Suspected 'royal army' men face charges

Posted at 03/14/2013 2:00 PM | Updated as of 03/14/2013 2:00 PM

De Lima: Royal army delaying justice for Amalilio victims

MANILA - Amid complaints of human rights abuses from those who came from Sabah, the Philippine government will already initiate charges against its own nationals, starting with “illegal possession of firearms.”

In a press conference in Malacanang, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima dismissed allegations the government was quick in filing the charges against its own nationals instead of facing the human rights abuse complaints of those caught in the conflict in Sabah.

“May unlawful and criminal acts naman talaga committed by the group. Hindi natin pwede balewalain,” de Lima said of the interception on Wednesday of two boats carrying Filipinos – believed to be members of the royal army of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu – by the Philippine Navy.

She said the 36 Filipinos are now detained and awaiting inquest for illegal possession of firearms since they were allegedly caught with assorted firearms.

Besides violations to the Revised Penal Code, de Lima said they should also be liable for violating election laws during the gun ban period.

The first boat, which carried the woman and one wounded, were intercepted at around 6:35 a.m. The other was intercepted around 7:37 a.m.

She said the composite team on the ground, a joint team from the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), will also do case build up.

She said she does not want to specify the other violations that may be imposed against them, claiming she does not want to be misconstrued.

The government is also investigating conspiracy among the Kiram men and other personalities.

This comes at the same time that hacktivists defaced the website of the Office of the President of the Philippines early Thursday.

The group Anonymous Philippines left a message on the website’s news section, addressing President Benigno Aquino III.

“We are silent witnesses as to how you are mishandling the Sabah issue. We did not engage the Malaysian hackers who invaded our cyberspace since we expected you to appropriately and judiciously act on the same, but you failed us,” the message read.

“You did nothing while our fellow brothers are being butchered by the Malaysian forces, and while our women and children become subject of human rights abuses. If you can’t act on the issue as the Philippine President, at least do something as a fellow Filipino. We are watching,” it added.

Amalilio

Meanwhile, de Lima blamed anew the members of the royal army for delays in the process to bring home Ponzi scheme alleged ringleader Manuel Amalilio, who is currently detained in Kuala Lumpur.

“These are unintended consequences,” she said of the delays in having Amalilio come home and face estafa and other criminal raps.

“We hope naisip nila [Kirams] yan,” she noted. She said a team from the DoJ and NBI was supposed to go to Kuala Lumpur on March 12 to discuss with their counterparts the early release of Amalilio to Philippine authorities.