A TALL ORDER: "SURRENDER NOW, WITHOUT CONDITIONS" / ROBIN SUPPORTS SULU SULTAN

MANILA, MARCH 4, 2013 (MANILA BULLETIN) This was the tall order of President Benigno S. Aquino III to the Filipinos in Lahad Datu, who refuse to leave Sabah, Malaysia, despite a bloody encounter last Friday. “To our citizens in Lahad Datu, from the very start our objective has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shedding of blood. However, you did not join us in this objective. Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass,” President Aquino said in a statement issued yesterday afternoon

“If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender,” Aquino said.

“To those who have influence and the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, I ask you to convey this message: Surrender now, without conditions,” he added.

Despite the call, Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and 224 of his remaining followers have decided to stand pat and sacrifice their lives for “their dreams and aspiration.”

The rajah muda (crown prince) disclose this stand to his eldest brother, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, at 10:30 Friday night.

Datu Abdilnaser Kiram, another brother of the sultan, told the Manila Bulletin that the family had a closed-door meeting that night.

“My brother, the sultan, and all of us accepted the decision of rajah muda and his men with a heavy heart. We leave their fate to Allah subhanna wa taala,” he said.

‘Pasuko Ng Pasuko’

“Ang alam lang nila ay pasuko ng pasuko!”

Sultan Kiram III blurted this out when asked by journalists yesterday after a meeting with movie actor Robin “Abdulaziz” Padilla in his room.

“Why should they surrender (when they are) in their home. They have not done anything wrong in their own home,” the sultan said, reacting on President Aquino’s order for his followers to surrender.

Dayang-Dayang Jacel Kiram, one of the sultan’s children, read a text message from the rajah muda, titled “Honor Above Life.”

The message read:

“After we buried our nine brothers and (a) sister at sun down, everyone of the 224 left decided to die in Lahad Datu in pursuit of their dreams and aspiration.”

“Let the blood of the 10 martyrs (not 12 as reported by Malaysia) chart the course of the new history of the Sultanate of Sulu,” the sultan’s daughter said.

Datu Abdilnaser Kiram said a Tausug warrior has a word of honor. If he says white, it is white.

“Their promise will not be broken,” he added.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, in a press briefing yesterday, said President Aquino’s appeal to surrender among those involved in the standoff in Lahad Datu is a way for them to save their lives.

The Palace also belied criticisms that the Philippine government had taken sides with Malaysia and that it has shown arrogance against the Kirams.

“The Philippine government has exerted all efforts to a peaceful resolution,” Lacierda said. Senatorial bets of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) urged the Aquino administration to clarify its position on the Sabah standoff.

Filipinos Or Malaysians

Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said it is about time the Aquino administration says where they stand on the Sabah issue in the wake of Friday’s firefight.

“Are they with us Filipinos or with the Malaysians? Will they just allow our brothers to be killed there and do nothing? Is this how the government show their love for our Muslim brothers? It’s the government’s fault that it has come to this because they did not give any importance to Kiram III’s concerns.

Former Senator Richard Gordon described the Philippine government’s handling of the situation in Sabah as “severely woeful, anti Filipino, and subservient to Malaysia.”

Re-electionist Sen. Gregorio Honasan said the Philippine government “should seriously consider the impact of the standoff on the peace process and our relationship with Malaysia because more lives might be put on jeopardy.”

Former Senate President Ernesto Maceda said the Philippine government has hesitated and vacillated on the issue, encouraging the Malaysian authorities to take armed action against the badly outnumbered Filipinos.

Serious Lapse

Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares said the standoff in Sabah could have been avoided if only the Aquino government recognized the legitimacy of the Sulu Sultanate’s claim.

He accused the government of committing a “serious lapse” in handling the issue.

“Our claim of Sabah is very strong especially since Malaysia paid rent to the Sultanate as early as during the British occupation. In fact, it is as strong as our claim over Panatag shoals. It was a wrong move for the Aquino government to distance itself from the claim even portraying the claim as nuisance and threatening the Sultan’s men with arrest when they return,” he said.

“President Aquino should have asserted our claim in the same way that we asserted our territorial integrity over Panatag Shoal. This is a clear sign of selective patriotism largely influenced by the US who wants to use the Panatag tension as reason to deploy troops and weapons in the region,” he added.

Padilla descended on Astanah Kiram yesterday to visit Sultan Kiram III.

Padilla, who came aboard a helicopter, gave a check for P500,000 to the sultan, saying it is for his health. He stressed that it is not for buying arms. Kiram III is undergoing dialysis. The arrival of the helicopter caused brief jitters, thinking government forces were out to arrest the Kirams.

A reliable source said Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding Chairman Nur Misuari made a low-key visit to the sultan Thursday night.

No other details were given. (With reports from Edd K. Usman, JC Bello Ruiz, Charissa M. Luci)

Robin Padilla shows support for Sulu sultan By Dona Z. Pazzibugan Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:28 pm | Saturday, March 2nd, 2013


Actor Robin Padilla kisses the hand of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III at the Kiram residence in Maharlika Village, Taguig on Saturday. ALANAH TORRALBA/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—Action movie star Robin Padilla showed his support for embattled Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III by paying him a surprise visit at his home in Maharlika Village, Taguig City, Saturday afternoon. He gave the ailing Kiram a check for P500,000 for his medical needs.

Padilla told reporters he owed his conversion to Islam to the sultan, who introduced the Islamic faith to the actor while he was doing time in prison for illegal possession of guns.

Padilla immediately drew a crowd when he and a handful of companions arrived shortly after 2 p.m. by helicopter at the Blue Mosque, which is adjacent to the Sultan’s home.

He had an audience with Kiram for about 30 minutes discussing the plight in Sabah of the sultan’s brother and heir and 235 followers, 10 of whom were killed by Malaysian security forces Friday morning.

“Nakakalungkot kasi Muslim ang pumatay sa kapwa Muslim. Narito ako para maliwanagan (It is sad because Muslims killed fellow Muslims. I’m here to be enlightened),” the actor told reporters before he was ushered into the Kiram’s room.

“Marami akong tanong na kailangan ng sagot. Bakit pinayagan nating mapatay ang ating kapwa Pilipino (I have many questions that need answers. Why did we allow our fellow Filipinos to be killed)?” he added.

The actor sidestepped a questioned about the government’s call on Kiram’s followers to come home, saying the government should sit down with the Kirams as the sultanate of Sulu used to have relations with foreign governments at the height of its power long ago.

On whether he wants the sultanate’s crown prince, who leads the expedition now in Sabah, to come home, Padilla said given the circumstances, he would not say anything to dishearten the Royal Security Force.

“Nandito ako para mag-apela. Kapwa Pilipino na natin ang pinapatay doon. Ako nasasaktan ho bilang isang Muslim at isang Pilipino (I am here to make an appeal. Our fellow Filipinos are getting killed there. I am hurting as a Muslim and as a Filipino),” he said.

The sultan’s daughter, Jacel Kiram, told reporters later that Padilla expressed his support for the Sultan’s cause.

The actor also handed over a check for P500,000 to Kiram, saying the money was for his medical needs (the Sultan requires regular dialysis) and not for buying weapons. Kiram needs to undergo two kidney dialysis sessions every week.

FROM 'FREE MALAYSIA TODAY' WEB SITE

Lahad Datu invasion: The real story? Amir Ali | March 2, 2013

The sultanate has little resources at its disposal to run the 'government' of Sulu. Thus a fresh deal with Malaysia will help it keep the ball rolling.


[Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir (photo below) says the only reason the government had “acted cautiously” in the beginning was because the intruders were Muslims.]

COMMENT

The Lahad Datu “invasion” is not merely about a group of armed men intruding into Sabah. After weeks of a tense standoff between the “occupiers” and Malaysian security forces, a clearer picture has emerged.

It appears that the heavily armed group wants to turn the “occupation” into an international issue, specifically to draw attention to its plea for an independent Sulu sultanate.

But the sultanate is financially not in good shape and hence, the group turned its attention to Sabah where it claimed the Sulu sultan has “rented out” the state to Malaysia.

The Sulu sultan told AFP on Feb 27 that the Malaysian government is paying the sultanate RM5,300 yearly in exchange for agreeing to let Sabah become a Malaysian state.

It appears that the group wants to renegotiate for a higher “rent”. By seeking a higher payment, the sultan hopes to keep Sulu afloat.

However, the Malaysian government has not acknowledged the existence of such a “rent”.

The group probably decided that the best way to force the Malaysian government to renegotiate a better “deal” is to occupy the village in Lahad Datu.

According to observers, the sultanate has little resources at its disposal to run the “government” of Sulu. Thus a fresh deal with Malaysia will help it keep the ball rolling.

Manila’s war against “terror” did not include the province of Sulu. But still the province was engulfed in this war as the Abu Sayyaf group spread its wings across the Muslim majority areas.

As a result, Manila sent its armed forces to Sulu in its campaign against terrorism. But the Sulu people did not see the presence of the Philippine armed forces as part of the war on terror.

Instead, they deemed it as an occupation force, attempting to control the territory and at the same time exploiting the vast riches of the region.

It is reported that its natural wealth includes minerals and oil and gas reserves in the Sulu waters. According to observers, the Philippines has so far failed to carry out its oil extraction activities in Sulu.

By forcefully entering Sabah, the “Sulu Sultanate Royal Army” hopes to renegotiate the annual fees and also to get Malaysia to extract the oil in Sulu.

According to some reports, Manila and its foreign partners have stopped extracting oil in Sulu because of frequent breakdown in the drilling machine.

Independence declaration

A little-known event occurred in November 2010 when the sultan of Sulu, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, officially declared the Sulu province an independent state from the Philippines.

The Tausug people (the people of the Sulu sultanate are from the Tausug tribe) see themselves as independent, free and have adopted the syariah as their constitution.

This piece of news was not reported in the Malaysian mainstream media.

In the peace deal concluded between Manila and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Sulu province was not included.

(The MILF is a breakaway faction from the MNLF. The former is pursuing its claim to Sabah.)

According to an observer close to the Tausug royalty, the sultanate of Sulu Darul Islam (SSDI) is not part of the framework agreement between Manila and the MILF.

Since 2010, the bulk of the Philippine armed forces had withdrawn from Sulu.

According to sources, the United States is not against an independent Sulu. This perhaps explains why Manila did not take any action against the sultan when he made the declaration of independence.

KL-based Amir Ali works for an Indonesian NGO called the Warisan Melayu Riau, which is based in Bengkalis, Riau. -

Dr Mahathir: Don’t underestimate guerillas March 3, 2013

BAGAN SERAI: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has warned the Malaysian security forces to be prepared for retaliations from the remnant members of the Filipino armed militant group and their sympathisers.

He said the Malaysian securities forces cannot be lulled into thinking that the situation was under control especially after the militant group is decimated and got rid off.

“We cannot underestimate them, even though at first we thought their attempt to capture Sabah a futile act. But they can become guerrillas and launch sporadic attacks in future,” he said.

As such he added that the Royal Malaysian Navy needed to tighten its surveillance on Sabah waters and check on boats from Tawi-Tawi and Jolo islands that could be smuggling in intruders or arms.

Earlier today, Malaysian Army General Zulkifli Zanal Abidin said the armed intruders appeared adept in insurgency and had combat experience.

“From our intelligence and observation, their insurgency guerilla tactics are quite good, I would say,” he said.

Also earlier today Inspector General of Police Ismail Omar said that his men had been lured into an ambush in Semporna by decoys which had left six policemen including an officer dead.

The death toll has climbed to 26 since Friday’s clash in Lahad Datu. Eight policemen have been killed in the line of duty in Lahad Datu and Semporna.

Last Friday’s shootout also saw 12 gunmen loyal to the 74 year old Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III killed. The group had ‘invaded’ Lahad Datu on Feb 12 to stake a claim on Sabah.

In the initial stages the army were merely observers but earlier today Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had directed them to step and do whatever is necessary.

‘They were Muslims’

When asked about the government’s initial decision to leave the matter to the police, Mahathir said: “External threats are handled by the armed forces while internal threats are dealt with by the police.

“At first we did not think the intrusion was as an external threat for they were on our shore.

“But now that it is clear that the invasion is an attack from outside, the military was ordered to move in.”

Mahathir said the only reason the government had “acted cautiously” in the beginning was because the intruders were Muslims.

“We did not want to be hasty. We did not want to kill them because they also have families and friends in Sabah. (And) after all they are Muslims and we are Muslims. That’s why we acted cautiously at first.

“But they have now acted in bad faith. They have gunned down our policemen.

“Now, the stalemate can no longer be resolved through negotiation,” he said.

Mahathir said the new dynamics had made counter-actions inevitable.

“There is now no way out but to launch a counter-attack to eliminate the Sulu group.

“Although many of them will be killed, this cannot be avoided because they attacked Sabah, and it’s not the other way round,” he told reporters after addressing a gathering by the Perkasa’s Perak branch here today.

Meanwhile a spokesman for Sultan Sulu said that its forces on Sabah had taken hostage a Malaysian police officer, two soldiers and a government official.

“We advised the people on the ground to take care of them, to feed them, so that in case there shall be international agencies to investigate the matter we can present those four captured government officials of Malaysia as witnesses to the atrocities committed by the government of Malaysia,” the group’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, said Sunday.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
 

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