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Sabah Conflict

PNoy denounces unnamed critics who conspired to create Sabah crisis

March 4, 2013 5:06pm
(Updated 5:54 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III on Monday denounced the supposed political backers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his supporters in Sabah, where violence since Friday has already resulted in more than two dozen deaths. 

At a press briefing in Malacañang, Aquino did not name the conspirators but strongly suggested they belong to the ranks of his political enemies, saying Kiram's group could not have staged such a drastic action by themselves.

It could be a coincidence, but his press conference comes a day after an admission by political operative Pastor "Boy" Saycon in the Philippine Daily Inquirer that he has been an adviser of Jamalul Kiram. Saycon played an instrumental role along with some Aquino relatives, as leaders of the so-called Noy-Bi faction, in mobilizing Aquino allies to support vice presidential candidate Jojo Binay in the 2010 elections, .

“Mulat tayong may mga taong nagkutsabahan upang humantong tayo sa sitwasyong ito—isang sitwasyong walang agarang solusyon. Ilan po sa kanila ay nakikita natin, habang ang iba naman ay nagkukubli pa rin sa dilim. Hindi po kakayanin ng angkan ni Sultan Jamalul Kiram III na gawing mag-isa ang ganitong uri ng pagkilos,” Aquino said.

At least 180 followers of Kiram have been holed up in Sabah for weeks, surrounded by  Malaysian forces, in their effort to advance the Sultanate of Sulu’s claim to the territory located in Borneo Island. The group, led by Kiram's brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, has refused to leave until the Malaysian government heeds their demand to re-open talks on the unresolved claim of the sultanate on Sabah.

Aquino had earlier said the Kirams do not have enough financial resources to stage the standoff alone.

Without dropping names, Aquino vowed that those behind the actions of Kiram and his followers, as well as critics that “aggravate the situation,” will be held liable by the government.

“Kapansin-pansin din ang nag-iisang linya ng mga kritiko para gatungan ang malubha na ngang sitwasyon. Pinalubha nila ang isyung ito, at ginagawa nila ito habang inilalagay sa peligro ang daan-daang libong Pilipino. Sa mga taong nasa likod nito, ngayon pa lang, sinasabi ko sa inyo: Hindi kayo magtatagumpay. Pananagutin natin ang mga nagkasala sa bansa,” he said.

Phone call to Malaysian PM

Speaking to the Kirams, Aquino again appealed to them to lay down their arms, stressing that no negotiations will take place until both they and the government are on equal footing.

“Paano ka naman makakaasa ng risonableng usapan kung tinututukan mo ng baril sa mukha ang kabilang panig? Kung gusto mo talagang umusad ang usapan, tanggalin mo muna ang banta sa kaligtasan ng iyong kausap,” Aquino said.

The President said he spoke to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak by phone early Saturday morning and asked him to spare the thousands of Filipinos living and working in Sabah.

In the phone call, Najib explained that with the loss of Malaysian lives, the Sulu Sultan's followers have crossed a line and with it, the possibility of negotiations has disappeared.

“Sinabi niya sa atin, tumawid na tayo sa isang linya, at 'di na raw pwedeng negotiations. Galit na galit ang kaniyang mga kabababayan dahil sa pagdanak ng dugo,” Aquino said.

Some 800,000 Filipinos who live and work in Sabah have been affected by the standoff, according to Aquino.

Despite the statement of the Malaysian Prime Minister that the situation has reached a boiling point, Aquino said Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario will talk to his counterpart in Malaysia to reach a peaceful solution to the standoff.

“Susubukan pa rin nila na maghanap ng ibang solusyon para makalma nga yun sitwasyon para magkaroon ng katarungan. Para masigurado natin mapataas ‘yung pag-asa na magkaroon ng solusyon na mas mapayapa. Ine-explore lahat ng possibilities,” Aquino said.

Del Rosario flew to Kuala Lumpur on Monday afternoon. — KBK/HS, GMA News



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