Gov't told: Get Kiram nod before reviving Sabah claim

Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Wednesday advised Malacañang to seek an audience first with Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III before making any moves to lay territorial claim on Sabah.

Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said a cooperation between Malacañang and the Sultanate would strengthen the Philippine claim over Sabah.

“You cannot remove the right of the Sultan of Sulu. As the Sultan of Sulu, he inherited the legal authority. We could say that he is the owner of Sabah,” Idjirani told reporters at the residence of Sultan Kiram at the Maharlika Village in Taguig City.

“Because of that only the Sultan of Sulu can lay claim on territories lying outside the national boundaries of the Philippines,” Idjirani added.

Idjirani said that the Sultanate, through a special power of authority, gave the Philippine government the authority to pursue the Sabah claim.

Idjirani said the special power of authority was revoked by the Sultanate in 1989 after the Sultanate felt that the claim was not being vigorously pursued.

“What we are saying is that before there is any attempt by the Philippine government to file a claim on Sabah, they need to talk to the Sultan of Sulu together with the royal families. This will also show that this is now a joint effort between the government and the Filipino people,” said Idjirani.

“The effort to lay Philippine territorial sovereignty over Sabah was delegated by the Sultan of Sulu to the Philippine government in 1961.  If the government wants its claim to be legally and historically strong, it needs a fresh special power of authority from Sultan Jamalul Kiram III,” added Idjirani.

Idjirani said the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is just waiting for Malacanang’s invitation to be part of the process to claim Sabah for the Philippines.

According to Idjirani, the royal families and heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu have already drafted a manifesto on Monday which affirmed their support for Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and urging the government to actively pursue the Philippine’s claim on Sabah. Idjirani said the manifesto would be sent to President Aquino.

For his part, Sultan Jamalul Kiram said that in the event that Malaysia lets go of Sabah, the Philippine government must recognize the authority of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo over the territory.

Meanwhile, Idjirani slammed the “hamletting” being used by the Malaysian security forces in Sabah saying that it is just a psychological warfare tactic to scare the Filipinos living in Sabah.

“It is a psy war by Malaysia to force the Filipinos to leave,” he said.

Idjirani said Malaysia is afraid that it might lose Sabah to a referendum should the United Nations call for one.

According to Idjirnai, Sabah has a population of 3.2 million with Filipinos, including those undocumented numbering about 1.5 million.

“Malaysia is now afraid. It knows that with the standoff now, the Filipinos are being united by the Sabah issue,” he said.

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