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Defense chief: Renewed claim over Sabah not sanctioned by Philippine govt

Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Friday said the renewed claim over Sabah island in Malaysia by a group of Filipinos from the Kiram clan in Mindanao was not sanctioned by the Philippine government.

In an interviewed in Baguio City, Gazmin said, “We made it very clear to the Malaysian authorities, especially to chief of defense forces, particularly to chief of defense force Gen. Zulkipli (Tan Sri Zulkifli Zainal Abidin), this is not sanctioned and without the blessing of the government..What they merely want is to live in Sabah.”

Gazmin also clarified that the Filipinos were not detained but restricted in some area "so they can be isolated from the Filipinos who are permanent residents of Sabah.”

“Right now, we can't say anything about that because the Malaysia authorities are talking with the supposed claimants…We will know after the outcome of these talks.”

Gazmin said the Filipinos, around 180, labeled themselves as the Royal Sultanate Army and claimed to be the security personnel of the Kiram family which has been laying the claim over Sabah for many years.

In the 1960s, the Philippine government laid its claim over Sabah based on historical and legal data, but later suspended it.

Did not want violence

Meanwhile, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said the Filipinos who figured in the Sabah incident “did not go there to initiate any violence.”

“They went there to discuss with the Malaysians the issue of Sabah,” added Bautista.

He also reiterated the statement of Gazmin. “As what (Secretary Gazmin said), that (action) has no sanction of the government,” Bautista said.

Bautista said the Kiram clan “does not want violence and they agreed to discuss the matter peacefully with the Malaysian authorities. They are in Sabah, they will resolve the issue there peacefully. They agreed to talk to each other and they will return to the Philippines in due time.”

Bautista said Malaysian authorities have asked the Philippine government to conduct patrols in the borders to prevent a complication of the incident.

“Ours is to help them contain the situation. They requested us to patrol our borders as they will also patrol their side of the borders to prevent illegal entrance, so that it will not further complicate the situation. They are going to address peacefully the situation there,” he said.

GMA News Online | February 16, 2013 |

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