Over 7,000 Pinoys displaced by Sabah crisis

Published by rudy Date posted on April 14, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The armed conflict in Sabah has displaced over 7,000 Filipinos, and disaster officials of the Autonomous Region For Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are expecting thousands more to arrive in the region in the coming months.

Sharifa Pearlsia Dans, assistant secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Governments in ARMM and chair of the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) crisis center, said that since the fighting between Malaysian forces and army of the sultanate of Sulu erupted last month, 7,522 Filipinos living in Sabah have abandoned their jobs and homes. Excluded from the official list of the CMC crisis center based in Western Mindanao Command headquarters in Zamboanga City are the 128 refugees that arrived in Tawi-Tawi last week.

Lt. Cmdr. Jomark Angue, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) district spokesman, said the travels of the refugees were not coordinated.

“Sometimes, our search and rescue vessels in the border intercept them and assisted them,” Angue said. “Other Filipinos were escaping and forced to steal boats and paddle to escape across the border.”

Angue said one of the female refugees even gave birth on April 9 while they were being transported by the PCG search and rescue vessel BRP Nueva Vizcaya to Bongao, capital of Tawi-Tawi.

He said the woman, who was a native of Tawi-Tawi, was dropped off along with other displaced Filipinos in Bongao while the rest were brought to Sulu or Zamboanga.

Not included in the CMC official list of displaced Filipinos are thousands more who supposedly escaped the fighting without submitting themselves for processing upon their return out of fear that they could also be charged like the 38 supporters of the Sulu sultanate. –-Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) with Roel Pareño, Mike Frialde

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