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‘We have decided to die in Lahad Datu’

 | March 2, 2013

Philippines has set up a legal team to look into Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s claims on Sabah

LAHAD DATU: The Philippines government has re-iterated its call to followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to surrender and prevent further bloodshed here.

The government has also said that a legal team would look into Kiram’s claim on Sabah.

Reading a statement from President Benigno Aquino, spokesman Edwin Lacierda, said  in Manila, that the path chosen by Kiram’s army  in Sabah was “wrong.”

“Our objective from the very start has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shed of blood. However, you did not join us in this objective.

“Because of the path that you (Kiram) chose, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass, “ he told journalists

He was referring to the shootout between Malaysian security forces and Kiram soldiers here yesterday morning.

Kiram’s army, led by crown prince Raja Agbimuddin, have been holed up in Felda Sahabat in Lahad Datu since Feb 9 refusing to heed to Manila’s call for them to return peacefully to Philippines.

Lacierda further urged those who were in touch with Agbimuddin’s group in Sabah to convince them to surrender.

“The just and the only correct thing to do is surrender. To those with the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, we ask you to convey this message: Surrender now without conditions,” he said.

But Agbimuddin, in a letter read out by his sister Jacel in Manila, said they chose to remain and die in Lahad Datu.

“After we buried our nine brothers and one sister at sundown, everyone of the 224 left decided to die in Lahad Datu in pursuit of their dreams and aspirations…and have decided to put everything in the hands of Allah,” wrote Agbimuddin.

Manila has  been calling for Kiram’s men to peacefully return to the Philippines, but Kiram maintained that his men will not leave Sabah.

Kiram also wanted a dialogue with Aquino, but Manila has said he must first order his followers home from Sabah before the President agreed to a meeting.

Kiram’s men had  been engaged in a standoff with Malaysian authorities for 17 days until violence erupted yesterday morning after the some Sulu soldiers broke through the security cordon. Two Malaysian police officers were killed in the shootout.

Lacierda said the Philippine government had “exerted all efforts for a peaceful resolution” to the standoff.

“We’ve done that from day 1. We’ve sent emissaries. We have tried our best to deal with them and we have coordinated with Malaysian authorities, “ he said.

Meanwhile Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said two cabinet secretaries, political adviser Ronald Llamas and national security adviser Cesar Garcia, have been communicating with the Kirams.

He said that the Kiram was informed that Manila had put together a legal team to review his claim to Sabah.


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