Binay urges Sulu sultanate, Malaysia to talk peace-A A +A
Monday, March 4, 2013
VICE President Jejomar Binay on Monday urged the Sultanate of Sulu and the Malaysian authorities to sit down and discuss the ongoing conflict in Sabah peacefully.
"What is important is that the lines of communication are open and there is continuing dialog. We should avoid taking hardline positions because it will not resolve anything," he said in Cagayan de Oro City.
Binay said he was disturbed by reports that innocent Filipinos are being rounded up by Malaysian authorities and asked the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to verify the information.
"The Embassy needs to verify these reports so we can act accordingly. From day one the government’s concern has always been the safety of Filipinos in Sabah. We want to make sure that they are safe and out of harm's way," he said.
The Vice President echoed government's appeal to allow the entry of mercy ships to provide aid to Filipinos caught in the conflict.
Last week, Binay told Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III the position of the Philippine government on the Sabah claim.
"I told the Sultan that the most important thing is that we avoid violence. Unfortunately, what we wanted to avoid has happened, and everybody needs to calm down at this point," he said.
Binay is in Northern Mindanao to campaign for the senatorial candidates of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA)
In a related development, Team PNoy accused UNA of politicizing the "complicated" situation in Sabah amid the standoff between Malaysian authorities and followers of the Sultan of Sulu.
"We appeal to both our allies and our foes let us not politicize the issue. Let the President and the diplomats handle this. We should not politicize an already complicated situation. We should refrain from muddling the issues," Team PNoy campaign manager Senator Franklin Drilon said in a press conference.
"Let us not jeopardize their safety, security and their livelihood by reckless statements. The welfare of 800,000 Fiipinos is paramount to the Aquino administration and the campaign rhetoric should take a backseat in order that we can address properly the welfare of the 800,000 Filipinos,” the senator added.
Drilon particularly cited the statement of former Senator Richard Gordon during an UNA sortie in Bukidnon.
As he was trying to woo voters in a political rally in Bukidnon, the crowd of which was estimated at 50,000, Gordon said the LP of the ruling Liberal Party stands for "Losing Philippines."
"That is the kind of campaign rhetoric that we say we should not have," Drilon said.
Malaysian state news agency Bernama earlier reported that six Malaysian policemen and six followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III were killed in a clash Saturday in Semporma. This happened a day after a shootout between Malaysian forces and the Filipino gunmen.
Team PNoy senatorial candidate Risa Hontiveros said that political parties should unite for the sake of the country.
"Walang Team PNoy, walang UNA, dapat Team Philippines," she said.
Sonny Angara, also a candidate of the administration coalition, meanwhile hopes that the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement will not be a casualty in the Sabah violence.
Angara supposed that those who claim that the agreement is at the root of the ongoing fighting between armed men of the Sulu sultanate and Malaysian forces may be the same people who do not want the dream of achieving lasting peace in Mindanao to succeed.
"The Framework Agreement provides for the total infrastructure on how to achieve peace, on how to build the zones of peace and prosperity that we have been dreaming of for Mindanao. The Framework should not be a casualty of the Sabah violence," he added.
Angara urged the people to respect and support whatever decision President Aquino will make on the Sabah question in order to end the conflict. (Kathrina Alvarez/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)