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‘Honor is above life’

By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Mar. 03, 2013 at 12:00am
Kiram kin ignores call  for surrender

Princess Jacel Kiram (left) daughter of Jamalul D. Kiram III Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and Spokesman Abraham Edjirani (right) give an update on the casualties in the Sabah standoff during a press conference held at Kiram’s  residence in Taguig City on Saturday.   MANNY PALMERO

THE clan of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III defied on Saturday calls by the Philippine and Malaysian government to surrender without conditions and insisted that they will stay in Sabah because “honor is above life.”

“They will not come back because honor is above life,” the sultan’s daughter Jacel Kiram said in an interview with the radio station dzBB. “We are trying our best to understand why the government is treating us this way.”

Jacel made the remark at the Kiram home in Maharlika Village in Taguig City moments after presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda read a statement from President Aquino calling the Kiram clan to surrender without conditions to avoid further bloodshed.

“If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender,” Lacierda read Aquino’s statement at a press briefing in Malacañang.

“Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass,” Lacierda read from the statement. “Surrender now, without conditions.”

Twelve Filipinos and two Malaysian police commandos died in a clash on Friday between Malaysian authorities and about 200 members of the Kiram clan and their supporters.

The group was led by the sultan’s brother Agbimuddin Kiram and landed in the remote village of Kampung Tanduo, 130 kms from the town of Lahad Datu in northeastern Sabah, last February 9 and engaged Malaysian authorities in a territorial standoff for almost three weeks.

But Malaysian authorities attacked the group on Friday, resulting in the death of the 12 clansmen and two cops.

Malaysia’s The Star reported that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak talked with President Aquino Friday night and Lacierda confirmed that the Malaysian government had said the Kiram group had to “surrender or face the repercussions at the hands of security forces.”

“The Sulu rebels have to surrender or they will face the action of our security forces,” Najib was quoted as saying after paying his respects to the two slain commandos. The window for negotiations has already because of the hostile stand of the Kiram clan, Najib added.

Lacierda said a Philippine Navy ship was awaiting permission from Malaysia to dock so it could provide food and medical aid to the Kiram group.

National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia Jr. and presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas have also been tasked to talk with the Kirams, he added.

At the same time, Malaysian Police Inspector General Ismail Omar said the remaining members of the armed Sulu group at Kampung Tanduo are now trapped and face no choice but to surrender.

“After what happened yesterday, the situation remains under control. The intruders have been cordoned off in Kampung Tanduo by the security forces. We are in control of the situation,” Ismail was quoted by the Malaysian government news service Bernama.

“The group is trapped in Kampung Tanduo. Given this situation, I warn them to give up. We have given them much time. Their action gives us no other option,” he said. “I do not have any other option but to arrest them. I again ask them to lay down arms and surrender. Otherwise, I will have to resort to drastic and necessary measures to end the situation.”

Meanwhile, US Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. on Saturday said the US hoped the Philippine and Malaysian government would be able to resolve the Sabah incident without further violence, but stressed that the US government will not get involved in the matter.

“We’re not involved in that,” Thomas said in Tacloban City. “That is something between Malaysia and Philippine government. I hope they can have a peaceful solution to this.” With Ronald Reyes
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