The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo is turning its back on the declaration of independence by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founder Nur Misuari.
Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said Sunday Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd was not consulted when Misuari declared independence for Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu, and North Borneo, which is now called Sabah.
“That was his (Misuari) prerogative. But as far as Sabah is concerned, we are not in favor of that,” Idjirani said.
He said they had long heard reports of Misuari’s plan to declare independence and get recruits to strengthen MNLF’s forces.
“Sultan Kiram’s instruction to our men on the ground is not to entertain such reports and not take part in any undertaking not authorized by the sultanate and the council,” he said.
He said the sultanate will not support Misuari should he declare war on the government, even if they are against the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement signed by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“We are committed to peaceful resolution of any conflict and besides, we still comply with the 1963 Manila Accord,” he added.
Idjirani was referring to the agreement signed by the Philippines, Indonesia, then Federation of Malaya and the Sulu Sultanate in July 31, 1963.
Misuari said he has established the “Bangsamoro Republik,” because the Philippines’ signing of the Bangsamoro peact pact technically scrapped the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF.
Misuari named himself commander-in-chief of the Bangsamoro Armed Forces (BAF) in a move the Aquino administration said could jeopardize the MILF peace process.
But Idjirani pointed out that Sabah is historically and legally owned by the Sulu Sultanate as well as the Sulu archipelago that included Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan and Zamboanga Peninsula.
The sultanate, he said, had even declared independence from the Philippine government in 2004 when it filed a resolution before the United Nations (UN).
He said that in 1989, the sultanate withdrew the authority it gave to the Philippine government to negotiate with Malaysia the sultanate’s long-standing claim over Sabah.
However, the resolution was not acted upon by the UN because the sultanate is not recognized as a sovereign state, Idjirani said.
Misuari expressed support for the Sulu Sultanate during the March standoff in Sabah where the sultanate’s supporters battled Malaysian armed forces for control of the disputed territory.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO