GMA security adviser visits Kiram
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Former national security adviser and defense secretary Norberto Gonzales admitted yesterday visiting Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III at his house in Maharlika Village in Taguig Sunday evening but denied having any hand or role in the ongoing Sabah crisis.

Gonzales, Moro National Liberation Front chairman Nur Misuari, President Aquino’s uncle Jose Cojuangco and his wife United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate Margarita Cojuangco are suspected of having collaborated with the Kirams to send the sultanate’s 235-strong Royal Army and followers to Lahad Datu last Feb. 11 to reclaim the island state.

“If being a friend is to be a collaborator, yes I am,” Gonzales said, adding that he and the sultan treat each other like brothers.

“I am here because in conscience I cannot ignore and turn my back on him. If the government is suspicious of me, I am now telling them that I know nothing about what happened in Sabah,” Gonzales said.

Earlier, Misuari and Cojuangco had also denied any links to the expedition to Sabah, led by Kiram’s brother Agbimuddin.

Gonzales was surprised to learn about the Sabah standoff and initially decided not to visit Kiram. But when he saw the sultan on television, he was compelled to visit him to express support for his “noble cause.”

Gonzales said during the Marcos years, he was hunted by state security forces and was able to evade arrest after Kiram gave him sanctuary at his residence in Malate, Manila.

“If we have plans (to physically reclaim Sabah), we could have done it when I was still defense secretary where I could provide him substantial support. I am now asking the entire Filipino people to accord the sultan with high respect that the Royal Sultanate fully deserves,” he said.

As national security chief during the Arroyo administration, he said he and Kiram “even exerted extra efforts to (revive) the dormant Sabah claim by discussing the issue with visiting ranking Malaysian officials.”

He said the sultanate has the rightful claim over Sabah but stressed that the Malaysians, being the occupants of the island state, should not also be faulted for taking action.

He described the standoff and the fighting as “away magkapitbahay” (neighbors’ quarrel).

The problem now is how both the Philippine and the Malaysian governments would handle the situation and that a ceasefire, to be brokered by a third party, is now in order, Gonzales said.

He assured both governments that Kiram “is a very reasonable man and any official moves to settle the uprising in Sabah is always welcome to the sultanate.”

 

GONZALES JOSE COJUANGCO KIRAM LAHAD DATU MAHARLIKA VILLAGE MARGARITA COJUANGCO MISUARI AND COJUANGCO MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT NORBERTO GONZALES SABAH
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