Saturday, 2 March 2013

PIA News Dispatch - Saturday, March 2, 2013

Aquino wants Filipinos in Sabah to lay down arms without conditions

President Benigno S. Aquino III asked for the unconditional surrender of Filipinos involved in the standoff in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia, to avoid further escalation of the crisis.

“To our citizens in Lahad Datu, from the very start our objective has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shedding of blood. However, you did not join us in this objective. Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass,” the President said in a statement released on Saturday.

“If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender,” he said.

“To those who have influence and the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, I ask you to convey this message: surrender now, without conditions.”

The Palace said Friday that it hopes the sultanate of Sulu will consider what the government said was a “small window” to end the bloodshed in Sabah following a deadly clash that killed 12 Filipinos and two members of the Malaysian forces.

The President, who visited Bulacan and Pampanga Friday, immediately returned to Manila to tackle the Sabah issue with the members of his Cabinet. PND (as)

Palace: Goverment ready to assist Filipinos affected by Sabah standoff

Malacanang made an assurance on Saturday that the government is ready to help Filipinos affected by the ongoing standoff in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia and at the same time called for their unconditional surrender.

In a press conference in Malacanang Saturday, Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has dispatched teams that will help Filipinos in need in Sabah.

“We have a medical team, there is food… everything is there. As a matter of fact, DSWD has dispatched even teams to try to seek out the families of those that need to be attended to,” he said.

The teams organized by the DSWD will go in one of the islands near Sabah to try to address those that have been affected, he added.

Asking Malaysia to allow ships from the Philippines to dock in Sabah was one of the diplomatic actions made by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday, Almendras said.

The secretary of foreign affairs requested that a ship from the Philippines be allowed to dock but the Malaysians said it will process the request and the Philippine government has to wait.

“We have to respect that they’re in control of the situation there. So the ship is ready, they are in an island,” Almendras said.

Violence erupted in Lahad Datu Friday morning, killing 12 Filipinos and two Malaysian security forces. The Palace said it was saddened by Friday’s event and had asked the Sulu sultanate to persuade its followers in Sabah to surrender.

In a statement Saturday, President Benigno S. Aquino III asked Filipinos still in Sabah to lay down their weapons unconditionally to avoid further bloodshed. PND (as)