Filipinos are being abused by Malaysian authorities in Sabah with documentation to this effect, Pangyan Fatima Celia Kiram confirmed today.
"Yes that is documented. And those who arrived in Sabah can be asked about their experiences," said Pangyan Fatima when asked about the reported abuses against Filipinos.
Fatima Celia Kiram is the wife of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the Sultanate of Sulu. "Pangyan" is a Tausug term for "wife of the Sultan."
Pangyan Fatima said the sultanate has been receiving reports of these abuses for some time, starting in 2000 when the Muslim country deported thousands of Filipinos in Sabah, Malaysia.
Malaysian authorities on the other hand, have been quoted as saying Filipinos in Sabah were not being maltreated.
Pangyan even cited the experience of a nephew of the Sultan, Dennis Kiram, who worked in Sabah as a tourist guide.
"Dennis was doing well in Sabah as a tourist guide, being well-versed with the Malay language," she recalled, adding his father was the sixth younger brother the sultan, Datu Aliuddin, who has since passed.
He is a Filipino who grew up in Sabah, she said.
One day Dennis was accosted by the police and asked for his passport.
Pangyan Fatima said when he was not able to show his passport, they took him and put him in jail, where he was reportedly maltreated, she said
Dennis has now been in the country for over two years, she said.
She added that many who returned from Sabah had approached the Sultan and his family members reporting the bad treatment they experienced.
Prof. Mashur Ghalib bin Jundam, former dean of the Institute of Islamic Studies of the University of the Philippines (UP-IIS), said that the people in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan are allegedly fed up with the maltreatment their relatives were experiencing in Sabah.
Jundam said there is no denying that Filipinos, who have sought refuge in the oil-rich territory, are getting the raw deal.