By : BOO SU-LYN
KUALA LUMPUR : The Philippines Commission of Human Rights (CHR) plans to meet the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) to address the alleged abuse against Filipinos in Sabah, The Philippine STAR reported today.
The Philippine newspaper’s website quoted CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales today as saying that it was important to focus on the alleged human rights violations against Filipinos amid the hunt for Sulu militants.
“The priority is the safety especially of our fellow Filipinos. We should do something to help and save them,” Rosales was quoted by The Philippine Star as saying.
“In effect, this (talks) will result in a better understanding between the two governments. Our CHR office and theirs will be able to share experiences on dealing with different human-rights issues and violations committed in both countries,” she added, but did not specify a date for the meeting.
Reports of abuse and alleged extrajudicial killings by Malaysia’s security forces hunting for Sulu invaders in Sabah have triggered Philippine concern of a brewing humanitarian emergency as Filipinos fled the state for fear of reprisals.
No evidence of the human rights violations reported in Philippine media has been produced to date, with Putrajaya calling the claims a “fabrication”.
Rosales also said that a CHR representative would go to East Timor to discuss the Sabah conflict and other human rights issues together with other countries, including Malaysia, Thailand and India.
“Issues such as anti-trafficking, children’s rights, among others will be discussed. But what should be ensured here is that incidents involving Sabah will be viewed at a humanitarian level, and how to insert the element of social protection for all those involved,” she said.
The Ops Daulat operation to flush out the Sulu militants is nearing an end, but the southern Filipino militant group leader Agbimuddin Kiram has yet to be found, with the authorities saying that he was likely still holed up in Lahad Datu.
Last Wednesday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III reportedly ordered government officials to stock up on food supplies and step up humanitarian support to Filipinos ? including illegal emigrants seeking better jobs ? who have started returning to the republic by the hundreds since last Friday.
Philippine lawmakers are now pressuring the Aquino administration to file a formal complaint with Putrajaya as allegations of abuse of Filipinos flood the country in the wake of the Sabah armed conflict.
The Philippine senate has demanded its government to hold Malaysia accountable for possible human rights violations against the 800,000-strong Filipino migrant community in Sabah at the hands of local authorities, who are searching for a ragtag band of Sulu militants laying an ancestral claim of the north Borneo state.
Bantilan Esmail II, a brother of Sulu “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III, was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Tuesday as saying that Malaysian authorities have allegedly been ill-treating Filipinos in Sabah long before the Sulu incursion began last month.
A total of 67 people were reported killed in the Sulu incursion as of last Tuesday, including 56 Filipino militants, eight Malaysian policemen and two Malaysian soldiers, and an unidentified teenage boy. (TMI)