Sabah Our Home – Kiram

MANILA (AFP) - Followers of a Philippine sultan who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah this month will not leave and are reclaiming the area as their ancestral territory, the sultan said Sunday amid a tense standoff.

Sultan Jamalul Kiram said his followers - some 400 people including 20 gunmen - were resolute in staying despite being cornered by security forces, with the Kuala Lumpur government insisting the group return to the Philippines.

"Why should we leave our own home? In fact they (the Malaysians) are paying rent (to us)," he told reporters in Manila.

"Our followers will stay in (the Sabah town of) Lahad Datu. Nobody will be sent to the Philippines. Sabah is our home," he said.

The sultan did not directly threaten violence but said "there will be no turning back for us."

Despite Kiram's pronouncement, Malacañang has no urgent plans to revive the country's decades-old claim over Sabah as it remained hopeful for a "peaceful ending" to the situation involving a group of Filipinos in the disputed territory in Malaysia.

Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte acknowledged that the country has a standing ownership claim over Sabah but the government will leave the issue "dormant" for the meantime.

"From what I understand, the claim is there and it hasn't moved for quite some time. I also remember that the President did make mention of it - that it's been dormant. Let's leave it at that for the moment," Valte said.

She explained that it was former President Diosdado Macapagal who made the formal claim on Sabah but she is unaware why previous governments did not push the claim. "At least for this particular administration, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) will really be in a better position to explain to you how the claim has come to be and what the status is at the moment," she said.

Valte was reacting to calls by some groups asking the President Aquino to actively pursue the country's ownership of Sabah following the standoff between Malaysian forces and a group of armed Filipinos to press their claim on the island.

Malaysian officials have said that many of the (Sultan's) group have weapons, but Kiram insisted his followers made the trip unarmed.

"If they have arms, they were already in Sabah," the sultan said.

The southern Philippine-based Islamic sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, and its heirs have been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah.

Kiram said he was prompted to send the group to Sabah after the sultanate was left out of a framework agreement sealed in October between Manila and Filipino Muslim rebels, which paves the way for an autonomous area in the southern Philippines that is home to the Muslim minority of the largely-Christian nation.

The sultanate's spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, later said the sultan's brother Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, who led the group to Sabah, had told him via telephone that the party was preparing to stay.

"The objective is to reside now in that place permanently, considering the sultanate owns Sabah by rights of sovereignty," he told AFP.

Idjirani said there were about 400 followers of the sultanate in the area, including about 20 who were armed.

On Thursday Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the number at between 80 to 100 gunmen.

Idjirani said the group would not instigate violence but would resist if provoked.

"We recognize the capability of Malaysia. We don't have the arms and capacity but we have the historical truth," he said, adding that the group's "fate is to see the recognition they are entitled to... or they die defending their ancestral rights."

Idjirani said President Benigno Aquino's senior aides had been in contact with the sultan and were willing to deliver a letter to the Malaysian government on his behalf for negotiations.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan II said the Philippines should tread carefully in dealing with Malaysian authorities in resolving the standoff in Sabah and ensure it will not affect the government's ongoing peace process and framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Honasan said it is important that the Philippine government is not misinterpreted by the Malaysian government lest the issue regarding the territorial claim of the Sultanate of Sulu affect its bilateral relations with Malaysia and neighboring Asian countries as well.

But Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita Q. Deles assured that the ongoing stand-off has no effect on the ongoing peace talks between the MILF. (With reports from Genalyn D. Kabiling, Hannah L. Torregoza, and Francis T. Wakefield)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US renews travel warning to Mindanao
    US renews travel warning to Mindanao

    The US State Department renewed its warning about the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu archipelago, certain regions and cities of Mindanao and the southern Sulu Sea area. In an update on Wednesday of a travel warning it issued Nov. 20, 2014, the State Department said US citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu archipelago due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there. …

  • Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda
    Phl gains support for APEC Action Agenda

    The Philippine initiative to put the interests of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) front and center in global and regional trade has made significant progress following the conclusion on Thursday of the 2nd APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) and Related Meetings in Boracay, Aklan. Called “The Boracay Action Agenda to Globalize MSMEs,” the Philippine proposal calls for a host of specific, concrete and practical interventions that APEC economies can implement to provide MSMEs wider …

  • Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week
    Phl to join Bangkok meet on Rohingya crisis next week

    The Philippines will join a 15-nation meeting in Bangkok, Thailand next week to address the migration crisis involving thousands of Rohingyas who escaped persecution in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima bared this yesterday after meeting with United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) representative to the Philippines Bernard Kerblat. In an interview, De Lima said the Philippine government has been invited to the meeting. …

  • Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon
    Magnitude 4.2 quake jolts Sorsogon

    LEGAZPI CITY—A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit Prieto Diaz town in Sorsogon before dawn yesterday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. …

  • Drought-resistant rice breeds bared
    Drought-resistant rice breeds bared

    SCIENCE CITY OF MUÑOZ, Nueva Ecija – Amid the searing heat, the Philippine Rice Research Institute central experiment station here has identified nine rice breeds which have been proven to be drought-resistant and produce high yields in temperatures as high as 38°C based on a recent study. Thelma Padolina, lead researcher of the study titled “Screening of rice-induced mutants for heat and drought tolerance,” identified the breeding lines as the Ballatinaw lines, PSB Rc72H and Azucena lines. …

  • Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning
    Phl, US assert rights, ignore China warning

    The United States military will continue air and sea patrols in international waters even after the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a US surveillance plane to leave the airspace over artificial islands China is creating in the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine government also declared it would continue activities in the region, calling on China to respect freedom of navigation and aviation. “Our position on the importance of letting freedom of navigation, freedom of aviation and …

  • MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned
    MM shutdown eyed for quake drill; 6 schools warned

    Electricity and mobile phone services would be cut throughout Metro Manila, and all private and government offices and businesses, including shopping malls, would be closed. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that an earthquake of that magnitude could occur and kill at least 33,500 people and injure at least 113,600 others following a movement in the West Valley Fault. The West Valley Fault has moved four times in the past 1,400 years at an interval …

  • Subaru XV now priced among sedans
    Subaru XV now priced among sedans

    Motor Image Philipinas (MIP), the authorized distributor of Subaru in the country, has positioned its brand new crossover SUV, the Subaru XV, well within the sedan segment’s price range. This move, according to MIP, was made to give the public an opportunity to experience the brand’s unique automotive technologies by lowering its price. Buyers of […] The post Subaru XV now priced among sedans appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options