By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Migrante Partylist today criticized the Philippine government for using the “OFW card” to hide its double standards in handling some Muslim Filipinos’ dispute over Sabah with Malaysia.
The Philippine government has warned that the refusal to pull out of Sabah by the followers of Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III will endanger the lives of about 800,000 Filipinos in the region.
But according to Migrante Partylist Chairperson and 1st nominee Connie Bragas-Regalado, the Philippine government’s concern for Filipinos in Sabah is only a put-on.
“Now the government appears to take into consideration the lives and welfare of OFWs in Sabah when it has done nothing to address the OFWs’ work-related plight and ‘stateless status’ through the years,” Bragas-Regalado said. They now ask: Is the government’s stance prodded by genuine concern or simply a way of justifying its inaction concerning some Filipinos’ claims on Sabah?
Bragas-Regalado said the Philippine Embassy in Sabah has done nothing to address the problems of Filipinos who are working or residing there. “This was revealed to us by fellow Filipinos in a series of fact-finding missions we had launched in Sabah during the last few years. Slave-like conditions of Filipino plantation workers, ‘stateless children’, human trafficking involving our women and workers – all these are rampant in Sabah and happening for many years now, yet our government has not lifted a finger to assist them,” Bragas-Regalado said.
From this long record of inaction, the Philippine government’s sudden “concern” is just a cover-up of the Aquino administration’s lack of political will over the Sabah dispute, Migrante concluded.
Aquino’s multiple double-standards scored
The Aquino government’s actions over the issue of Sabah contrasted with its actions in the Spratlys, Migrante said in a statement. They accused Aquino of being aggressive in the Spratlys issue only “to promote and justify increased presence of US troops in the Asia-Pacific region.” On the other hand, Migrante views Aquino’s passivity with regard to the Sabah dispute as its way of goading the Moro Islamic Front (MILF) into capitulation, and also of appeasing Malaysia which plays a lead role in the ongoing peace negotiations between the MILF and GPH.
This is another double standard,” said Bragas-Regalado.
“Migrante recognizes the Philippines’ legitimate historical, legal and rightful claim to the Sabah territory,” Bragas-Regalado said. She added that they cannot understand “how the government is taking a defeatist stance in Sabah when we have as much right to assert claim as we are doing in the Spratlys dispute with China.”