Aquino orders probe on Sabah

MANILA - Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Friday ordered an investigation to determine what really happened in Sabah because of conflicting reports from the Malaysian authorities and the followers of the sultan of Sulu.

As of press time Friday night, Aquino was still in a meeting in Malacanang with select members of his Cabinet-Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa-discussing what steps to take to avoid further bloodshed.

"The President's instruction is to get more information and to verify further," said one administration official who declined to be identified because he had no authority to speak to journalists.

The official said the "reports were conflicting."

"The Kirams claimed 10 of their followers had been killed. We have received notice from Malaysia that 10 of Kiram's people have surrendered, and [Agbimuddin] has fled the area. That has yet to be confirmed. Where is he now, we don't know," the official said.

Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib told a news conference yesterday afternoon that 12 members of Agbimuddin's group were killed in the clash with policemen.

Two Malaysian policemen were killed and three or four were injured in the fighting, according to news reports from Malaysia.

Is it or isn't it?

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the standoff was over, but Agbimuddin adamantly said no and that they are fighting on.

There were reports that Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III left his residence in Taguig City, but Palace sources said he had no appointment with the President.

The sultan could be headed to the Malaysian Embassy, the sources said.

Aquino earlier said that he would not talk to Jamalul unless the sultan recalled his followers who had been facing off with Malaysian security forces in Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

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