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ON TARGET BY MON TULFO: A JESTER IN THE PALACE



[In this March 1, 2013 photo, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, centre, whose brother Rajamuda Kiram, along with more than 200 of their "Royal Army" followers has occupied a Malaysian village since February 9, joins a protest outside the Blue Mosque at the suburban Taguig city, east of Manila. In a message to the group on Saturday, Mr. Aquino said the clan members should “surrender now without conditions.”

He said he had sought to avoid bloodshed from the beginning. “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,” Mr. Aquino said. “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.”

Malaysia’s Home Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, and national police chief, Ismail Omar, were in Sabah on Saturday to oversee security operations. Mr. Ismail also urged the Filipinos to turn themselves in, saying “we have no other options but to take the necessary action to detain them.”

Malaysian officials declined to say when they might move in or to elaborate on their plans. The Filipino group is led by a brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of the southern Philippine province of Sulu. Jacel Kiram, a daughter of the sultan, indicated that her uncle, Agbimuddin Kiram, who is still in Lahad Datu, would not surrender. “The decision remains the same they will not return here because honour is above life,” she told DZBB radio in Manila. “What is life without honour?”

Abraham Idjirani, a spokesman for the sultan, said he and the council of the sultanate still had to study Mr. Aquino’s statement.]

THE INQUIRER COMMENTARY: ON TARGET

MANILA, MARCH 4, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Ramon Tulfo - After I read the report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) was preparing to file charges against Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his men for the Sabah standoff, I laughed out loud till my belly ached.

If this columnist, who’s not a lawyer, doubled up in laughter at the DOJ move, you can just imagine how lawyers of average intelligence would have reacted to the Justice Department’s pea-brained action.

The DOJ is like the congressman in the 1960s who filed a bill outlawing typhoons.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who’s supposed to know better since she was a bar topnotcher, said Kiram and his men could be liable for 1) inciting to war, 2) illegal possession of firearms, 3) illegal assembly and violation of the gun ban imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

She said possible charges of rebellion are also being planned against Kiram and his group.

Earlier, President Noy said Kiram and his followers violated a provision in the Constitution that says that the government renounces war as an instrument of national policy.

Look, guys, Sultan Kiram didn’t violate any laws in the country!

The sultan didn’t incite his men to take up arms against our government.

The sultan’s men can never be charged with illegal possession of firearms because they’re carrying guns—if at all—outside the Philippines.

They can’t be charged with illegal assembly and violation of the election gun ban since they’re outside the Philippines.

The sultan’s men are in Sabah and therefore beyond the pale of Philippine laws.

Neither can the sultan and his men be charged with violating that provision in the Constitution that renounces war as an instrument of national policy since Kiram never declared war on Malaysia.

Kiram undertook the occupation of a tiny portion of Sabah as sultan of Sulu and not as a Filipino citizen.

The sultan’s followers violated Malaysian laws, but that’s Malaysia’s problem not ours.

Since when has the Philippines, a sovereign nation, become a “spokesnation” for Malaysia?

As Visayans would say, “Ay sus, Ginoo, naunsa na man ang inyong utok diha sa Malakanyang? (Oh, Lord, what happened to your brains there in Malacañang?)”

***

There’s a joke reportedly making the rounds among the Tausugs—people of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi who are subjects of the Sultanate of Sulu—that

P-Noy has become the spokesperson of the Malaysian prime minister.

Whenever the joke is told by one Tausug to another, I am told, they would laugh out loud.

Not at the joke, but at the President.

I mean no disrespect for the President, but he has turned himself into a clown in the Sabah standoff.

It’s better for him to keep quiet and let his people at the Department of Foreign Affairs do the talking on the Sabah issue.

***

As this was being written yesterday afternoon, there was a report of sporadic gunfire at Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

Shots were reportedly fired between the Malaysian police and the sultan’s men.

Early reports said the Malaysian police retreated but came back.

The sultan’s men, who are probably members or former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), are veteran fighters compared to Malaysian policemen who, until a few years ago, carried only nightsticks.

Between MNLF men used to years of fighting and Malaysian cops who only know how to handle nightsticks, who do you think will prevail?


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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