Aquino to Sulu gunmen: ‘Surrender now’


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

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

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  • Sandiego

    I’m disappointed I thought Mr. Aquino was more cunning. Mr. Aquino always speaks of unity among Filipinos. But right here served on a silver platter is the means for all the factions to be unified. Ready the AFP, call his MILF allies, the MNLF are already involved. Rally our forces under one banner. Force Malaysia to the bargaining table by threatening invasion of Sabah. Launch the invasion even if Malaysia agrees to bargain. Use this as a ploy only for time to ready our invasion of Sabah. If we land our combined forces in Sabah, Malaysia will fall. They’re much to soft to handle our fighters. Look at how their people are reacting now with only a handful of fighters. They just don’t have the decades even centuries of fighting experience.  Then if we want to bargain for Sabah, with our troops on the ground, our bargaining position is much stronger.  In a head on confrontation with Malaysia the only worry is their air superiority. But we don’t need to win air superiority just a draw. Our ground forces wins it for us. With these moves Mr. Aquino grows in stature and Kiram diminishes. Mr. Aquino doesn’t see it but it’s right there for the taking.

    Our leaders should read Machiavelli. He gave the template for these kind of scenarios.

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