Kiram seeks DFA help for legal assistance to his detained followers in Sabah

March 18, 2013 10:35 pm 

MANILA, March 18 -– Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), sought the Department of Foreign Affairs’(DFA) help in providing legal assistance to his men who were captured and detained by Malaysian forces in Sabah.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez on Monday said the Kiram family sought the help of PAO, which sent a letter to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to convey its request for assistance.

“This is now being considered for response,” Hernandez told reporters, adding it is part of the department’s mandate to provide legal assistance to distressed Filipinos abroad.

Hernandez said the Philippine government has to find out first the charges filed against the Filipinos and the kind of assistance they will need.

For the DFA to determine this, Hernandez said the government would need access to the Filipinos who were among Kiram’s followers who entered Sabah’s coastal town of Lahad Datu from Tawi-Tawi by boats on Feb. 9 to press the sultanate’s historical claim over the resource-rich territory now controlled by Malaysia.

Malaysia said it has so far detained dozens but the Philippine government said the official count stands at 10.

“We have always said that we are ready to assist our people for any assistance that they would need,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said its next move would depend on what would come out of the DFA’s assessment on the evaluation of the cases.

Armed clashes between the group, led by Kiram’s younger brother Agbimuddin, and Malaysian security forces broke out on March 1.

According to Malaysia, the fighting killed at least 62 Filipinos and 10 from the Malaysian side. At least 100 have been rounded up on suspicion that they are aiding the Filipinos, regarded by Malaysia as “terrorists.”

Hernandez said DFA is hoping Malaysia would approve its request to grant access to the detained Filipinos, more than two weeks since it was sent to Kuala Lumpur’s embassy in Manila. (PNA)



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