9 Filipinos sentenced to death over Sabah standoff

Paterno Esmaquel II
9 Filipinos sentenced to death over Sabah standoff
The Malaysian Court of Appeal imposes the death penalty on 9 Filipinos for 'waging war' against Malaysia's head of state in 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The Malaysian Court of Appeal on Thursday, June 8, sentenced 9 Filipinos to death over the Sabah standoff that killed at least 70 people in 2013.

Bernama, the national news agency of Malaysia, reported on Thursday that “the court, in a unanimous decision, handed down the death penalty on the 9 Filipinos for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong,” who is Malaysia’s head of state.

The Malaysian Court of Appeal, in effect, reversed an earlier sentence of life imprisonment against them by the Kota Kinabalu High Court in 2016. 

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is still trying to confirm this as of posting time.

The Sabah standoff refers to the bloody incursion by some 200 armed Moro rebels from the southern Philippines. Their move was inspired by a self-proclaimed Filipino sultanate’s claims of historical dominion over Sabah, which is claimed by the Philippine government. (READ: Sabah standoff: ‘Publicity stunt’)

The assault, the most serious security crisis faced by Malaysia in years, led to a siege between the Moro rebels and Malaysian armed forces sent to root them out.

At least 70 people, mostly Moro rebels, were killed over the 6-week ordeal.

Bernama said the following Filipinos face the death sentence in Malaysia over the Sabah standoff: “Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 54, the son of the late self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram; Julham Rashid, 70; Virgilio Nemar Patulada @ Mohamad Alam Patulada, 53; Salib Akhmad Emali, 64; Tani Lahad Dahi, 64; Basad H. Manuel, 42; Atik Hussin Abu Bakar, 46; Al-Wazir Osman, 62; and Ismail Yasin, 77.” – with reports from Agence France-Presse /

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at