MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is still looking for ways to peacefully end the standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia, as they had said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said in a press conference in Malacañang, “We have done everything possible, and we continue to do everything possible to peacefully end this standoff.”
Lacierda states the concern the government has for the safety of 800,000 Filipinos living and working in Sabah.
He added that the president has appealed to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razka with regards to assurance of the Filipinos’ safety in Sabah who are not involved in the standoff.
The spokesperson said, “The government is concerned for the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, and also for those men and women and children that the men who joined Lahad Datu – the men who (were) left behind here in Basulta, in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.”
He adds, “For the past three weeks, we have done everything possible from sending emissaries, asking them (armed followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III) to come back and we will talk, and all these pleas fell on deaf ears. Hindi po nagkulang ang pamahalaang Aquino tungkol sa pagprotekta sa kanila.”
Last February 11, more than 200 of Kiram’s allies arrived in Lahad Datu.
According to the Sulu Sultanate, their army led by Agbimuddin Kiram, went to Sabah to go over their claim over the island, which is formerly called North Borneo.
After Kiram’s men ignored President Aquino’s calls for them to return to the Philippines as well as Malaysian government’s similar request, Malaysian forces started the offensive.
At least 25 people have been reportedly killed in the gunfights between the Sulu Sultanate’s army and Malaysian security forces.