JK III’s intruders not budging despite Friday deadline


(Borneo Insider) – MANILA, Philippines: The followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III holed up in Lahad Datu town in Sabah refused to leave despite the Friday deadline set by Malaysia.

Jamalul, his brother Ishmael and wife Princess Fatima Cecilia and some of their followers faced the media on Friday in a press conference at the Blue Mosque in Maharlika Village in Taguig City, saying they will consult their followers regarding their next move.

Princess Fatima, who is the sultan’s spokesperson, said the family wants the Sabah issue to be resolved before the International Court of Justice and that they are open to negotiate with Malaysia.

She also said that the family was hurt by President Benigno Aquino’s statement that the Sabah issue was “dormant” but she welcomed his directive for his top Cabinet officials to study the Sabah claim issue.

mar-roxas22Meanwhile Malacañang on Friday appealed to the Sultan and his family to reconsider its decision not to recall his armed followers from Sabah, warning of further “deterioration” of the two-week standoff if the followers refuse to leave by Friday, the deadline set by Malaysia.

“I’m disappointed to learn that the message the emissary is carrying is for them to stay put as this will not help diffuse the situation,” Interior Secretary Mar Roxas (pic) told the Inquirer by phone while he was en route to the Palace for a 3:30 p.m. meeting with President Benigno Aquino.

Roxas, a senior member of the security cluster of the Cabinet, took the decision of the sultan’s family as “unfortunate.”

“The government has been trying to facilitate the sending of an emissary from the Kiram family to Sabah precisely to alleviate and de-escalate the situation,” he said.

“I am disappointed at this news because our fellow Filipinos are presently in a precarious situation. Our utmost priority should be the peaceful and stable resolution of this immediate situation.

“All talks about historical claims and national territories and borders can only positively happen and be fruitful in a stable atmosphere, not in this situation of tension and duress. So this would not be a helpful development,” said Roxas.

Aquino met with Cabinet members in charge of the peace process in Mindanao at the Palace at 3:30 p.m.

The meeting was originally called by the President to talk about progress in the peace process with Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which signed a preliminary peace agreement with the government on October 15, 2012.

“Its’ possible that it will be converted … to talk about this (Sabah standoff),” said Roxas of the Palace meeting.

Besides presidential peace process adviser Teresita Quintos-Deles, secretaries of the foreign affairs, national defense and national security were expected to attend the meeting.

Roxas summed up the implication of the Sabah standoff on the bilateral relations between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

“We must separate the claim of the Kiram family and or the Republic of the Philippines from this act, which strains the ties between the two countries,” he said.

Roxas, thus, appealed to the sultan’s family to support the Aquino administration’s position for a “de-escalation of the situation” to ensure the safety of some 300 armed follower of the sultan of Sulu.

“I am appealing to responsible parties to ensure the safety of our fellow Filipinos there,” said Roxas, wary that Malaysian forces could “move in” after hearing the decision of the sultan.

The Malaysian authorities had given the 300 followers of the sultan led by his brother, Agbimuddin Kiram, until Friday to decide whether to leave on their own, or be rounded up and deported.

Roxas begged off from commenting on the pronouncement of the Kiram family, during a press conference in Taguig, that the sultanate had already withdrawn its authorization for the government to pursue the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.

“I cannot say. I don’t know the facts. All these issues that are being tossed about cannot be resolved in the near term, nor is it (standoff) helpful under duress, or in a crisis situation,” was all Roxas could say about the validity of the sultanate’s claim to Sabah.

Read more at: http://borneoinsider.com/2013/02/22/jk-iiis-intruders-not-budging-despite-friday-deadline/