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Philippine gov't dispatches humanitarian ship to ferry back Filipinos in Lahad Datu


MANILA, Feb. 24 (PNA) -- A ship on a humanitarian mission will be dispatched Sunday evening to fetch and ferry back the women and other civilians among the 180-member group who are holed out in Lahad Datu, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.

The Philippine Navy ship, with hull number AT296, will sail from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi to the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu.

The DFA said the ship is being prepositioned offshore Lahad Datu while talks with the group are underway.

There are reportedly some 180 individuals in the group, including some 30 armed escorts.
Onboard the ship are Filipino-Muslim leaders as well as social workers and medical personnel.

"We sent the ship to Lahad Datu on a humanitarian mission. We are deeply concerned about the presence of five women and other civilians in the group, and we urge them to board the ship without delay and return home," said DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario.

"As we have stated in countless occasions previously, we call on the entire group to go back to their homes and families, even at the same time, we are addressing the core issues they have raised. Please do so for your own safety," he stressed.

The standoff began when more than 100 Filipinos led by Muda Azzimudie Kiram, the brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, entered Lahad Datu in Sabah on Feb. 9.

The group said they have claims over Sabah, citing numerous historical accounts and rental receipts from the Malaysian government.

In an earlier report, it said that the Malaysian government has set the deadline until today (Feb. 24) for the group to leave the island. 
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Lilibeth G. Ison | Philippine News Agency | February 24, 2013 | Article Link

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