From InterAksyon (Feb 28): Sulu sultan urges Aquino not to belittle Sabah claim
Princess Jacel Kiram reads the statement of her father, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III at their home in Maharlika Village, Taguig city. (photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com)
Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III on Thursday called on President Benigno Aquino III to stop describing their claim to Sabah as “foolhardy” as he wondered if Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II was acting as “spokesperson of Malaysia.”
He also dismissed government insinuations that his family had been prodded by other parties to press the Sabah claim by sending followers to occupy a village in Lahad Datu town.
“I, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III pledges on our Holy Koran that this aspiration to fight for what is rightfully ours, legally and historically, is a unilateral act of the Sultanate of Sulu. This I pledge in the name of the Almighty Allah,” he said in a statement read by his daughter, Princess Jacel Kiram, at a press briefing in their Maharlika Village home in Taguig City.
Kiram also asked Justice Secretary de Lima not to “insult the sacrifice of the Sultanate of Sulu by saying ‘kaya kaming sulsulan’ (we can be prodded).”
De Lima has been ordered by Aquino to lead the investigation into possible violations of the Constitution by Kiram and his followers.
The princess also questioned what she called the government’s disinterest in supporting their claim to Sabah when it provides “diplomatic support” to overseas Filipino workers arrested or convicted of crimes abroad.
In his statement, the sultan pointed told that, “the claim to Sabah is an important issue. Please stop belittling the issue by calling it ‘foolhardy’.”
“Why are you calling it foolhardy?” he asked. “Is it foolhardy to defend the patrimony of your nation? Is it foolhardy to fight for what is right? Is it foolhardy to sacrifice the lives of 235 people for the sake of truth?”
On Wednesday, Kiram had also lashed out at Aquino for ordering an investigation into possible violations of the Constitution by the sultan and his followers soon after he had ordered the creation of a panel to study the Sabah claim.
“How can we trust them (government) in that case?” Kiram asked.
In his statement, Kiram said his family’s decision to “uphold the truth and fight for (our) right to claim North Borneo did not cause any threat to the government.”
He also asked if Roxas, in saying earlier that Malaysia had no intention in negotiating with the sultanate, “is … now the spokesperson of Malaysia.”
At this point, Princess Jacel broke off from reading and said the issue raised against Roxas “is much more important because it addresses national patrimony. Secretary Roxas, kaninong interes ba ang inyong pinagsisilbihan, interes ng mamamayang Pilipino o interes ng dayuhan (whose interests do you serve, the interests of the Filipino people or the interests of foreigners)?”
“Is it hard for the Philippines and Malaysia to sit down and talk to us and settle this amicably?” Kiram asked. “Why are we talking to media? Why are we expressing our views in the media? Is it (not) easier for … us to talk officially? It seems that there is fear to talk to us officially. Why?”
Responding to reporters’ questions after reading the statement, Princess Jacel explained that “there is no official ruler of the sultanate” as she appealed to those discussing the Sabah issue to “study their history because they don’t know what they are saying.”
When sought for reaction to the government’s request for Malaysia to extend its deadline for her father’s followers to leave Sabah, the princess replied: "Wala na akong masabi, lagi na lang may (I have nothing more to say, there is always a) deadline."