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Ship with Sabah refugees deliberately slowed down for Roxas visit to Tawi-Tawi


BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines – The Philippine Navy ship that carried evacuees from Sabah was supposed to dock at the port here at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Its 523 passengers, all tired from the trip from the island of Taganak in the Turtle Islands that started at 1 p.m. Tuesday, had to wait a few more hours as the ship’s docking had to be timed with the arrival here of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Jazmer Arquiza, his wife Imee and their three children—ages 4, 1 and 3 months—were among those who boarded the ship BRP Sultan Kudarat on Taganak. The couple said the boat slowed down and stopped in mid-sea for about four hours Tuesday night.

“We fell asleep while waiting for the ship to sail again,” Imee said.

Sherilyn Viado, another evacuee, said the same thing.

As early as Tuesday night, the Philippine Daily Inquirer had learned from sources about the plan to have the ship dock in time for Roxas’  arrival. True enough, as if on cue, Roxas was at the port when the ship docked at 9:30 a.m.

Viado said that if the ship had sailed at its normal speed, they would have arrived in Bongao before 6 a.m.

At the port, several local officials told the passengers not to come down because Roxas was going to board the vessel. However, Roxas, visibly displeased at the turn of events, instructed the boat’s crew to disembark the evacuees.

“Hindi na tayo aakyat, hayaan na muna nating makababa ang mga evacuees (We’re not going up anymore; let the evacuees disembark first),” he said.

Military and local officials, who asked not to be identified, said asking all the passengers to get off the ship was not even part of the plan as only six of them were bound for Tawi-Tawi.

“The plan was to drop them in Bongao, then proceed to Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga,” the military source said.

Asked if he asked for the “timely” docking of the ship, Roxas answered, “Intriga lang yon (That’s just intrigue) and I don’t even want to respond to that.”

Roxas said the evacuees were to be processed in Bongao “because we want to ensure they are healthy before they will be sent back to their respective destinations.”

Dr. Rowell Quiogue, who attended the evacuees before they left the Turtle Islands, said some of the passengers had colds and cough.

“Marami ring matatanda na inaatake ng high blood (Many are old and suffering from high blood pressure),” Quioque said.

Meanwhile, after checking the public market in Bongao, Roxas announced that there was no food shortage.

“There is no food shortage here. Sa ngayon, walang food shortage at walang delay sa food supplies (As of now, there is no food shortage and no delay in food supplies),” he said.

Roxas said the National Food Authority had enough rice of about 15,000 sacks. Tawi-Tawi consumes an estimated 2,500 sacks daily, he added.

“If we need more, we will get more rice from NFA in Pagadian City, in Zamboanga City and even from Region 4 and Batangas. Sisiguraduhin namin na may sapat na supply ng bigas We will make sure there is enough rice),” he said.

Governor Sadikul Sahali said they were still waiting for a Navy boat, loaded with 1,000 sacks of rice, to arrive from Zamboanga City.

“We don’t have that much supply because traders from Malaysia can’t get through,” Sahali said.

Hussin Alih, a rice trader at the public market, said prior to the standoff in Lahad Datu, a 25-kilogram sack of rice cost P600 to P650.  “Now it has gone up to P750 up to P800.”

He said traders were having difficulties transporting goods from Malaysia.

“We can buy only as much as 20 sacks, sometimes less,” he said.

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Tags: Features , Global Nation , Sabah standoff , Sulu sultan

  • magiting78

    Pambihira pinahirapan lang yung mga tao para lang mag karoon ng audience c Roxas pagdating nya…para ano pa pogi s media?….

  • $18209031

    Ayan , inuuna ang mga politicos !! Even in times like this, ano naman kayo mga ating mga nasa gobyerno ? Ginawang pang porma ang mga refugees as backdrop para maganda tingnan sa TV. Pakud na mga yan at nagugutom . Forget the niceties and photo ops.

    Unahin ang ating mga kapwang Suluans . They ve been a lot and dont let them be used as props for Politicos !!

  • tadokapurpledaisy

    ngayon kirat me pera ka para ipakain mo sa mga refugees na umalis sa sabah? kasi ikaw ugok ka kung ano anong katarantaduhan yang pumapasok sa utak ebak mo

  • tadokapurpledaisy

    to all the refugees, blame kirat’s stupidity

  • Hey_Dudes

    How is this different when distribution of relief goods to people affected by landslide in Bicol was delayed because GMA was enroute and wanted photo mileage while she distribute it herself?

  • disqusted0fu

    The refugees are already suffering because of Pnoy’s inaction on the Sabah crisis, and apparently they have to suffer even more just for Mar Roxas to get his photo ops and media mileage. We have to remind our government officials that politics is different from show business. It is unacceptable to make it scripted and directed as if you’re filming a movie.

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