Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Secretary Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto disclosed on Wednesday’s Habi at Kape media forum that the Department of Foreign Affairs will establish a Philippine consular office at Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia.
He said this came as offshoot of the decision of the minister of Sabah to lift the ban on the conduct of economic activities among Filipino Muslim traders of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and Malaysian traders which also re-opens the Philippine’s access to Sabah, Malaysia.
At present, Philippines has a mobile consular office in Kota Kinabalu but it has no physical office to tend to the needs of Filipinos in the city, particularly the processing of documents such as passports.
Alonto pointed out the importance of putting up a consular office in Kota Kinabalu as a sizeable Filipino population in the city.
“Nobody is attending to our people. They need the consular support and concern of the Department of Foreign Affairs ,” he added.
Alonto mentioned that that the primary hindrance before was the issue of Sabah claim. However, he stressed that Kota Kinabalu is not part of the area covered by the Sabah claim.
He stressed that without the prejudice of such issue, the Philippine government would like to urgently respond to the needs of the Filipino community in Sabah.
“The children cannot go to school because they are undocumented. Now we will work it out and negotiate that the Philippine government through the Department of Education (DepEd) and other private entities that have so much concern about the human developments of the children of these migrants can put up schools…” Alonto explained.
Once established, the consular office will also tend to the health and livelihood needs of the Filipinos in the city.
Aside from the establishment of a consular office, the government is also making arrangements with the country’s counterparts in Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA ) for the acceleration and operation of the BIMP-EAGA Facilitation Center at Kota Kinabalu by February this year.