SANDAKAN, April 24 --The Marine Police Force arrested 75 people aboard two vessels for illegally encroaching into Malaysian waters early yesterday morning.
Sandakan district police chief ACP Mohd Azhar Hamin said a team conducting Op Benteng patrols detected the movement of the vessels in the waters of Pulau Berhala about 8 km from here, at 2.30am yesterday.
He said 64 of the detainees including the two skippers were believed to be illegal immigrants from the Philippines, while 11 others were in possession of MyKad, adding that all were tested negative for COVID-19.
"We believe the group which included eight children was trying to sneak into Sandakan.
"The two boats were moving alongside each other from Pulau Tabawan, Philippines towards Sandakan via an illegal route … police seized 109,940 Philippine pesos (RM9,363.50) from the two skippers believed to be the cash collected to ferry the passengers," he told a press conference here today.
Mohd Azhar said the two skippers have been remanded for 28 days to assist investigations under Section 26J of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.
He said 62 illegal immigrants would be remanded for 14 days to assist investigations under Section 6 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act 1969/53 for entering the country without a valid pass, while the 11 with MyKad would be remanded for seven days.
Meanwhile, Sabah Region 4 Marine Operations Force Commander, ACP Ahmad Ariffin said immigrants from the neighbouring countries especially the Philippines, dared to sneak into the country as they have blood ties with the locals in Sandakan.
On that basis, he said, most of them feel they are free to enter and exit the country regardless of the rule of law.
Pejabat Strategik Nasional Majlis Antipemerdagangan Orang dan Antipengeludupan Migran (MAPO)
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Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan