Sunday, March 10, 2013

Manila wants Putrajaya to explain alleged abuse of Filipinos

BY CLARA CHOOI
ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
MARCH 10, 2013
President Benigno Aquino speaks during a news conference on the Sabah invasion, at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila February 26, 2013. — Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, March 10 ― The Philippine government said today it will query Malaysia over reports that Filipinos in Sabah were being abused and shot at arbitrarily by local authorities in search of Sulu invaders.
Deputy presidential spokesman Abigail Valte said in a report on ABN-CBS News this afternoon that Malacanang Palace has received numerous claims of the “inhumane treatment” of Filipinos, many of whom had no connection to the incursion by the self-proclaimed royal army of the Sulu Sultanate.
“These reports are unacceptable, which is why the [Department of Foreign Affairs] will be contacting their Malaysian counterparts to [discuss the matter],” she was quoted saying in an online report.
Valte was responding to reports from Filipino refugees that the Malaysian police used unnecessary force on Filipinos in Sabah while combing through the state in search of those with links to the Sultanate.
Refugees interviewed by The Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday claimed they fled their homes in east Malaysia after witnessing aggressive acts used by authorities here during widespread operations to flush out the Sulu invaders earlier this week.
One refugee said Filipino men were dragged from their homes, beaten, and subsequently forced to run while the police shot arbitrarily at them, even after they produced immigration documents to prove their stay in Malaysia was valid.
Reports have also reached the self-proclaimed Sulu “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III, whose brother Agbimuddin Kiram is leading the armed incursion in Sabah, that Malaysians of Tausug descent were being singled out in the operations and brutalised at the hands of the police, including those who held MyKads.
The Tausug are also known as the Suluk people, who come from Sulu in the Philippines.
“[The Malaysians] claim they are enforcing maximum tolerance, but there’s no truth to that. Instead, maximum violence is what’s happening. Even women, pregnant women, and children are being fired upon by Malaysian forces,” Jamalul’s daughter, “princess” Jacel Kiram, was quoted as saying in a report on Manila Standard Today.
The Sultanate’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, claimed that a pregnant woman, who was rounded up during the operation, even went into labour while under arrest in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, where the Sulu army’s hideout was at the time.
In the Inquirer, a 32-year-old Filipino named Amira Taradji said her brother was killed at the hands of the Malaysian police during their rounding-up of suspected supporters.
“They dragged all the males outside the house, kicked and hit them,” she told the daily in a phone call from Patikul, Sulu, shortly after she arrived in the Philippines on Friday night along with some 200 other refugees.
Taradji claimed that Malaysian security forces stormed villages in the coastal constituency of Sandakan where she was staying on Monday night, and in the ordeal, her brother Jumadil was allegedly gunned down after he was forced by the police to run as fast as he could.
According to the Inquirer, officials said there are now close to 1,000 refugees who have fled Sabah for Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, while more are expected to arrive over the next few days as Malaysia continues operations flush out the Sulu invaders.
Malaysia launched an all-out assault on the Sulu group on Tuesday morning, using fighter jets to rain down bombs on Kampung Tanduo where the Sulu group had been hiding.
After the airstrike, ground troops moved in for the “mopping up” operations, going door-to-door and advancing slowly over the uneven terrain surrounding the coastal village to hunt down the armed militants.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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