Palace urges Sulu sultan to recall followers as deadline ends

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Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram talks to reporters during a news conference in Alabang, south of Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013. His followers who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah this month will not leave and are reclaiming the area as their ancestral territory, the sultan said Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013, amid a tense standoff. AP PHOTO/AARON FAVILA

MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Friday appealed to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his family to reconsider its decision not to recall his armed followers from Sabah, warning of further “deterioration” of the two-week standoff if the followers refuse to leave Lahad Datu town on Friday, the deadline set by Malaysia.

“I’m disappointed to learn that the message the emissary is carrying is for them to stay put as this will not help diffuse the situation,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas told the Inquirer by phone while he was en route to the Palace for a 3:30 p.m. meeting with President Benigno Aquino.

Roxas, a senior member of the security cluster of the Cabinet, took the decision of the sultan’s family as “unfortunate.”

“The government has been trying to facilitate the sending of an emissary from the Kiram family to Sabah precisely to alleviate and de-escalate the situation,” he said.

“I am disappointed at this news because our fellow Filipinos are presently in a precarious situation. Our utmost priority should be the peaceful and stable resolution of this immediate situation.

“All talks about historical claims and national territories and borders can only positively happen and be fruitful in a stable atmosphere, not in this situation of tension and duress. So this would not be a helpful development,” said Roxas.

Aquino met with Cabinet members in charge of the peace process in Mindanao at the Palace at 3:30 p.m.

The meeting was originally called by the President to talk about progress in the peace process with Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a preliminary peace agreement with the government on October 15, 2012.

“Its’ possible that it will be converted … to talk about this (Sabah standoff),” said Roxas of the Palace meeting.

Besides presidential peace process adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, secretaries of the foreign affairs, national defense and national security were expected to attend the meeting.

Roxas summed up the implication of the Sabah standoff on the bilateral relations between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

“We must separate the claim of the Kiram family and or the Republic of the Philippines from this act, which strains the ties between the two countries,” he said.

Roxas, thus, appealed to the sultan’s family to support the Aquino administration’s position for a “de-escalation of the situation” to ensure the safety of some 300 armed follower of the sultan of Sulu.

“I am appealing to responsible parties to ensure the safety of our fellow Filipinos there,” said Roxas, wary that Malaysian forces could “move in” after hearing the decision of the sultan.

The Malaysian authorities had given the 300 followers of the sultan led by his brother, Agbimuddin Kiram, until Friday to decide whether to leave on their own, or be rounded up and deported.

Roxas begged off from commenting on the pronouncement of the Kiram family, during a press conference in Taguig, that the sultanate had already withdrawn its authorization for the government to pursue the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.

“I cannot say. I don’t know the facts. All these issues that are being tossed about cannot be resolved in the near term, nor is it (standoff) helpful under duress, or in a crisis situation,” was all Roxas could say about the validity of the sultanate’s claim to Sabah.

But what was evident, he said, was this: “It’s unfortunate. This decision of the family does not contribute to a peaceful and successful resolution of the situation.”

“It is notable that this situation is happening in a location that is not under the control of the Philippine government. it is Malaysian police, Malaysian armed forces and Malaysian personalities that are in control of the situation in Sabah.

“While our concern is the safety of our fellow Filipinos, their safety is best attained by a de-escalation of the situation,” said Roxas.

People power?

Asked to comment on the claim by Princess Fatima, the sultan’s spokesperson, that the Sabah standoff was a form of “People Power” launched by the “royal forces” of the Sulu sultanate, Roxas said:

“People power was (an event) among Filipinos. The situation (in Sabah) is not under the control of (the Philippines). Filipino soldiers did not shoot Filipino citizens in Edsa, but that is not the situation obtaining at the present (in Sabah).”

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  • Weder-Weder Lang

    Kiram is probably not going to give up just like that. Just because the palace says so. The palace had all the chance and all the time in the world to act on Kiram’s quest for the return of Sabah. The palace failed to act, thereby putting itself in a position where the Sultanate of Sulu had to force the palace’s hand. To add insult to injury, now the palace is asking for a study on the validity of Sabah claim as if this whole issue never existed before.

    • IbigMongSabihin

      relevant historical government documents repeatedly confirming that sabah is part of sulu sultanate and inside the philippine territory were already compiled by diosdado macapagal thru the dept of foreign affairs sometime in 1960’s. these are the lease agreement documents, suceeding british government letters to spain and belgium clarifying that it has no intention of dishonoring the sabah lease agreement, the assurance letter of britain to spain that it may sub-lease sabah to private parties but still the ownership of sabah belongs to its sulu owners, etc… hoy, noynoy, porke galit kayo sa macapagal ay huwag kang abnoy not to use the macapagal documents which were intended for presentation sana sa UN.     

  • Mamang Pulis

    disappointed si mar boy bawang roxas—
    gusto mo ng scoop?

    ikaw mismo ang sumundo sa sabah—-kung may balls ka.

    –isama mo si ate koring—bentang benta kayo nun!

  • Albert Einstien

    Instead of recall of our heroes who RAISED RP FLAG in sabah….pnoy govt should tell MALAYSIA TO VACATE SABAH…we need it already for our own use…then if they stll failed to VACATE after the notice & demand to vcate ..govt should file RE-CLAIM to UN -ICJ….immediately..

    for 50 years pinag-laruan ng MALAYSIA ang RP ..unti-unti nilang PINAHINA ang ating BANSA..KUMIKITA sila sa SABAH ng $70 billion a year ( kung times 50 years pa yan GRABE )..MAG-KANO KAYA DYAN ang IBINIBIGAY nila sa mga POLITICIANna TRAYDOR at mga iba pang HIPOKRITONG TRAYDOR sa bansa SIMULA PA NG 1968..ilang ARMAS at magkano kaya TAON TAON ang IBINIBIGAY nila sa mga REBELDE na PUMATAY salibo libo nating kasundaluhan at mga nagamit na muslim rebels..ilang milyon na ba ang nasirang pamilya dahil sa muslim rebellion …ngayon NAPAHINA na nila ang ating BANSA….NASUSUHULAN nila mga politiko natin at hawak nila ang ating ekonomiya…. gusto na nilang KUNIN ang ating boung ekonomiya at territoryo sa mindanao..yang pnoy/MALAYSIA/MILF compromise territorial deal ..CREEPING INVASION yan..matapos nilang KAMKAMIN ang SABAH ..mindanao nman isinusunod…magugulat na lang kayo in the future..papalitan na ng MILF ang AFP sa mindanao…ISUMPA ang mga TAKSIL sa BAYAN…

    LO & BEHOLD..what is the CONNECTION of SABAH & HACIENDA LUISITA, MUSLIM REBELLION , MNLF REBELLION & CPP-NPA REBELLION..? what is the the connection of AQUINOS & LEADERS of MALAYSIA ?……………. ANSWER 1968……………

    HACIENDA LUISITA was planned to be RETURNED & distributed to the FARMERS by MARCOS in 1968 ( The government’s first follow-up letter was written by Conrado Estrella of the Land Authority on March 2, 1967 …HACIENDA LUISITA ( 6,400 hectares ) the root of political & economic turbulence..the DECLINE of everything good for Filipino..& deprivation and injustice to the farmers 1968 to 2013 )…NINOY DIVULGED the MARCOS SABAH RECLAIM plan in 1968, MUSLIM rebellion begun in 1968, MNLF was ESTABLISHED in 1968, & CPP-NPA established in 1968…

    adding insult to the peaceful citizens…CORY released ALL the REBELS & their leaders in 1986…they become stronger DEATH abounds…CORY established RELATIONS to MALAYSIA…

    NOW PNOY is ABANDONING our SULU SULTANTE ARMY in SABAH..and has the NERVE to criticize them…and serve as SPOKESPERSON of MALAYSIA…anong KLASENG LIDER yan…

    • palakasantayo

      excellent conspiracy plot… keep going albert.

  • Mamang Pulis

    “All talks about historical claims and national territories and borders can only positively happen and be fruitful in a stable atmosphere, not in this situation of tension and duress. So this would not be a helpful development,” said Roxas

    ta ran tado ka rin pala minu minuto—nag pa pogi ka na naman—

    ilang taong dormant na yan sabay nun hindi nag ka-igihan sa framework dahil iniwan nyo sa ere–[di ba marvic?]—hihirit ka ngayun ng ganyan—-typical trapo–typical traidor kayo–wag ka na umasa sa 2016

  • XY ZEE

    Linaglag ninyo sila para paboran ang MILF.
    Tapos gusto ninyo ngayon na pakinggan kayo?
    Aba’y kung di ba naman kayo mga tanga’t kalahati.

  • rpcapinpin3

    Ngayon lang nila priority SABAH ng magkaroon ng standoff.

  • kilabot

    kiss the framework agreement goodbye. 
    noykapon govt ma fi muk.

  • palakasantayo

    What is this merry-go-round game? correct me if I’m wrong. Those 300 rebels/bandits intrused into Sabah because they are being hunted by MNLIF and RP after they killed several people in Mindanao. Now they found out, they are not welcome in Sabah. They can not go back to PI as they are wanted criminals. What would they do? Leader says, let’s use the “dormant” issue of this land we are sitting on, it’s ours. let ‘s claim it back from it’s present owner, Malaysia. Followers say… we don’t have the force to negotiate with the Malaysians. Leader says… let’s get the Philippine government nvolve, our claim is their claim too. Once the two governments get involve and start talking about nonsense of what happened long time ago, the 300 rebels/bandits are back in RP being treated as heroes not criminals. Good stragey Mr. Kiriam … congratulations.

  • disqusted0fu

    These sultanates are just doing what the PH government is supposed to be doing. They may not be doing it properly, but at least they are doing something and not just noynoying. The worse part is, it may even be the only supposedly significant achievement of Pnoy (framework agreement) that is the root cause of the problem.

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