DFA: Kiram’s only option is to surrender-A A +A
Friday, March 8, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Amid Malaysia's rejection of a unilateral ceasefire in Sabah, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the "only option" left for the group of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is to "lay down their arms."
The Sulu Sultanate head on Thursday asked the Malaysian forces to join him in a unilateral ceasefire after the United Nations (UN) urged both parties to stop the violence in Lahad Datu in Sabah.
Malaysia, however, rejected the proposal.
"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, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said in a press briefing Friday.
The DFA official also said that the agency has sent another note verbale to the Malaysian government, through its embassy in Manila.
The diplomatic communication requested for the Malaysian government to allow the Philippine Embassy team in Lahad Datu to gain full access to the 10 members of the Kiram group who surrendered on March 1.
He said the request was consistent to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by the United Nations.
The note verbale also asked the Malaysian government for "humane treatment to [all] Filipinos" in Sabah.
Hernandez, however, said that Kuala Lumpur has yet to respond to the requests made by Manila.
Among the other requests earlier lodged were the docking of the humanitarian ship, BRP Tagbanua in Lahad Datu to fetch Filipino civilians there, and the establishment of safety corridor for those who were not included in the violence.
"So far, these have not been granted. Maybe they are still considering that," he said.
However, Hernandez said they are still on a gray area whether or not 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. (CVB/Sunnex)