THE sultan of Sulu and North Borneo on Monday bared an alleged plan of the Philippine government to extradite sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd together with his family and supporters to Malaysia to face possible charges in connection with the bloody Sabah standoff.
In a press conference held at his home, Kiram appealed to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to help him and his family by not turning them over to the Malaysian government.
Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said the plan was relayed to them by an “insider within the government circle”, who was very sympathetic to the sultan’s stand on Sabah. For security reasons, however, he refused to divulge the identity of their source.
Idjirani likewise questioned President Aquino’s intention of pushing for the extradition of the sultan and his followers, since no extradition treaty exists between Malaysia and the Philippines. He added that one possible explanation for such decision is the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“The Aquino government believes that the sultan is a big blockade to the peace talks with MILF because of its claim over Sabah. He does not want to displease Malaysia, which acts as the facilitator of the peace talk,” Idjirani said.
The spokesman also stated that Aquino might just be protecting the interest and investments of his family in Sabah, citing Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco’s subsidiaries of US oil giant Exxon Mobil in Malaysia, which the business tycoon acquired in 2011.
On the other hand, Princess Jacel Kiram said the sultan is ready to face any charges, provided that these are anchored on a legal basis. The sultan also asked President Aquino to disclose the findings of the investigation committee.
Meanwhile, the Makabayan coalition in the House of Representatives vowed to support Kiram in his claim over Sabah. Makabayan president Satur Ocampo plans to take up the Sabah claim in Congress.
In February this year, Kiram and his men figured in an armed dispute over Sabah that left 68 Filipinos and 10 Malaysians dead.