Sultan to Noy: What more ownership proof do you want?

Roel Pareño, Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is “ready to face the consequences” of his defiance of President Aquino’s directive that he order his followers to leave Sabah, saying they have not violated any law.

“What else do we have to prove? With all the historical facts, the sultanate of Sulu has not violated a law in allowing our people to come to our homeland,” Kiram’s secretary-general Abraham Idjirani quoted the sultan as saying.

Idjirani said the sultan is open to negotiating a peaceful end to the standoff, which began on Feb. 9.

A possible compromise is the surrender of their firearms to the Philippine government and allowing more than 200 of the sultan’s followers to remain in Lahad Datu town in Sabah, Idjirani said.

In a statement, Kiram said he was thankful the President was beginning to give the issue greater attention.

“For the first time, we thank the President for his official  pronouncement on the standoff in Sabah and we are happy that he is officially aware of the issue now,” Kiram said.

“You will note that emissaries sent to us have been denied by Malacañang in the first four days of the issue and that those emissaries sent were not diplomatic people but rather political and military officials,” he said. 

“Mr. President, what more proof do you want us to show that Sabah is ours? By the mere fact that Malaysia is paying us annually in the amount of 5,300 Malaysia ringgit, is it not enough?”

He also stressed he allowed his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to settle in “our homeland” with armed followers to protect the “crown prince.”

“History proves that the Sultan of Sulu has never been involved in any violence in its quest for justice. As far as we are concerned we haven’t committed a crime,” the sultan pointed out.

“Mr. President, I Sultan Jamalul Kiram, pledge that my brother Datu Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and our followers will not initiate the violence and signed it with blood and that of my brothers. But we are prepared to defend our lives and aspirations,” he said in a message to the President.

As this developed, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has placed its fighters in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi on red alert as tensions in Sabah rise, the group’s political officer Haji Gapul Hajirul said.

The MNLF also said it has adopted a resolution of the Sultanate of Sulu calling on the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to Sabah to prevent bloodshed between the sultanate forces and Malaysian security forces.

Hajirul said armed civilians in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are ready to enter Sabah to support the sultan’s followers.

Intelligence sources confirmed groups of armed Tausugs were massing up in areas just across Sabah.

“The only thing that prevents these armed civilian groups from swarming to Sabah is the naval blockade being enforced by the Philippine Navy,” a source from Sulu said.

At least six gunboats are patrolling the waters near Sabah to prevent undocumented Filipinos from going to the territory and joining forces with the sultan’s followers in Lahad Datu.

The MNLF also said Aquino’s order for the sultan’s followers to leave Lahad Datu was tantamount to giving up Sabah.

“By the action shown by P-Noy, it’s far from the peaceful solution. It is he who should be charged for selling part of the Philippines,” Hajirul said.

The group also said the Sabah standoff highlighted the struggle of the Bangsamoro people to reclaim the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo ceded by the United Kingdom to the Malaysian government.

“Certainly, an immoral and criminal activity of this magnitude has to surface to haunt and scare the perpetrators that a grievous injustice has to be rectified,” it said. With Perseus Echeminada

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