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Malacanang on Monday dismissed reports of alleged regrouping of the fighters of the Sulu Sultanate’s royal security force under the command of Agbimuddin Kiram in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
"I spoke to (Defense) Secretary Voltz Gazmin, there is no truth to that (alleged regrouping). We have no confirmation on that," said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda in a press briefing.
Lacierda said the Malaysian authorities are doing "mopping up operations" to clear the area of armed fighters of the Sulu Sultanate.
"As far as we’re concerned, our concern is primarily those Filipinos returning from Sabah and we continue to provide assistance for them," he stressed.
Sulu Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani earlier said around 135 fighters of Agbimuddin regrouped and were reinforced by around 100 armed supporters from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.
"They have regrouped and were even augmented. The only problem they have right now is the lack of food," said Idjirani in an interview with reporters.
Lacierda said the alleged regrouping of the Sulu Sultanate royal security forces will of help ease the tension in Sabah.
"We want a peaceful resolution. If they (Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram) claim to want a peaceful resolution, they should be moving towards that direction. We don’t see that happening on their side. They have still been saying incendiary statements which is not good for this country, which is not good for the Filipinos in Sabah, because that compel so much, so many Filipinos to come home to the Philippines," he said.
"Kung ang pamilya Kiram ay gusto po ng isang mapayapang resolusyon, siguro hindi maganda ‘yung magpapadala ka ng reinforcement again (If Kiram's family really want peaceful resolution, it is not good that they send reinforcement again). But we have no confirmation on that point," he stressed.
Lacierda said the government's main concern now is "to assist those Filipinos who are returning home." "Hindi naman kargo ng mga Kiram ‘pag umuuwi sila e. Kargo po ng gobyerno po ng Pilipinas (It's not Kiram who takes care of the returning Filipinos from Sabah, it is the responsibility of the Philippine government). It is our duty. It’s our obligation to provide assistance to the Filipinos returning from Sabah," he noted.