MANILA - Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas said the Kiram clan should have listened to the President when he appealed to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to order his followers to leave Sabah.
An exchange of fire occurred between
the royal army and Malaysian police authorities Friday morning in Lahad Datu town where Kiram's followers have been holed up since February 12.
"Malinaw na malinaw 'no. With all due respect sa pamilya Kiram, malinaw na malinaw ang plano ng gobyerno. Matagal nang sinasabi ng gobyerno na pauwiin na natin ang ating mga kababayan dun. Eh matigas ang ulo. Ayaw makinig 'no," Roxas told radio dzMM.
"Ang Pangulo na mismo ang nagsabi publicly, nakikiusap siya na pauwiin na ang followers dun. Lahat ng followers nagsasabi na si Sultan Jamalul lang ang makakapagpauwi sa kanila. Ayaw niyang ibigay 'yung utos na umuwi na," he added.
Roxas noted that despite the continuous efforts of the Philippine government to request Malaysian authorities to extend the deadline on the royal army, the Malaysian government still has control over Lahad Datu town.
"Ang may hawak ng teritoryo, sino ba? Malaysia 'di ba? Ang may pwersa dun, police, military at iba pa, sino? 'Di ba Malaysia?"
"Any time ay pwede silang humakbang," Roxas said.
The sultanate's followers, led by Crown Prince Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, have been staying in Sabah in an effort to strengthen their claim over the Malaysian territory.
In a separate interview with radio dzMM, Sultan Kiram said he still will not order his followers to surrender. He said they are all ready to fight to the death.
"Hangga't kaya namin, hangga't buhay pa kami. Walang Tausug ang tumatakbo...kahit magkapatayan," Kiram said.
He also said that up to this point, the Philippine government still has not talked to him regarding the incident.
Roxas said with the reported shooting incident in Sabah, this is not the right time to argue on who should reach out first.
"Hindi na ito ang panahon para magpataasan pa, etc. Ang Pangulo na mismo ang nagsalita. Nagpadala na ang Pangulo ng emisaryo sa kanila; ayaw nila paniwalaan," he said.
"Nakasalaysay ang buhay ng ating mga kababayan doon. This is not the time for 'yung tinatawag na playing chicken, kung sino ba unang magbi-blink o unang kukurap," he added.