“They were intercepted for illegal entry,” says Lt. Cmdr. Jomark Angue, director office spokesman of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said the Filipinos were followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who sent his armed men to occupy Sabah. Clashes between the camp of the sultan of Sulu and the Malaysian security forces which began on March 5 have killed 68 Filipino-Muslims and 10 Malaysian policemen.
Hernandez said these 33 Filipinos were sailing to Taganak Islands or Turtle Islands for a campaign sortie but strong winds brought their ship to the Malaysian-controlled Sabah on Monday.
“Last night, the order for the release was given at the behest of the Foreign Minister of Malaysia and the Defense Minister or Malaysia. Administrative procedure and the papers are now being handled for their actual release.”