Palace downplays plot to kill Sulu sultan

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang has downplayed the alleged assassination plot against Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III and his adviser, Pastor Saycon.

In a press briefing, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda yesterday asked the Kirams to stop lying to the public to destroy the administration.

“This is getting really ridiculous,” he said. “Everyday they’re coming out with tall tales. You know, people should stop listening to tall tales.” 

Lacierda read a statement from National Security Adviser Cesar Garcia that verification of the intelligence community on the assassination plot yielded negative results.

“A check conducted on the alleged presence of certain named individuals in certain hotels also came up negative,” he said.  

Lacierda said they are not sure if the story about the assassination plot is true.

“We leave it with them to justify that story,” he said.  “Because we had a previous experience where Jacel Kiram showed this picture where it showed, allegedly, Malaysian casualties of the (Sabah standoff),” which turned out to be a photo of a different encounter in another territory.  

Lacierda said it would be difficult to believe the Kirams because of their previous false representations.

“We had a previous experience of them not telling us the real score,” he said. “So, you know, they are now coming out with another story about people allegedly trying to kill Mr. Jamalul Kiram. That’s something that they would have to substantiate.” 

Lacierda said the Kirams must inform the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) about their story for the necessary action.

“I think they’re alleging four Malaysians,” he said. “So are we going to (go through) all the Malaysians? Are we going to go through all of them? So they have to provide us detailed identities.

“We cannot just pick up each and every Malaysian who is here in the Philippines. So, if they can provide details, we will look into it. But, again, we have a sad experience before of a misrepresentation going on so it’s up to them to justify their story.”  

Saycon and Kiram’s lawyer Leonard de Vera went yesterday afternoon to the NBI to report the alleged plot to kill Kiram, his immediate family and supporters.

They met with NBI-Criminal Intelligence Division chief Romy Bun Huy Lim behind closed doors for more than an hour.

Saycon said they discussed “a real threat on his life and the sultan of Sulu.”

They sought the NBI’s assistance to locate a certain Sonny Ng, supposedly a Malaysian military colonel, he added.

Saycon said Ng was out to kill Kiram, himself and other personalities, which the Malaysians suspect were behind the landing of the sultan’s royal army in Lahad Datu, Sabah.

An “asset” told them that Ng met with a lawyer at the Maxim’s restaurant inside the Resorts World complex in Pasay City on Monday, he added.

Saycon said the Malaysian “intimated” that they are here to “eliminate” the sultan and his friends. 

Ng and four other men were reportedly billeted at Resorts World, he added.

Saycon said Ng had been asking questions about his address and that of Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate spokesman.

“Apparently, they already knew the address of the sultan,” he said.

Saycon said they are reporting the incident for the NBI to check on the Malaysians.

Friends at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines told them that reports that Ng was occupying a room at the hotel are true, he added.

Ng and his companions could no longer be located, Saycon said.

Police are checking the veracity of the reported arrival of a Malaysian hit squad allegedly under a military colonel to kill Kiram and some of his supporters.

Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr., Philippine National Police spokesman, said police have yet to confirm the allegations.

“We still have no information about it,” he said. “The PNP will validate the information. The PNP Directorate for Intelligence continues to monitor the situation to substantiate and validate the reports.”  Idjirani said the assassination plot was hatched Monday during a luncheon meeting at Maxim’s at Resorts World.

The military and the defense department have not received reports of an assassination plot against the sultan and his family.

Speaking to reporters in Pasay City yesterday, Armed Forces vice chief Lt. Gen. Alan Luga said he had learned about the supposed plot only through the media. “Maybe it’s just a rumor,” he said. “We do not have a report about that. I have not read or heard anything about it.” 

Security, meanwhile, has been tightened at the house of Kiram in Maharlika Village in Taguig. – With Rey Galupo, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Alexis Romero, Mike Frialde 











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