MANILA, APRIL 15, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Nikko Dizon - More than 400 “volunteer fighters” of the Sultanate of Sulu have arrived in Lahad Datu, Sabah, to reinforce the sultanate’s beleaguered “Royal Security Forces” there, the sultanate’s spokesman claimed Tuesday.

Abraham Idjirani told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that the men, who were all armed, arrived in the eastern coast of Sabah in two groups between March 30 and April 5.

“They went there because of the continued human rights violations of the Malaysian [security forces] on the Filipinos there,” Idjirani said.

He added that fighting between the RSF and the Malaysian security forces erupted on the nights of April 6 and 7 in Tanjung Batu, a village in Lahad Datu. He claimed that the Malaysians suffered “heavy casualties.”

Idjirani said his information came from Agbimuddin Kiram, younger brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Agbimuddin heads the RSF and is the object of a manhunt by the Malaysian security forces.


Aquino's approval, trust ratings slightly increase amid Sabah crisis By ANDREO CALONZO, GMA NewsApril 8, 2013 11:45am

(Updated 12:42 p.m.) President Benigno Aquino III's approval and trust ratings slightly rose amid the conflict in Sabah, which left more than 60 followers of the Sulu sultanate killed and thousand other Filipinos displaced, a Pulse Asia survey last month revealed.

The survey, conducted among 1,800 Filipino adults from March 16 to 20 and released to the media on Monday, showed that Aquino's approval rating increased from 68 percent in February to 72 percent last month.

The President's trust ratings also went up from 69 percent two months ago to 72 percent during the survey period, Pulse Asia said.

Violence erupted in Sabah last March after followers of the Sulu sultanate, led by Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, went to the area supposedly to assert their claim on what they call their ancestral territory.

Aquino openly criticized in several speeches the Sulu sultanate and its supposed “conspirators” for the Sabah crisis. As of March 26, Malaysian authorities said 67 Filipinos and nine Malaysian security forces were killed in the conflict.

Enrile is biggest gainer

Four other top government officials — Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno — also experienced gains in ther approval and trust ratings.

Of the country's top five officials, Enrile got the most significant improvement in his ratings. His approval rating rose from 46 percent in February to 53 percent last month, while his trust rating went up from 43 percent to 51 percent during the same period.

The Senate President's improved ratings, however, did not translate to better figures for the Senate as an institution. The upper chamber's performance ratings dropped from 61 percent in November last year to 57 percent last month.

Meanwhile, Binay maintained his majority approval ratings at 76 percent from 70 percent last February. The vice president remains to be the top national official with the highest trust and approval ratings.

Belmonte, for his part, got an approval rating of 33 percent — a slight improvement from last February's 27 percent.

Sereno meanwhile received a 32-percent approval rating, up 6 percentage points from her rating two months ago.

The Pulse Asia survey used multistage probability sampling to select its respondents from across the country. It has a plus-or-minus 2 percent margin of error, and a 95 percent confidence level. — KG/RSJ, GMA News

WikiLeaks: Libya used Sabah to arm PHL Moro rebels in 1970s April 12, 2013 4:50pm

[Jamalul Kiram is pressing a centuries-old territorial claim to Sabah. Photo: AP]

(Updated 6:16 p.m.) Sabah had played a big role in the rise of the Muslim secessionist movement in Mindanao in the 1970s when it was used as conduit in the smuggling of arms from Libya to southern Philippines, according to declassified cables published by WikiLeaks.

According to two cables, former Sabah chief minister Tun Mustapha facilitated the arms smuggling from Libya, then ruled by military dictator Muammar Gaddafi, to Mindanao to arm Moro rebels there in the hope that it will force the Philippines to abandon its claim to Sabah.

A cable dated April 17, 1976, quoted then-Sabah chief minister Tun Fuad as saying that it was “no secret” that his predecessor, Mustapha, supplied arms to Philippine guerrillas.

“He said it was no secret that his predecessor, former chief minister Tun Mustapha, had been running guns and money from Libya's Gaddafi to the Philippine guerrillas,” according to the secret cable written by an unnamed American Embassy official in Kuala Lumpur.

The official reported that “assistance has been provided to Filipino Muslim insurgents directly by Mustapha, by Libya and perhaps other Arab countries through Mustapha, and there is evidence of GOM (Government of Malaysia) agencies collaborating with Mustapha.”

The official added that Mustapha seemed to have resorted to arms smuggling following reports that then-Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos was training Muslims to invade Sabah, a disputed territory. This project failed and eventually led to the killing of 68 to 200 young Moros on March 18, 1968, an event now known as the Jabidah Massacre.

“(Government of Malaysia's) involvement in the southern Philippines was triggered by evidence in 1968-89 that president Marcos was training Muslims for infiltration of Sabah (the Jabidah affair),” according to the cable.

The official also said the Sabah government would not stop arms smuggling unless Marcos gives up the Sabah claim.

“The mission feels that while present Kuala Lumpur government may be less inclined to condone direct assistance to Moro rebels, the government of Malaysia (Mustapha) will not give up possibility of extending such assistance until President Marcos publicly and categorically abandons Philippine claim to Sabah,” according to the cable.

Upon finding out about Marcos' plan to invade Sabah, Malaysia allegedly conspired with Moro secessionist groups to distract the Philippines from the Sabah claim, said Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson of the Jamalul Kiram III's sultanate whose forces are fighting against Malaysian authorities in their stake for the land.

Sabah then instigated an "arms shipping" from Libya to Sulu, Palawan and Mindanao to arm a group of young Moro soldiers which came to be known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), he added.

After MNLF co-opted with the Philippine government, Sabah then veered their arms shipments to a breakaway group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Idjirani claimed. The MNLF signed a peace pact with the government in 1996. On the other hand, the MILF is now conducting exploratory talks on the peace process in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"The arm shipments were done to augment the power capacity of the MNLF in fighting against Philippine government. When they co-opted with the Philippine government, they now encouraged the MILF to fight against Philippine government," Idjirani said in a phone interview.

"It is Malaysia who created the Mindanao conflict so that the Philippine government could not focus their attention in pursuing their claim to Sabah," he added.

Reached for a reaction, MILF peace panel chairperson Mohagher Iqbal said he does not want to comment on a "very delicate issue."

As of posting time, GMA News Online was still awaiting for a response on our e-mailed query from the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines.

Another cable detailing the meeting between former Indonesian ambassador Sjarif Thajeb in a meeting with US State Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Marshal Green mentioned reports that the Indonesian government invited Sabah's Mustapha “in order to persuade him to stop supporting Muslim insurgents in Southern Philippines.”

The Indonesian ambassador was then under the “view that problem would be resolved if GOP (Government of the Philippines) renounced its claim to Sabah, but observed that this view (is) 'not yet' communicated to GOP,” according to the cable dated March 10, 1973. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK/RSJ, GMA News

128 more Pinoys flee from Sabah, arrive in Tawi-Tawi April 13, 2013 4:57am

At least 128 more Filipinos fleeing from the clashes between followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian forces in Sabah arrived in Tawi-Tawi this week, the Philippine Coast Guard said early Saturday.

The Coast Guard said one of its vessels fetched the 128, who included a newly born child, at the Philippine-Malaysian boundary near Taganak in Tawi-Tawi.

"Officials and crew members of PCG search and rescue vessel BRP Nueva Vizcaya (SARV-3502) ... went to Taganak, Tawi-Tawi to transport (the) returnees," it said.

As the vessel crossed Pearl Bank, one of the returnees gave birth to a healthy baby girl with the assistance of Ensign Felix Angelo Angue and Seaman First-class Alvin Balmonte.

The baby girl and her mother were brought to the nearest hospital for further medical treatment while the other returnees were turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Many Filipinos in Sabah fled their homes to avoid being caught in the clashes between Kiram's followers and Malaysian forces.

Both sides engaged in a three-week standoff since February. The standoff ended with deadly clashes March 1 and 2. The clashes prompted offensives by Malaysian forces since March 5. — ELR, GMA News

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