Malaysia considers Sabah crisis under control, say PH officials


MANILA, Philippines — After over a month of military operation against Agbimuddin Kiram and his men, Malaysian authorities had declared the crisis in Sabah “under control,’’ Philippine officials said on Sunday.

National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia said the Malaysian forces have started conducting a “small unit’’ operation against the remnants of Agbimuddin’s group who were believed to have broken up in groups in Lahad Datu town, Sabah.

“It’s a small unit operation. That’s how it is right now. They think the group has broken into small groups and scattered in different villages,’’ Garcia said in an interview by phone.

And then on March 19, the Malaysian authorities downgraded the alert level from red to amber in Lahad Datu, more than a month after Agbimuddin and members of the Sulu royal army landed there on Feb. 12 to press the Sultanate of Sulu’s claim to Sabah, according to Garcia.

“For Malaysia having downgraded the alert level would indicate that they’ve got the situation under control,’’ he said.

Acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Monday last week that the Malaysian authorities had declared the crisis over. He said even a humanitarian team from the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had been allowed inside Lahad Datu.

Also on Tuesday, while he did not confirm Hataman’s statement, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that Agbimuddin’s group had been “decimated.’’

Meanwhile, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that the government would also extend legal assistance to an alleged commander of the Sulu royal army and his wife who were recently captured by the Malaysian authorities.

“As the President said, we would be extending assistance… It’s not dependent on whether you believe in their cause or not but, the fact is, they will be facing charges and we will be extending assistance,’’ Valte said over government-run dzRB.

As of Sunday, Garcia said he had no information if Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram, 50, and wife Gina Taves Kiram, 47, who were captured in a swampy area in Kampung Sri Melor Bugaya, Semporna, last Saturday, were part of Agbimuddin’s group.

The President had ordered embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur to provide lawyers for the eight Filipinos charged with terrorism and rebellion in connection with Agbimuddin’s incursion into Lahad Datu.

The fate of Agbimuddin, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, remained unknown.

Garcia said the government has received conflicting reports: either he was still there in Lahad Datu or that he had sailed back to the Philippines.

“The Malaysians are convinced that he’s still there,’’ Garcia said, quoting news reports from Malaysia.

Hataman, the government’s emissary to the Kiram clan, has disclosed that Agbimuddin had phoned him and other government officials a few times asking to be “picked up’’ after a firefight broke out on March 1.

His request was relayed to the Malaysian government, but this was rejected because by that time, it had launched its operation against his group. Hataman last talked with Agbimuddin hours before he and other ARMM governors appeared with the President in a televised briefing on Sabah on March 4.

Meanwhile, naval authorities continued to monitor the arrival of boats from Sabah in Mindanao and try to determine if the passengers were undocumented Filipinos or were members of Agbimuddin’s group, Garcia said.

The Navy had intercepted two boatloads of 38 alleged followers of Agbimuddin with assorted firearms in the waters off Tawi-Tawi two weeks ago. The government has filed charges against them.

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  • Dancing Bear

    Thanks Malaysia for telling our government that Sabah is now under-control. You couldn’t have said it any clearer that my government tows the line.

    • Shah Esfelazi

      Why should the gov of Philippines not report of the same?,it is the responsibility of the Malaysian Govt to protect its peace and sovereignty against any terror. It is also the responsibility of the Malaysian government to report the current situation in Sabah.

      The Philippine Govt should do the same,uphold the law and reprimand these terrorist or the Philippines and its neighbors will never have peace!

      • Dancing Bear

        I’m not complaining about Malaysia.

  • boldyak

    no wonder the malaysians who commented in here are so sure that they own sabah, hahahaha…see their daily news in malaysia…their government keeps on saying that according to historical and Non-Historical facts, they own sabah and that what they are paying is cession money…hahahaha….The Philippines should bring this issue now to the ICJ, and let us see if Malaysia have the guts to face Philippines in the International Courts, based on what they are saying in their newspaper, they will have a nightmare coming….bwahahahaha…I am sure they will decline to participate in resolving the issue in international court, becuase they know they will lose the case…come on Malaysians…face the claim of Philippines in ICJ..if you can not, you have to stay in Sabah by force and by arrogance….

    • raj

      The Philippines doesn’t have a case at all so why Should Malaysia even dignify such a stupid move? Philippines only comes from a Sultanate it doesn’t even recognise whose only “proof” is this 1878 treat ignoring the fact that there were other things AFTER that year that make the matter closed.

      There is no nightmare coming Malaysia has already stated no ICJ is needed the reason Philippines keeps bringing it up is to act tough that’s it why do you think this claim has been “dormant” in 2002 Philippines tried to bring the matter to ICJ attention but was told there was no case as Sulu had ceded its lands to Spain who gave it to Britain in 1885 and the 1963 cobold commission determined the majority of people wanted to form Malaysia.

      The ICJ does not recognise “historical” rights it recognises self determination if you actually thought for a moment and stopped a nationalistic fruit loop you would see that. They will stay in sabah because the people there including the Suluks prefer Malaysia to Philippines. The “stay by force” is not necessary as these guns for hire have been eliminated slowly now they are in small gangs trying to get out.

      Since you believe in what’s right petition your government to grant Sulu independence or face the fury of the Suluks they can only be patient with your regime for so long

    • antinutcase

      Consider the following – none of the filipino presidents took the issue to icj. Perhaps it is a sign that they realize they don’t have a strong and winnable case? Which President does not want to look like a hero and go down in history as the champion that brought back the ever-elusive sabah to be part of the philippines if they know they have a slam-dunk no-question-ask case ?

      Don’t look to Malaysia to have any motivation to take this issue to icj, sabahans had voted to be part of the federation. And to date no rebellion has occured in sabah to indicate we sabahans want kiram as our sultan or be part of the philippines. Internationally, sabah is recognized as part of malaysia. That has been so since 1963.

  • Popskief

    Good to hear that smoke is settling down, so people can go on with their lives.

    “The fate of Agbimuddin, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, remained unknown”. If he is alive, good for him to stay underground. If dead already, probably buried somewhere never to be found.

    The wheels of Justice must start to roll leaving no sacred cow and make them responsible for this idiotic incursion that caused people lives.

  • indiosbravos2002

    I thought they claimed that everything was under control 3 weeks ago. Bakit may namamatay pa rin? Probably the Malaysian lies have caught up with them already.

    • antinutcase

      It is under control as in the enemy is no longer in position to launch major offensive – enemy’s capability is no longer a threat and now in disarray as depicted by the current situation where the intruders have either scattered in small groups , killed, arrested or simply escaped from sabah. Their movement is uncoordinated and their main objective now is to survive and hopefully escape back to sulu islands. Tracking down the remnants of these small groups that got left behind may take longer but it will be done thoroughly.

      • indiosbravos2002

        You are referring to conventional warfare. Thing is… this was never conventional in the first place. And announcing to everyone that everything is under control for the nth time yet body bags are increasing will make your fellow Malaysians question the authenticity of these pronouncements. In due time, Sabah will become no man’s land like Sulu and Tawi Tawi

      • antinutcase

        I doubt if sabah will become a no-man’s land. Perhaps there wiil be a few attempts by pro-kiram people to stage armed chaos but sooner or later they will be subdued. Malaysia is taking steps towards tightening securities in sabah. Sabahans will probably be more cautious now in going around our daily routines. But it will be nothing major. Any guerilla style attack will have limited chance of success as no local support will be given.

  • Gibo

    If everything is controlled in Lahad Datu leave them alone. No need for five batallions and air force. Those Sulu people have lived that area for centuries. It was the British who land grabbed Sabah and gave it to the peninsular Malays.

    • jacel_itim_na_puso

      The malaysia army general told yesterday’s presscon that he is downsizing the size of operations. So probably there are only few commando platoons left to mop up the remaining kiram terrorists. the whole chain of command for the kiram terrorists has been destroyed. i wish jamalul kiram would just call his remaining men to lay down their arms and surrender. the leftover terrorists cannot survive the ordeal of being haunted day and night.

  • jclarendo

    President Aquino para safer naman ang mga ating muslim why not transfer malacanang and congress in mindanao so with military headquarters phil navy hqs must be in Sulu and the airforce be in tawi-tawi and southern palawan para in case we have conflict with malaysia and i’m sure there will be in the future we are already prepared.

  • jacel_itim_na_puso

    I am ashamed the whole world is now looking at the Philippines as a heaven for terrorists. After the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon has launched Operation Enduring Freedom in the southern Philippines to fight terrorist groups like Kiram, MNLF and Abusayaff. Also the Americans think that our national Pulis is in a mess and considered to be the most corrupt institution in the country.

  • ConcernedCitizenPh

    Malaysia may consider the Sabah crisis under control but talks of anting-anting and agimat suggest uneasiness and fear of people. It may even imply how the Malaysians may have under-estimated the people they tried to trap in the Filipino fishing village.

  • Edgardo Mendoza

    panot FU ck you mag takip ka nalang ng bayong sa ulo! makapili hudas!

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