Hundreds of Filipinos are hurriedly fleeing Sabah despite knowing that they have no homes and jobs waiting in the Philippines. Thousands more are expected to flee Sabah in the wake of the conflict caused by the Sabah intrusion of the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu. This unfortunate happenstance may create a crisis in Mindanao… food shortage… housing… peace and order… sickness… fuel increase crime incidences… stall the peace accord with MILF … and more…
Malaysia’s barring of Philippines government officials and foreign press to enter Sabah particularly in areas near the conflict zone including the entry of humanitarian aides spearheaded by NGO is being viewed by the world as unacceptable.
The global audiences are neither blind nor dumb to understand that Malaysia’s actions are design to prevent the spilling of beans of information as well as to serve as a well guarded shield in the prevention of documentation through interviews, photo and video of what is really happening in Sabah.
Until Malaysia was awaken to the reality that they have to at least show and manifest to the global audience that Malaysia supports and adhere to the global standards in terms of human rights and protections that they finally allow some foreign press, including certain Philippine press, to enter the evacuation center filled of combined Filipinos and Sabahans who fled out of fear of being caught in the Sabah intrusion conflicts.
Yet the Malaysian government disallowed the conduct of interview of people who take refuge in the evacuation centers.
If there are no killings or at least atrocities and maltreatments being committed in Sabah by Malaysian authorities particularly to the Tausug Filipinos, then why would hundreds and thousands of Filipinos will panic and hurriedly brave the high tide of unfriendly sea all fleeing in fear just to get out of Sabah to reach Philippine territories. Stories were told that some or most of them even rode small boats without motor engines just to be able to escape Sabah.
Logic and proper sense will tell and convince even the unsuspecting mind that there is an extreme and clear present danger that is bound to happen or are already happening if thousands of people are fleeing out of a danger zone and in this case the Sabah territory.
Statements like “We are treated like animals.” “Men were asked to run as fast as they could and where shot dead when they did.” “Men who did not run were subjected to cruelties and maltreatment.” “Others who were jailed were not being fed.” Some did not even see jails as they were killed at once. ” “Even children are being shot to dead.” “My brother was also killed.” Urgently needs to be taken seriously with actions undertaken swiftly instead of simply being dismissed or required to undergo the usual bureaucratic procedure of sworn statements or notarized affidavits.
How the foreign presses or a group of independent third parties can witness, document and produce evidences of the happenstances of killings and atrocities happening in Sabah if such is actually happening or not if they are being effectively barred entry by Malaysian government?
The Sabah evacuees consisted of Filipino men and women of all ages and situations and unfortunately included a pregnant woman who also brave the high sea and later died while giving birth to a child.
In chorus, both the government of Malaysia and Philippines are asking for proof and evidences of killings, maltreatment and atrocities. The Philippine government spokeswoman was even asking for sworn statement from a shocked, tired and full of fear refugee who spilled the story bean as she arrived, together with other Filipinos who fled Sabah so that the Philippines government can act accordingly.
Sworn statements can wait but Filipino lives that are clearly in danger must be protected by our government with speed and sense of urgency. Dead horses no longer need to eat grass. Dead horses will no longer be able to relate stories of truth and lies.
According to news reports there are perhaps at least sixty (60) or more accounted and declared dead bodies as a result of the conflict brought about by Filipinos Sabah intrusion. Is it right and proper to ask or to speculate that there are unaccounted and undeclared dead bodies that may have been buried by now in unknown mass graves in Sabah? Nobody knows and perhaps nobody will tell if there is one or there is none.
The writer is not adding fuel to a wild spreading fire but only out of concern for Filipinos in Sabah. Nonetheless, out of positivism is indeed hopeful and declaring that a mass grave for Filipinos in Sabah is non-existent as we know that for a long period of time Malaysia is living in peace and is not involved in external and internal conflicts.
The world particularly the people of the Philippines must demand for the truth of the real happenings in the Sabah intrusion. Killings, atrocities and human rights violations must be stopped immediately.
All people even those who are deemed criminals must enjoy the blanket of protection as fundamentally accorded by international laws and treaties. Observance of human rights and protections must be observed at all places and at all times even during war and aggressions.
Peace talk with the MILF brokered by Malaysia will simply continue as if something like the Sabah intrusion did not happen. Will it just be business as usual with Philippines and Malaysia? Will the long sought peace in Mindanao will ideally happen without resolving first the Sabah intrusion incident and the Sabah claims of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu and the Philippines in general.
In the eyes of our law, pictures, videos, hard evidences and fully signed sworn statements of witnesses are needed to corroborate and to prove the guilt of the accused. The blindfolded lady is the symbol of justice. But the blindfolded just lady even though she was blindfolded and will not be able to see the evidences, she has the ears, heart, feelings, emotions and importantly she has the brain to perceive the truth and to decide what is just.
The Filipino citizens deserve the protection of our Philippine government wherever they are. Our Filipino Moslem brothers in Sabah and those who fled Sabah must be extended the urgent support and protection of our government.
Urgency in action and the preservation of life is the foremost and the first consideration that must be addressed in the Sabah intrusion issue.