Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government is committed to boosting efforts in issuing legal documents to People of Indonesian Descents (PIDs) living without citizenship in Southern Philippines, an official stated on Monday.
Director of Indonesian Citizens Protection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lalu Muhammad Iqbal noted here on Monday that the government is currently providing passports to PIDs living in Mindanao and assisting them to obtain a visa or residence permit from the Filipino Government.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, in Davao City on Wednesday (Jan 3), symbolically handed over 300 passports to PIDs living in the Philippines to award them Indonesian citizenship.
Those granted Indonesian citizenship were PIDs living for generations in the region of southern Philippines even when the country had yet to be established but did not have any citizenship.
The Indonesian Consulate General in Davao City, along with the Government of the Philippines and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, managed to gather data of 8,745 PIDs living in eight provinces in South Philippines.
Of the identified PIDs, 2,425 have been granted letters affirming Indonesian citizenship, or SPKI.
"Our priority now is to issue passports to them," Iqbal emphasized.
Of the 2,425 PIDs, 300 have been issued their passports.
Iqbal remarked that gathering data and affirming the status of the PIDs was not an easy task.
To get their passports issued, PIDs should follow administrative procedures, such as taking photographs, recording fingerprints, and undergoing retina scanning, all of which should be done offline.
Since several PIDs are living on remote islands, also with low economic income, in the southern Philippines, it is likely that the Indonesian Consulate General in Davao City should reach out to the PIDs scattered in the region, Iqbal stated.
Hence, when the nation of the Philippines was born, they found themselves beyond the jurisdiction of their ancestors, Iqbal noted.
Providing protection to PIDs had been under discussion for years in the ministry, but no action had been taken until 2011 when an agreement was signed.
"Nevertheless, these people need clarity on their status and civil rights," Iqbal remarked.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expects to complete the passport issuance process for the PIDs in the Philippines this year, Iqbal added.
Source: ANTARA News