Sabah stand-off: Malaysia Imposes Trade Embargo On Filipinos

BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi – The Malaysian government has started to impose a trade embargo on Muslim Filipino traders from southern Philippines as part of their efforts to force fighters of Sultan Jamalul Kiram to leave Kampung Tanduo in Felda Sahabat 17 in Sabah, where they have been holed up since Feb. 9.

Gov. Sadikul Sahali said the embargo that the Sabah government is imposing on Muslim traders from Southern Philippines would greatly affect his constituents here.

Sahali said many residents in the province depend on Malay food products and other prime commodities particularly rice for their basic needs.

Local traders and stores sell Malaysian rice at 470 per 25-kilo sack of rice while Philippine-produced rice with the same variety sells for 1,100 to 1,200 per sack of 25 kilos.

Many people here are expected to suffer economically as a result of the trade embargo, a trader in this capital town said.

"I have to admit that our people here are using and consuming Malaysian products. This is because of our nearness to the federal state of Malaysia and the prices of their foodstuffs are lower compared to the products sold in the country," an elderly resident here said.

Likewise he said, many residents of Sulu go to Sabah to seek greener pastures. Job opportunities in that state are unlimited unlike in the province or even the entire Philippines, he added.

Sahali said if Sabah continues to impose a ban on trading with them, he will simply ask traders here to get their rice and other food supplies in Zamboanga City.

"Never mind the price. What is important is that we will be able to have rice for the consumption of the people here," he said.

Meanwhile, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo led by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III intensified yesterday its reaching out to the world community, this time to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Abraham J. Idjirani, officially appointed by Kiram III as the royal spokesperson of the sultanate, said yesterday the Sultan wrote a letter of appeal to the ICRC on Saturday.

He said Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman Richard "Dick" Gordon has agreed to forward the Sultan's letter to the ICRC.

"The letter of the Sultan was given Sunday morning" to Gordon, Idjirani said.

As this developed, Idjirani said in an interview yesterday the stand of the Sultan is still the same: no pulling out from Lahad Datu, Sabah.

"Unless there is a dialogue with Malaysia, there are no plans to return to the Philippines," he said.

Kiram III has also sent words to his people in Lahad Datu to "remain cool" and avoid provocations.

Idjirani said Kiram III appealed for help from the ICRC in the wake of information from Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, the crown prince, who, along with over 200 of the sultanate's men, are still encamped since Feb. 12 in Kampung Tanduao, Lahad Datu.

Idjirani said at least two of the rajah muda's men have fallen ill.

"It is nothing serious as of the moment," he said, "but it is important the overall health or condition of the crown prince's people is known through the ICRC," said Idjirani.

The food embargo being imposed by the Malaysian government which started on Wednesday, he said, is still in effect.

So, it is not remote, he said, that some of the Moros who belong to the sultan's followers still holed up in Lahad Datu will get sick.

Earlier, Idjirani appealed to the Malaysian authorities to lift the food blockade, especially since forcing people to go hungry violates the tenets of Islam, which both Malaysians and Muslim Filipinos equally respect and observe.

On the other hand, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) led by founding Chairman Nur Misuari also appealed to the UN to send its peacekeeping force to Sabah to prevent any violence from breaking out.

Over 2,000 MNLF leaders and commanders made the appeal through a resolution issued on Feb. 21 during the "MNLF Leadership Meeting" that Misuari convened in Zamboanga City.

In a separate interview, the MNLF chieftain appealed to the Malaysian prime minister to solve the current crisis "in a fraternal way" to prevent bloodshed.

At the same time, Misuari warned that the MNLF will help the rajah muda's men even if only a drop their blood is spilled.

Over in Malaysia, the Home Ministry deferred to the Wisma Putra (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in making a decision on the Philippine request for an extension of the deadline on the stay of the Filipinos in the Sabah standoff.

In an article on the New Straits Times online edition dated Feb. 24, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein objected to an extension that is "too long" should there be one.

"What is important is that we will not compromise on the country's safety and the dignity of the people in resolving the matter peacefully," he said.

He said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hanifah Aman had called him on the phone. Malaysia described the sultan's men as "intruders."

On the other hand, Kiram III said he sent his younger brother (Agbimuddin) and their followers on a journey home to Sabah to establish their ancestral rights on the island.

Malaysia's deadline for the Filipinos to pull out peacefully has been extended a few times already.

Meanwhile, at least the Malaysian government has acknowledged that the sultan's descendants involved in the crisis are not members of Abu Sayyaf.

"The people should understand that the situation there is rather complex and view it in perspective as it differs from other cases involving al-Maunah, Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiah. The intruders in Lahad Datu are not militants or terrorists," said the home minister.

Meanwhile, Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the Philippine government is focused on efforts to peacefully resolve the conflict involving a group of armed Filipinos holed up in Sabah rather than proposals to revive the claim over the ancestral land.

She said the matter of pursuing the Sabah claim will be tackled "at the proper time" without harming the country's relations with Malaysia.

She said a government team is now looking into the "historical and legal context" of the country's claim over Sabah. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling) (

Manila Bulletin 

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  1. The government should make EO Executive Government proclaiming the legitimate Sultan of Sulu inorder to make the claim as against MAlaysia regarding Sabah..

    Once the legitimatte Sultan is recognized by the Philippine government, then legal claims will starts and everything will follow..Heirs and Philippine government can reason out the leasing agreements between The Philippinesw and Malaysia..

    Philippines is the legal owner of Sabah(North Borneo). If the Sultan is distinguish or recognised, then pwede nang mapagtibay ang claim sa lugar..What President Aquino should do is to look for who is the legitimate Sultan then we have to make Philippine authorities to lay our claim over the land

  2. government should make an Executive Order proclaiming the legal Sultan of Sulu at the current time inorder to have a valid and mas pinagtibay na claim sa North Borneo..tulad ng ginawa ni Marcos, he made executive order on who is the Sultan as ruler on the area, the power will be there..Malaysia is only leasing the area so they do not have right to own it

  3. they shoudn't leave sabah.once they will there will be no way of coming back.

  4. Kala mo ganun Lang kadali yun you need to balance the situation pag aralan mabuti at sa peaceful resolution di yan mareresolba kung dadaanin SA arm conflict lahat meron legal process..

  5. The Philippine must avoid this conflict.

    This Stand-off is in between the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysia. The Philippines never recognized the existence of the Sultanate of Sulu so why should the Philippines will issue any EO?

    The Sultanate of Sulu has their own law and order how to recognize and how to transfer the power to the next sultan and it is beyond the control of the Philippine Government because the Philippines is a UNITARY (UNITARY means a Dictatorship system) not Federal which a Sultanate of Sulu would be consider as state.

    There is no alw and Provision of the constitution of the Philippines that would be applicable in recognizing the Sultanate of Sulu. It is beyond the Philippine jurisdiction....

    Please bear in Mind.. a UNITARY Form of Government in the Philippines which is Manila is the center of power won't allow any province to have a voice but just Manila alone. (Unitary is another form of communist system hidden under a republic government)

    If the Philippine Government is a Federal, then it is so easy for the Philippine Government to execute EO recognizing the Sultanate of Sulu as a State of the Philippines and could empower the sultan of Sulu and North Borneo to give order to its entire territory.

  6. Let Nur Misuari and the entire mnlf to go to sabah, please. Don't stop them please. Let them fight the malay armed forces. That's what they want...let 'em"

  7. Bakit palaging gyera sa Mindanao? Hindi sa lahat ng Mindanao huh!

    Kasi itong mga Tausug warriors ay mahilig maglaro ng baril. Kung pipigilan sila ng Gobyerno dito sila mag hasik ng lagim kaya dapat hayaan na sila doon sa kadugo nilang muslim mag hasik..

    Hindi kakayanin ng Malaysia ang mga Tausug kasi hindi mauubos mga yan.. highly respected ang Tausug nung 14 centuries kaya pag silay nasa power.. kahit China aatras sa kanila kasi buhay nila is to keep fighting.. they are the real warriors...

    Pag hindi naputok baril nila sa isang araw.. hindi na complete buhay nila

  8. hindi ko alam ano sasabihin. ijust read comments below. nakikisali lang.


  9. the rich imperial manila should send cheaper commodities to southern philippines to support our fellow filipinos there. also set up a manufacturing hub like epza and training center at sulu to give the people employment there. kawawa naman mga tao dun pati lugar napakahirap. as long na hindi na improve ng gov't ang economy sa southern mindanao wala pa ring ipagmamalaki nag pinas sa booming economy na to dahil isa ito sa basehan ng mga foreign investors na papasok sa pinas.

  10. katulad sa scarbourough shoal na nag withdraw ang ating barko sa utos ni pinoy kundi sa pag-aari na ngaun ng china ang shoal ganun din ang mangyayari sa sabah

  11. Bakit mas mura ang goods pag galing malaysia? imagine ang isang sako ng Bigas dun mula sa North Borneo is P 475 lang samantala pag galing dito sa Pinas mismo is P1,200.

    Bakit mas mua doon? alam nyo ba kung bakit?

    Kasi ang gobyerno mismo ng Malaysia ang nag invest at nag handson ng farming kaya wlang markup value ang bigay doon. Dito sa atin 65% ang makr-up bawat kilo ng bigas kasi private eh.,.

    kasalanan ng mga preisdente nating batugan yan....

    1. Bakit mo alam sinabi BA sayo ng govt ng Malaysia pag papatakbo nila ng govt? At Sino Ka naman para ipaalam sayo at who r u para sisihin mo lagi Presidente ? Magbanat Ka kasi ng buto at magtanim Hindi yung puro asa sa biyaya ng pamahalaan ang ikauunlad ng bayan lahat nag babanat ng buto baka ikaw lagi tambay Lang imbes na magtanim ng mga gulay SA bakuran nyo..GETS MO?


  13. salahi is lying.why would you buy P1200 sack of rice for 25kls? ang daming mura po...and one thing.mindanao is also a rice producer..Maka malaysia pala kayo jan..Tangkilikin po ninyo ang sarili nyong gawa.

  14. Kiram is right. Send your men there to claim Sabah. Other country like China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan should send their men to those island that they claim to Philippines also since that is right thing to do...

  15. @Anonymous says:
    April 19, 2013 at 4:40 PM

    You ARE JUST IDIOT. Sabah was awarded as Gift to Sultan of Sulu and Sulu take ownership then leased to British North Borneo..

    Vietnam, Malaysia, China? where is there proof of ownership? Nothing,.. just claim claim...

    That is why the Philippines has the highest BEI Business English the In the WOrld compare to USA and UK because Philippines are lowly people, smart and being abused by neighbors..

    But dont worry...

    Sulu will revenge ant take over Sabah including Sarawak soon.. waith for the blood bath.. we love it.. wow... hahahahah

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