Evacuees from Sabah seek shelter on island in Palawan

Immigration and naval authorities in Palawan on Friday are on its way to Mangsee Island, Balabac to facilitate the proper documentation and investigation of around 740 Filipino evacuees from Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia.

The evacuees arrived on the country's territorial waters Tuesday, Naval Forces West (NFW) commander Commodore Joseph Rustom Pena told PNA.

Pena said the evacuees, mostly young children and women, were accosted by crewmen of a patrol naval vessel at sea on their arrival on various small sea transports.

"They said they are from Sabah, and that they want to seek shelter on Mangsee Island as they have relatives there. We really don't know much yet, our people on the ground are still finding out. Of course, they need to be documented first," Pena said to the PNA, adding the evacuees failed to show documents that could prove their identities.

He cannot fully ascertain if the evacuees are supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu or long-time residents of Lahad Datu who were caught in the bloody fight with the Royal Malaysian Guards.

Asked if the evacuees will be brought to Puerto Princesa, Pena said they have to obtain their areas of residences and communicate with their relatives if necessary, and with the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) for whatever assistances are needed.

Mangsee Island is off the southernmost tip of Palawan and is frequently used as jump off point of Islam traders going to Malaysia.