Press Release
February 20, 2013


Senator Chiz Escudero called for unanimous, non-partisan support from all sectors to help resolve the standoff in Sabah between armed followers of the Sultan of Sulu and Malaysian forces.

"Labas dapat ang pulitika dito, bansa na ang pinag-uusapan dito (Politics should be kept out of this issue, this is a matter of national interest), the senator said.

A news report described President Benigno Aquino III as "furious" over the Sabah incident, where some 300 armed followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III holed up at Lahad Datu in Sabah to press their claim to the land.

Administration officials believe the incident was staged to derail peace talks in Mindanao between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

"To achieve true and lasting peace in Mindanao, hindi puede ang pasaway," Escudero said.

"Enough is enough. We should all work towards one common goal - peace in Mindanao. I call on my fellow candidates not to use the Sabah issue to promote their own political interests," he added.

Earlier, Escudero called for a diplomatic initiative to address the plight of Filipinos who were born and raised in Sabah.

"The immediate concern of the government should be the welfare of Filipinos who were born and raised in Sabah which is the bigger humanitarian issue that must be addressed through diplomatic channels," he said.

Filipinos living in Sabah are reportedly subject to frequent exploitation by Malaysian authorities since they are considered illegal immigrants, the senator added.

The senator said the government's continued engagement with the Malaysian government is critical in the face of the possible escalation of the standoff in Sabah.

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