Published: Sunday February 24, 2013 MYT 9:44:00 PM
Updated: Sunday February 24, 2013 MYT 9:50:44 PM
Philippine ship ready to rescue women and civilians
LAHAD DATU: A Philippine ship is on standby off Tawi Tawi island to rescue women and civilians if the standoff at Tanduo village escalates.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippines Embassy, said in a statement Sunday that the ship was on a humanitarian mission.
It sailed from Bongao, (in Tawi Tawi) close to Tanduo waters and is now positioned off Lahad Datu while talks with the group are ongoing.
It said that there were some 180 individuals in the Sulu group including some 30 armed escorts.
Notification of the ship's intended departure was conveyed by the Department of Foreign Affairs on Saturday to the Malaysian Embassy in Manila, it added.
“Onboard the ship are Filipino-Muslim leaders as well as social workers and medical personnel.
“We are deeply concerned about the presence of five women and other civilians in the group, and we urge them to board the ship without delay and return home,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario said.
He added that the Philippine government has on many occasions called on the entire group to return home to their families for their own safety while the core issues raised were addressed.
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