PH to relay Kiram questions to Malaysia
MANILA - The Department of Foreign Affairs will relay to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak several questions being asked by the self-styled leader of the sultanate of Sulu, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas said Tuesday.
Roxas said Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II, brother of self-styled Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, wanted several clarifications from Kuala Lumpur as Malaysian forces continued to hunt the sultan's followers in Lahad Datu. Malaysian police said Monday at least 63 people have been killed in the conflict.
"I think that the questions are related to the Prime Minister Najib Razak's pronouncements and they wanted some clarifications. I said I will convey this to the President which I did and the President authorized DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario to convey these questions to the Malaysians as well," he said.
Roxas said the meeting with Esmail was more exploratory and is the first step to solve the conflict in Sabah.
He said he relayed to the sultanate President Aquino's concern about the safety of more than 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, including Kiram's followers. He noted that hundreds of Filipinos have started to flee Lahad Datu because of the conflict.
"[The President's] primordial concern is the safety of Filipinos and the livelihood of the Filipinos there. Let us separate the claim of the family from the situation that is dangerous and life-threatening and livelihood-threatening for those in Sabah," he said.
For his part, Sulu sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said Esmail has yet to brief Jamalul Kiram III about the details of his meeting with Roxas.
He confirmed Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and his men are still hiding in Lahad Datu after allegedly escaping a raid by Malaysian security forces.