PRIME Minister Najib Razak on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte had agreed to the gradual deportation of more than 7,000 illegal Filipino immigrants now staying in Sabah.
He also told reporters that Duterte had allowed Malaysia to pursue kidnappers beyond its maritime borders.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had earlier said that Duterte had expressed his resolve to end the hostilities between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
That, he said, would indirectly solve the problem of the illegal immigrants in Sabah, a Malaysia-controlled territory claimed by the Sulu Sultanate.
Duterte had said the Philippines would no longer require peace facilitators in its talks with Moro rebels, but he requested Malaysia to continue sending monitoring teams to Mindanao.
“If we reach international maritime boundaries reaching the Philippines, we can continue pursuing them [kidnappers] and possibly interdict them,” Najib told Malaysian reporters in a press briefing in Putrajaya.
“But once they reach Philippine boundaries, we will inform them [Filipino authorities] and they will try to assist us so the bad guys won’t get away.”
Before leaving for Malaysia, Duterte said he and Najib would discuss joint operations to fight the Abu Sayyaf terrorists.
Duterte on Tuesday discussed a possible cooperation between the Philippines and Malaysia to fight piracy in the Strait of Malacca.
“We have a lot to talk about concerning piracy in Malacca Strait. It’s very important that Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines talk about it,” Duterte said.
Najib echoed Duterte saying the terrorists were affecting economic growth in Malaysia.
Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya III said the issue of kidnapping in the Sulu Sea and surrounding waters would take priority in the meetings.
“The kidnapping in the Sulu Sea not only alarms Filipinos but also Malaysia,” Malaya said.
“We are preoccupied with the issue. The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are serious in addressing the issue in Sulu and Sulawesi.”
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