PRESIDENT Benigno S. Aquino III appealed to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu to recall his followers holed up in a portion of Lahad Datu town in the eastern province of Sabah, Malaysia in order to peacefully end the two-week standoff between Malaysian authorities and the Sulu Sultan who has been pressing his people’s claim to said land.
The President aired his appeal in a press conference with the Malacañang Press Corps that was aired over government-run television and radio stations People’s Television (PTV-4) and dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Tuesday.
“And so this is my appeal to you: These are your people, and it behooves you to recall them. It must be clear to you that this small group of people will not succeed in addressing your grievances, and that there is no way that force can achieve your aims,” the President said.
“You are a leader of your clan, and every leader seeks the well-being of his constituents. These times require you to use your influence to prevail on our countrymen to desist from this hopeless cause,” he added.
According to the President, Philippine and Malaysian authorities have been coordinating efforts to peacefully resolve the situation...and have not ceased.”
“What is clear is that a peaceful resolution of this issue is to everybody’s interest. Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that there are legitimate grievances, the presence of an armed group in Lahad Datu will only bring us further away from resolving these issues,” the President said.
“From the three extensions of the deadline given by Malaysia, to the constant coordination as events unfolded, our efforts have not ceased,” he stressed.
He pointed out that it was not too late for all parties to sit down and discuss the issues concerned peacefully and according to law.
“The avenue of peaceful and open dialogue is still available to us. Let us therefore sit down as brothers to address your grievances in a peaceful, calm manner according to our laws and according to correct processes when your people arrive home,” the President said.
“Let us ease the tensions first then within two weeks later, then we can sit down with Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and precisely map out their grievances and see the way forward after that,” he concluded. (PND)