Filipinos in Sabah get ultimatum

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Saturday urged a group of Filipinos in northern Borneo to surrender in the aftermath of a clash that killed 15 people.

Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo spokesman Abraham Idjirani an Princess Jacel, daughter of Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan of the Philippine island-province of Sulu, who claims the eastern state of Sabah as part of his sultanate, address a news conference on Saturday in Taguig City, south of Manila. (EPA Photo)

Twelve members of the group were killed on Friday, along with two Malaysian police commandos and one local resident in a clash in Lahad Datu town in Sabah, 1,600 kilometres east of Kuala Lumpur.

The Filipinos occupied a village in Lahad Datu in the northern Borneo region Feb 12 to press their historical land claim.

"The rebels have to surrender or they will face the action of our security forces," Najib said while paying respects to the two police officers.

"There is no other option. No discussion, just surrender."

In Manila, Aquino echoed Najib's demand and called on the remaining group of Filipinos in Lahad Datu to lay down their arms.

"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," the president said.

"To those who have influence and the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, I ask you to convey this message: surrender now, without conditions."

Malaysian police chief Ismail Omar said the group of about 200 people from the Philippine sultanate of Sulu was trapped and had nowhere else to run.

The sultanate leased the land in 1878 to the British North Borneo Company, which passed it to Malaysia in 1963. Kuala Lumpur currently pays the sultan 5,300 ringgit per year in token rent.

Princess Jaycel, daughter of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said in Manila that the group would remain in Lahad Datu despite the shootout with Malaysian forces.

"After we buried our brothers and sister at sundown, every one of the 224 left decided to die in Lahad Datu in pursuit of their dreams and aspirations," she said.

"They have decided to put everything in the hands of Allah."

Related search: Malaysia, Philippines, Sabah, Sulu, Sultan Jamalul Kiram

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