Philippines to appeal Malaysia death sentence on 9 Filipinos

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines will appeal the death sentence imposed by the Malaysian Court of Appeal on 9 Filipinos over the Sabah standoff that killed at least 70 people in 2013.

"What's gonna happen there is, of course, we're going to appeal," Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in an interview with reporters Friday, June 16.

Cayetano said the Office of Public Diplomacy of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will later give reporters the details.

The Sabah standoff refers to the bloody incursion by some 200 armed Moro rebels from the southern Philippines. Their move was inspired by a self-proclaimed Filipino sultanate's claims of historical dominion over Sabah, which is claimed by the Philippine government. (READ: Sabah standoff: 'Publicity stunt')

The assault, the most serious security crisis faced by Malaysia in years, led to a siege between the Moro rebels and Malaysian armed forces sent to root them out.

The Kota Kinabalu High Court in 2016 imposed life imprisonment on 9 Filipinos over the Sabah standoff, but the Malaysian Court of Appeal reversed this decision on June 8 of this year.  

Bernama, the national news agency of Malaysia, said the following Filipinos face the death sentence in Malaysia over the Sabah standoff: "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." 

On other Filipinos on death row around the world, Cayetano said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the DFA to adopt a "pro-active" approach, which will ensure "100% effort" in assisting them. 

To achieve this goal, he said the DFA "is also studying to have more retainer agreements with law offices around the world" to help overseas Filipino workers on death row. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com