DFA to apologize to Kirams


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Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario 'is taking full responsibility' for the Kirams' missing letter

MEETING IN KUALA LUMPUR. Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert  del Rosario meets (L) meets with Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Aman  (R) in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, March 4. Photo courtesy of DFA

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario will write the Kirams an apology for missing their letter on the Sabah claim, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday, March 6.

In a press conference, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said: “The secretary is taking full responsibility for this oversight, and he is willing to apologize for this.”

The DFA said on Wednesday the letter “has been found with the DFA.” Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, who belongs to the clan claiming ownership of Sabah and is the leader of the gunmen caught in a standoff with Malaysian forces there, supposedly sent the letter to President Benigno Aquino III days before his oath-taking in June 2010. 

The DFA also denied that Del Rosario labeled Kiram and his followers as “terrorists.” The tag was based on a Malaysian media report that the DFA denounced as “out of context.”

“In Semporna, there were alleged acts of terrorism. As reported by the Malaysian Foreign Minister, after the police forces were lured into an ambush and killed, their bodies were brutally mutilated and desecrated. If indeed the atrocities were committed as reported to him, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister both agreed that these were, at the very least, terroristic acts,” the DFA said. 

Joining the administration ticket’s campaign, Aquino on Wednesday turned emotional in defending his perspective on the Sabah standoff.

“What’s happening is a propaganda war. I’ve talked to them (the followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III) several times, that if they could leave, we could talk about the problem peacefully,” Aquino said in Filipino. “Is that wrong? Is what they’re doing right, that we should support them as they carry arms? When there has already been killings?” 

Over a month ago, the Kirams and their followers sailed to Sabah to assert a dormant territorial claim. (Read: Sabah, Merdeka and Aquino.) – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com

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