Philippines beefs up security to prevent “collateral incidents” from Sabah hostilities

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MANILA, March 7 — The Philippine government is beefing up its security forces in the southern region to prevent any “collateral incidents” that might take place amid violence in Sabah involving the Sulu Royal Army and the Malaysian forces, President Benigno S. Aquino III said Thursday.

Aquino said in an interview in Davao City that there are at least 10 Philippine Navy and Coast Guard ships manning a blockade off southern Philippines “to prevent anybody from adding to the troubles that are happening right now in Sabah.”

“The Philippine National Police, in particular, is securing everybody so that there are no collateral incidents that might happen,” he added.

Former rebel leader Nur Misuari of the Moro National Liberation Front reportedly warned of a possible chaos in southern Philippines if the government moves to arrest Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who has been claiming Sabah from Malaysia.

It is reported that Malaysia was planning to seek Kiram’s extradition. However, Aquino said Manila Kiram has to face possible charges in the country first before he could be tried in Malaysia, let alone there has been no extradition treaty between the two countries.

About 180 of Kiram’s followers sailed on Feb. 12 to Lahad Datu in Sabah to assert their claim over the minerals- and oil-rich Malaysian state. After almost three weeks of standoff with the Malaysian forces, violence erupted in Lahad Datu last Friday. Since then, at least 27 people, including eight policemen, have been killed.