Aquino to Sabah invaders: Surrender without conditions-A A +A
Saturday, March 2, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- President Benigno Aquino III asked Saturday the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who are still hiding in Lahad Datu town in Sabah to surrender without conditions to prevent further bloodshed.
"If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender," Aquino said in a statement read by presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacieda in a news briefing.
"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," the President added.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has warned that all-out action would be taken by his government against the armed Filipinos who were involved in a shootout with the Malaysian forces on Friday.
Twelve Filipinos and two Malaysian police were killed during the clash.
Aquino told the Filipinos in Lahad Datu that from the very start, the objective of his administration has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shedding of blood.
"However, you did not join us in this objective. Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass," he said.
Lacierda indicated that if another bloodshed would take place, the Philippine government should not be blamed.
"The Philippine government has exerted all efforts for a peaceful resolution. We've done that from Day 1. We've said that we've sent emissaries. We have tried our best to deal with them. We have coordinated with Malaysian authorities," he said.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said that several people have been sent to the Kiram family to settle the issue peacefully.
Among those who talked with them were Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas, National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia, and other Muslim officials, such as Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Mujiv Hataman and an undersecretary of the Department of Justice.
Almendras said that even before Aquino issued his first statement early this week where he made an appeal to Kiram to recall his followers in Sabah, it was discussed with the Kiram family.
"The idea is every possible means was done, all options were done. There were military interactions, there were diplomatic interactions, there were political interactions at all level," he explained, adding that the government has never been arrogant in dealing with the issue.
Contrary to the claim of the Kiram family that the government, particularly Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, was anti-Muslim, Lacierda said, "No one in this Cabinet is anti-Muslim."
Sultanate of Sulu princess Fatima Kiram, wife of the Sultan, has accused Roxas of siding with the Malaysian government as he allegedly acted as the spokesman of the other country.
Almendras also said that the Philippine government is still waiting for Malaysia's reply to allow its ship to dock in Lahad Datu to conduct medical and consular mission for the Filipinos there.
Meanwhile, in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan, Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang said that the priority of the government now is to try to resolve the Sabah incident without any more bloodshed.
He issued the statement amid the reported plan of the Malaysian government on mass deportation of Filipinos in Sabah.
"We are dealing this for this one day at a time. We will deal with the immediate problem first and then, we will deal with whatever arrives out of this later on," he said.
Kiram's men, about 180 of them as estimated by the Malaysian government, but 325 as claimed by the Kiram family, landed in Tanduo village in Lahad Datu on February 12 to assert their claim over Sabah. (SDR/Sunnex)