Migrante statement on the Sabah stand-off

Migrante Partylist condemns in strongest terms the bloodbath and ongoing violence in Sabah that left at least 13 Filipinos dead and many other wounded.

If not for the Philippine government’s passivity and inaction to protect national interest, the Sabah stand-off would not have ended in bloodshed. The Malaysian government was virtually emboldened and given license by no less than the Aquino adminstration to instigate an attack against our fellowmen in Sabah.

The Aquino administration should refrain from attempting to muddle the issue or escape accountability in the Sabah conflict by baselessly inventing conspiracy theories or pointing fingers at political rivals. The death of Filipinos in Sabah is blood in the hands of Aquino. Any blood further shed in Sabah will be blood in the hands of Aquino.

Migrante Partylist calls on the Aquino government to prioritize national interest in the Sabah dispute. It should do everything to ensure and protest the 800,000 Filipino working and residing in Sabah.

Because of the Aquino government’s betrayal, Migrante Partylist fears the intensification of crackdowns and raids on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially on undocumented or “stateless Filipinos” in Sabah, and even elsewhere in Malaysia. Sabah is one of the most common destinations of trafficked Filipinos, mostly women. It is also one of the most common “transit points” or trafficked Filipinos on their way to Malaysia or other nearby parts of Asia.

Crackdowns conducted by the Malaysian government became more rampant as a result of the Malaysian government’s Illegal Immigrant Settlement Program (6P Programme, “6P”) which is in its final phase of implementation. Arrests, illegal detention and raids of undocumented migrants are being conducted by the Malaysian government in spite and despite of the extension of the deadline for the 6P declared by Secretary-General of Home Ministry Tan Sri Mahmood.

Now, with recent developments, OFWs in Sabah will become more vulnerable to crackdowns and abuses. This, without doubt, will be the direct result of Aquino government’s defeatist and passive stance on the Sabah issue. After the bloodbath, Filipinos in Sabah are in danger of being “criminalized” or deemed ‘illegal’ or ‘undocumented’ because our own government does not support the legitimacy of their stay in Sabah.

While the conflict is ongoing, the Aquino government should do everything to prevent the causes of mass exodus of Filipinos from Mindanao to Sabah. It should put an end to militarization and pull out US troops and stop Balikatan exercises in Mindanao. To prove that it is sincere in achieving a peaceful resolution to the Sabah dispute, it should be sincere in pursuing a just and lasting solution to the ongoing civil war in Mindanao.

Defend national sovereignty! Protect and defend the welfare of Filipinos in Sabah! Peaceful resolution to the Sabah stand-off now! ###