Pinoys in Sabah standoff given 'last ultimatum'

by Kathlyn dela Cruz,

Posted at Feb 27 2013 08:11 PM | Updated as of Feb 28 2013 06:51 AM

Malaysian security forces enter Lahad Datu town

MANILA -- Sultan Jamalul Kiram III on Wednesday said Malaysian security forces have given the royal army holed up in Sabah the "last ultimatum" to surrender and return to the Philippines.

Kiram said leaflets containing the words "the last ultimatum" were dropped over Lahad Datu town where his followers have been staying there since February 12.

"Wala nang extension. 'Yung sa warning ng leaflets na hinulog nila, wala na, wala nang extension," Kiram told radio dzMM.

Kiram's followers, some of them armed, are led by his brother, Crown Prince Datu Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram.

The group, citing numerous historical accounts and rental receipts from the Malaysian government, said the Sultanate of Sulu is the rightful owner of the land.

Warning shots fired

In a separate interview with radio dzMM, Raja Muda said at least six Malaysian security forces armed with armalite rifles entered their camp Wednesday afternoon.

"Oo, meron nga... Nagpunta dito sa area namin while I'm conducting a meeting next to the house where I am staying," he said.

The crown prince said this prompted the royal army to fire a warning shot to alert the sultanate's followers of the presence of the Malaysian forces.

"'Yung warning lang sa itaas. Nagpaputok sila to alert all the members because we are separated by blocks," he said.

Raja Muda said, however, that no confrontation occurred since the Malaysian forces allegedly immediately ran away after the royal army fired a warning shot.

'We are ready to die'

Despite the last warning given by the Malaysian government, Raja Muda insisted that no one from their group is going to surrender.

"If they will come, as long as we will not start, we are ready to defend ourselves."

Likewise, Sultan Kiram said, "Ay naku, hindi. It is their homeland... Sabi nila 'Hayaan niyo na lang. Kung mamatay, mamatay na lang kami.'"

"We leave it to the Almighty God," Kiram added.

Still waiting for PNoy

Kiram also said he is still waiting for President Benigno Aquino III to talk to him regarding the sultanate's claim over Sabah.

The sultanate earlier said its followers will not leave Sabah until a concrete agreement between them and the Malaysian government, witnessed by the Philippine government, is reached.

"Ako, naghihintay ako kausapin. Sino ba ayaw makausap ang Presidente? 'Di ba wala naman? Wala namang invitation sa amin, wala," Kiram said.

Aquino, however, said he will only engage Kiram in a dialogue after his followers leave Sabah.

Meanwhile, Kiram's brother said, "If they don't care, what can we do? Wala tayong magagawa."