MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III on Saturday urged the followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to “surrender now” as he admonished them for choosing a wrong path to stake their claim on Sabah.
“If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong,” Aquino said in a statement, a day after the more than two-week-old siege in a remote village in Lahad Datu turned deadly.
“The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender,” he said.
Twelve of the close to 200 Filipinos in Sabah and two Malaysian security personnel were killed in Friday’s firefight that was reported to have ended the standoff.
The dozens of Kiram followers have been holed up on Borneo Island, surrounded by a massive Malaysian police and military cordon, since landing by boat from Mindanao to insist the area belongs to their Islamic leader.
Aquino said Manila’s efforts to prevent a bloodbath had become futile as the group stayed on to press their claim to Sabah.
“To our citizens in Lahad Datu, from the very start our objective has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shedding of blood. However, you did not join us in this objective,” he said.
“Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass,” he said.
“To those who have influence and the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, I ask you to convey this message: surrender now, without conditions.” With Agence France-Presse