PH presses for access to Filipino detainees in Sabah

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DFA Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez. INQUIRER.NET FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has asserted its right to have access to Philippine citizens being held by Malaysian authorities in Sabah as government had no confirmed information of their location and condition, relying only on Malaysian news reports on the arrests.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said Thursday that the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has conveyed to Malaysia the Philippines’ reiteration of its request to visit Filipinos detained in Sabah in connection with the fighting between the so-called royal army of the sultan of Sulu and Malaysian forces.

“We are insisting that we should be allowed access to the people who are in their custody (especially) those who are in charge. This request is based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” said Hernandez.

“The Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario has already instructed our Ambassador to get access to the eight Filipinos so that we would be able to find out their personal conditions, their individual details as well as any assistance we can provide to our people,” said Hernandez in a briefing Thursday afternoon.

The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations requires every signing country–Malaysia included–to grant foreign governments access to their detained citizens. Hernandez said the convention was a “reciprocal arrangement” among all countries.

Hernandez said the Philippines’ request includes access to eight followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III reported to be facing terror charges–a violation punishable by death. More than 100 others in Malaysian custody face similar charges.

“What we’re trying to do now is request access, to confirm news reports regarding the eight being charged by the Malaysian authorities for crimes on terrorism. That’s part of the task of our Embassy so we’re able to confirm this news report and get details about report,” said Hernandez.

He said the DFA has yet to independently confirm details and circumstances of their arrest and charges they face, saying information the foreign office so far has is “based on reports that came out from Malaysia.”

“What is important is to get details about them, to know exactly what charges are filed against them and legal representations made for them,” said Hernandez.

The Philippines made a similar request earlier this month when Malaysia made the first arrest in connection with the standoff. But Malaysia declined citing the difficult security situation on the ground, Hernandez said.

Asked what course of action the government could take given Malaysia’s rejection of its initial request, Hernandez said: “All we have to do is insist because that’s part of our mandate, our obligation to take care of our people and to protect their rights and make sure they are protected.”

Amid the ongoing conflict in Sabah, the DFA is still optimistic that the situation could still be resolved peacefully.

“We have to be positive about this issue. That has been our call from the beginning- that this issue be resolved peacefully and immediately so that no further loss of lives would happen,” said Hernandez.

He said “close relations” between the Philippines and Malaysia continue despite the Sabah incident and that lines of communication remain open between Philippine officials and their Malaysian counterparts.

“Our agencies and top officials are in constant communication with their counterparts and we are hoping that we’ll be able to enhance this relationship and overcome any existing challenges we are encountering especially on this issue of the Lahad Datu incident,” said Hernandez.

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  • BatangSingapore

    yan si abnoy hindi ba mag resign?

    si BUM at Ting Ting ,ag resign na rin daw sa kandidatura nila.

    alis na mga Cojuangco at Aquino sa showbiz at politika. TAMA NA SOBRA NA.

    • makinagulingon_nasud

      If Noy wants access to Karims terrorist group he should turn over Karim in exchange,,,,the US would have made the same deal with Abu to access the prisoners at Guantanimo in exchange for OSAMA BIN LADEN

  • tom_bbt

    PH presses for access to Filipino detainees in Sabah…….. press release lang ito siguro….kabaliktaran naman ginagawa

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

      uso na makapili sa atin dapat mag takip na ng bayong sa ulo ito DFA natin!

  • misuari playboy

    kiram has upset malaysia… big mistake!

    • philip hernaez

      He has upset Malaysia because he is claiming his properties.

    • misuari playboy

      the cost of losing war with malaysia:

      1. no more cession money

      2. tawi-tawi, sulu and basilan becomes dmz

  • Hey_Dudes

    Hell will freeze over a hundred times before Malaysia will agree to anything with the Philippine government. You can thank your number 1 terrorist Kiram for that.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VS5EYSP4FPOTVQCJZ24NRE6Z2M Edgardo Mendoza

    wala mang yayari jan pag nag karoon talaga ng marami mamatay alam naman ng malaysia di sakanila sabah inuupahan lang nila ang sabah kaya dapat mas maykarapatan ang mga tausug jan sa sabah hindi mga malaysian at insik india itim

  • disqusted0fu

    There is nothing that the PH can do with Malaysia because the PH President is kowtowing to Malaysia. He could care less on this issue. He has his own pressing to do with a quest of a 12-0 sweep for his team Pnoy. That’s the most important thing for Pnoy now. The rest he’ll just sit on.

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