Feb 222013
At least six Philippine Navy ships have been deployed to the Sulu and Tawi-Tawi area to prevent a possible spillover of the standoff between a group of armed Filipinos and Malaysian authorities in Sabah.

The ships are patrolling the waters of Tawi-Tawi, which is near Tandau village where the group involved in the standoff has been staying since Feb. 9, according to a report Friday on Malaysia’s The Star online.

Malaysian security forces had cordoned off the area where the group is staying but is awaiting efforts to resolve the standoff peacefully.

Philippine Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic was quoted in the report as saying the vessels have no instructions to evacuate the group led by Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram, brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

“We are hoping that this will be resolved peacefully. If they are retreating, we are not there to help them because we need instructions if they can be picked up,” The Star online quoted Fabic as saying.

The standoff in the eastern state of Sabah has threatened to spark tension between thePhilippines and Malaysia, whose ties have been periodically frayed by security and migration problems along their sea border, a Reuters report said, citing security analysts.

Security analysts had warned that the historic peace deal signed by the Philippine government and Moro rebels last October to end 40 years of conflict in the Philippine south risked stirring instability by alienating powerful clan leaders.

Jamalul Kiram III, 74, a former sultan of Sulu in Mindanao and brother of the man Philippine provincial authorities regard as sultan, said the peace deal had handed control of much of Sulu to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels, ignoring the sultanate.

He said the group of sultan loyalists had gone to Malaysia as a protest action in response to what they saw as the unfair peace deal, and they would not back down. — LBG, GMA News

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