Sultan tells gov’t: Prepare big jail cell

Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The sultanate of Sulu yesterday advised President Aquino to prepare a big detention cell for Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, his family and supporters, saying they were prepared to face charges of inciting a war against Malaysia over Sabah and were willing to be jailed for it.

“Prepare a big jail cell for all of us. We will not run. We will not hide. It is up to the Filipino people to decide who really abandoned the claim on Sabah,” said Abraham Idjirani, Sulu sultanate spokesman.

Idjirani, who earlier said the National Bureau of Investigation had conducted a credible probe on the occupation of Lahad Datu, Sabah, by the sultanate’s security force, has slammed the NBI for “concocting” a report finding Kiram, his family, and their supporters of conspiring to incite a war with Malaysia.

“The report by the NBI is concocted. This is lutong Macau. They know that the only way of stopping the Sabah claim is to stop the Kiram family,” said Idjirani.

Idjirani said that should warrants be issued for the arrest of the Kiram family members and their supporters, they would not resist.

He added that the sultanate is so cash-strapped now that it would not be able to post bail on the possible charges of inciting to war and violation of the election gun ban.

“These are bailable offenses but we do not have the money to post bail. Whether we will be arrested or not depends on the decision of the President,” he said.

Kiram accused President Aquino of putting pressure on the Kiram family and their supporters just to appease Malaysia that brokered the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Idjirani said he is not surprised with Aquino’s failure to support the Sulu sultanate on the Sabah issue, adding the President is protecting his family’s legacy of dropping the claim of the Philippines over Sabah.

He said the sultanate’s fighters, led by Kiram’s brother Agbimmudin, are still holed up in Lahad Datu and will no longer return to the Philippines.

Agbimuddin and some 200 fighters landed in Lahad Datu from Sulu last Feb. 12 that started the standoff in Sabah and the later clashes with Malaysian security forces.

The NBI recommended the filing of charges of illegal possession of firearms and violation of election gun ban and Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code or inciting to war against Sultan Kiram and the 38 suspected members of the sultanate’s force who were arrested as they returned to the Philippines from Sabah last March.

The NBI said evidence showed that the Kirams in Sulu and their relatives and supporters in Taguig City “have planned (the incursion) as early as November 2012.”

The NBI report, which was submitted to the office of Department of Justice (DOJ) director Martin Mendez for review last May 21, detailed how the Kirams plotted what investigators called an “adventure” to supposedly demonstrate their territorial claim over Sabah. Mendez, however, refused to give details of the report.

The NBI report explained the Kirams and their supporters should be indicted for inciting a war with Malaysia, which had triggered clashes between the sultanate’s armed supporters and Malaysian authorities that resulted in the killing of several people and jeopardized the country’s relations with Malaysia.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier explained that there is extraterritorial jurisdiction to investigate Kiram and his group under a provision of the Revised Penal Code, which applies the penal law on some crimes committed outside Philippine territory.

The NBI, however, concluded that former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, Council for Philippine Affairs secretary-general Pastor Saycon, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari, and former media man Waldy Carbonell had no role in the incursion as alleged in earlier reports.

There was no sufficient evidence to prove that any of the four financed or helped the Kirams bring their armed followers to Sabah, according to the report.

De Lima confirmed yesterday that the NBI had already completed the report on the investigation regarding the incursion in Sabah last February of the supporters of the sultanate of Sulu.

But she clarified that the findings are not yet final and still need to be fine-tuned. She also said she has not yet seen the report.

It was learned that the NBI was still consolidating its report with findings of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

She also refused to confirm a report of The STAR that the NBI would file charges against the leaders and followers of the Sultanate of Sulu in connection with the alleged conspiracy in the incursion in Sabah.

She, however, hinted there has been “premature disclosure of information to the media without authority from us.”

“Here we go again, and this is what I’ve been complaining about. There are reporters who are fond of getting advanced information from sources who would not want to be quoted for lack of authority,” she lamented.

De Lima confessed she is “already tired of reminding the NBI” not to make premature disclosure of findings in their investigations on high-profile cases.

The STAR earlier reported that the NBI has recommended the filing of criminal charges against Sultan Kiram and other members of the clan. With Edu Punay

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