Palace: No firefight, no deaths in Sabah
MANILA, Philippines - There was no firefight between Malaysian authories and Filipinos in Sabah. There were no deaths, according to deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, belying claims made by the spokesman of the Sultan of Sulu who held a press conference Friday, March 1, in Taguig.
"Ang report po sa amin ay wala hong casualty, wala hong engkwentro (According to reports we received, there was no casualty and there was no encounter)," Valte told PTV program News at One.
Two of Kiram's men tried to get near Malaysian security forces who fired a warning shot, Valte said, but that was it. They were supposedly detained but later released and allowed to re-join the group.
"Una, ang gusto po nating klaruhin ay wala hong naging gunfight or naging firefight. Pangalawa, may nagpaputok po ng warning shot at na-detain po ‘yung dalawang taong ito ngunit ang imporrmasyon natin ay pinabalik na rin po sila (First, we want to stress that there was no firefight. Second, someone fired a warning shot and these two people were detained but they were immediately released)," said Valte.
But Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said at least 10 Filipinos were killed in Sabah when Malaysian security forces attacked the Sultan of Sulu and his followers.
Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein tweeted that they did not fire a single shot. But they were shot at Friday morning.
Valte said the Philippine government has been doing all it can to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The government has been continuously asking the Malaysian government to extend the deadline for the Filipino forces to withdraw and return to the Philippines.
"Patuloy ho ‘yung pakikipag-usap natin sa mga awtoridad sa Malaysia. Patuloy po ang ating paghingi ‘nung mga pagpapalawig doon sa kanilang mga deadline para naman po mabigyan ng panahon ‘yung grupong nandoon at para naman po maisip na kung pwedeng bumalik na at dito na lang po pag-usapan ‘yung kanilang mga hinaing," she said.
Valte maintained that the Philippines is not abandoning its claim on Sabah.
"[Hindi po natin] inaabandona. Ang mas maganda lang po dito ay maging mahinahon at nasa ilalim po ng tamang pamamaraan ‘yung ating pag-uusap tungkol po dito. So, linawin po natin, hindi po natin inaabandona ‘yung atin pong claim," she said.
The heirs of the sultan of Sulu, led by Kiram's brother Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin and between 180 and 400 followers, sailed to Sabah on February 12 to pursue their claim on the resource-rich state, saying they felt left out of the peace talks between the government and the MILF.
The Philippine government sent a ship to Sabah to bring them home but they refused. - Rappler.com