By Ellen Tordesillas
Malaysia treats the Philippines like dirt and Malacañang takes it with hardly a whimper.
News reports relate the harrowing experience of Filipinos under the hands of Malaysian security forces who are conducting a sweep of the Sabah to capture the forces of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, younger brother of Jamalul Kiram III and one of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu, who was given Sabah by the Sultan of Brunei in 1878 as a reward for helping suppress a revolt.
Sabah became part of Malaysia as a result of questionable decisions by a British company and the United Kingdom.
A report by Inquirer’s Julie Alipala and Karlos Manlupig quoted 32-year old Amira Taradji, one of those who fled Sabah last week, as saying, “We’re treated like animals.”
She related that Malaysian security forces “dragged all the men outside the houses, kicked and hit them…Some of those arrested did not see jail because they were shot and killed.”
President Aquino, who has been defending Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak’ drastic actions against Kiram’s group, had no comment. His Deputy Spokesperson, Abigail Valte said, “These reports are unacceptable, which is why the [Department of Foreign Affairs] will be contacting their Malaysian counterparts to [discuss the matter].”
The DFA also issued a statement saying it views with “grave concern the alleged rounding up of community members of Suluk/Tausug descent in Lahad Datu and other areas in Sabah and the alleged violations of human rights reported in the media by some Filipinos who arrived in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi from Sabah.”
The DFA said it is coordinating with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and other relevant agencies to document these reports so that appropriate actions could be taken.
The DFA “ urges the Malaysian government to take steps to clarify these alleged incidents,” the statement said.
The statement continued:“The Department continues to call on the Malaysian Government to give our Philippine Embassy officials and the Philippine humanitarian/consular team dispatched to Lahad Datu and nearby areas full access to the Filipinos being held “in several locations in Sabah but outside the ‘Ops Daulat’ area,” as announced by the Malaysian Inspector General of the Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar on 08 March 2013, to enable them to fulfill their mission which is to provide humanitarian and consular assistance to Filipinos who have been affected by the incident.
“We reiterate our call on the Malaysian Government to give humane treatment to the Filipinos under their custody.
“The allegations are alarming and should be properly and immediately addressed by concerned authorities. “
If you read the statement carefully especially the part “:“The Department continues to call on the Malaysian Government to give our Philippine Embassy officials and the Philippine humanitarian/consular team dispatched to Lahad Datu and nearby areas full access to the Filipinos being held….” The Philippine government is begging the Malaysian government.
That’s because the past weeks, Malaysians have been treating rudely foreign affairs officials sent to find a peaceful solution to the Lahad Datu standoff.
Foreign Undersecretary for Special and Ocean Concerns Jose Brillantes,who was formerly ambassador to Malaysia, was sent to Malaysia last week to coordinate with authorities on the humanitarian aspect of the crisis. He didn’t even get near Sabah.
A Philippine Navy boat has been standing by waiting for the permission of Malaysia to dock in Sabah to fetch Filipinos. No permission up to now.
The DFA said they have sent several note verbales to the Malaysian government asking for access to Filipinos in Sabah. All ignored.
Journalist Charmaine Deogracias, who covers foreign affairs, remarked:” Why do we even have to ask permission via note verbale to visit Filipinos in jail, that's a guaranteed consular right of states under the vienna convention. In our note verbale we even had to remind Malaysia that. Why, does Malaysia also ask permission to visit their nationals when arrested here in the Philippines?”
Last week, while Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was in Kuala Lumpur to meet with his counterpart, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah ,they started the bombing of Lahad Datu.
Not only that. The Malaysian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the meeting saying that “Secretary Rosario agreed that this group should be labelled as terrorists.” The ‘group’ referred to Kiram’s people.
Del Rosario said his statement was “taken out of context.”
Last Wednesday, United Nations Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon urged an “ end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation,” in Sabah.
Kiram III immediately ordered a unilateral ceasefire to his people. Malaysia rejected the UN appeal. Up to now the Philippines has not commented on the UN appeal on Sabah but we had time to say something about UN resolution imposing sanction on North Korea’s nuclear test.
The latest statement of President Aquino on Sabah was last Wednesday in General Santos when he continued to praise Malaysia.
He said: “Kaya ako naman po, bilang ama ng ating bansa, obligasyon ko ‘yung kapakanan, kung hindi ng lahat, ay ‘yung talagang napakarami... Itong Malaysia po na dating iniisip baka lusubin natin sila, nagbago ng pananaw sa atin, tumulong sa peace agreement ng matagal para mahulma sa MILF; pinapangako na hindi lang sila tutulong doon sa paghulma nung peace agreement pati doon sa paglipat ng mga fighters papunta sa kabuhayan, ’yung matuto ng may magandang kabuhayan. Mag-i-invest sila, magtri-training sila, magiging partner natin sila para magkaroon ng tiyak na pamamaraan umasenso ang buhay ng mga kapatid na nag-alsa na rin, at some point in time.
“Paganda nang paganda ang relasyon natin, biglang umusbong ito. Biglang meron siyempre magsasabi sa Malaysia: Ganoon ba talaga relasyon natin sa Pilipinas? Magtatalo tayo parati sa Sabah? Magkakagulo ba tayo dito? Di ba, dapat magkagulo na rin doon sa kanila
Aquino spoke of missed opportunities:“Sayang, di ho ba? Ang ganda ng pagkakataon.”
It’s doubtful if he realized the leadership opportunity he missed.
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