KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Immigration Department has deported 316 illegal immigrants back to the Philippines, after months of border lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With some immigration rules being eased and negotiations with the Philippines consul-general, these illegal immigrants were finally allowed to return to their country via sea from the Sandakan jetty at about 7pm on Saturday.
They were taken from Tawau to Sandakan by road, before being sent home to Zamboanga in southern Philippines.
State Immigration director Datuk Dr Muhamad Sade Mohamad Amin said this was the first deportation for 2021.
“The illegal immigrants are those who have been held at the Tawau detention centre since last year, ” he said in a statement yesterday.
The detainees were required to undergo strict health screening and segregation on the time of arrest and when they were sent to the detention centre.
“This was to minimise the risk from the virus and other health-related transmissions, ” he said.
The deported Filipinos had overstayed in Sabah, breached their pass or permits or had entered the state without documentation.He said this deportation would not have been successful without the cooperation of Philippines consul-general Anne Jalando-On Louis.
“We are committed to sending more illegal immigrants back to their hometowns, ” he said.