Aquino wants Kiram, followers charged first in Philippines-A A +A
Thursday, March 7, 2013
MANILA -- The Philippine government will not immediately turn over Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to Malaysian authorities as he has to face first the possible charges to be filed against him here, President Benigno Aquino III said Thursday.
The Chief Executive was reacting on reports that Malaysia might seek Kiram's extradition to face the cases to be filed against the sultan in relation to the ongoing hostilities in Sabah involving his followers.
"From my perspective, let them face the issues, let our citizens here in the country face the charges that we will be proffering first. Then we will talk about and talk about other developments after they have satisfied the requirements of our laws," he said.
Aquino has ordered an investigation against Kiram, his followers and alleged conspirators on the Sabah standoff.
He said that the Department of Justice is still determining whether it warrants the filing of charges against Kiram and his conspirators.
"So we're not yet at the stage that we will file by tomorrow or the next day. In fact, we are still in the investigation portion," he said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier in the day said she is looking at the possibility of turning over Kiram to Malaysian authorities should cases be filed against him in connection with the ongoing standoff in Sabah.
"If they violated Malaysian laws, we will study that. I suppose they also violated Malaysian laws, carrying firearms alone is already a violation of Malaysian laws," she said.
The President mentioned that while the country has no extradition treaty with Malaysia, there is an Asean Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) that is already enforced.
But the Department of Foreign Affairs said MLAT cannot be used for extradition of any citizen of member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
On Thursday, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said they may ask the Philippines to hand over Kiram to face cases after his statements allegedly incited hatred and anger among his followers, triggering a firefight in the past few days that left at least 27 people dead.
Aman said that even without the extradition treaty, Manila can extradite Kiram and his group through "in the spirit of [Asean]."
In a separate interview by The Star, Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said Kiram can be held liable for abetting to wage war against the Malaysian monarchy or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, which is punishable by death under their penal code.
In 2001, the Philippines succeeded in bringing home former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) governor Nur Misuari from Malaysia to face rebellion charges despite the lack of extradition treaty.
Meanwhile, Aquino said that former President Fidel Ramos, who proposed that the National Security Council be convened, could just send memo to him with regard to the Sabah issue.
"We have been in touch with the security cluster of the Cabinet from the start of this meeting. If they have inputs that they want to share, former President Ramos in particular, I'm sure he can send it to me through a memo [and] we will consider," he said.
The President also said that the government security forces have been deployed in Mindanao to prevent escalation of violence in Sabah.
"What is the government doing to prevent? There are at least 10 Philippine Navy and Coast Guard vessels manning a blockade to prevent anybody from adding to the troubles that are happening right now in Sabah," he said.
"The PNP (Philippine National Police) in particular is securing everybody so that there are no collateral incidents that might happen," he stressed.
Aquino said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been in contact with the families of those suspected armed Filipinos in Sabah to attend to their needs.
Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II is also conducting a dialogue with various Muslim groups in Basilan explaining the government's action to resolve the situation in Sabah, he added. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/CVB/Sunnex)