SULU SULTAN TO AQUINO: PREPARE A BIG JAIL CELL /  WHO IS NOY'S ADVISER ON SABAH?


MANILA, JUNE 10, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Mike Frialde - 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

RELATED STORY

Solons slam Aquino over Sabah issue By Christine F. Herrera | Posted on Mar. 15, 2013 at 12:01am | 4,174 views

The Minority bloc in the House on Thursday dared President Benigno Aquino III to use his Team PNoy's political sorties to explain why the government allowed 62 Muslims to get killed in Sabah while it was raising money to save the life of a Filipino on death row in Saudi Arabia.

House Deputy Minority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said every life was sacred, and that 62 lives lost was enough reason for the country to mourn. Yet the President was not mourning the Muslim Filipinos but keeping himself busy campaigning for the administration's senatorial candidates.


[Sabah on his mind. Sultan Firdausi Abbas, president of the new group United Filipino Movement, condemned the violence against the Filipinos in Sabah at a hotel in Quezon City on Thursday and said his group would help pursue the Philippine claim to the Malaysian state. MANNY PALMERO]

The President should at least, instead of being on the campaign trail, be focused on making sure that the Filipinos in Sabah are secured rather than making sure his candidates land in the Magic 12, Romualdez said.

Stop the killing of our Muslim brothers, Romualdez said.

This is not right.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez also criticized the President.

It is unfortunate that President Aquino's priority is to get a 12-0 sweep for Team PNoy, and since there is no stopping the President from campaigning, the least that he can do is to use the provincial sorties to explain what is happening in Sabah, explain why the Sabah massacre took place because the people are getting alarmed already, Suarez said.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, Gabriel Rep. Luz Ilagan, and Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano urged Mr. Aquino to talk with Malaysia's prime minister to ensure the protection of the Filipinos living in Sabah.

They said the Filipinos in Sabah should also assert their right to stay there.

We have to take all the possible courses of action to end the conflict [in Sabah] at the soonest possible time without abandoning the right of Filipinos to stay in Sabah, Colmenares said.

Senatorial candidate Nancy Binay, Vice President Jejomar Binay's eldest child, said she was alarmed by the reports that the food had run out in Tawi-Tawi where hundreds of evacuees fleeing the conflict in Sabah including pregnant women and children have sought refuge.

Pregnant women and children going hungry for days is a grim situation that must not be allowed by the government to happen, Binay said.

Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan lashed out at Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman for calling the Filipinos fleeing Sabah balikbayans or returnees and not refugees.

They are not balikbayans, Ilagan said.

They are seeking refuge from a disputed territory to which the Philippines has a legitimate claim.

Suarez said it seemed that the President and his team were much more concerned with the coming elections and how to achieve a 12-0 win in the Senate.

Romualdez said the minority bloc was condoling with the families of the 62 Muslim Filipinos who were killed during the standoff between the soldiers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian forces.

He lamented that Muslim Filipinos were getting killed in Sabah while the government was busy raising money to save the life of a convicted felon in Saudi Arabia.

Romualdez said he could not understand how the Philippine government could have condoned the killing of the Filipinos in Sabah.

He was referring to the warning issued by the President to the Kiram group to surrender to the Malaysian authorities or face the consequences, after which 62 Filipino Muslims ended up dead. With Maricel Cruz

COLUMN: RELATED STORY FROM YAHOO ASIA

Who is Aquino’s adviser on Sabah issue? By Ellen Tordesillas, Contributor | The Inbox – Tue, Feb 26, 2013... .

In his Facebook wall, Cotabato-based Fr. Eliseo Mercado of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance in Notre Dame University yesterday said, “After the President’s press statement on the Sabah issue, I am continued to be deluged with question, ’Who is the adviser of the President on the Sabah issue?’

“Sagot ko: Ambot… baka ang Malaysian PM.

From the tone and the content would show that he/she is either Malaysian or Malaysian-Philippine.”

In his statement, which came on the second week of the standoff in Lahad Datu, a seaside village in Sabah, President Aquino several times spoke of peace. Yet, the language he used reeks of arrogance that could only come from ignorance of the root of the issue.

He described the cause that the Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III and his younger brother Prince Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, who is the leader of the group in Lahad Datu as a “hopeless cause.”

Addressing Kiram, Aquino said: “You are a leader of your clan, and every leader seeks the well-being of his constituents. These times require you to use your influence to prevail on our countrymen to desist from this hopeless cause.”

Does this mean the Aquino government has given up the Philippine government’s claim on Sabah?

In his statement, Aquino seemed not sure about the legitimacy of the Philippine claim which was initiated in the 1963 by President Diosdado Macapagal. He said: “This issue is complex: from the basis of our claim, to the question of the rightful heirs, and even involving the translation of documents from an era when our grandparents weren’t even born.”

Responding to the President’s statement Kiram III, though his daughter Princess Jacel Kiram said: “ Mr. President, what more proof do you want us to show that Sabah is ours?”

This standoff came about because the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu decided to do it their way after Malacañang snubbed Kiram’s request for a meeting.

Aquino revealed this in his statement: “Let me say to Sultan Jamalul Kiram III: I have just been made aware that a letter to me, from you, was sent through OPAPP in the very first weeks of my term, when we were organizing the government. Unfortunately, this letter was lost in the bureaucratic maze. Let me make clear that there was no intention to ignore your letter. Knowing this now, will you let your mistaken belief dictate your course of action?”

Aquino also said, “The avenue of peaceful and open dialogue is still available to us. Let us therefore sit down as brothers to address your grievances in a peaceful, calm manner according to our laws and according to correct processes when your people arrive home.”

Yet in the same statement he warned Kiram that his patience is running out:

“As President and chief executor of our laws, I have tasked an investigation into possible violations of laws by you, your followers, and collaborators engaged in this foolhardy act. May I remind you as well that as a citizen of the Republic, you are bound by the constitution and its laws.

“Among your possible violations is Article II Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, the enabling law of which is Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes those who “provoke or give occasion for a war…or expose Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property.”[1] Thus, you are now fully aware of the consequences of your actions.”

“We have not yet reached the point of no return, but we are fast approaching that point.”

To which Kiram stood firm: “As far as we are concerned, we haven’t committed a crime.”

But he also talked about peace: “The sultan of Sulu’s action is a benevolent aspiration and not a violent reaction to fight.”

Will the real diplomats please take over?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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