DSWD committed to assist returning Filipinos from Sabah

Published June 30, 2020, 8:18 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Tuesday expressed commitment to extend assistance to returning Filipinos from Sabah, Malaysia.

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista

DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said the subpanel under Inter-Agency Task Group Western Mindanao-Management of Returning Filipinos from Sabah (IATG-MREFS), led by DSWD Assistant Secretary for Policy and Plans Joseline Niwane, is in Zamboanga City to undertake the necessary preparations for the arrival of 1,538 Filipino “transferees.”

He noted the Niwane leads the sub-task group that would ensure coordinated and organized government efforts to assist the returning Filipinos. 

“Pamumunuan ng DSWD ang iba’t-ibang ahensya ng gobyerno. Hopefully, pagdating ng ating ng mga kapatid ay organized na ‘yung pagproseso sa kanila,” Bautista said in a virtual press briefing. (The DSWD leads the different government agencies. Hopefully, when our brothers arrive necessary processes have already been put in place and have been organized.)

He said the returning Filipinos who hail from Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga City will be transported back to their respective home provinces by batches.

The DSWD Chief said they will conduct profiling and assessment to determine the kind of assistance that will be given to the returning Filipinos.

“Magsasagawa ang ahensya ng profiling at mga assessment upang matukoy ang pangangailangan ng transferees (The agency will conduct profiling and assessment to determine the needs of transferees),” he said. 

He said the DSWD will extend transportation and food assistance to the repatriates and will refer them to “proper accommodation or health facilities, if necessary.”

He said they have been coordinating with Ministry of Social Welfare and Development of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and IATG-MREFS to come up with a “long-term plan for the reintegration” of the Filipino “transferees.”

The National Task Force on COVID-19 (NTF COVID-19) had created the IATG-MREFS to facilitate the swift return of the overseas Filipinos from Sabah.
Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the NTF on COVID-19, had earlier disclosed that about 400 overseas Filipinos in Sabah, Malaysia were scheduled for repatriation on June 30.