SANDAKAN: The speedy issuance of travel documents by the Philippine Embassy led to the increase to 27,769 in the number of illegal immigrants repatriated to their country of origin last year.
The Secretary of the National Security Council (NSC) for Sabah, Rodzi Md Saad said it was a positive development because in 2014, the number of illegal immigrants sent back to their countries of origin was 17,720.
He said the time taken to issue travel documents to Filipino illegal immigrants to be repatriated last year was only six weeks compared with two months previously.
“This was achieved as a result of the discussions held with the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur which sent their officials to the Temporary Detention Centre (PTS) in the state and processed the travel documents immediately,” he said at a media conference at the Sibuga PTS, here today.
He said that last year a total of 21,494 illegal immigrants from the Philippines, 6,055 Indonesians and 220 other nationalities were repatriated to their countries of origin in comparison with the 2014 figures of 13,751
Filipinos, 3,624 Indonesians and 345 other nationalities.
He said the Illegal Immigrant Management Enforcement Subcommittee, which he chairs, constantly scrutinised the repatriation procedures for the illegal immigrants in order to be effective.
Rodzi said the screening process for the issuance of travel documents was carried out thoroughly by the Philippine Embassy officials to ensure that only illegal immigrants of Philippine nationals were repatriated to that country.
He said that between 1990 and December 2015, a total of 529,941 illegal immigrants were sent back to their countries of origin including 74,210 people who went back voluntarily.
For this year up to yesterday, 853 illegal immigrants were repatriated to the Philippines, 282 to Indonesia and nine to other countries.
Tomorrow, 447 Filipino illegal immigrants would be sent back from the Sandakan Port to Zamboanga, the Philippines, Rodzi said.- BERNAMA