Tawi-tawi and Sulu in Mindanao face an imminent humanitarian crisis as Sabah border remains closed to traders due to the kidnapping incidents where four Malaysian crewmen were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf, triggering short supply of food to more than 50,000 people in the two island provinces.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said this matter should be studied in depth by all Philippine government agencies concerned to find a viable solution to the situation.
Meanwhile, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao government has sought the national government to intervene without delay to reopen the border for trading, as prices of basic commodities have soared, with 25 kilograms of rice selling now for P1,100 from P620.
ARMM’s Social Welfare Secretary Rahima Alba said around 25,000 households in Tawi-Tawi have been on survival mode because of the blockade.
“What we are doing is to immediately help those affected by the Malaysian government’s blockade,” Alba said in a statement.
“The provinces of Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, including Basilan, import a significant volume of prime commodities from Sabah, Malaysia,” Alba said, adding that with the blockade, prices of rice, noodles, canned goods and other commodities has doubled.