17 killed in Semporna; PH urges maximum tolerance
MANILA – The Philippine government is urging Malaysian authorities to exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with supporters of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram after a new clash in Semporna, Sabah killed 17 people including 6 Malaysian policemen.
Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Semporna shooting that happened over the weekend is now under control by Malaysian authorities as of 8 p.m. Sunday.
Semporna is 300 kilometers from Tanduo village, where an estimated 100 to 300 people had been holed up by Malaysian police and soldiers since landing by boat from the Philippines on February 12 to claim the area for their leader.
“The loss of lives in Sabah is deeply regrettable. We offer our profound condolences to the families of the victims of this unfortunate incident,” Hernandez said in a statement.
The spokesman said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will be going to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia today to talk to his Malaysian counterpart to discuss how to avert further loss of lives.
He said del Rosario also gave a note verbale to the Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines, noting that both the Philippines and Malasia value the lives of their citizens.
“In this light, the Philippine government has called on the forces of the royal sultanate of Sulu led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to surrender peacefully. The Philippine government requests the Malaysian authorities to exercise maximum tolerance in dealing with the remaining members of the Kiram group,” he said.
Hernandez reiterated the Philippine government’s request to Malaysia for clearance for the Philippine Navy vessel, AT-296 Tagbanua, to proceed to Lahad Datu town and enable Philippine medical personnel to “provide humanitarian and consular assistance and provide medical care to the wounded and ferry them and the remaining members of the group back to their respective homes and families.”