Palace keeps distance from Sabah standoff


Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Friday expressed reluctance to meddle in the reported incursion in Sabah of an armed group of 100 Filipinos who identified themselves as the “royal army” of the Sultanate of Sulu in southern Mindanao.

Undersecretary Abigail Valte, a Palace spokesperson, was non-committal when asked at a briefing in the Palace whether the Philippine government would intervene to prevent the situation from escalating into a bloody confrontation.

The action of the Aquino administration was limited, thus far, to coordinating with formal channels in the Malaysian government of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Valte, however, denied that the group was armed as claimed by the Malaysian authorities.

“According to (Defense) Secretary (Voltaire) Gazmin, they are reportedly unarmed,” said Valte.

The intruders have been ordered to surrender their weapons, Malaysian national police chief Ismail Omar said, according to wire reports.

But Ismail did not disclose the number of suspects, or how they were armed.

Wire reports said that the men, wearing military fatigues, have demanded to be recognized as the “Royal Sulu Sultanate Army,” and insisted that they have the right to stay in Sabah as subjects of the sultanate.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda did not reply when asked, through a text message, about the Palace’s official position on the country’s dormant claim to Sabah, one of the 13 states of Malaysia.

“Our Philippine and military officials have already coordinated with their counterparts in Malaysia to determine that particular event. As the Department of Foreign Affairs said, we are trying to ascertain the facts that are attendant to the story,” said Valte.

“The Philippine Embassy in Malaysia has already dispatched our police attaché to that particular (area) to see what’s really happening, and we continue to monitor the situation,” Valte added.

Asked if the Philippine government was inclined to provide any form of assistance—legal or diplomatic—to the group, Valte said:

“As a general rule, it’s the duty of our government to help (and) extend assistance to any Filipino abroad wherever they may be. At this point, however, we would like to ascertain the facts first,” she said.

The Aquino administration was monitoring how things would turn out.

“At least, (we are) aware (of it). Our Philippine Embassy in Malaysia is already actively working there to ascertain what’s the situation on the ground,” said Valte.

She said that “assessment” would follow suit since “we have ways (to go) forward if we could determine the real situation.”

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  • avmphil

    I can’t figure why the acrimonious hustings about Sabah  being stirred now at such heights. Did this culminated when Malaysian Authorities refused to extradite and later impound the fraudulent Amalilio, an a prison term in quick succession? A delay tactical move to, perhaps destroy evidence that will incriminate his ( Amelilio) partners in Kuala Lumpur and Manila as well. And, now we are witnessing a “kid rebellion’ outside the jurisdiction of Manila, engaged in a sovereign country, with no responsive agenda from the so called Sulu Sultanate. 

    With several media helping to replicate local grouses simmering for decades on the ‘Sabah back to PH’ question, are we back to a regional conflict (which ever one looks at) with Malaysia? There seems to be vested interest at play, but involving mainly Southerners and Malaysians: I suspect. An over zealous Malacanang to assist the trouble makers at this point of time, where more critical issues effecting sovereignty, may well get back fired. 

    Our system had shown much continence in major areas and we should continue to hold this principal before our ‘papers’ are presented in the correct order. Suffice to say the Americans and the British should have deliberated the Sabah question immediately after WW2. Blame our predecessors leadership’s oversight ( or, not foresighted)  and we lost a golden opportunity in terms of land and resources..

  • DakuAkongUtin

    Katolik Manila Govt dont give importance to issue of Sabah and the Sultan of Sulu. This is so pathetic.  

    • Sarael Balanda

      dakuimongutin how you called it phathetic?maybe your otin  full of tiktik

  • ghe

    Sabah belongs to the Philippines

  • kipbuts

    The Philippine state should protect its citizenry. Where’s our AFP mandated to protect the lives and properties of the citizen. Magaling lang kayo sa counter-insurgency pero hindi rin ninyo natalo-talo ang komunista mahigit 40 na taon na. Shame on you Government of the Republic of the Philippines-GPH! Palibhasa we are a castrated government in Asia. Saan na ang mga matatapang na mga senador? Senador Enrile, Santiago, Lacson, Arroyo, stand for our rights.

  • Pio Gante

    hands off,  bakit di ba kayo kino-konsyensya? truck-truck na dugo na ang dumanak sa mindanao dahil sa usaping yan. matagal na sanang nabawi yan pero nangialam ang ama ng kasalukuyang nangungupahan sa palasyo kaya nanghimasok ang malaysia at tinunulungan nila para mag-aklas ang uto-utong grupo ni nur.

  • Sandiego

    Enough already. Show some courage. Our leaders are so weak. If our leaders really believe people from Sulu are Filipinos then stand up for them. Support them. Marshal our forces for a possible show down with Malaysia. Get the MNLF, MILF, AFP ready for a confrontation if it comes to that. Every savvy politician in history has used war or the possibility of war to unite its people. PHL leaders should do the same. A great opportunity. Our leaders should tell Malaysia, the people of Sulu have a historical claim to Sabah. It remains dormant for now but we have not given up our claim. If you shed the blood of our citizens then be prepared to hear the battle cry of every Filipino on your soil. Dramatic I know. But its a great way for our people to rally around our flag. Even if fighting does not occur. It’s a great way to unite all Filipinos once and for all. But our politicians are too stupid to realize this.

  • Matambaka

    Nakipagkasundo sya sa MILF  na supportado ng Malaysia pero may ibang plano pala hehe…

    ang Malaysia di na maka angal dahil wala ng grupong makontrol na
    maghasik ng lagim sa Mindanao dahil nakipag PEACE DEAL na lahat.

    Ngayon ang Labanan sa Sabah na…

    PANIC na ang MALAYSIA…

    Feeling trinaydor ang Malaysia? Itanong mo sa lolo nya ang MAKAPILI sa panahon ng hapon haha

  • Edrick Gonzales Madeja

    walang kwenta talaga ang administrasyong abnoy….. mas pinapaburan talaga nila ang mga malay…., pinapakita lang talaga ni noynoy ang paggiging makabanyaga…. at walang pagpapahalaga sa kasarinlang pambansa…. tsk tsk tsk….

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