Officials of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) working under Task Force Basulta (or the island provinces of Basilan, Sulum and Tawi-Tawi) are set to meet with Malacañang counterparts in Zamboanga City next week on the impending deportation of some 600,000 undocumented Filipinos in Sabah.
Task Force Basulta works under a crisis management committee activated by the national government in March this year following the Sabah crisis that involved armed confrontations between followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian forces.
The ARMM task force constitutes the region’s Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) that looks over the socio-economic effect of the crisis.
ARMM Executive Secretary Laisa Alamia said in a press briefing on Wednesday that the September 13 meeting in Zamboanga was arranged for proper and coordinated action of the government on the deportees.
She noted that the forthcoming meeting was prompted by the request of the Malaysian government for them to jointly address the situation of illegal Filipino settlers in Sabah.
The Philippines and Malaysia both maintains a historical claim to Sabah, located on the northern portion of Borneo.
With the impending mass expatriation, Alamia said that deportees are anticipated to scatter in the Basulta island-provinces where government assistance is much needed.
This developed as Alamia mentioned a September 17 hearing on the case of 27 arrested followers of the Sultanate of Sulu who, together with 200 other comrades, engaged Malaysian authorities in running gun battles during the height of the crisis in Sabah.
Alamia said the detainees are facing imminent life imprisonment to death punishment before the Malaysian court. PNA