March 7. 2005
After picketing the Malaysian embassy, workers from the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) along with other fraternal organizations belonging to the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) picketed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) this morning to call on the government to immediately respond to the plight of the Filipino workers who were arrested and detained in Malaysia.

“The Philippine government should not wait for our workers to be deported. They should immediately establish bilateral talks with the Malaysian government to stop the crackdown so that Filipino migrant workers maybe treated humanely,” Pol Teotico, NCR-chairperson of the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), said.

The Malaysian government intends to deport more than one million so-called ‘illegal immigrants’ by the end of 2005. It embarked on a massive crackdown last March 1, 2005 when it ended the amnesty for ‘illegal migrant’ workers. However, they were not only hunted down by the police but also by the hundreds of thousands of civilians that were given the authority by the government to carry guns and arrest ‘illegal migrants’ even in the absence of a warrant. The government promised to pay each civilian with 80 Ringgit (US$21) for every ‘illegal migrant’ they will apprehend. The operation is labeled “OPS TEGAS”. As a result, grave human rights violations are being committed ruthlessly against them.

“Undocumented migrant workers have rights and welfare stipulated under the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families and the Malaysian authorities have no right to treat them violently,” Teotico, added.

The APL and MFA urge the Philippine government to exhaust all means to pressure Kuala Lumpur into making sure these workers are safe and secure, to document the abuses committed by Malaysian police and to bring it to the attention of world bodies like the United Nations for proper action, and most importantly, to bring our workers back home the soonest time possible and provide them with material support.

Yet the organizations believe that at the root of the row is the inability of the government to provide exactly the conditions that drive Filipinos to work in Malaysia. They insist that instead of running down Mindanao into the ground with relentless but eventually ineffective military operations, government should be seriously thinking about how to create more jobs in Mindanao and finding sustainable, long-term solutions to the massive disenchantment and disempowerment in the region.


Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Federal Government Administration Center
Bangunan Perdana Putra
62502 Putrajaya
Telephone : 603 – 8888 8000
Fax : 603 – 8888 3444
Email :

Dear Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,

We, the undersigned, representing migrant, labor,
women and human rights organizations and advocates in
the Philippines and overseas, are very much concerned
by your government’s crackdown on undocumented migrant
workers in Malaysia. Hundreds and thousands of
undocumented migrant workers are fleeing the border or
hiding from the 300,000 immigration officials,
soldiers, civilians and police officers you have
deployed for the crackdown.

Migrant workers come to Malaysia not only for the
simple reason of augmenting their income and seeking
better economic opportunities. A big number of migrant
workers also come to Malaysia leaving their home
countries to escape armed conflict as well.

A number of the undocumented workers in Malaysia are
also victims/survivors of trafficking.

The United Nations Convention on the Protection of the
Rights of Migrant Workers and members of their
families state that migrant workers have the right to
liberty and security of person; right to protection
from cruel and inhuman punishment; right to legal
personality and recognition as a person before the
law; right to representation, consultation and
protection from discrimination and exploitation. The
said convention also covers the rights of both
documented and undocumented migrant workers. The
crackdown on migrant workers negates all the above
mentioned rights. As a member of the United Nations we
would like to remind you of your responsibility to
protect the rights of migrant workers.

We are deeply concerned by the Malaysian Government’s
recruitment of more than 300,000 volunteers and the
promise of cash rewards, 80 ringgit or US$ 21, for
each undocumented migrant worker they can apprehend
under the operation codenamed “OPS TEGAS”. We are
alarmed that your Government has given these
volunteers the right to carry guns and search
properties without warrants.

The massive crackdown has resulted to human rights
violations especially among women and children. As
signatory to the UN Convention on the Elimination of
all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and
the Convention on Children’s Rights we would like to
remind you of your commitment to uphold the rights and
well being of women and children

We believe that the deployment of almost 500,000
immigration officials, police officers and volunteers
will lead to more violence and the cruel treatment of
migrant workers.

We the undersigned are also concerned about the
non-payment of wages of illegal migrant workers since
the announcement of the crackdown. A big number of
migrant workers who went home during the amnesty
period were not given their salaries. Almost a hundred
thousand Indonesian migrant workers who were not paid
their wages are still detained in Malaysia.

Migrant workers form the backbone of Malaysia’s menial
work force, sustaining the construction industry and
plantations. Migrant workers also take on low paying
jobs in restaurants and domestic work, jobs Malaysians
won’t take. Amidst the massive human rights violations
of migrant workers by the Malaysian Government, we,
the undersigned strongly urge the Malaysian government

• Uphold and respect the rights and dignity of all
migrant workers
• Stop the Crackdown and criminalization of
undocumented migrant workers;
• Stop the deployment of civilians arresting
undocumented migrant workers;
• Conduct an investigation of recruitment agencies
deploying undocumented migrant workers and taking
advantage of undocumented migrant workers;
• Develop a humane immigration policy that adheres to
international human rights standards;
• Prosecute employers who refuse to pay the wages of
migrant workers;
• Process the regularization of undocumented workers
in Malaysia and
• Ratify the United Nations Convention on the
Protection of the Rights of all Migrants Workers and
Members of their families.

Signed by:

Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)
Alliance of Migrant Workers and Advocates to amend RA
8042 (AMEND)
Network Opposed to Violence Against Women Migrants
Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW)
Coalition Against Trafficking in women (CATW)
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Kanlungan Center Foundation
AKBAYAN citizens’ Action party (Akbayan!)
Anak Mindanao (Amin)
Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines (CMA-Phils)
Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s