MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine government promised to deal with the country’s claim over Sabah, but with the peaceful end to the standoff there between Malaysian authorities and the Sultanate of Sulu’s “royal army” remaining a paramount concern.
Malacanang has yet to receive information from their counterparts in Kuala Lumpur for an extension of the deadline set for the army to leave Sabah, but expressed hope that the standoff will end soon.
In an interview with radio dzRB, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the country’s claim over Sabah, which the army had raised when they first entered the area more than a week ago, “will be dealt with separately.”
She is referring to a team formed by President Benigno Aquino III to study the validity of the claim and the government’s policy over the issue. She said taking this separately will ensure that any actions will also “not jeopardize [our relations] with neighbors.”
Meanwhile, Malacanang described the situation in Sabah as “relatively quiet” amid the insistence of the more than 100 men led by Muda Azzimudie Kiram, the brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, to remain there.
The deadline set by the Malaysians for the followers of Sultan Kiram to leave lapsed on Friday. The Department of Foreign Affairs already asked for an extension of the deadline until Tuesday.
While there is no response yet on the request, the situation there remains “quiet,” Valte said.