16,000 ILLEGAL FILIPINOS SCATTERED ACROSS PNG

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‘This country is open for anyone to come in’

By Pearson Kolo PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 10, 2009) - There are a staggering 16,000 people from the Philippines who are living illegally in Papua New Guinea.

The Philippines Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Madam Shirley Ho-Vicario on Friday informed the Parliamentary Bipartisan Committee probing into the anti Asian riots that these people were living and working in PNG.

Madam Vicario informed the Bipartisan Committee that these illegal residents were scattered all over PNG and they were a big percentage of the 19,000 people from his country that were living and working in this country.

Madam Vicario informed the inquiry that many of the 16,000 illegal residents kept going to the Philippines Embassy for assistance.

Committee member and MP for Lagaip Porgera, Philip Kikala, yesterday confirmed the statement from the Ambassador for the Philippines at the inquiry yesterday.

"Many of them are believed to be hiding away in logging camps, taking up employment where locals are supposed to be," Mr. Kikila said. Kikila said the logging industry in the country was a major "window" for many illegal immigrants coming into the country.

"This just goes to show that this country is open for anyone to come in," Kikala said.

The MP’s remarks were supported by three senior executives from the National Forest Authority who appeared before the committee yesterday.

NFA acting director Benjamin Kaupa, director corporate services Robi Lovai and acting director for forest development Tuno Sabuin did not deny the forest industry as being one of the major avenues where illegals were coming into the country.

"But NFA has not actually dealt with any because the NFA does not have the necessary resources to keep surveillance and inadequate manpower to adequately implement its duties," the three jointly said.

However, they said 90 percent of the logging industry in the country is run by Asian companies and it was anybody’s guess as to what was happening in the remote logging camps.

The NFA officials recommended to the committee that the authority should be better resourced to conduct its duties effectively.

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