Manila, Philippines - The 17-day standoff in Sabah between followers of Sultan Sulu Jamalul Kiram III, who are claiming the terriroty as part of their homeland, and Malaysian forces ended with a bloodshed on Friday, March 1.
He said the Malaysian forces' 10 a.m. assault against the Filipinos in Sabah's Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town resulted in the death of two members of the Malaysian police and another individual who owned the house where KIram III's brother, Raja Muda (crown prince) Agbimuddin Kiram and his men reportedly stayed.
A third Malaysian police officer was hurt in the attack after Agbimuddin's men opened fire on their van.
Malaysia's state news agency Bernama reported that two police commandos had been killed in a mortar shell explosion as they patrolled around the village where the gunmen were holed up.
It was unclear if they were the two police officers mentioned by Hernandez.
Hernandez could not confirm allegations made by Kiram III's camp for the gunmen that Malaysian security forces had shot dead 10 members of Agbimuddin's group and wounded four others.
The information on the assault was relayed to the DFA by Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines Dato Mohd Zamri Mohd Kassim. The ambassador went to the DFA office in Manila at 2 p.m., Friday to brief Secretary Albert del Rosario on what happened in Sabah.
According to the ambassador, the Filipino armed group escaped Sabah and ran toward the sea while 10 of them surrenndered to Malaysian authorities. He said there was no report on the whereabouts of Agbimuddin and his men.
“The Malaysian authority, particularly the Malaysian police are now pursuing the group,” Hernandez told reporters.
During his meeting with the Malaysian ambassador, Del Rosario handed the envoy a note vebale asking Malaysia to provide the Philippines "full access" to the Filipinos who surrendered for their medical treatment.
Also, Del Rosario asked Malaysia to grant clearance to the Philippine Navy ship, BRP Tarbanua, to enter the border so that the medical team onboard could attend to the wounded Filipinos and bring them back home to their families.
The DFA chief also asked for a full briefing on the operations conducted by Malaysian authorities in Lahad Datu.
The Islamic Sultanate of Sulu leased northern Borneo to Europeans in the 1870s.
While the sultanate's authority gradually faded as Western colonial powers exerted their influence over the region, it continued to receive lease payments for Sabah.
The former British colony became part of the federation of Malaysia when it was formed in 1963.
Kiram III and the other heirs of the sultan still receive nominal annual compensation from Malaysia in the equivalent of about $1,700.
Kiram III’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, suggested last week that the men would stand down if the compensation were substantially raised.