Palace plans to hand over Sulu sultan, followers to Malaysia?
Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - June 11, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Sultanate of Sulu yesterday claimed that Malacañang plans to hand over to Malaysian authorities Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, his family members in Taguig City, and his supporters to face charges over the occupation of Lahad Datu in Sabah last March.

Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the sultanate, told reporters at the residence of Sultan Kiram in Taguig that they have received information from a reliable Palace source that President Aquino is bent on delivering Kiram, his relatives and supporters to Malaysia despite the absence of an extradition treaty between the Philippines and Malaysia.

Princess Jacel Kiram, daughter of Kiram, said the latest development followed the surprise “turnaround” in the findings of the probe conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the Sabah incursion of at least 200 members of the sultanate’s royal security force.

“The NBI at first said people went to Sabah on their own. Later, the NBI recommended that charges be filed against the Kirams for conspiring to go to Malaysia,” she said.

She also questioned the alleged plan of the administration to extradite the Kirams and their supporters to Malaysia based only on the NBI findings that the sultanate and their supporters conspired to incite war in Malaysia.

The Kirams would face the charges to be filed against the family by the NBI, she added.

Sultan Kiram cautioned Aquino against pursuing its alleged intention to extradite the Kirams to Malaysia to face charges.

“Do not forget that before the Philippines, the Sultanate of Sulu already existed. We were the first Filipinos. Why don’t you just help us instead of giving us away like kittens?” said Kiram.

Malacañang will not dignify in any way the claim of the Kiram family that the Aquino administration is bent on having them extradited to Malaysia to face charges there.

“I don’t want to dignify any statement coming from the Kirams,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, referring specifically to fears of turning them over to Malaysian authorities, which he described as mere “claims.”

“Let’s wait for an official statement from (Justice) Secretary Leila de Lima, if there’s any. I don’t want to dignify the statement from the Kirams,” he told Palace reporters yesterday. 

Earlier, the sultanate challenged Aquino to prepare a big jail cell for the Kirams and their supporters since they would face the charges of inciting a war against Malaysia.

Idjirani, who earlier said the NBI had conducted a credible probe on the occupation of Lahad Datu, had assailed the bureau for “concocting” a report finding Sultan Kiram, his family and their supporters of conspiring to incite a war with Malaysia and violating the election gun ban.

He said if warrants of arrest were issued against the Kirams and their supporters, they would not resist.

Idjirani added that the Sultanate is so cash-strapped now that it would not be able to post bail.

“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 had accused Aquino of putting pressure on the Kiram family to appease Malaysia, which brokered the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Idjirani said he is not surprised that the President is not supporting the Sulu sultanate over the Sabah issue because of the Aquino family’s legacy of dropping the claim to Sabah.

Idjirani said Kiram brother Agbimmudin still commands the sultanate’s fighters who remain holed up in Lahad Datu. The sultanate’s forces landed in Sabah from Sulu last Feb. 12.

The NBI recommended the filing 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 his forces who were arrested as they were attempting to enter the Philippines from Sabah last March.

The NBI said that they found evidence that showed the Kirams in Sulu and their relatives and supporters in Taguig City had planned the Sabah incursion as early as November 2012.

The NBI report, which was submitted to the office of justice department director Martin Mendez for review last May 21, detailed how the Kirams plotted 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 army and Malaysian authorities that killed several people and also jeopardized the country’s ties with its neighbor.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima earlier explained 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 part in the Sabah incursion.

There was insufficient evidence to prove that any of the four financed or helped the Kirams bring their armed followers to Sabah, according to the report. With Delon Porcalla

 

AQUINO IDJIRANI KIRAM KIRAMS LAHAD DATU MALAYSIA NBI SABAH SULTAN KIRAM SULTANATE
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