• Mindanao lawmakers afraid of pursuing Sabah claim – Sultanate


    THE Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Sunday claimed that some lawmakers from Mindanao are hesitant to help in its fight to regain Sabah because they fear that Malacañang might “hostage” their pork barrel.

    Abraham Idjirani, spokesman of the Sultanate, said that while many lawmakers from Mindanao are supportive of their claim, they could not publicly manifest it because of the fear that the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd might get back at them by holding the release of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), also known as pork barrel.

    “If they are identified with the Sultanate, there is a possibility that they will lose their pork barrel,” Idjirani told The Manila Times.

    Members of the House of Representatives are given P70 million, while senators receive P200 million every year as their PDAF.

    Idjirani expressed the Sultanate’s sentiments when asked if they are also considering seeking help from lawmakers from Mindanao since the Sabah claim issue also involves the Filipino Muslims in the region.

    “Iniisip natin ‘yan kinu-consider natin sapagkat nakakahiya naman sa mga [We consider that because it is not proper not to talk with] Mindanao congressmen at hindi natin sila kakausapin [and we opted not to talk to them anymore],” he added.

    But Idjirani said that some lawmakers from Mindanao do not want to be seen as sympathetic to the Sultanate since they fear the ire of Malacañang.

    “Ayaw muna nilang makialam dahil ayaw muna nilang ma-identify na sympathetic sa Sultanate [They do not want to get involved in the issue because they do not want to be identified as sympathetic to the Sultanate],” he added.

    In the case of senators from Mindanao, Idjirani said that they might not seek help from them since allies of Malacañang will dominate the Senate when the 16th Congress opens in July.

    “If we bring the issue before the Senate that is dominated by pro-administration senators, baka wala ring mangyayari [perhaps it would not be acted upon],” Idjirani added.

    The Sultanate has been criticizing President Aquino for his cold treatment of the Sabah issue, claiming that the president might be protecting the interest of his family who has investments in Malaysia.

    Idjirani said that only lawmakers from the leftist bloc in the House of Representatives assured them of raising the Sabah issue before the lower chamber.

    The Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan (Makabayan) earlier vowed to support the Sultanate’s efforts to regain Sabah from the Malaysian government.

    Makabayan, a coalition in the House, is comprised of eight party-list groups, namely: Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan, Courage, Migrante, ACT-Teachers, Katribu, Akap Bata, Piston, Kalikasan and Aking Bikolnon.

    Idjirani said that they are counting on the assurance made by the Makabayan coalition that the issue would be fully discussed during the 16th Congress.


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