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Legarda: Prioritize Safety of Filipinos, Seek Peaceful Resolution to Sabah Crisis

March 2, 2013

Following reports of a clash between supporters of the Sultan of Sulu and Malaysian police, Senator Loren Legarda today said that there is an urgent need to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Sabah, stressing that the government should seek for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also called on the Malaysian government to allow Philippine officials to help Filipinos affected in the situation.

“We call on the government of Malaysia to ensure the safe passage back to the Philippines of Filipinos who want to return following the stand-off in Sabah. The Philippine Embassy should be given access to Filipinos involved in the stand-off and those requiring medical attention should be provided one without fear of retribution or arrest,” she said.

Legarda made the statement in reaction to the reported clash between a group of Malaysian police and the supporters of the Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, following a three-week stand-off in Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

The Senator said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should ensure that collateral damage among Filipinos in Sabah is minimized.

“The incident is symptomatic of an issue that has remained unresolved. It is important that the Philippines and Malaysia discuss the issues and work towards a durable and lasting solution to the problem. The Department of Foreign Affairs needs to bring this issue from the back burner into the negotiating table,” Legarda concluded.***