Palace extends legal aid to 8 charged in Sabah

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Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang will extend consular and legal assistance to the eight men charged with terrorism in Sabah despite doubts expressed by the sultanate of Sulu over their citizenship.

Malaysia, which insists the eight are Filipino citizens, has granted the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur access to them, said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte in a radio interview Saturday.

Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson for the sultanate, claimed on Friday that the accused were not Filipinos but Malaysians.

While this issue remains to be clarified, Malaysian Gen. Khalid Abu Bakar announced the arrest of four more persons associated with the sultan’s rebellion, including an alleged top commander of the Sulu royal army and his wife.

Khalid, Malaysian police deputy inspector who is leading the operations against sultanate forces, told reporters in Sabah that the couple were captured before dawn yesterday in the suspects’ hideaway “in a marshy area of Semporna.”

Khalid did not name the alleged commander and his wife.  He added that a “collaborator” of the two suspects was also nabbed.

Khalid described the latter as the son of a former Tanduo village chief, who is a “Sabahan of Filipino descent.”

Sabah’s Radio 24 quoted Khalid as saying yesterday’s arrests had “weakened the terrorists” because they had lost a leader as well as their coordinator for food and supplies.

Khalid said the fresh arrests had brought to 408 the number of people arrested as Operasi Daulat (Operation Sovereignty) entered its 19th day. About 111 were being investigated for terrorism and rebellion against the Malaysian king, while the rest were being held for violating restrictions imposed in several areas.

Since the operation was launched, Malaysian reports said 63 suspected Sulu gunmen had been killed while the Malaysian side suffered 10 deaths—eight of them policemen. Only 38 bodies, however, have been retrieved, Khalid was quoted as saying.

He said Operasi Daulat would continue until the security of Sabah was ascertained.

Malaysian police chief Insp. Gen. Ismail Omar earlier said the Malaysian security forces were “winning the battle.”

“We (the police) believe the enemies are now under pressure as their comrades have been arrested and are being prosecuted in court,” Bernama quoted Ismail as saying.

Eight of the arrested suspects have been charged with terrorism and rebellion before the Tawau court and could face the death penalty.

The investigation of over 100 others was still ongoing. They are detained under Malaysia’s Security Offense and Special Measures Act which allows the state to hold a suspect for 28 days even without charges.

President Aquino on Thursday ordered the Philippine embassy in KL to provide lawyers for the eight Filipinos already charged.

“It’s automatic for us to provide legal assistance to any of our countrymen facing charges regardless if we believe in their cause or not,” said the President.

In Zamboanga City, the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) is working for the temporary liberty of 38 alleged followers of the sultan of Sulu who were arrested by Philippine authorities as they returned to the country from Sabah.

A local court set bail of P60,000 for each of the suspects, but PAO chief Persida Acosta, in a phone interview, said she would ask the court to lower the bail to P3,000.

Those arrested are detained at Camp Juan Magluyan Naval Station in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-Tawi.  Philippine authorities said they recovered six firearms and assorted bladed weapons from the suspects.

Romulo Ranoco, father of Jonathan Ranoco (one of the 38), told Acosta their family had no money to post bail for their son. “We don’t even have money to go to Tawi-Tawi to visit my son, what more raising money for bail,” Ranoco, who lives in Zamboanga City, said.

“We don’t know where to go for help. My son is not a terrorist. He just joined the sultan’s group because he wanted to work in Malaysia. He had no intention of joining any war. My son was not trained to fight,” Romulo said.

Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said that not all of the 38 were considered followers of the sultan. “Some of them are not even Tausugs (of Sulu),” he said.

An estimated 20,000 to 50,000 undocumented Filipinos are believed to be living in Lahad Datu, a town in the east of Sabah that is the center of “Operasi Daulat.”

Followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III began a quest on Feb. 12 to revive the family’s claim over Sabah, surprising both the Philippines and Malaysia. A two-week standoff turned into a bloody clash between the sultan’s forces and Malaysian police.

A Philippine mission in Lahad Datu is currently handing out application forms for travel documents to Filipinos who want to leave Sabah and return home.  But so far only about 100 have availed themselves of this documentation offer. With reports from Julie S. Alipala in Zamboanga City  and Nikko Dizon in Manila

 

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  • guest1500

    As long as they are Filipino citizens, it is the obligation of the Philippine government to assist them. But the embassy should first determine their nationality and their names so that their background could be checked and their families informed.

  • Mamang Pulis


    Palace extends legal aid to 8 charged in Sabah

    kung sincero nga ang malacañang—bakit hindi nila ipadala yun over rated na mahistrado sa sabah? si leonen—di ba sya ang taga pag tanggol ng bangsa ‘moro’ ng administrasyung simeon? yun lang kung sincero nga talaga—-at mag boluntaryo si leonen.

    ipadadala nyo doon PAO—gumagalaw sa pro bono—kakainin ng buhay yan doon—mas mainam yun ‘de kampanilya’ na over rated —o leonen–game ka na ba ha?

    sila fortun sana kaso—mas malaki ang binibigay ng ampatuan–jejeje ano bale! wag na uy! sabi nila….:)

  • JasonBieber

    Hopefully the Palace is really extending help to these Filipinos and not just saying it. In some cases the Palace makes announcements and ends up not following through on them and people are just left forgotten.

    • Mamang Pulis

      life is a ‘beach’

  • misuari playboy

    mabuhay malaysia police. they effectively eliminate Jamalul Kiram hired terrorists. their professionalism is sparkling clean. they have brought down the terrorist general. the war minister was caught hiding inside his wife skirt. the local terror coordinator caught. the Rajah Muda has abandoned his men. the sultan has disowned his people. the whole chain of command for the terrorists is disintegrated. So the Philippines can learn from Sabah on how to defeat terrorism. Send in another 10000 warriors to Sabah so that it can help solve philippines 40 year old problem.

  • Hey_Dudes

    It is at times like this where government must not extend all kinds of help to terrorist who happened to be Filipino citizens. Terrorizing another country resulting in deaths to that country’s security forces is something the Philippine government must always disown. These men of Kiram including those who have supported them in Sabah decided on this operation by themselves. They were provided options to avoid death and did nothing believing Malaysians being Muslims, they will be treated differently. When terrorist or other criminals decides to terrorize another country even knowing their government will not support them if they are caught or killed, might think twice before committing murderous rampage.

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

    fu ck you malayshits the real sabahan is pilipinos stupid land grabber!

  • disqusted0fu

    Press release!!! Pnoy does not care for the poor which means he doesn’t care for this royal army. As he said in his speech before that the sultanates do not have the financial capacity to pull this one off which also led to him making up a conspiracy theory. All that Pnoy cares about is his family, friends, allies, KKKs. Many just don’t realize that because the Aquino admin controls everything they need to control to portray the so called straight path government.

  • hu_yu

    virgin pa kaya si abigail valte?

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