Sabah Standoff: Malaysia Files Terrorism Charges Against Eight Filipinos

    Eight Filipinos are facing terrorism charges filed by Malaysian Police in connection with the ongoing standoff in Sabah.  Filed charges against the Filipinos include the launching of terroristic acts under Section 130A of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to 30 years, and the waging of war against Malaysian King Abdul Halim under Section 121 of the Penal Code, which carries a punishment of death penalty on conviction.

    The spokesman of the Sulu sultanate, Abraham Idjirani, said that Malaysian authorities failed to fully disclose the evidence used in the terrorism charges against the eight Filipinos. He condemned the filing of charges against the eight men and feared that the handling of cases might lack transparency and that there might be violations committed against the rights of the Filipinos.

    The Sabah standoff between the Malaysian government and supporters of Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram of Sulu, has been going for weeks with no end in sight. This prompted Malaysian police to crack down on supporters of Agbimuddin’s group in Lahad Datu. Many Filipinos in Lahad Datu and neighboring towns have since fled and went back to the Philippines via Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

    Filipinos who were able to flee tell stories of how Malaysian authorities have committed human rights violations. There were reports that many Filipinos end up getting beaten in jail and some women are even raped. Malaysian authorities have denied these allegations.

    The ongoing standoff between Agbimuddin’s group and the Malaysian authorities has claimed several lives on both sides. In addition to that, many Filipinos who went to Malaysia for greener pastures now have no choice but to flee and leave their jobs and businesses in fear of getting caught in the middle of this skirmish.
    There are many Filipinos, particularly those from Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, who sneak into Malaysia particularly in the towns of Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kota Kinabalu, and Kudat. They ride motorized boats colloquially called “lansa” or “lancha”. They often are able to blend in since Filipinos and Malays have similar features. They are also able to learn the Malay dialect easily which makes it easier for them to fit in.

    Rumors that Agbimuddin has left his supporters and escaped to Southern Tawi-Tawi have recently circulated although his family in Manila stress firmly that he is still in Malaysia and that these rumors are just the Malaysian authorities’ propaganda to break the morale of Agbimuddin’s supporters.

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