Del Rosario approved 'terrorist' tag on intruders: Malaysia

Posted at 03/05/13 10:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario agreed with Malaysian authorities that the followers of the Sultanate of Sulu who occupied parts of Sabah should be called "terrorists," the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday night.

In a statement published online following del Rosario's meeting with his counterpart, Anifah Aman, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also said del Rosario vowed that the Philippine government will file criminal cases against those involved in the Lahad Datu and Semporna incidents "to the fullest extent of the law in the Philippines."

"Malaysia considers this group as terrorists following their atrocities and brutalities committed in the killing of Malaysia’s security personnel, two in Lahad Datu and six in Semporna, Sabah," Anifah said.

"Secretary Rosario agreed that this group should be labelled as terrorists," Anifah added.

He said Malaysia wanted to know what specific criminal charges that the "terrorists" will face in the Philippines.

Malaysia's Attorney General also wants to study the charges to be filed in Manila against the supporters of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

Malaysia has one of the world's most draconian laws on national security.

Its Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 allows warrantless arrest and detention for up to 28 days, as well as wiretapping without court review.

"I also emphasised that actions need to be taken against Jamalul Kiram for his many statements inciting hatred and violence," Anifah said.

He added that del Rosario told him that the Aquino administration "deplores the action of the intruders."

"He conveyed his deepest condolences to the families of fallen security personnel and Malaysian public," the Malaysian foreign affairs chief said.

" We understand very well the Philippines’ positions to resolve this challenge by the Sulu group against Malaysia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as dignity," he added.

The statement did not mention either Anifah or del Rosario discussing the Philippines' claim on Sabah.

Del Rosario has since returned to Manila.

DFA: 'Terroristic,' not 'terrorist' tag

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in an emailed statement to ABS-CBN News Wednesday morning, denied that Del Rosario labeled the sultan's followers as terrorists.

"According to (Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Ed) Malaya who was present at the meeting, the report is out of context," the DFA said.

"In Semporna, there were alleged acts of terrorism. As reported by the Malaysian Foreign Minister, after the police forces were lured into an ambush and killed, their bodies were brutally mutilated and desecrated. If indeed these atrocities were committed as reported to him, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister both agreed that these were, at the very least, terroristic acts," it added.

The DFA said it does not have information yet on the number of casualties from the latest assault by Malaysian forces.

The department said Del Rosario, in his meeting with Malaysian officials, pursued the possibility of allowing for an unconditional surrender of the group to avert further loss of lives and allow them to return to their respective homes and families.

"Negotiations for this remain in progress," it added.