Palace asks Ateneo Human Rights Center to join gov't's call to preserve lives of Filipinos in Sabah

March 4, 2013 11:11 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, March 3 — Malacanang on Sunday urged the Ateneo Human Rights Center (AHRC) to join them in their call for the armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu to come home to prevent further loss of lives.

"The Ateneo Human Rights Center's stilted knowledge of the Sabah stand-off should give pause to their pontification," said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda, who is also an Atenean like the President, in a statement.

"We did not see their statement condemning the manner and means of pressing their proprietary claim, bringing arms which created a potential for violence and for which reason, violence and deaths occurred. Is it not gospel truth that the end does not justify the means?," he asked.

The AHRC has expressed disappointment over what it said was the "insensitivity" with which the government has handled the standoff in Sabah.

The AHRC urged President Benigno Aquino III to "take the appropriate actions to achieve an amicable settlement on the issues surrounding the turmoil in Sabah."

Reports said around 12 Filipinos and five Malaysian policemen died in a clash that started Friday between armed followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian police in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

Lacierda said the government has "studiously avoided violence, seeking a peaceful way out."

"We have sent high level Cabinet officials, fellow Muslims to speak to them to show our sensitivity," he stressed.

The primordial and fundamental concern of the government right now, Lacierda said, "is the preservation of life."

"I, as an Ateneo law graduate, invite the Ateneo Human Rights Center to join us in this call to preserve life," he said.

President Aquino has called on Sultan Kiram's followers to "surrender without conditions" to avoid further bloodshed.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte also said that surrender is the best way at this point to preserve lives.

"Matagal po nating sinikap na magkaroon ng mapayapang resolusyon doon sa insidente na ‘yon sa Sabah. Nangyari na po ‘yung ayaw nating mangyari. Nagkaroon na po ng mga casualties doon on both sides. Ang posisyon kasi natin hindi na dapat nangyari ‘yon e. Pero nangyari na so ngayon, at this point, surrender is the best way to save the lives of the people who are there," said Valte in an interview over government radio station "Radyo ng Bayan" on Sunday.

Valte said the Philippine government has also asked the Malaysian government for a "full access" for those who were wounded so they can be treated and provide them consular assistance.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development has also opened a humanitarian corridor in Sulu, manned by social workers, to provide support, assistance, and counseling to the families of those who perished in Sabah.

On the alleged "insensitivity" of the government in handling the situation as claimed by the AHRC, Valte said there is nothing insensitive in calling for a peaceful resolution."

"We see nothing insensitive in calling for a surrender to prevent a further loss of lives. And we see nothing insensitive in our efforts to coordinate with the Malaysian authorities as well as the Kiram family to find a peaceful resolution that is beneficial for everybody in the country and not just for a select group of people," she said.

"There is no one that has the right to endanger the 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah and the Republic because of a proprietary claim. Huwag po nating idamay ‘yung marami po nating mga kapatid na Muslim na ang gusto din po ay kapayapaan. Huwag po nating idamay ‘yung buong bansa kung meron naman pong paraan kung paano po ito mapag-uusapan nang maayos at mapayapa," the Palace official noted. (PNA)

DSP/LGI

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