DFA chief heads for Malaysia to discuss Sabah row-A A +A
Monday, March 4, 2013
MANILA -- Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will fly to Kuala Lumpur Monday afternoon to appeal for "maximum tolerance" in dealing with followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the secretary will meet with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman to continue discussions on how to avert further loss of lives following the bloody incident that killed at least 11 Filipinos.
During the meeting, del Rosario will also personally convey the Philippine government's request for a full briefing from the Malaysian authorities regarding the situation in Lahad Datu, where Kiram's followers are holed up.
Also, the Foreign Affairs chief will ask clearance for the Philippine Navy ship, BRP Tagbanua, to proceed to Lahad Datu.
The ship, which was dispatched from Tawi-Tawi more than a week ago to fetch the women and civilians in Lahad Datu, has medical personnel onboard.
The personnel there can also provide consular assistance for the Filipinos.
Del Rosario also hoped that once the ship and the Philippine authorities there are allowed access to the Filipinos, the remaining of Kiram's followers will be able to "go back to their respective homes and families."
"Ever since the Kiram group landed in Lahad Datu three weeks ago, Secretary del Rosario has been in touch with the Malaysian authorities on a daily basis in search for a peaceful resolution to the situation," the department said.
Meanwhile, provincial governors in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) reiterated the government's call on followers of Kiram to "peaceably come home" to prevent further bloodshed.
"We the leaders of the Filipino Muslim community have been watching developments in Lahad Datu and our concern about the violence that has already caused the lives of our Muslim brothers, Filipinos and Malaysians alike," the governors said.
The statement was issued by Governors Jum Akbar (Basilan), Mamintal Alonto Adiong (Lanao del Sur), Esmael Mangudadatu (Maguindanao), Abdusakur Tan (Sulu), and Sadikul Sahali (Tawi-Tawi) during a press conference in Quezon City on Monday.
"We are calling on all parties to exert more effort to resolve the standoff in a peaceful and honorable manner. We appeal to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to call on his followers to peaceably come home," the governors added.
The Muslim leaders noted that over 600,000 Filipinos who are living quietly in Sabah are caught up in the conflict.
The Armm governors also appealed to the Aquino administration to continue to work towards achieving a peaceful resolution to the claim of Kiram's group over Sabah.
"Let us settle the issue of Sabah in a peaceful and honorable way. We all want peace with dignity and justice and we can achieve it by working together in a peaceful manner," they added.
International law expert Harry Roque, meantime, said the government has appeared ignorant of the Sabah claim.
"Governments' initiatives to still study the Sabah claim bring to mind the legal saying that 'ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith'. In this regard, Philippine authorities should blame themselves for their ignorance of the Sabah claim. They should certainly not be negligent in their obligation to provide protection to Filipinos overseas because of their own ignorance," he said. (CVB/Virgil Lopez/Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)