SABAH, Malaysia - Undocumented Filipinos in Malaysia are scrambling to avail of the Sabah government's amnesty for illegal workers.
However, fake birth certificates issued by their recruitment agency could jeopardize their chances.
The Sabah government said undocumented workers must be able to show documents to prove their identity.
Filipinos who entered Sabah illegally are now scrambling to apply for passports.
They include a group of planation workers who sought the assistance of their agency to obtain birth certificates that are needed before they can be issued passports.
Their problem is the agency issued them fake birth certificates.
One worker, Petang Samon, is only 19 years old. However, his birth certificate shows he is already 27 years old.
The birth certificate issued to his father, meantime, puts his age at only 24 years old.
The undocumented Filipinos who talked to ABS-CBN all had one address in Tapul, Sulu.
However, not one of them knows where that place is.
"Kung mag-checking, ito bigay namin sa pulis. Kung mali pahamak kami," Samon said.
Susan Ople of the Ople Labor Policy Center said this puts Filipinos at greater risk.
"Ang problema dito, ang mapapahamak iyung manggagawa, under the False Information Act dito," she said. "Nananawagan ako sa DFA na tignan ito."
The workers paid more than 250 ringgit or P3,500 to one recruitment agency, Pinoy Resources, which brought to Malaysia from the Philippines.
The agency's owner, Juvie Ranjit, denies the birth certificates they issued are fake.
"We are just helping them. merong authentication iyan from NSO," Ranjit said.
Despite their questionable nature, the birth certificates were still accepted by the mobile passport team of the DFA.
"Kita niyo may security features pa ito. Kung may certification galing NSO, tatanggapin namin iyan," said DFA mobile passport team leader Angelo Mabini.
The Filipinos are at a loss on what they are going to do. - report from Henry Omaga Diaz, ABS-CBN News' ANC