5:27 pm | Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Foreign Affairs has sent a senior diplomat to Kuala Lumpur to coordinate efforts with the Malaysian authorities toward the speedy resolution of the Sabah standoff as the situation dragged on into its third week.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Brillantes is now in the Malaysian capital to help the Philippine Embassy there in expediting the resolution of the situation in Sabah, where followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III continue to stand their ground despite repeated appeals from the Philippine government for them to pull out.
“We see that at this point in time, there would be a need for more people who would be able to help out in the coordination work…. He’s there to help Ambassador (Eduardo Malaya) to help in coordinating the peaceful resolution of this issue in Lahad Datu,” DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said at a news briefing Tuesday.
“Being a senior diplomat and being a former ambassador (to) Malaysia, he will also have some contacts and he would be able to coordinate well with the Malaysian authorities to be able to achieve the objectives to bring the group back home,” said Hernandez.
He reiterated the Philippine government’s appeal for Kiram’s group to return home peacefully.
“We don’t want to put them in harm’s way. And we believe the Kiram family are concerned about the welfare and interest of the people [in Lahad Datu]. We are hoping that immediately, he would abide by the advice and the appeal of the President,” said Hernandez.
President Aquino called on Kiram on Tuesday to urge his followers to return home or face prosecution under Philippine law.
Malaysia has set Tuesday, Feb. 26, as deadline for Kiram’s group to leave Sabah.
The deadline was first set on Friday, but was extended to Sunday, and again extended to Tuesday.