ZAMBOANGA CITY: The leader of the so-called Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Sunday called on the Philippine government not to ignore their claim on Malaysia’s Sabah island.
The Philippine government has downplayed threats made by the Royal Security Force of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo whose members have warned that violence may erupt in the southern region if President Benigno Aquino fails to support them reclaim Sabah, whose historical name was Borneo.
“Nananawagan kami sa pamahalaan na sana po gawin nila o hanapan na lang ng paraan ang isyu na ito at huwag naman nila ito isantabi. One year na kami sa giyera at naghihintay mula ng sumiklab ang gulo sa Sabah noon February 2013 at 2014 na ngayon ay wala pa rin action ang pamahalaan ukol dito sa Sabah claim [We are appealing to the government to do something or solve the issue and not put it aside. We have been in this war for one year and we have been waiting since the fighting in Sabah started in February 2013. It’s 2014 and up to now, the action from the government about our Sabah claim],” said General Panglima, who claims to be the leader of the Royal Security Force, in a statement.
“Binalewala nila ang aming isyu [sa Sabah]. Masakit man sa amin na pumanaw na ang mahal namin pinuno na si Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd at hindi rin sila nakinig. Kung gulo lang ang gusto nilang pag-usapan o pakinggan ng pamahalaan, kaya din namin gumawa ng malaking gulo o karahasan sa buong Mindanao kahit na minamaliit pa nila ang aming puwersa o grupo kaya nananawagan kami sa pamahalaan na tulungan kaming hanapan ng paraan ang isyu na ito. Magtulungan at magkaisa tayo at laban na ito para sa buong Pilipino, Kristiyano at Muslim ay magkapatid at iisang dugo [They ignored our issue on Sabah. We were hurt with the death of our beloved leader Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd and still they didn’t listen to us. If conflict is what the government wants to discuss or listen to, we can also create a huge conflict or violence all over Mindanao even if they are belittling our group, so we are calling on the government to find a solution to the issue. We should help each other and unite because this is a fight for all Filipinos, Christians and Muslims are brothers],” he added.
The threats came following the signing of the peace agreement between the Philippines and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front which Malaysia has brokered.
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte in an interview with TV5 said Sabah is not part of the envisioned core territories of the Bangsamoro entity under the newly signed Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB).
“I’m not quite sure if that’s representative of the sultanate as a group or as a whole,” Valte told the television network as she reiterated her call for everyone to read the annexes under the CAB which were put online, and also urged anew to give the peace pact a chance as there is “so much to gain and nothing to lose.”
“We’ve always advocated peaceful means to settle any dispute, whether it’s local or international,” Valte told TV5, adding that the government has already proven that it can be trusted when it comes to peace negotiations.
In February last year, the ailing Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd sent about 200 followers headed by his brother Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to Sabah to exert their claim and historical rights over the island, which is also being claimed by Malaysia.
Sultan Jamalul’s group rejected Malaysia’s demand for them to surrender peacefully and resulted to fighting in Lahad Datu town where more than 60 of the sultan’s men were killed. Over 300 Filipinos were also arrested on suspicion they were supporting or aiding the group of Raja Muda Agbimuddin.
Malaysia also placed Sultan Jamalul and his brother on its wanted list and branded them as terrorists for intruding into Sabah and killing and decapitating 10 policemen and soldiers in separate clashes on the island. Raja Muda Agbimuddin managed to escape the Malaysian assault in Sabah, while Sultan Jamalul died in October last year from a lingering illness at age 75.
General Panglima also said that Manila failed or refused to help sultanate members and Filipinos illegally detained in Sabah in connection to the fighting last year.
The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo claims to own Sabah, which it obtained from Brunei as a gift for helping put down a rebellion on the Borneo Island.
The British leased Sabah and transferred control over the territory to Malaysia after the end of World War II. But the Sulu Sultanate said it had merely leased North Borneo in 1878 to the British North Borneo Company for an annual payment of $5,000 Malayan ringgits, which was raised to $5,300 in 1903.
The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457 and is believed to exist as a sovereign nation for at least 442 years. It stretches from a part of the island of Mindanao in the east, to Sabah, in the west and south, and to Palawan, in the north. North Borneo was annexed by Malaysia in 1963 following a referendum organized by the Cobbold Commission in 1962, the people of Sabah voted overwhelmingly to join Malaysia.
Malaysia continued paying an annual stipend of $5,300 ringgits to the Sulu sultanate on the basis of the sultanate ceding the Borneo state.