BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The Philippines will increase military presence in common maritime borders with Malaysia to prevent further entry of armed groups in Sabah, a high-ranking military official said Friday.
“The chief of the Malaysian defense forces, General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Zulkifeli bin Mohd Zin has requested us to patrol our borders as they will patrol their side to prevent illegal entrants so… they are going to address peacefully the situation there,” Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Emmanuel Bautista told reporters in a chance interview with reporters Friday night.
The AFP Chief issued the statement amid a stand-off between Malaysian authorities and about 200 armed Filipinos, who illegally entered Sabah claimed it as its own territory.
Bautista did not confirm how many armed Filipinos are in Sabah, saying that there are Filipinos who are also residents of Sabah.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said the armed Filipino men who were claiming to be part of the Sulu royal army, was “not sanctioned” by the Philippine government.
DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario also sought the Malaysian authorities’ assurance that the rights of Filipinos who are permanently residing in Sabah would be respected.