MANILA, Philippines—Gen. Emmanuel Bautista, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the Philippine and the Malaysian militaries had agreed to tighten their border patrols to prevent other “illegal entries” into each other’s territories and avoid complicating the situation in Sabah.
Bautista told reporters on Friday night that he had been talking to his Malaysian counterpart, Chief of Malaysian Defense Force Gen. Zulkifli Zainal Abidin, about the arrest of Filipino gunmen reported in Malaysian media on Thursday.
He said he had also spoken to Sultan Esmail Dalus Kiram II, who “agreed to discuss the matter peacefully with the Malaysian[s].”
“They are in Sabah. They will resolve the issue peacefully,” Bautista said.
“They agreed to talk to each other. They will return to the Philippines in due time,” he added.
The Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has sent a police attaché to Sabah to find out what is going on.
The Philippine National Police commander, Director General Alan Purisima, said on Saturday the situation in Sabah was “volatile,” with the heirs to the Sulu sultanate pressing their claim to the territory.
Purisima said the Philippine police attaché to Malaysia, Senior Supt. Carlo Collado, was assigned to the PNP Directorate for Intelligence. Collado “reports to us,” Purisima said, speaking to reporters in Baguio City.
Asked why he described the situation in Sabah as volatile, Purisima said: “If you say something that [involves] another country, you just don’t say anything because we consider diplomacy.”
Purisima declined to comment when asked if Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram’s group was aggressive.