SANDAKAN - A total of 641 illegal Filipino immigrants were deported as efforts intensify to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah.
The latest deportation on Friday involved 293 men, 188 women and 160 children, whose ages ranged from one month to 75. It is the largest deportation exercise carried out so far this year.
The deportees were transported in a convoy of 22 buses from the Temporary Detention Centre in Sibuga to the Sandakan seaport where they were put onboard a passenger ferry for the journey to Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.
Sabah/Labuan Special Task Force director Rodzi Md Saad said there were another 3,558 illegal immigrants still being held at temporary detention centres in Papar, Sandakan and Tawau.
"The combined capacity of the three detention centres is 5,550. The soon to be completed centre in Menggatal can accommodate another 2,500 people," Rodzi added.
Rodzi said the Sandakan temporary detention centre currently has six blocks that can house 1,000 detainees.
"With another four new blocks, it can hold a further 1,000 persons," he added.
He said the Special Task Force had deported 12,100 illegal immigrants between January and Aug 15, adding that most of them were Filipinos (9,368 people) followed by Indonesians (2,569).
"The number of illegals deported is considered high compared with 13,222 last year and 12,551 in 2012," Rodzi added.
He estimated that another 4,000 people would be deported by the end of the year.