DFA requests ‘safe corridor’ to evacuate innocent Filipinos in Sabah
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is requesting the Malaysian government to provide a “safety corridor” to allow evacuation of innocent civilians caught in the violence in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The request was conveyed by DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario to Malaysian ambassador Mohammad Zamri bin Mohammad Kassim in light of the recent clashes between the “Royal army” of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian authorities.
“[Del Rosario] requested that the government of Malaysia establish a safety corridor for women, children and other civilians not involved in the hostilities,” DFA Spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters Tuesday.
When asked if it has been approved or denied, Hernandez said that it was still under consideration of the Malaysian authorities.
“We have not received any official response to [the request],” he said.
There are at least 570,000 Filipinos in Malaysia as of 2011, according to data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, including 447,000 without appropriate papers.
Del Rosario had met with his Malaysian counterpart Foreign Affairs Minister Anifah Aman 1 a.m. Tuesday after flying to Kuala Lumpur Monday afternoon. He is expected to return to the country 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Tuesday to report to Malacañang the results of his meeting.
The “Royal army” of the Sultanate of Sulu has been encamped in Tanduao Village, Lahad Datu, for at least three weeks to press their claim that Sabah is their territory.
Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, heads the estimated 200-strong group that travelled by boat to Sabah last February 11.
Malaysian authorities have claimed that the group has been defeated after an air and ground assault that began 7 a.m. Tuesday.