By Roy Mabasa
The government is poised to appeal the death verdict meted against nine Filipinos handed down Thursday for their involvement in the bloody incursion in Lahad Datu in February 2013.
According to the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) Acting Executive Director Raul Dado, a team from the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia is setting up a meeting with embassy-hired lawyers for the elevation of the case to the Malaysian Court of Appeals since the Filipinos have the right to appeal.
Dado said a team in Manila is coordinating on this as well.
“Diplomatic initiatives will begin immediately both here and Manila,” he said in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon.
Those who were handed the death penalty were identified as 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.
Initially, the Filipino accused have been meted life sentences but state prosecutors appealed for a stiffer penalty.
Deputy Public Prosector Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin was quoted as saying that the Malaysian government is satisfied with the ruling. Wan Ladin also expressed hope that the verdict will deter other alien nations from intruding into Sabah and Malaysia.
The nine Filipinos were sentenced to death for “waging war against the King of Malaysia” and jail sentences of 13 to 18 years were handed out for “being a member of a terrorist group.”
The Lahad Datu incident began when a group, all followers of the Sultan Kiram and members of Sulu Sultanate’s Royal Security Force (RSF), landed in Tanduo village on February 9, 2013 drove out the residents, and occupied it to signify a presence that stood for ownership of the land that belonged to the Sulu Sultanate but passed on by Britain to Malaysia in 1957 after granting independence to its colony once known as Malaya.
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