DFA chief takes responsibility for missing letter
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A letter sent by the Sulu sultanate to President Aquino apparently made its way to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario is taking full responsibility for the “misplaced” letter of the Sulu sultan’s brother Agbimuddin Kiram on the sultanate’s claim to Sabah.

The letter was dated Sept. 7, 2010 and signed by Agbimuddin, spokesman Abraham Idjirani and several others.

It was received by the DFA on Sept. 24, 2010, forwarded by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).

Del Rosario was not yet foreign affairs secretary at the time. He assumed office on Feb. 24, 2011. The STAR tried but could not reach then foreign affairs secretary Alberto Romulo for comment.

Speaking to reporters, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said Del Rosario will be writing to Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III to convey his deepest apology.

“We have one missing letter which has been found with us,” Hernandez said. 

“It is really about the Sabah claim issue. He will write to Sultan Jamalul Kiram or to Rajad Muda through Sultan Kiram to convey his deepest apology. The secretary said that ‘the buck stops with me and I take full responsibility, and I will convey to the Kiram family my deepest apology’.” 

“The secretary thought it is appropriate to apologize because of the oversight and we were not able to immediately respond and acknowledge the letter,” he said. “It was found last week.”  

Hernandez said Del Rosario viewed Sultan Jamalul’s letter to the United Nations Human Rights Committee as his right to appeal. 

On the proposal of Moro National Liberation Front founder Nur Misuari to involve the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in seeking a resolution to the conflict in Sabah, Del Rosario said “it is a domestic issue and outside the purview of the OIC.”   


Sultan’s wife wants probe

The wife of Sultan Jamalul asked yesterday the Civil Service Commission (CSC) to probe how the sultanate’s letter to Aquino got misplaced.

Speaking to reporters, Fatima Cecilia Kiram said had Aquino received the letter, the fighting between Malaysian security forces and the Sulu royal army could have been averted. 

“The Civil Service Commission should decide on that matter,” she said. “It is gross negligence on the part of the civil servant.” 

Mrs. Kiram said under CSC rules, a civil servant should respond to a letter within 15 days or be subject to either suspension or dismissal from office.

“As a retired government employee, I cannot forget that... That is very clear under the Civil Service Law,”  she said, adding they had written Aquino three times.

“As far as we are concerned, the letter was received in Malacañang, addressed to the President,” she said.  

“I don’t know how the letter turned up at the Department of Foreign Affairs. We would like the government to know that we should not be left out. Why don’t they like to listen to us? Had the sultan been heard with these letters and given a response and the authority to deal with these people, I think they would not have become impatient. We have not been remiss in telling the government.

“You want to solve the problem in Mindanao, use us as a mechanism. Use us. The politicians do nothing, especially when the situation is grave. You could see the interest of these people in power. The concern of the sultanate of Sulu and the sultan of Sulu is for a better place for his people and for everybody. It has been tested by time.” – With Mike Frialde

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