End Sabah Violence – UN

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) sought an end to violence and encouraged dialogue among all parties to peacefully resolve the situation in Sabah, Malaysia.

"The Secretary-General is closely following the situation in Sabah," said a statement issued by his spokesman. "He urges an end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation."

Responding to Ban's call, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo, headed by Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, declared a "unilateral ceasefire" in Sabah. It took effect at 12:30 p.m. yesterday.

Kiram III announced this at 12:26 p.m. yesterday, the 23rd day of the standoff that escalated into an all-out Malaysian offensive.

Ban expressed concern about the impact the Sabah clashes may have on the civilian population, including migrants in the region.

"He urges all parties to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards," said the statement.

According to reports, Malaysian troops are searching houses and terrains for armed members of a Filipino clan, all followers of the Sultanate of Sulu, embroiled in a three-week conflict in Sabah.

Related violence has reportedly left eight members of the Malaysian security forces and 19 clan members dead.

With tears in his eyes, an obviously happy sultan led a press conference with some of his siblings standing behind, announcing the ceasefire.

It's tears for joy, he admitted to journalist present after learning that Ban has urged "an end to the violence."

Ban's statement dated March 6, 2013, may be read on the UN website.

Kiram III thanked the journalists who have been at his home about two weeks now. "I love you all," he said.

Abraham J. Idjirani, spokesman of the sultan and the sultanate, said the ceasefire from the sultanate was in response to the UN. He added that it was also due the "reported massacre committed by Malaysian authorities against 40 innocent civilians in Lahad Datu yesterday (Wednesday)."

With the truce in place, the sultan asked Malaysia to reciprocate.

"The ball is now with (the) Malaysian government. Let the UN judge their actions," said Idjirani.

He said the sultanate is thankful to the UN.

Idjirani said Kiram III told his brother, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin, "to initiate evasive and defensive posture," noting that this has been their stance since the start of the standoff.

With the ongoing standoff, more than 1,500 people have fled their homes in Sabah, a police source said Thursday, as security forces widened the hunt for more than 200 armed followers of Kiram III.

Villagers were in evacuation centers in Lahad Datu as police and army combed areas around the nearby village of Tanduo, after an air and ground assault on the militants' camp Tuesday, the source said.

"We are taking care of them. The government is trying to address their basic needs," he told dpa by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Job Problem

As this developed, Malacañang said that the prospect of an exodus of 800,000 Filipinos from Sabah back to the Philippines will likely be a huge headache for the Aquino government in terms of job generation.

While crossing his fingers such scenario will not happen, President Benigno S. Aquino III has acknowledged that the return of Filipinos who may be displaced by the conflict in Sabah would aggravate the country's unemployment figures.

The President, speaking at a Team PNOY campaign rally on Wednesday night here, said the government cannot immediately generate employment if these hundreds of thousands of jobless Filipinos are sent back to the country.

The plight of the Filipinos living in Sabah was highlighted by the President in criticizing the armed supporters of the Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram III who occupied the territory for placing the lives of their countrymen at risk. Defying appeals to surrender, the group claiming to be heirs of the sultanate is still engaged in a firefight with Malaysian forces in a desperate attempt to assert their claim over the ancestral land.

Prevent Bloodshed

Senator Loren Legarda said the government needs to do everything it can to prevent further bloodshed in the ongoing conflict.

Legarda, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, noting that Sultan Kiram III has asked to speak directly with the President, said that "if by acceding to this request, a window of opportunity will be opened to end the bloodshed and the standoff, then, the President should seriously consider this request. We should not be speculating what Malaysia's reactions will be on matters that will be discussed during the meeting."

"The situation demands that we exhaust all possible means, including an opportunity for the President to meet with Sultan Kiram. If our government is not willing to listen to them without pre-conditions, I wonder who will," she added.

Food Crisis

Meanwhile, with Tawi-Tawi facing a looming food crisis as a result of the Sabah standoff, Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile expressed fears for the lives of local folk.

"I fear not only for further loss of lives in Sabah but also for the lives of people in Tawi-Tawi, Enrile said.

Sabah and Tawi-Tawi have been trading partners for centuries because of their proximity to each other. But now the border between them has been closed, preventing the exchange of goods. Prices of basic commodities surged to almost one hundred percent in Tawi-Tawi and people now fear the worst.

"I hope the conflict will not escalate to a food crisis because we are not yet prepared. We cannot source out food from other provinces because they still fall short when it comes to self-sufficiency. With the massive influx of people from Sabah who are either escaping from the hostilities or are being deported by Malaysian authorities, Tawi-Tawi will soon run out of its food supply," Enrile said. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling and DPA)


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. Cuisia recently met with Filipino communities in San Diego, California and El Paso, Texas. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

  • Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea
    Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top diplomat said Thursday that China has been rushing construction projects, including massive land reclamation, in the disputed South China Sea in hopes of forestalling any legal moves against its vast territorial claims. …

  • Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission in Philippines, but no apology
    Aquino takes responsibility for bungled mission in Philippines, but no apology

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday took responsibility for a bungled security operation in January that left 44 police commandos dead, but offered no public apology for the clash that has become his biggest political crisis in years. Since the secret mission, Aquino's approval and trust ratings have plunged to their lowest level in five years, and a peace process with the country's largest Muslim rebel group has stalled. "To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt …

  • Marshall rolls out new headphone, speaker lines in PHL

    Established music brand Marshall is rolling out new headphone and speaker lines in the Philippine market. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options