MANILA, Philippines—A senior Philippine diplomat on Sunday lamented the “irresponsibility and recklessness” of the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu in dispatching a group of an estimated 180 Muslim-Filipinos to Lahad Datu, with some 30 of them armed.
The senior diplomat’s reaction came after the Malaysian online paper, The Star, published a story Sunday morning about a Sunday deadline for the armed group to leave Lahad Datu.
“The clock is ticking away for the Sulu armed group holed up at the Tanduo village as the Sunday deadline draws near with no sign of them giving up peacefully,” the Star reported on its website http://thestar.com.my/news.
The diplomat requested anonymity as only the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) was authorized to release statements at this point.
For the diplomat, the stubborn order of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III for his brother and their followers to stand down in Sabah showed their family’s “irresponsibility and lack of concern for civilian lives.”
The diplomat noted that the Kirams sent “women and unarmed civilians to Lahad Datu.”
“If there is a forced deportation, have they thought of what will happen to the civilians, some of whom joined up after being promised lands in Sabah?” the diplomat said.
The diplomat also said the group’s claim of having peaceful objectives was “illogical and irrational,” given the fact that they were escorted by armed men and they intruded into a neighboring country.
“If there is bloodshed, it would be on the Kiram’s hands and not on government’s,” the diplomat said.
“With their quixotic and reckless move, they have placed at risk not only the Mindanao peace process but also the overall peace and security situation in Mindanao, which all Filipinos have worked and hoped for and Filipino-Muslims have long deserved,” the diplomat added.