KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Family ties are luring Filipino militants and criminals to seek refuge in Malaysia, particularly in Sabah, said intelligence sources.
The sources who have been following the militants issue closely said these fugitives flee towards Sabah to stay safe from Philippines authorities and also rival groups bent on revenge against them.
The refugees are said to be related to southern Filipino families of Bajau and Suluk descent who have long settled here.
Many of the refugees and later, Filipino migrants who have become naturalised Malaysians, are said to have started to move out of Sabah to seek work in peninsular Malaysia.
These migrant group have over the past decade moved in larger numbers to Johor, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur to seek better work prospects, added the sources.
However, these militants or criminal elements running away are joining up with families in Malaysia.
It is not known if the local families are aware of their background but they help them get jobs as labourers in the construction and plantation sectors.
Without good intelligence, these fugitives can remain undetected in Sabah, the sources said.
They explained that they were unlikely to be involved in any activities that could draw attention.