Gov't wants sworn statements' on Malaysia abuse

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom
Protesters hold placards as they attend a rally in front of the Malaysian embassy in Manila on March 5, 2013 over the crackdown by Malaysian security forces against a group of followers of a self-proclaimed Philippine sultan who entered the Malaysian state of Sabah to assert the sultan's claim over the area. Malaysia, facing its worst security crisis in years, insists the gunmen must surrender

The Palace on Tuesday said it cannot take a firm action against reports of abuse by Malaysian authorities until victims issue sworn statements.
Social Welfare and Development Secretary Dinky Soliman stressed a formal document is needed before the Philippine government can raise the issue with Malaysia.
"Yung sa ngayon, 'yung reported sa media, wala pa kaming nakukuhang tao na willing magpirma ng dokumento na ganoon nga ang nangyari (For now, we have yet to find anyone willing to sign a document attesting to the reported abuses)," reports quoted Soliman as saying.
"Hindi naman kasi tayo pwedeng magreklamo na kuwento lang po ang nakukuha (We can't file a complaint based on hearsay)," she added at a press conference in Camp Crame.

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Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte agreed in a separate press briefing at the Palace.
The Palace official, however, refused to speculate on why no one had submitted a sworn statement.
"Ayoko pong mag-speculate kung bakit kasi ayoko ring sabihin na hindi sila lumalabas (I don't want to speculate as to why, because I don't want to say that they haven't come out yet)," Valte said.
She assured the public that the Social Welfare department is "already taking steps to secure the statements of these people."

Also read: Gov't moves to prevent 'humanitarian crisis' amid Sabah conflict
Cabinet officials on Tuesday said about 1,500 Filipinos have fled Sabah amid the violent standoff between Malaysian forces and followers of Sabah claimant Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
Media reports have reported on some Filipino evacuees claiming they have been harassed and "treated like animals."
The Palace stressed its refusal to act without sworn statements does not translate to lack of concern for the Filipino evacuees.
Valte stressed that government is focused on providing relief to Filipinos who have fled Sabah and are now in Mindanao.