Charges vs Kiram followers readied-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The government is readying appropriate charges against 36 individuals intercepted by the Philippine Navy entering Philippine waters from Sabah in two boats on Wednesday.
In a briefing in Malacanang on Thursday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed earlier reports that the individuals, who were blocked within the vicinities of Omapoy and Adulingan islands in Tawi-Tawi, were members of the Royal Security Forces (RSF) of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
She said the first group was intercepted at 6:35 a.m. Wednesday by Navy vessel PS38.
“There were 18 of them, 17 males, and one female, and with assorted firearms, and one of them was even found wounded, and they identified themselves as Royal Security Force,” De Lima said.
The second group came an hour later at 7:37 a.m., with 18 armed followers of Kiram.
Rajah Muda Agbimmudin Kiram, Jamalul’s brother and leader of Kiram followers who landed in Sabah on February 12, was not among those intercepted.
“So with that development, the processes are now being undertaken by a composite team with the end view of filing the appropriate charges against them as soon as possible,” she said.
The composite force includes members from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
De Lima said one possible complaint that will be filed against the armed men from Sabah is illegal possession of firearms.
"I would want to avoid specifying the charges at this point. What I can only confirm, which is quite obvious to everyone, is the illegal possession of firearms because they were caught with or they were found with assorted weapons," she said.
De Lima said the other set of offenses will be those that will be subjected to the regular preliminary investigation.
On alleged conspiracy on the Sabah incursion, De Lima said the PNP-CIDG and the NBI are still investigating on the matter.
She also clarified an earlier statement allegedly made by the NBI that there was no conspiracy on the Sabah incident.
"It was taken out of context," she said.
With this, the Department of Justice chief said that she advised the NBI to avoid or be careful in making any statement regarding the issue.
De Lima also said there could be no more "win-win" solution for Kiram and his followers to address the Sabah problem.
She said Kiram was already given the chance to recall his followers from Lahad Datu, Sabah prior to the March 1 clash with the Malaysian forces.
"Now, the question is, will it still be possible for a win-win solution at this point wherein the situation has already deteriorated? There could have been chance before," she said.
Since the March 1 encounter, the Malaysian forces have been hunting down Kiram followers, prompting hundreds of Filipinos return to the country. (SDR/Sunnex)