Philippines to Malaysia: Treat detained Pinoys humanely-A A +A
Friday, March 8, 2013
MANILA -- The Philippine Government is expecting Malaysia to treat humanely the 10 followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who have been detained in Sabah, Malacañang said Friday.
Reports Friday evening said more than 50 individuals suspected of having links to Kiram’s followers, who have been holed up in Lahad Datu, Sabah, have been detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.
Malaysia Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said the suspects, including women, were being detained in several locations in Sabah but outside the “Ops Daulat” area.
The Ops Daulat operation entered its fourth day Friday with helicopters being used to dispatch troops to locations in the vicinity of Lahad Datu to carry out the sweeping and mopping operations while fighter jets were flying above to monitor the situation.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in a news briefing in Manila, said the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has conveyed with the Malaysian Government that a Philippine team in Lahad Datu be given full access to the detained Filipinos.
"As we know, there are around 10 Filipinos under detention by the Malaysian authorities. And the DFA also trusts that the Filipinos will be given a humane treatment by the Malaysian government," he said.
The 10 members of the Sulu Royal Army were arrested last Friday when the Malaysian forces tried to end the standoff in Lahad Datu.
Lacierda said extending assistance to the detained Filipinos is one of the continuing efforts of the Aquino administration to end the violence in Sabah.
"Let me be clear, the President, the DFA, this government continues to exert all efforts and to explore all avenues towards a peaceful resolution. As to statement yesterday, they mentioned that ceasefire is one of those options, again, we continue to explore all possible options to come up with a peaceful resolution to the standoff," Lacierda said.
Kiram declared on Thursday unilateral ceasefire with the Malaysian forces. He also called for Malaysia to reciprocate the declaration of truce, but Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak rejected the call.
Razak, who visited the Ops Daulat base at Felda Sahabat on Thursday, said the only option for the intruders was to lay down their weapons and surrender unconditionally.
In response, Lacierda said the Philippine Government would continue to ask Kiram's followers to lay down their arms to resolve the problem.
"At this point, after the Malaysian Government has rejected the call of Jamalul Kiram for reciprocation of their declaration of unilateral ceasefire, it appear that the only option left for Kirams to save lives for certainty is to lay down their arms," Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, said in a press briefing on Friday.
The international community led by the United Nations has also urged the Malaysian Government and the Kiram family to end the violence immediately and to peacefully resolve the issue.
Hernandez, meantime, said the Philippine Government officials are still on a gray area whether the Kirams will be brought to Malaysia to face the charges there if they surrender their arms.
"This would be the last option for Kiram to save nationals in that area and prevent more bloodshed. [But] we don't have the operationalization of this option [yet]," he said.
President Benigno Aquino III said Thursday that he wanted Kiram and his followers to face charges in the Philippines first before turning them over to Malaysian authorities.
The violence in Sabah has already cost the lives of at least 60 people, mostly members of the Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate, who landed in Lahad Datu last February 12 to assert their claim over Sabah. (SDR/CVB/PNA/Sunnex)