"Drastic action against Pinoys in Sabah could spark another standoff similar to what happened in 2013."
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. today condemned the use of lethal force by Malaysian authorities against Filipino undocumented aliens which led to the deaths of three Filipino teenagers in Sabah.
The senator also put to task Philippine diplomatic officials stationed in Malaysia, saying that the safety and security of Filipinos caught in the swift immigration operation should be of utmost priority. Bongbong will be asking diplomatic officials to provide the senate a thorough report on the circumstances behind the deaths of the Filipino teenagers, instead of just merely be arrested.
He cautioned Malaysia not to treat Filipinos in Sabah harshly saying this could lead to a repeat of the bloody encounter between Filipinos and Malaysian authorities last 2013.
Last Saturday, Malaysian immigration officials swooped down in a market in Lahad Datu in the island of Sabah. Sketchy reports say the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) led the operation which led to the deaths of the three Filipinos.
The victims were identified as 16-year old Nordin Akang, 17-year old Lahudin Nasir and 18-year old Alex Nasir, residents of Kampung Bakau in Lahad Datu.
“I appeal to our Malaysian counterparts not to employ harsh methods against our fellow Filipinos in Malaysia. I am deeply concerned about this. International law dictates the humane treatment even of undocumented individuals.” Says Marcos Jr.
The Philippine embassy stationed in Malaysia also expressed their deep concern over the use of lethal force by immigration officials against Filipinos in Sabah.
“The Philippine embassy is deeply concerned about this turn of events, and even as the cause of the deaths of the three Filipinos, two of whom are minors, is being investigated, the embassy calls for humane treatment of undocumented individuals, including the manner by which operations are conducted,” the embassy said in a statement.
The embassy has dispatched a 3-person team to Lahad Datu to probe into the deaths and meet with the relatives of the teenagers killed. Philippine diplomatic officials also conferred with the ESSCOM and police authorities, reports say.
Marcos Jr. wants to know why maximum tolerance was not effected against undocumented Filipinos which is the standard operating procedure of immigration officials everywhere.
“Our immigration officials here treat undocumented aliens, even Malaysians, in the utmost civility and humanely, and respectfully recognize their human rights. We expect the same treatment from our Asian neighbors. “
The senator cautioned Malaysian authorities of provoking Filipinos living in Sabah, reminding them of what happened in February of 2013 when a standoff happened between Malaysian forces and Filipinos claiming to be members of the Sultanate of Sulu.
Muslim followers of the late Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III arrived in droves in Sabah and entered a town in Lahad Datu to the surprise of Malaysian and Philippine authorities. More than 200 Filipinos fought with Malaysian security forces in a standoff which resulted to scores injured and several dead.
Raja Muda Agbimuddin, brother of the late sultan led the operation. The group claims ancestral ownership of an area of Northern Borneo that the Philippines has been claiming since the independence of Malaysia from Great Britain.
Philippine president Benigno S. Aquino III sought the assurance of Malaysia that the rights of Filipinos permanently living in Sabah be recognized. On March 1, 2013, Malaysia declared the standoff over with the arrest of a handful of the sultan’s followers.