TO reassert its territorial claim over Sabah, the sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo will be sending more fighters from Mindanao to the disputed territory, according to Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of the sultanate.
Idjirani said that a group of Bangsa Suluk volunteers are preparing to sail to Sabah and join the fight to regain the island from Malaysia.
He said the new volunteers will join the 1,600-strong Royal Security Forces (RSF) led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd.
The new fighter, Idjirani added, will come from Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and Zamboanga Peninsula.
“They will be going to Sabah because of the un-Islamic rounding up of innocent civilians by the Malaysian security forces. They are now driven by their belief that Malaysia does not own Sabah,” he said.
Idjirani said that these volunteers “feel that it is their patriotic duty to protect their countrymen there and to show the world that Sabah is their homeland.”
“Our leaders told us that these Bangsa Suluks have been itching to go to Sabah because they are angry at the Malaysians’ treatment of Filipino residents of Sabah,” he added.
Idjirani said some of the volunteers are armed, and many are battle tested.
However, he said they have no idea how many fighters will be going to Sabah.
“It has been our stance in Sabah to attack only when attacked. This is very clear to them. Sultan Kiram does not want any more bloodshed, and he is saying to use force only to defend themselves,” Idjirani said.
In March, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered an all-out military offensive to flush out the Sulu fighters, who were initially holed up in Lahad Datu town.
The standoff caused subsequent clashes that led to the deaths of 68 RSF men and 10 Malaysian policemen and soldiers.
At least 29 Filipinos, including Kiram’s nephew, are facing trial for terrorism-related charges filed against them before a Malaysian High Court for their alleged participation in the Sabah intrusion.