In an article posted on its website Thursday afternoon, the Coast Guard said the 568 were from Sandakan town in Sabah, and were assisted by Philippine officials.
Assisting them were teams from the Coast Guard Jolo station, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Marines.
The first group of 256 arrived aboard the wooden-hulled passenger vessel ML Nur-ena, owned and operated by Hadjili Raja, arrived in Hadju Warid Pier in Patikul, Sulu.
A second group of 249 arrived aboard the wooden-hulled cargo vessel ML Billy the Kid, owned and operated by HJA Habibiya Albani at Tanjung Pier in Jolo, Sulu.
Meanwhile, the passenger/cargo vessel, M/V Liliflora, owned and operated by Magnolia Shipping Corp., arrived at Jolo Pier with 63 aboard.
“Upon arrival at the respective piers, the returnees’ disembarkation were assisted by the personnel and representatives of [Coast Guard] Jolo, DSWD, PNP and the Philippine Marines,” the Coast Guard said.
It said the Filipinos were then brought to the RPMA Terminal for medical examination, documentation, feeding and other necessities.
Several Filipinos in Sabah had fled their homes in recent weeks due to the clashes between followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian security forces.
Malaysian forces had conducted offensives against Kiram’s followers since March 5, following deadly clashes on March 1 and 2 that ended a three-week standoff. — BM, GMA News