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Saycon denies conspiracy; Nur to be summoned

Mike Frialde, Rey Galupo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - An adviser to Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III appeared yesterday before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to deny links to an alleged conspiracy behind the incursion in Sabah by followers of the sultan.

This developed as the NBI yesterday recalled at the last minute the subpoenas issued to the Kiram family and their spokesman Abraham Idjirani.

But an NBI source said former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARRM) governor Nur Misuari would be summoned for questioning on the issue.

Pastor “Boy” Saycon, secretary-general of Council for Philippine Affairs (COPA), said he had nothing to do with the raging crisis in Sabah and accused Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ricky Carandang of floating a conspiracy angle.

On Friday, the NBI summoned Saycon “to shed light on the ongoing Sabah crisis,” which has claimed the lives of dozens, including Kiram followers and Malaysian forces. The crisis has embarrassed both the Philippine and Malaysian governments and shown how porous the two countries’ borders are.

The crisis began on Feb. 12 when some 300 followers of the sultan – led by his younger brother Agbimuddin – crossed over to Sabah’s coastal village of Lahad Datu to stake their claim on the territory. Malaysia eventually launched an offensive to drive them away, killing dozens.

Saycon, also known as a political strategist, showed up at the office of NBI deputy director for intelligence services Reynaldo Esmeralda and later told reporters that Carandang had tried to “sell” his conspiracy theory to foreign media.

After failing to get their attention, Saycon said Carandang resorted to a text barrage to deliver his message.

On the withdrawal of the subpoenas to the Kirams, Saycon said “there was a miscommunication and so, they said they are retrieving (them) back.”

Saycon told reporters that prior to the arrival of NBI agents at the Kirams’ house in Maharlika Village in Taguig City, he had already requested the NBI not to compel the Kirams to appear before the agency.

He said Idjirani is set to appear tomorrow at the NBI – voluntarily. “No subpoena. His visit there is voluntary,” he said.

With NBI’s recall of the subpoenas, “everyone is now at peace,” Saycon said.

“No more heavy heart. The discussions have gone softly, which should be the case. What’s simmering is the deportation issue,” he said in Filipino, referring to the exodus of Filipinos from Sabah, who claimed they were abused by Malaysian forces.

Saycon said he was glad the NBI finished its investigation into the Sabah incident in just 11 days.

NBI agents arrived at the Kiram family residence in Maharlika Village at about 3:10 p.m.

The sultan’s wife Fatima Cecilia Kiram received the first subpoenas for daughter Princess Jacel as well as for Idjirani.

About 15 minutes later, two NBI agents arrived to serve the subpoenas for Fatima as well as for the sultan and his brother Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram.

The subpoenas, signed by NBI director Nonnatus Rojas, ordered the Kirams and Idjirani to appear and “shed light on the investigation being conducted regarding the Sabah incident.”

Saycon earlier admitted acting as an adviser to Kiram in bringing the sultanate’s Sabah claim to the United Nations. He describes himself as the sultan’s adviser on foreign, economic and cultural relations for the past 12 years.

Aside from Saycon, the NBI is also set to summon former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales and Muslim convert Waldy Carbonell, a former radio commentator.

A highly placed source, meanwhile, said Misuari “is going to be subpoenaed this week.”

While NBI spokesman and deputy director for regional operations Virgilio Mendez had declared that “there is no reason yet to call Misuari up,” the source said the bureau is just being careful about naming names “because it could heighten the already brittle situation.”

ABRAHAM IDJIRANI

AUTONOMOUS REGION

CARANDANG

FATIMA CECILIA KIRAM

KIRAM

KIRAMS

MAHARLIKA VILLAGE

NBI

SABAH

SAYCON

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