal said the DFA has instructed the Philippine embassies in Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo and Nairobi to coordinate with the shipowner, international maritime authorities and host governments on efforts to secure the safe and speedy release of the crewmembers.

On Friday, the DFA confirmed that 26 Filipino seamen were among the crewmembers of the two ships recently hijacked by suspected Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos Jr. received the report from the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi and local manning agencies.

Cristobal said the palm-oil laden tanker MT Bunga Melati 2, owned and operated by MISC Berhad of Malaysia, with 39 crewmembers including 10 Filipino seamen, was hijacked on Tuesday.

He also said the chemical tanker MT Irene, Panama-flagged and operated by Japan’s Koyo Kaiun Co, with 19 crewmembers including 16 Filipino seamen, was hijacked on Thursday.

In June, Filipino seamen were among the crew of a Dutch-owned cargo ship released by pirates in Somalia.

The Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands reported to the DFA that Reider Shipping, the Dutch owner of MV Amiya Scan, confirmed that the hijacked vessel and its crew, including five Filipino sailors, were released by Somali pirates last June 24.

Following the hijacking, the Philippine government appealed to Somalia to refrain from the use of force against the hijackers of the MV Amiya Scan manned by Filipino and Russian crewmembers.

Crescente Relacion, executive director of the DFA-Office of Migrant Workers Affairs, said the Philippines called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis after the home office received a report that Somalian government forces were heading to the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden where the ship was hijacked.

MV Amiya was hijacked 65 miles off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden on May 26.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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