NCMF, Yes for Peace commit to alleviate plight of 1.3M undocumented Filipinos in Sabah

National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Commissioner and Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan Secretary-General Yusoph J. Mando (PIA NCR file photo)

CALOOCAN CITY, June 6 (PIA) -- The plight of 1.3 million “Filipinos” – who were born, raised and live in Sabah but have not been recognized by the Malaysian Government, and therefore remain illegal aliens – has been brought to the attention of National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Commissioner and Yes for Peace-Bayanihan ng Bayan (YFP-BNB) Secretary-General Yusoph J. Mando, who then personally pledged to alleviate their condition.

Datu Mudarasulail Kiram, after earlier volunteering to head the YFP-BNB in Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi, brought the problem to the attention of Comm. Mando because the majority of those concerned are Muslim Filipinos.

To recall, the NCMF is mandated to “Act as the primary government agency through which Muslim Filipinos can seek government assistance and redress; serve as the medium through which such assistance may be extended to Muslim Filipinos.”

According to Kiram, “They [Muslim Filipinos in Sabah] have not been granted Malaysian citizenship simply because of their Filipino ancestry and are constantly living in fear and subject to harassment and exploitation by unscrupulous parties.” 

Deeply concerned, Mando committed that he will initiate efforts to look into the problem and coordinate with all concerned government agencies, particularly the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI).

“We are confident that if we can look into the problem objectively, we will be able to solve this in accordance with existing diplomatic protocols,” the NCMF official said.

“In fairness to the DFA, to address the problem, it has initiated the issuance of Philippine passports to our people through a mobile office,” Kiram said, adding that, "however, it has thus far not solved the problem for two reasons.” 

“First, the number of personnel is too few to match the daunting task to attend to the needs of 1.3 million men, women and children,” Kiram said.

“Second, the fees they are made to pay for are ten times that required from Filipinos in the Philippines and has therefore become unaffordable to most who would want to avail of it,” he added.

Being a recognized leader among Muslim Filipinos in Sabah, Kiram volunteered, “We can help the deployed DFA and BID personnel in facilitating the processing of applications and see to it that the overcharging of passport fees are put to an end.”

“We cannot fault them for believing and considering themselves as Filipinos because of their blood lines and their loyalty to the Sultanate of Sulu,” Cosanie M. Derogongon, Director of the Bureau of Peace and Conflict Resolution (BPCR) of the NCMF and active advocate of Yes for Peace said.

“As such, it is our sworn duty to look into it and take away the Damocles sword that dangles over their heads as well as that of the Republic of the Philippines,” Derogongon added.

For his part, Johnny Balawag, Chairperson of the National Board of Trustees of the Department of Education - National Employees Union (DepEd - NEU), which has been an active group behind YFP BNB said, “The threat of them being expelled by the Malaysian government and forced to go back to the Philippines, particularly Mindanao, is mind-boggling.”

“Whether we like it or not, it will bring a myriad of problems that could threaten and exacerbate the still volatile peace and order situation in the country and should therefore be addressed immediately before it becomes a major headache for all of us,” Balawag added. 

According to Ernesto Angeles Alcanzare, President and Chief Executive Officer of Yes for Peace, Incorporated, “It would be a disservice to the goals of Yes for Peace – Bayanihan ng Bayan if we just sit down in our respective comfort zones as if there is no problem simply because those involved are outside the country.” 

“We shall lobby for the reinforcement of available personnel with well-meaning and trustworthy volunteers who could help facilitate the processing of passports as well as put a stop in the collection of exorbitant fees by unscrupulous people as suggested by Datu Kiram,” Alcanzare added. 

As a final note, Mando added, “We shall look into ways and means to improve the systems already set in place by the DFA and BID to recognize them as Filipinos and recommend these to the President, pursuant to the mandate of the NCMF.” (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (

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