33 people, including women, detained for ‘abetting’ royal army – report
MANILA (UPDATED) -- Malacanang on Sunday condemned the alleged harassment of Filipinos in Sabah who are not even connected to the standoff between the royal army of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III against Malaysian troops.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said Malacanang has received reports of the "inhumane treatment" of Filipinos amid the ongoing battle between the two forces claiming jurisdiction over parts of Sabah.
“These reports are unacceptable, which is why the [Department of Foreign Affairs] will be contacting their Malaysian counterparts to [discuss the matter],” she said.
The alleged extrajudicial killings there will also have to be validated.
Based on a report from Bernama, the national news agency of Malaysia, around 33 people – including four women – have been detained by police in Semporna for allegedly “abetting” the royal army.
Quoting Semporna district police chief DSP Mohd Firdaus Francis Abdullah, the “foreigners” – who have allegedly been sharing information with the followers of Kiram – are detained in Kampung Pinggir Bikau.
They were apprehended during a house-to-house operation early Sunday.
Reports from different news agencies said Filipinos there are being treated “like animals” when Malaysian forces launched a crackdown on the supporters of Kiram.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Amura Taradji, who said the Malaysian troops “dragged all the men outside the houses, kicked and hit them.”
Taradji was among those who fled Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tawau and Kunak in Sabah when the clashes began.
Valte said they have also received reports of harassment from those who fled for Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.
“These are unacceptable. We also asked for access to Kiram’s group so that assistance can be sent to them. What more of those who don’t have any links to the standoff? This is precisely one of the things that President Aquino raised in his conversation with the Prime Minister of Malaysia,” Valte said.
Kiram announced an immediate ceasefire last week following calls by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Malaysian defense officials rejected the call, however, amid the rising number of reported deaths.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said they won’t consider any request for a ceasefire as long as the armed intruders refuse to leave.