Group seeks apology after Soliman ‘balikbayan’ remark-A A +A
Thursday, March 14, 2013
A PROGRESSIVE group on Thursday demanded an apology from Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman for calling returning Filipinos from Sabah "balikbayan" or returning citizens.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) finds Soliman's statement insulting as the term balikbayan suggests that "Sabah is not part of the Philippines."
"The Aquino government is belittling the humanitarian crisis and human rights violations from the Malaysian government… She should apologize to those who fled Sabah," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said in a text message.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the DSWD Secretary appealed to media to call the recorded 1,079 Filipino evacuees from Sabah as balikbayans.
Soliman requested media not to call Filipinos fleeing Sabah refugees "because they are not."
Filipinos residing in the Malaysia-controlled state have fled Sabah after a month-long armed crisis that culminated in the killing of over 60 followers of self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
"They are not balikbayans. They are seeking refuge from a disputed territory to which the Philippine government has a legitimate claim to. If we are to assert our claim to Sabah, let us not treat them or address them as if they came from another country," Gabriela party-list Representative Luzviminda Ilagan said in response to Soliman's statement.
Ilagan was part of a fact-finding mission conducted on the plight of Filipino refugees from Sabah in 2008. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)