SAYING that it is not a welcome development, the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo on Tuesday rejected the government’s suggested option to work out a higher compensation from Malaysia for the “rent” of the disputed Sabah.
Sultanate’s Spokesperson and Secretary General Abraham Idjirani castigated President Benigno Aquino 3rd for flaunting such proposal saying that they were never consulted about the issue.
“The President’s statement that there were four options to address the Sabah issue only firmed up the validity of the Sulu Sultanate’s territorial claim. But he should have instead invited the participation of the sultanate,” he said.
Aquino on Monday said the government is still studying the Sulu Sultanate’s territorial claim over Sabah and one of the options being mulled to peacefully settle the dispute is to seek a higher rent from Malaysia.
The President even described such option as the “most realistic” among the three other alternatives.
But Idjirani said the sultanate would not grab such option being eyed by Malacañang saying that money was never an issue.
“Even if a person is hungry, he will not take anything spoon-fed to him, because he is not sure it is not poisoned,” Idjirani said in Filipino describing the compensation setup.
Idjirani said the Philippine government should have worked out a mechanism wherein sultanate officials were properly consulted in the supposed inter-agency study on the Sabah issue.
He expressed suspicion that the Malaysian government, which brokers the MILF peace agreement, has a hand on the matter.
He further said they have to fulfill the last decree of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd to continue the fight to regain Sabah from the Malaysian government.
The sultanate is claiming that Sabah was only leased to Malaysia as provided under the 1878 agreement with a British firm.
In fact, Idjirani said, Malaysia still pays the sultanate 5,300 ringgit (P77,000) a month in supposed rent.
Malaysia, however, views the 1878 pact as a cession and that Sabah residents had voted to be part of Malaysia when it gained independence in 1963.
At least 68 followers of the sultanate were killed in clashes with the Malaysian security forces on March after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered a military offensive to flush out Kiram’s men who sailed to the territory to regain the disputed territory.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO