News / Asia

    Philippines Seeking Peaceful Solution to Malaysian Sabah Conflict

    Malaysian police personnel checks identity of passengers on a road leading to Kampung Tanduo, where Malaysian troops stormed the camp of an armed Filipino group, in Lahad Datu, Sabah state, March 8, 2013.
    Malaysian police personnel checks identity of passengers on a road leading to Kampung Tanduo, where Malaysian troops stormed the camp of an armed Filipino group, in Lahad Datu, Sabah state, March 8, 2013.
    Simone Orendain
    With more than 50 Philippine citizens reported dead in clashes in the Malaysian province of Sabah, officials in Manila says it may be time for a surrender. The fighting started when about 200 people from the southwestern Philippines entered a town in Sabah, re-asserted a centuries- old claim to the eastern Malaysian province and refused to leave.

    Philippine government officials say for weeks they have been calling for followers of the self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu to surrender and leave. But the group's leader, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, has refused.

    Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a televised briefing Friday that the Philippines is exhausting all options to bring peace.

    "We continue to feel strongly, one way to save lives is to lay down their arms. Our concern is a win-win solution for them as well as for us - for them to be able to preserve their lives,” he said.

    Malaysian authorities started their military operation against the group a week ago. This week they intensified the campaign with a 30-minute air raid in the vicinity of Lahad Datu, where the group had hunkered down for weeks.

    Malaysian state media reported 52 Filipinos and eight Malaysian officers have been killed in various skirmishes.

    On Thursday Kiram called for a cease-fire by his armed followers, after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement urging an end to the fighting and calling all parties to come together to talk. But Malaysia rejected the Kiram group’s proposal to cease hostilities, saying they would only accept a surrender.

    Philippine Foreign Affairs Spokesman Raul Hernandez says if Kiram's followers give up their weapons it would end the bloodshed.

    "Because there was a rejection from the Malaysian side, it could be that this would be the last remaining option for the Kirams,” he explained.

    Malaysian police have been going after reportedly armed Philippine nationals whom they say fled from encounters with authorities in the area. Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar says the pursuit is ongoing.

    "We will continue the operation as there is no sign the enemies will lay down their weapons and surrender," he said.

    The centuries-old Sultanate of Sulu includes several islands in the southwestern Philippines and Sabah in eastern Malaysia. And the Kiram group, which is headed by one of several claimants to the Sultanate, has been receiving a nominal rental fee from the Malaysian government for Sabah since Malaysia became independent of British rule in 1963.

    Since February 9, the family had been demanding talks with the government to try to increase the fee.

    Philippine Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda says the group's claim to Sabah is now being studied by the Philippine government. The last sultan recognized by the Philippine government was Mahakuttah A. Kiram, who reigned from 1974 until1986.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora