By Boo Su-Lyn
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 – The intrusion of almost 200 armed Filipinos in Lahad Datu has caused the termination of many Filipino workers in Sabah, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported today.
Inquirer.net, the online news site of the Philippine Daily Inquirer broadsheet, reported today that several Filipinos lost their jobs as laundry and oil palm plantation workers in Tawau and Semporna since last week, after the Lahad Datu stand-off began on February 9.
“She (Myrna) told me her employer advised her to go home so she would not be implicated in the Lahad Datu situation,” Madeline, the mother of a laundry attendant called Myrna, was quoted as saying by the Inquirer today, without giving their last names.
A 20-year-old student called Ramir Abdulhalil also reportedly said that his father and the latter’s three colleagues, who worked at an oil palm plantation in Semporna, were laid off last week.
“The tension in Sabah was the most likely reason for the loss of my father’s job,” Ramir was quoted as saying.
There are about 800,000 Filipino workers in Malaysia, most of whom are working in Sabah, according to Philippine government data reported in the Philippine daily.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was reported by national news agency Bernama last Tuesday as saying that the invasion would be resolved “as soon as possible”, despite the expiry of last Sunday’s deadline for the gunmen to leave.
The Filipino rebel group leader, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, was quoted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer yesterday as saying that the rebels preferred a peaceful solution to the ongoing standoff, but would fight violence with violence if forced to defend themselves.
Agbimuddin has insisted that he and his followers had no reason to leave Sabah as they have committed no crime in occupying Kampung Tanduo, a small coastal village in eastern Sabah.
Agbimuddin is the brother of Jamallul Kiram III, the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, who has already told his “royal army” of about 180 to hold their ground, despite instructions from Philippine President Benigno Aquino III last Tuesday to leave the village.
The Philippine daily also reported yesterday that Jamallul had rejected Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s orders, despite the president’s warning that they may soon have to face the “full force of the laws” if they refused to leave Sabah peacefully.
The tension in Sabah was the most likely reason for the loss of my father’s job – See more at: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/65929/filipinos-losing-jobs-in-sabah-following-standoff#sthash.szucmUEn.dpuf
Jamallul’s brother has disagreed that the rebel group had violated Philippine’s laws in refusing to leave Sabah, insisting that they have not committed any crime.
Philippine Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II reportedly said last week that the tension caused by the Lahad Datu invasion might sully Malaysian employers’ views of Filipinos as untrustworthy.
Philippine Acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Mindanao was quoted as saying that there were more unverified reports of Filipinos being terminated in the wake of the stand-off.
Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan reportedly said today that the provincial government would not be able to provide jobs for the Filipino workers sent home from Malaysia.
The armed group, suspected of being a faction of a Philippine Muslim rebel group, claim to belong to the “royal army” of the Sulu sultanate and are believed to number about 180 people with 30 gunmen among its ranks according to news wire, The Associated Press.
They had intruded into Malaysia on February 9 and have reportedly held national security forces at bay amid an enforced blockade that had cut off their food supplies.
Dissent appears to be growing within the group with several followers of Agbimuddin indicating a desire to return to the Philippines, Malaysia’s The Star Online reported last Monday.
The group had previously said they would not leave Sabah as they are “subjects of the sultanate of Sulu.”
The bizarre drama had threatened to stir tension between the Southeast Asian neighbours whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems caused by a porous sea border.
News wire Reuters had reported that Malaysia pays a token sum to the Sultanate of Sulu each year for the “rental” of Sabah — an arrangement that stretches back to British colonial times.
In 2000, a group of militants from the southern Philippines kidnapped 21 tourists from the Sabah diving resort of Sipadan.
In 1985, 11 people were killed when gunmen, believed to be from the southern Philippines, entered Lahad Datu in Sabah, shooting at random before robbing the local branch of Standard Chartered Bank.