MANILA, Philippines - The family of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has urged the government to provide legal assistance to Filipinos detained in Sabah, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday, March 18.
DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez explained the request was channelled through the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), which received a letter from the Kirams asking for their help. The PAO is already assisting suspected followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III detained at a Philippine navy base in Tawi-Tawi.
Hernandez clarified that with or without that letter, the government has been trying for weeks for the Malaysian government to allow consular officials to give legal assistance to the detainees in Sabah.
"We were always ready to assist our people for any assistance that they would need when they are in dire need of support or assistance," he said.
Hernandez nevertheless stressed that the DFA must first determine which charges are to be filed against the Filipinos before providing them with any legal support.
At least 10 members of the Kiram family are among the 104 people arrested by Malaysian security forces for being involved in the Sabah standoff, according to the department.
Hernandez also noted that the DFA is coordinating with the Malaysian government to repatriate the remains of the slain Filipinos.
Sabah police commissioner Hamza Taib announced on Sunday that the bodies would be buried immediately after the Philippines lapsed on a 3-day deadline to reclaim the corpses of those killed in clashed in Lahad Datu. - with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com