Kiram followers blocked off Tawi-Tawi face charges-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The Department of Justice confirmed Friday that the government will file charges against 38 followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who were intercepted two days ago in Tawi-Tawi.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the 38 individuals will face charges of illegal possession of firearms and inciting to war, adding that the decision to file cases against them came after the inquest proceedings conducted on them on Thursday.
She said Kiram's men who allegedly wanted to escape the ongoing offensive of Malaysian forces in Sabah will continue to be detained in the naval facility in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-tawi "unless the court says otherwise."
Earlier, de Lima said the first group was intercepted at 6:35 a.m. Wednesday by Navy vessel PS38. The second group composed of 18 people came an hour later at 7:37 a.m.
Rajah Muda Agbimmudin Kiram, Jamalul's brother and leader of some 200 Kiram followers who landed in Sabah on February 12, was not among those blocked by Philippine Navy troops. He is still believed to be holed up in one of Sabah’s villages, as crackdown continued Friday against his group.
While offensives continue in Sabah, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago asked the Philippine and Malaysian governments on Friday to invite a third party to investigate the alleged violent acts in the ongoing armed crisis.
"Under international law, impartial fact-finding facilitates peaceful settlement of disputes, particularly settlement by negotiation, mediation, good offices, or conciliation," she said.
Reports said the crackdown of Malaysian security forces on Kiram’s followers have resulted in over 60 deaths, arbitrary arrests, and forced evacuation of Filipinos who have no involvement in the incident. Malaysia denied the allegations.
In pushing for the independent probe, Santiago said the United Nations and other international organizations have availed of this option in the 1981 involvement of mercenaries in an invasion of the Seychelles; the 1987 use of chemical weapons in the Gulf War between Iran and Iraq; and the 1988 destruction of Korean Air Lines Boeing 447.
In response, Malacanang said it would be up to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to study the proposal of Santiago.
"We will leave that to the DFA to study that particular mechanism under international law, and to make the appropriate recommendations to the President (Benigno Aquino III), if and so warranted," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)