Feb 25, 2013

Reprieve for Pinoys in Sabah

The Sulu sultan’s “royal army” in North Borneo got a reprieve as the Philippine and Malaysian governments adopted a wait-and-see stance on the standoff in Lahad Datu town in Sabah that entered second week on Saturday.

Muslims at the Golden Mosque in Quiapo district of Manila on Saturday express their support to Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and followers who are Sabah in press for their claim.
The Malaysian government did not take any action in the remote village of Kampung Tanduo although the Filipinos insisted on staying in the forested area beyond the Friday deadline set by Kuala Lumpur.

“While there is a standoff, all the parties concerned have expressed commitment and desire to have this end peacefully,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview over state-owned dzRB radio.

She said the Department of Foreign Affairs had yet to receive word from Kuala Lumpur regarding the four-day extension Manila requested from Malaysian security forces, but Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told journalists in Malaysia that he had been informed of Manila’s request for an extension, but he said the Malaysian foreign minister will be the one to decide the matter.

“Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman just called me this morning and I told him I would leave it (the extension) for Wisma Putra (the foreign ministry) to decide,” Hishamuddin was quoted as saying by Malaysia’s New Straits Times.

“If there is a request to extend the deadline, do not extend it for too long as there is a limit to it in our quest of safeguarding our own country,” he added.

At the same time, Valte said Malacañang Palace has rejected a proposal of the Moro National Liberation Front to send peacekeepers to Sabah because all parties involved had “conveyed preference to have situation resolved peacefully.”

On Friday, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also said their government is aiming for a peaceful solution, adding that it was important to resolve the issue without bloodshed.

The group of around 200 Filipinos, some of whom are armed, arrived in Sabah on February 9 and refused to leave, claiming that they were followers of the Sultan of Sulu who owned Sabah. They were promptly surrounded by Malaysian security forces and a standoff ensued.

Malaysian security forces have adopted a cautious wait-and-see stance in the ongoing standoff, but the standoff has taken a political color in Malaysia which is expected to hold general elections not later than June 27.

At the same time, the Philippines has deployed six naval ships to Tawi-Tawi to prevent other Filipinos from crossing the sea border.

President Aquino had earlier asked the armed group to give up peacefully because their actions may lead to a confrontation, but the group rebuffed the request. - source

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