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SABAH CLAIM: SULTAN OF SULU WON'T BUDGE
By Arlyn dela Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Sunday, February 17th, 2013
Undaunted amidst mounting pressure from both the Philippine and
Malaysian governments, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the acknowledged leader
of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo insisted that his royal
decree that authorized the presence of his younger brother, crown
prince Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram and the combined civilian and armed
followers in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia, stays.
“My decree is not about war. We are not waging war. I sent my
brother in Sabah in the name of peace and in exercise of our historic,
ancestral and sovereign right over Sabah,” Jamalul told the INQUIRER in a
phone interview facilitated through members of his family who were
beside him as he was resting after undergoing his regular dialysis
Jamalul is in Metro Manila and is guarded by family and close relatives.
Asked as to until when his decree stays? Jamalul said, “For as
long as necessary. Sabah is our homeland and the international community
acknowledges this. If we have to go to the United Nations we will do
so. It is upon us, the leaders of Sulu to claim back what is ours,” the
Does he have any message for the Philippine government?
“Everything I want to tell the President, I already told him in a
letter sent to him, shortly after he assumed the presidency in 2010. I
told him in that letter that it is the noble dream of the Sultanate of
Sulu and North Borneo to achieve unity, peaceful survival and economic
prosperity and to be able to achieve that, the Sabah issue cannot be
ignored,” Jamalul said.
Jamalul is 74 years old, the eldest among the Kiram brothers who
are direct descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo. He ran
and lost for senator in the 2007 National Elections under the Team
Unity of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Abraham Julpa Idjirani, secretary general and spokesperson for
the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo said, Jamalul was supposed to
meet on Saturday afternoon with some officials of the Aquino
administration but was not able to do so because of the dialysis
Jamalul’s wife Fatima Celia told the INQUIRER that her husband has been undergoing dialysis treatment for more than a year now.
Open to talks with Palace
Idjirani said, they are open to talks with any official sent by
Malacañang as he was already contacted by several officials of the
Aquino administration since the standoff in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, was
reported in the media. He did not identify the officers who got in touch
with him but mentioned the agencies these officials are attached to.
“Magpahinga lang si Sultan Jamalul, at pag naka-pahinga na siya, puwede
na naming harapin ang sinumang opisyal na gustong makipag-usap sa kanya
(After resting, Sultan Jamalul can face any official who wants to talk
to him),” Idjirani said.
The INQUIRER also learned from another independent source who
wished not to be identified that President Benigno Aquino III was
informed of the presence of civilian and armed supporters of the
Sultanate of Sulu in Lahad Datu, Malaysia, as early as the morning of
Feb. 11 through one of his Cabinet members. “But at that time, the
report was still sketchy and we had no idea who the group was. But the
President was alerted about this on Day 1 of their landing in Sabah,”
the source said.
The Office of the Presidential Adviser in
the Peace Process had no comment on Saturday on the Kirams’ claim that
they were taking back Sabah.
In Lahad Datu in Sabah, Agbimuddin told the
Inquirer that he only follows and receives order from Jamalul and no
one else. No one can force us to leave. Even if I, as crown prince of
the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is guarded by armed men belonging
to our royal security forces, we will never provoke any encounter,”
Members of the royal security force are
armed with assorted long firearms, Agbimuddin said. “M-14, M-16, M203,
Baby Armalite, basta assorted ang dala namin (we have all kinds),” he
explained when asked what type of firearms they were carrying.
The active recruitment for members of the
royal security force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo,
according to Agbimuddin, began in 1999 but training only began in 2001
in Simunol, Tawi-Tawi, Isabela, Basilan and even in mainland Zamboanga.
“Sa Grand Stand pa nga kami ng Zamboanga nag-physical fitness exercise
at alam ng Southcom ’yan (We do our physical fitness exercises at the
Zamboanga grand stand, and the Southcom knew it),” Agbimuddin added.
The Southcom he is referring to is the
Southern Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines based in
Zamboanga City and the Grand Stand is the one near Cawa-Cawa Boulevard.
Relatives on board
Who takes care of their logistics? Like food and other basic necessities since their landing in Lahad Datu?
Agbimuddin said, most of the residents of
Tanduao, Lahad Datu, are Tausugs and relatives of the ones who went with
him on board a motorboat from Tawi-Tawi. “Hindi kami magugutom dito at
ang mga babae na kasama namin, sila ang nagluluto para sa amin (The
women who are with us are doing the cooking).”
Will other groups with the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo follow him in Lahad Datu?
Agbimuddin answered that was his understanding, but he said he didn’t know when. There might even be more, he said.
Another source from Sulu told the Inquirer
that a group identified with a local political clan with a stronghold in
one municipality there is reportedly getting ready to follow Agbimuddin
The source identified the political leader as a relative of
the Kirams and also a former mayor and a former member of the Moro
National Liberation Front (MNLF) known then as the “Tiger of the MNLF.”
“The mayor is getting ready and waiting for
the order from Sultan Kiram III to proceed [to Sabah],” the source said
in Filipino, adding that the influential leader in Sulu, now in his
early 60s, command a force of more than 200 men.