Gov’t to pursue appeal to access detained Pinoys in Sabah-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
MANILA (Updated) - The Philippine Government vowed Thursday to continue to find ways to gain access to Filipinos detained in Malaysia following the deadly offensive in Sabah.
Malaysia earlier rejected the Philippines’ request to have full access to Filipino detainees in its custody. It also did not allow the Philippine authorities and family members who might seek to negotiate the safety of the armed members of the Kiram clan who are being hunted in Sabah, citing the Malaysian authorities could not guarantee their safety.
But presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said: “Our concern is for our Filipinos in custody. We will continue to pursue our desire to seek access to our Filipino brethren who are in Malaysian custody.”
Asked about the government’s option if ever Malaysia would not grant the Philippines' request, Lacierda said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has to work on it.
Malaysian authorities have reported that 64 people have been killed during the Sabah offensive, mostly followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Also, 97 people have been arrested in Borneo’s state amid the ongoing security operations in the area.
The Department of Justice (DOJ), meanwhile, reported that 36 members of the Royal Security Forces (RSF) of Sultan Kiram have been detained after they were intercepted on Wednesday sailing home from Sabah.
They were seized by the Philippine Navy on board two small boats from the Malaysian state after they were caught within the vicinities of Omapoy and Adulingan islands in Tawi-Tawi.
DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima said the first group was intercepted at 6:35 a.m. Wednesday by Navy vessel PS38.
“There were 18 of them, 17 males, and one female, and with assorted firearms, and one of them was even found wounded, and they identified themselves as Royal Security Force,” she said.
The second group came an hour later at 7:37 a.m., with 18 armed followers of Kiram.
Rajah Muda Agbimmudin Kiram, Jamalul’s brother and leader of Kiram followers who landed in Sabah on February 12, was not among those intercepted.
The Justice department said it is mulling on filing charges against the detained Filipinos for carrying a large cache of weapons suspected to have been used during the Sabah conflict.
“So with that development, the processes are now being undertaken by a composite team with the end view of filing the appropriate charges against them as soon as possible,” De Lima said. (SDR/Sunnex)