Palace: Kiram's commander to be given legal aid

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said on Sunday, March 24 that it will extend legal assistance to one of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III's commanders who was captured by Malaysian authorities in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the Palace will extend assistance to Datu Amir Bahar Hushin Kiram and his wife, both of whom were captured by Malaysian security forces on March 23. Amir Bahar and his wife were captured at 1:30 am in a swampy area in Kampung Sri Melor Bugaya, Semporna. 

"As the President said, we would be extending assistance even if… It’s not dependent on whether you believe in their cause or not but, the fact is, they will be facing charges and we will be extending assistance," she said.

The New Straits Times reported that Amir Bahar was arrested under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012, which gives the police the special power to arrest people who are suspected of committing acts of terrorism, espionage and sabotage.

Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said in the same report that they have arrested 416 people so far in connection with the Sabah standoff. Malaysian police is hunting members of the Royal Army who went to Sabah in early February to stake their claim on the Malaysian-controlled state.

Kiram III refused to withdraw the Royal Security forces from Sabah and also turned down the Palace's offer to shelve charges against his men in exchange for their retreat. 

The Department of Justice will now file charges against 38 of Kiram III's alleged followers for violating the election gun ban and Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code, which prohibits inciting to war or giving motives for reprisals. - Rappler.com