By Ellen Tordesillas
Malacañang believes that the occupation of the seaside village of Lahad Datu in Sabah by Rajah Mudah Agbinuddin Kiram, brother of the Sultan of Sulu, and his followers is really meant to sabotage the peace talks that his administration is conducting with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Reports said Malacañang suspects the national security adviser of Gloria Arroyo, Norberto Gonzales, as behind the sabotage.
It is easily believable because Gonzales has deep network in Muslim Mindanao and is close to Nur Misuari, the leader of another disgruntled group , the Moro National Liberation Front.
Gonzales and Misuari’s partnership go back a long way to their special operations training days in Malaysia during the 1960’s.
When Misuari staged a rebellion in 2001. Gonzales was known to have exerted influence to allow the former governor of the Authonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao to be placed under house arrest. The case was eventually dismissed.
There are intelligence reports that Gonzales and his Jesuit priest friend have been meeting with some sectoral leaders and talking about “a revolutionary situation” under Aquino.
If Gonzales has a hand in the Sabah stand off, could Gloria Arroyo be far behind? Remember Jamalul Kiram III was in the senatorial ticket of the Arroyo administration in 2007?
If it’s true that the Sabah stand off is an act of sabotage, not only of the peace talks with the MILF, but to embarrass President Aquino who is riding high in popularity surveys, the instigators achieved their objective. Aquino fell into their trap.
Aquino’s statement, which betrayed his ignorance of the root of the Sabah issue, arrogance and immaturity only deepened the “sama ng loob” that Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III, his relatives and supporters have been harboring about Aquino.
Imagine telling the Sultan and his followers asserting their right over their property in the hands of Malaysia that it is a “hopeless cause.”
It has been a series of snubs for Kiram III starting with the spurning of his request for a meeting with Aquino made at the start of the administration in 2010. Aquino said the letter was lost in the “bureaucractic maze.”
The administration officials condescending attitude towards the Kiram III and his followers is also reflected in their comments. When told about Kiram III’s complaint that he was not given a good seat during the signing of the preliminary peace agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF in October last year, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda remarked that he, himself, had no seat.
Why, is he also a royalty like the Sultan? Why did he even have to insert himself into the picture?
Another official who should be told to think twice or thrice before he opens his mouth on this issue is Police Chief Alan Purisima.
Aquino wants those in the Sabah standoff to return home before he talks with Kiram III. This Purisima threatens to arrest those people. He said:“Kung may dala-dala silang armas na babalik din sa atin that is illegal possession of firearms and puwede silang arestuhin because the crime is being committed in the presence of the law enforcers.”
Kiram III made more sense with his reply, “Huhulihin pa kami at mga taong ibabalik.What kind of government is this?”
Oo nga naman, bakit sila uuwi ay huhulihin pala sila.