DFA: Del Rosario did not label Kiram group 'terrorists'-A A +A
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) denied that Secretary Albert Del Rosario agreed to label the armed followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III as "terrorists."
In a statement sent by Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez to reporters, the DFA said del Rosario only agreed to call "terrorist attacks" reports that say Malaysian police were "brutally mutilated and desecrated" in Semporna.
Del Rosario held a meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman on Tuesday to request for Kuala Lumpur's "maximum tolerance" in dealing with Kiram's followers who remain in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
"According to [Philippine] Ambassador [Eduardo] Malaya who was present at the meeting, the report is out of context and the Secretary did not label the Filipino group as 'terrorist,'" Hernandez said in a text message.
Reports said that the attacks in Semporna on Saturday led to Malaysian police being mutilated and desecrated.
"If indeed these atrocities were committed as reported to him [del Rosario], the Secretary [del Rosario] and the Foreign Minister [Aman] both agreed that these were, at the very least, terroristic acts," he added.
According to a report by Malaysia's Bernama news agency, Aman said del Rosario shared the Kuala Lumpur's view that Kiram's followers should be branded as "terrorists."
Kiram's group, the so-called Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate, arrived in Lahad Datu in early February to reclaim their "ancestral homeland."
The standoff, which lasted for about three weeks, ended on March 1 when Malaysian forces assaulted the area where Kiram's men were hiding.
On Tuesday, the Malaysian government launched air and ground strikes to disperse remaining followers of the Sulu sultanate.
Del Rosario met with his counterpart in Kuala Lumpur to personally convey the Philippine government's request to allow BRP Tagbanua to gain access to the Filipinos, so that they can go back to their homes and families.
He also requested for a safety corridor for women, children and civilians who are not included in the standoff.
Latest reports estimated that about 18 Filipino and several Malaysians already died in the assaults. (CVB/Sunnex)