1:28 pm | Monday, March 4th, 2013
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government remains in talks with Malaysia despite skirmishes in Sabah over the weekend, but claimed they are not allowed to interfere.
“Right now nakikipag-ugnayan tayo but because of the operation, hindi tayo pwede makialam. Call ng Malaysian govenment yun,” Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said in a radio interview on Monday.
Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s followers and Malaysian security forces clashed in Sabah on Friday and Saturday, with fatalities on both sides.
This prompted the Philippines to increase its security in Mindanao, with 10 Navy ships now deployed between Tawi-Tawi and Sabah, to prevent followers of Kiram to send reinforcements in Sabah.
“Ang ginagawa natin ay pine-prevent natin ang movement noong galing dito papuntang Malaysia baka … may nagpapadala ng reinforcements para lalong palakihin ang gulo,” Gazmin said.
Malaysia also reportedly heightened its security in Sabah.
The defense chief though said they have not received reports that the sultan’s followers from Mindanao were able to go to Sabah by speedboat early Saturday.
Gazmin also said that President Benigno Aquino III has ordered to assist evacuees, and at the same time identify those who were involved in the standoff.
“Ang (order sa atin) ay tulungan ang evacuees at the same time i-identify ang mga na-involved sa standoff…kung ano ang participation nila tignan natin. But ang majority ng attention natin ay mga civilians na involved dito na pinaalis na sa area,” he said.
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