Agbimuddin still in Sabah - Kirams

DAVAO CITY, Philippines - Sabah standoff leader Agbimuddin Kiram is still in Sabah despite reports from the Malaysian media that he had escaped and returned to the Philippines, his niece said on Monday, March 25.

“We were able to talk to him on the phone this morning,” Princess Jacel Kiram told Rappler.

The daughter of self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III explained that the regular 30-second phone calls are being done as proof of life.

Malaysian authorities earlier said that 72-year-old Agbimuddin had abandoned his men, slipped out of Malaysia and is currently hiding to avoid arrest by Philippine authorities.

Princess Jacel however insistred her uncle and his followers -- including several elderly ones -- are still in "defensive mode" in Sabah.

The sultan's daughter also denied claims that Amirbahar Kiram, another member of the family recently arrested by Malaysian security forces is a commander of the Royal Security Force, as he has been a resident of Sabah along with his fire for 4 years.

Amirbahir is the son of Bantilan Ismael Kiram, the brother of Jamalul Kiram III.

“With the capture of Amirbahar, Malaysia is telling the international community that they are in control of the situation, which is not true,” the princess said.

“We have to be vigilant. He is not a commander,” she added. - with reports from Carlos Santamaria/