Palace shrugs of reported lifting of unilateral truce by Sulu Sultanate-A A +A
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
MANILA -- Malacanang shrugged off Tuesday reports that Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has lifted the unilateral ceasefire that he declared almost two weeks ago against the Malaysian forces.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in his regular press briefing, said it would be up to the Royal Security Forces (RSF) of the Sultanate of Sulu to respond on Kiram's decision.
"I mean, obviously, they (RSF members) have been decimated. So what's the effect of the lifting of the ceasefire? You've been reporting every day that there are some casualties and, some days, there are none," he said.
"So, obviously, it didn't matter to the Malaysians whether the ceasefire was lifted or not," Lacierda said.
He reiterated that it has been the call of the government to resolve the Sabah claim peacefully, but the Kirams continued to be defiant.
"Again, our call here is for a peaceful resolution and, apparently, we are onboard, other countries are onboard, but the Sultanate is not onboard in this matter," he stressed.
Kiram followers, who sailed to Lahad Datu, Sabah on February 12 to assert their claim over the resource-rich territory in North Borneo, were reportedly ready to fight back if Malaysian forces continue to attack them.
In the same briefing, Lacierda said that the government might hire private lawyers to handle the claim over Sabah depending on the recommendation of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice and the Office of the Executive Secretary, which President Benigno Aquino III tasked to study the issue.
"If there is a basis for the claim and the recommendation is to pursue the claim, then obviously...we will elevate it before international courts; and, in that instance, we will be hiring lawyers, private lawyers, to handle the case," he said.
Lacierda cited that this was what the government did in the case of the territorial dispute with China over the Bajo de Masinloc or Panatag Shoal.
"We've already used private lawyers, by the way, in our pursuit of the dispute with respect to the West Philippine Sea. So we have already mentioned that we’ve hired private lawyers for that. In respect to the Sabah claim, there’s still a study that is being done yet. There are no recommendations made yet," he said.
The government elevated the territorial row with China before an international tribunal. (SDR/Sunnex)