DFA denies calling Sultan followers as 'terrorists'

Cheryl Arcibal and Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday denied a statement of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry that Secretary Albert del Rosario called the supporters of the Sulu sultanate as "terrorists".

In a statement, the DFA quoted Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya and said the Malaysian statement that Del Rosario called the Sultan followers as terrorists is "out of context".

"According to Ambassador Malaya who was present at the meeting, the report is out of context and the Secretary did not label the Filipino group as 'terrorist'," the DFA said.

Instead, Del Rosario agreed with the statement of Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman that those responsible for the killing of Malaysian police forces committed "terroristic acts".

"In Semporna, there were alleged acts of terrorism. As reported by the Malaysian Foreign Minister, after the police forces were lured into an ambush and killed, their bodies were brutally mutilated and desecrated. If indeed these atrocities were committed as reported to him, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister both agreed that these were, at the very least, terroristic acts," the DFA said.

The March 4 statement of the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said Kuala Lumpur considers the group behind the "atrocities and brutalities committed in the killing of Malaysia's security personnel" as terrorists. Two Malaysian security forces were killed in Lahad Datu and six  were killed in Semporna, Sabah.

"Secretary Rosario (sic) agreed that this group should be labeled as terrorists," the statement from the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said.

The same statement added that Del Rosario "guaranteed" that the Philippine government will prosecute "to the fullest extent of the law" the Sulu group involved in the Sabah standoff.

During the meeting, the Malaysian Foreign Minister also emphasized that actions need to be taken against "[Sultan] Jamalul Kiram for his many statements inciting hatred and violence."

"We are not terrorists!"

Meanwhile, the sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo denied that the Royal Sulu Army members are terrorirts.

Speaking to reporters at the home of Jamalul Kiram III in Maharlika Village, Princess Jacel Kiram, daughter of the sultan said they do not espouse violence and that  the Malaysian  official is ignorant of the region’s history and of the 1963 Manila Accord.

“We are not terrorists! We do not espouse violence! We are the landlords of North Borneo, asking the squatter tenants to vacate the leased property,” Kiram said.

“If [they] know how to read history, no less than the Great Tunku Abdul Rahman signed an agreement with then President Diosdado Macapagal witnessed by President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1963, the Manila Accord wherein the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu shall not be prejudiced in the formation of the Federal State of Malaysia,” she added.           

On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement where it said it considers the Royal Sulu Army led by Agbimuddin Kiram as a group of terrorists.

Kiram told reporters that it is Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak  who should be considered a terrorist for having employed the full might of his country’s military against the more than 200 members of the Royal Sulu Army.

“Who is the terrorist? His (Razak’s) description of terrorism is when a superior force (is used) utilizing the air force, navy, army and the police force to annihilate a force of 200 inferior force whose only action is to defend their belief and their rights,” she said.

The princess also lambasted  Del Rosario and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas for "supporting" Malaysia’s intent to label Sultan Jamalul Kiram III a terrorist  who should be arrested to satisfy Malaysia

Princess Kiram meanwhile asked Aquino to reprimand the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for admitting responsibility for the loss of the family’s first letter to the president.

Kiram asked the president to review Republic Act 6713 or the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees" particularly Section 5, which enumerates the duties of public officials and Section 11,  which  states the penalties for violations of the Code of Conduct.










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