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Philippine Navy deploys ships to patrol Sulu seas


MANILA – The Philippine Navy has deployed 6 ships to prevent the possible escalation of the standoff between Malaysian forces and hundreds of followers of the Sultan of Sulu, who are laying claim to Sabah.

But Navy spokesman Lt. Comm. Gregory Fabic clarified on Thursday that the Navy ships are only conducting patrol within the seas of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

“Instructions [given to us] is to support the Western Mindanao Command and ensure that everything is stable in that area,” he told ANC’s “Top Story”.

Fabic said they were not given instructions to dock in Sabah but assured that the Navy “is there to make the situation stable.”

Fabic also said no instructions were given in relation to the evacuation of the Crown Prince of the Sultanate of Sulu and his men.

“We are hoping that this will be resolved peacefully. If they are retreating, we are not there to help them because we need instructions if they can be picked up,” he said.

Fabic noted that should conflict erupt between Malaysian forces and the followers of the Sultan of Sulu, their hands would be tied.

“If there are conflicts, we cannot help them. We will [only go there] if it’s resolved peacefully and are given instruction to repatriate them,” he said.

The Sultan of Sulu and his men were given by the Malaysian government until Friday to leave Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

But they insist on staying despite the ultimatum.

Abrahim Idjirani, spokesman of the sultanate and brother-in-law of Sultan Jamalul Kiram, said President Aquino should talk to the Malaysian government to ensure that the rights of the Filipinos in Sabah are protected.

There are reports saying that Malaysian security forces have blocked off the Filipinos' access to food and other supplies.

President Aquino, meanwhile, said he's already looking into the Sabah issue and he wants the matter resolved peacefully, noting that the Philippines and Malaysia have a good relationship.

The President has also ordered the Justice Department to study the validity of the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu. 

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Jon Carlos Rodriguez | ABS-CBNnews.com | February 21, 2013 | Article Link

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