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Deportation of 75 undocumented Filipinos from Japan rapped

MANILA, Aug. 27 — Local and international Catholic groups, including the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, has criticized the treatment of the Philippine and Japanese governments on the deportation of some 75 undocumented Filipinos from Japan last July 6, 2013.

In a press briefing, the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, together with the Catholic Commission of Japan Migrants, Refugees and People on the Move (J-Carm), the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ) and the Scalabrini Migrants Center urged both governments to be more compassionate in treating deportees.

“We question and oppose the forced mass deportation of the 75 undocumented Filipino migrants because we found that their human rights were violated and their welfare is disregarded,” said Erlyn Regondon, J-Carm lay missionary.

She noted that the deportees needed medical attention and counseling.

“Most suffer from symptoms of depression such as attempted suicide, insomnia…their physical and psychological conditions deteriorated while in detention,” Regondon added.

The inhumane treatment to the deportees was unraveled after the joint delegation of J-Carm and SMJ in Japan conducted interviews with the Filipinos to assess the deportation process and their reintegration into the Philippine society.

They also found out cases of human rights violations during detention and transportation, as well as lack of government assistance in the Philippines as they feel alienated and helpless in their own country.

“They need proper assistance to readjust to the new environment. They have no money to start a new life,” Regondon added.

With this, the groups make the following demands to the Japanese government namely: examine thoroughly and carefully in deciding the deportation, respect the deportees’ rights to access family and legal assistance before deportation; prohibit an excessive use of handcuffs to manage the deportees because it is an act of torture and humiliation; and provide proper medical attention with a reference to the hospitals in the Philippines.

For the Philippine government, they asked for support to fulfill urgent needs of the 75 deported undocumented migrants; help those undocumented who wish to remain in Japan acquire legal status; and provide an accessible and tangible reintegration program designed for undocumented workers,” she said.

Celso Pamiloza, 47, who lived in Japan for 27 years and one of the deportees related: “I was really surprised when the Japanese immigration arrested me in December 2011. I was detained for four months in Shinagawa, Tokyo and another year in three months in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture.

"While I was detained, I applied for a temporary release seven times. My last application was denied in the evening of July 5, the day before I was deported by a charter plane with 74 other Filipinos.”

“I feel betrayed by the Filipino government and the embassy since it appears to us that they cooperated with the Japanese government when my own government should have been helping me to acquire legal status,” he added in a statement.

There are about 200,000 Filipinos living and working in Japan, with additional 5,700 undocumented. (PNA)

HBC/FGP/UTB

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