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Malaysian maritime police arrest Tawi-Tawi mayor, 21 supporters

Roel Pareño (The Philippine Star) - April 10, 2013 - 5:11pm

ZAMBOANGA City, Philippines - Malaysian marine policemen arrested an incumbent mayor in Tawi-Tawi province, his police escort and 21 supporters after their boat drifted near Lahad Datu, Sabah on Tuesday night, a coast guard official said Wednesday.

Lt. Cmdr. Jomark Angue, directir office spokesman of the Philippine Coast Guard, said incumbent Mayor Rommel Matba of Languyan town, his police escort Police Officer 2 Hassan Bin Abdullah and 21 supporters were on board on their way to Taganak, Turtle Island on Tuesday when their boat drifted towards Lahad Datu.

The mayor, who is a partymate of President Benigno in the Liberal Party and ally of Tawi-Tawi gubernatorial candidate Norbert Sahali, was supposed to hold a political campaign in Taganak.

Angue said that the boat drifted towards Lahad Datu due to bad weather.

He said an unidentified Malaysian marine police patrol boat intercepted Matba's group at around 6:30 p.m.

"They were intercepted for illegal entry," Angue said, citing reports from the ground.

The Malaysian maritime police immediately towed the boat with the passengers on board and detained the mayor's group in Sandakan for investigation.

Malaysian and Philippine maritime authorities tightened security in territorial waters between Mindanao and Sabah due to the standoff between Malaysian police commandos and more than 200 supporters of the Sultanate of Sulu, led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram.

There are reports that several members of the Moro National Liberation Front have entered Sabah to reinforce Kiram's group, which has suffered casualties in offensives by Malaysian security forces.

ANGUE HASSAN BIN ABDULLAH JOMARK ANGUE LAHAD DATU LIBERAL PARTY MALAYSIAN AND PHILIPPINE MAYOR ROMMEL MATBA OF LANGUYAN MINDANAO AND SABAH MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT NORBERT SAHALI PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD
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