LAHAD DATU: The Philippine government has called for a peaceful resolution to a tense stand-off between Malaysian security forces and a group of gunmen claiming to be followers of the heir of a former Borneo sultan.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Abigail Valte said the safety of the Filipinos was the government's main concern as Malaysian Armed Forces and police had locked down the area.
“The primary concern now is their safety and to resolve the incident peacefully,” Valte said in a radio interview in Manila yesterday.
She said the Philippines had received assurances from Malaysia that the Government would encourage the group, which Manila has yet to identify, to leave the area peacefully.
The group involved in the impasse has claimed to be followers of the former Sulu sultanate, a regional power centre until its demise a century ago.
A Philippine military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the group was demanding an increase in the nominal amount Malaysia pays, under a long-standing agreement, to the heirs of the sultanate for possession of Sabah.