Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/07/08MANILA1779.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1779
2008-07-25 08:31
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO5990
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1779/01 2070831
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 250831Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1408
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR IMMEDIATE 0895
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001779

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2018
TAGS: PREL PINS KISL MY RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINE NATIONALS DEPORTED FROM MALAYSIA

REF: MANILA 1697 (PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT TO SIGN
TERRITORIAL AGREEMENT WITH MUSLIM INSURGENTS)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: The southern Philippines is bracing for a
massive influx of deported Filipinos following the Malaysian
government’s June 25 announcement of an immigration crackdown
against undocumented foreign workers in Sabah, East Malaysia.
Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, many of whom hail from
the Sulu Archipelago and Mindanao, reside in the
natural-resource-rich province of Sabah on Borneo Island. So
far, at least 500 deportees have arrived in Zamboanga City,
threatening to overtax the city’s ability to absorb the
influx. The Malaysian crackdown came on the heels of
inflammatory statements by a popular and unpredictable
Filipino former Muslim insurgent leader, threatening to bring
the Philippines territorial claim to Sabah to the
International Court of Justice. While a perception exists in
the Philippines that the deportations are related to the
Philippine dormant claim to Sabah, they are more likely the
result of internal political pressures in Malaysia. This
cable has been coordinated with Embassy Kuala Lumpur and
contains an Embassy Kuala Lumpur comment in paragraph 6. END
SUMMARY.

¶2. (SBU) Over the past week, at least 500 deportees arrived
in Zamboanga from Sabah by vessel. One deportee told the
local press upon his arrival that “everyone – women,
children, babies, men – is being arrested” on Sabah. Local
government units in Zamboanga City are providing assistance
to the deportees, including food and temporary shelter.
However, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso Lobregat and other
government officials are becoming increasingly concerned over
the city’s limited capacity to accommodate large numbers of
deportees. Prominent experts have warned that “in the
absence of clear and viable alternatives, these returnees may
be left with little choice but to return illegally to Sabah
or join the rebels and bandits hiding in the jungles of
Mindanao.”

¶3. (SBU) A former Labor Undersecretary noted that the
Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur lacks the necessary
personnel and resources to assist the large numbers of
Filipinos likely to be detained and deported during the
immigration crackdown. The former senior official appealed
to Malaysian authorities to treat the undocumented workers
humanely so as to avoid potential human rights violations,
similar to those experienced during mass deportations of
illegal Filipino immigrants from Sabah during 2001.

¶4. (C) Embassy contacts in the Moro National Liberation
Front (MNLF) faction led by Nur Misuari and the Sultanate of
Sulu are claiming that the latest immigration crackdown is
part of a Malaysian strategy to pressure the Philippine
government into opening a consulate on Sabah — a development
that would effectively end the decades old dormant
Philippines territorial claim to the island of Sabah,
Malaysia. While the Philippine and Malaysian governments
have yet to make any official statements, members of the MNLF
and Sultanate of Sulu contend that the Sabah claim is
interwoven with Muslim insurgency and terrorism issues, and
must be resolved for there to be lasting peace and security
in the Sulu Archipelago. Consequently, the popular and
unpredictable Misuari and several self-proclaimed Sulu
Sultans — Fuad Kiram and Esmael Kiram — have pledged to
bring the Sabah claim to the United Nations International
Court of Justice for resolution.

¶5. (C) Comment: The Philippine claim to Sabah is a
politically sensitive and emotionally charged issue that
remains in the shadows of the Philippine-Malaysia bilateral
relationship and Mindanao peace process. In the words of one
prominent Filipino politician, “the Philippines’ claim to
Sabah is written in warriors’ blood, not ink.” This latest
immigration crackdown came on the heels of MNLF chairman
Misuari and Sulu Sultan Kiram’s speeches in Mindanao about
restoring Philippine sovereignty and proprietary rights over
Sabah, creating an impression of linkage in the Philippines.
Of the thousands of Philippine nationals expected to suffer
displacement, those interviewed by media are saying they will
return illegally to Sabah, where they can find employment.
End Comment.

¶6. (C) Embassy Kuala Lumpur Comment: Malaysia’s announced
expulsion of illegal Filipinos (and Indonesians) from Sabah
is not related to pressure on the Philippines government, but
is in response to political demands from Sabahans for Federal

MANILA 00001779 002 OF 002

authorities to take action against the enormous illegal
migrant influx in their state. Prime Minister Abdullah’s
continued majority in Parliament depends in no small measure
on Sabah MPs remaining loyal, increasing the leverage Sabah
leaders have over Kuala Lumpur at this juncture. To placate
Sabah, the government recently decided on the expulsions,
which are to be completed by the end of August. With no
significant institutional change, no meaningful increase in
border control, and no crack-down on official corruption,
this expulsion exercise — with its clear humanitarian cost
— will end like those carried out previously every three or
four years, namely with the return of undocumented migrants
from the Philippines and Indonesia to meet Sabah’s demand for
cheap labor.

¶7. (SBU) This cable has been cleared by Embassy Kuala
Lumpur.

Visit Embassy Manila’s Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/manila/index. cfm

You can also access this site through the State Department’s
Classified SIPRNET website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/

KENNEY

   

 

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