PAKATAN Harapan (PH) Sabah has urged the Malaysian Government to strongly condemn the statement made by Senator Francis Tolentino that the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should seize the opportunity on their claim to Sabah.
Tolentino made the remarks yesterday (Sept 29) following the US$14.9 bil (RM69.2 bil) arbitration award granted to the heirs of the Sulu Sultanate against the Malaysian Government.
Tolentino said the implications of the arbitration award were clear in that the Philippines “owns” Sabah — where he noted that 750,000 Filipinos lived without health, social security benefits and were stateless.
The statement – signed by PH Sabah chairperson Datuk Christina Liew, UPKO president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau, DAP Sabah chairperson Datuk Frankie Poon, PKR Sabah chairperson Datuk Dr Sangkar Rasam and Amanah Sabah chairperson Lahirul Latigu – further noted that while the numbers are believed to be higher, a figure of 750,000 is still “very significant” and must be taken seriously by the Government.
“If indeed such huge presence is shown to be officially true, what are the actions of our federal government in addressing this matter?” they asked.
“Since Tolentino acknowledge that these are Filipinos and are stateless in Sabah, they are therefore illegal immigrants and should be repatriated back and that the Philippine government must be prepared and willing to accept them back.”
Calling Tolentino’s statement “dangerous” especially coming from an elected representative from the Senate of the Philippines, they also warned that the statement could “incite hatred and growing resentment” towards the Malaysian Government and the state of Sabah.
This is especially due to the alleged ill treatment the stateless Filipinos face especially as they are denied access to health and social security benefits despite believing that the Philippines “owned” Sabah, they added.
“The continuing claim to Sabah is a reflection of the continuous failure of the Malaysian Government to truly understand and decide on definitive solutions to the long-standing issue of the huge presence of the four categories of Filipino immigrants in the region.”
The four categories in question are the refugees, stateless persons, illegal immigrants and those who had obtained Malaysian identification card illegally.
“We have recently seen an arbitration award made against the Malaysian Government and now we have a Senator openly demanding his government to stake their claim to Sabah,” the group acknowledged.
“How many more threats to Sabah and its people should be made so that the federal government will take serious efforts to decide on workable and concrete solution to this decade old problem?” – Sept 30, 2022
Main photo credit: KAMI.com.ph