Migrante International is deeply concerned for the 131 stranded ship passengers from Sabah, Malaysia. After their vessels were refused entry by ports for fear of COVID-19, the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Mindanao Command is proposing that they be sent to Sibakil Island, an uninhabited island in Lantawan, Basilan where they will be confined in scorching tents.
This very bad proposal made by AFP WestMinCom and the ports’ refusal to allow them entry was made at the back of the absence of sufficient medical personnel in seaports and the Duterte government’s long-delayed delivery of free mass testing kits and services to the public. Bringing this huge amount of people to an uninhabited island for “quarantine” where they will be far distant from healthcare and social welfare facilities is more like locking them up into a concentration camp.
Despite the enormous wealth in natural resources, Region 9 and ARMM are the top 2 poorest regions in the country in terms of human development. This is due to government neglect, corruption, landlordism, and the long-standing armed conflict exacerbated by the Duterte regime’s failure to address the roots of poverty in the region. No wonder then that there are not enough hospitals and public health facilities where ports can refer arriving passengers for medical testing and treatment.
These Filipino migrants from Malaysia have already experienced many hardships working overseas. Over and over again, we keep hearing stories of abuse, caning and imprisonment from Filipino migrants in Malaysia. Bringing them into isolation on an uninhabited island is adding insult to injury. Migrante International calls on the Duterte government and all concerned agencies to come to the aid of these stranded ship passengers by providing them relief, welfare and medical support.
Libreng medikal! Hindi militar!
Ospital, hindi selda!
Free mass testing and treatment now!