Abuses Against Filipinos Trigger Sabah ‘Invasion’

MANILA, Philippines --- Abuses by Malaysian authorities against Filipinos living in Sabah prompted the group of Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, the crown prince of the Sultanate of Sulu, to press their claim of ownership of their "ancestral territory."

Dayang Dayang Fatima Celia Kiram revealed this yesterday in a press conference at the Astanah Kiram (literally Palace of the Sultan) in Taguig City.

She said Filipinos in Sabah are already crying, they could not tolerate anymore the maltreatment they are suffering even for a slight mistake.

In a radio interview yesterday morning, the rajah muda made the same revelations.

Dayang Dayang Kiram revealed this, recalling that in early 2000 thousands of the Filipinos were forcibly deported to the Philippines.

She said Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and the rajah muda have been receiving reports of the maltreatment suffered by the Filipinos on the resource-rich island.

Over in Kampung Tanduao, Lahad Datu, Sabah, Rajah Muda told radio DZBB about the Malaysian authorities' maltreatment of Filipinos, many of them refugees.

He said they went to Sabah because their cause is not getting attention from the Philippine government.

The rajah muda said they "want to repossess Sabah for the Christians and Muslims working like "carabaos" in Sabah.

"(Malaysians) don't even give a little respect. They treat them like animals," said the rajah muda, younger brother of Kiram III.

He said the abuses can be verified with the Filipinos, mostly from Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, and parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, who were already sent home by the Malaysians.

"Ask them (deportees) how they (Malaysians) treat Filipinos," he said.

Meanwhile, Jay Ruiz of ABS-CBN Channel 2 showed yesterday to his fellow journalists a horrifying video of a person with exposed buttocks being hit many times.

The person's buttocks is bloodied as a cane or a rattan landed on his behind.

Ruiz, who made a documentary of the abuses against Filipinos in 2002, said the person being hit is a Muslim Filipino.

He said he learned that before Filipinos were deported, they went through torture.

As this developed, at least 800,000 Filipinos are facing a risk of losing their jobs and livelihood as an adverse effect on the ongoing standoff.

This is one of the reasons, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, President Benigno S. Aquino III is pushing for the withdrawal of over 200 persons, some of them are armed, who are now holed up in Sabah.

"It is important that we maintain the good relations between and Malaysia and the Philippines. We don't want Malaysians to think that Filipinos can no longer be trusted in entering their country," said Roxas during yesterday's turnover of 38 fire trucks to the Bureau of Fire Protection at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

Based on latest assessment, Roxas revealed that there are at least P800,000 who are directly working and trading with Malaysia, almost half of them are reportedly in Sabah.

Aside from the prospect of nearly a million Filipinos losing job, Roxas said the President is also concerned on the fate of Kiram's followers who are currently the subject of the possible operations of Malaysian authorities.

The problem, he said, is that Malaysian authorities are already losing their patience on the followers of Kiram.

"We don't want Malaysia to lose their patience and that's why we are exhausting all the diplomatic means to solve this peacefully," said Roxas.

"Malaysia is an independent country and they are accountable to their Parliament, we don't want something to happen," he added.

He then reiterated the statement of President Aquino that the Royal Sultanate of Sulu's way of handling the issue is improper and only put to risk the lives of his followers.

On Tuesday, Aquino called on Kiram to have his followers withdraw and go home, saying that there is already a standby ship waiting for them near the boundary of Malaysia and the Philippines.

Kiram, however, declared that his men who are led by his brother will not go back until Malaysia sits with them and come up with specific measures to address the Sabah issue.

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