MIRI: All the 500 Suluks who overstayed here and voluntarily wanting to return to Southern Philippines will be shipped out on KD Mahawangsa, a Malaysian Navy vessel, this week.
Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Miri chief First Admiral Abin Sunggom said all the Suluks who surrendered to the Immigration Department recently in Miri would be deported in two stages by sea on June 17 and June 21.
“Immigration Department is heading the task in sending home these illegals to the Philippines, assisted by MMEA and the navy,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
On Friday, the MMEA had a meeting with the Immigration Department which chaired the deportation process with the relevant authorities.
According to Abin, MMEA assistance was needed by the Immigration Department to transport the illegal foreigners from Miri City to KD Mahawangsa that is currently berthed off Miri waters. He said the process of sending the foreigners would be undertaken by the Immigration Department after they are transferred from the MMEA vessel from Miri.
The first trip on June 17 would take 250 of the illegal immigrants and the same number would be taken on June 21.
“All the relevant parties involved are ensuring a safe passage for them to return to their country of origin,” he disclosed further.
The illegal Suluk immigrants were discovered staying and working in Miri after local fishermen alerted Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem of their presence here which jeopardised the fishing industry on March 11.
The Suluks were reported to be aggressive and did not comply with the fishing methods permitted by the Malaysian Fishery Department by using fish bombs and poison.
Integrated operations headed by the Immigration Department, police, General Operations Force, Rela, Land and Survey and Sarawak Energy Berhad on land and MMEA, Marine Fisheries Department and Marine Police at sea to catch the illegal immigrants were conducted the last two months.
On March 19, 155 illegals mainly Suluks and Bajaus were arrested at two squatter colonies in Batu Satu Lutong and near Pujut 7 bridge.
On April 17, 30 illegals including 11 Suluks and a Bajau were arrested at construction sites in Senadin and Lutong. MMEA also arrested 12 Filipino fishermen and seized a fishing vessel found catching fish near Tukau platform, 16 nautical miles from Lutong beach on April 13.
Two full trays of ‘Sulit’ fish worth thousands of ringgit, diving gear and spears were also seized inside the Labuan registered vessel.
On April 19, 67 Filipinos from Southern Philippines were arrested by Immigration Department at two double storey semi-detached houses in Pujut 1 at 1.00am in their bid to hide and escape from continuous integrated operations to curb the influx of illegal immigrants into Miri city.
In another arrest, 15 Indonesians were rounded up by the same raiding party at Pujut 6 at 2am the same day. Immigration enforcement chief, Gary Belayong John Siki, said all the 66 Filipinos comprising 55 Suluks, seven Bajaus and four Yakans were found taking shelter at the two double-storey detached houses.
“All were Filipinos from Southern Philippines and most of them were without any proper documents in the first raid,” he said.
The sending-off of all the Suluk illegal immigrants back to the Philippines will end the episode of Suluks invading Miri City and clear away all the doubts on the state government and its relevant agencies in curbing influx of illegal immigrants into the state.