Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III warned Monday on the possible effect of the Sabah hostilities on the Philippine economy.
Aquino said that if the violence in Sabah would prolong, many of the estimated 800,000 Filipinos there might flee from the Malaysian state and will return to southern Philippines.
He said the government has to take care those Filipinos who will flee to the country and "this will surely affect our economy. "
Based on rough estimate, he said if about 160,000 Filipino families would return to southern Philippines from Sabah, the government has to allocate around 37 billion pesos (about 911.33 million U.S. dollars) for food and shelter alone for a span of one year.
He said other basic necessities were not yet part of the estimate that the government needs to earmark for the families who would be displaced further.
Over 2,000 Filipinos already fled from Sabah for fear that the Malaysian authorities would arrest them for allegedly supporting or aiding the followers of the Sulu Sultanate that invaded Sabah on Feb. 12 to reassert their claim over the minerals- and oil-rich Malaysian state.
"Which program are we going to suspend so that we can provide their (Filipino returnees) needs? What can we provide to other Filipinos who also need the state's attention?" Aquino said.
He again blamed those who instigated the Sabah invasion for their own self interest.
The president said he would not allow force to be used in addressing the Sabah claim as his administration is now conducting a study on the issue.
He said part of the study being conducted by the Departments of Justice and Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Executive Secretary is to come up with "a road map towards a peaceful resolution of the Sabah issue."