A Philippine Navy ship patrols the sea near the port of Sulu province in southern Philippines yesterday, after tighter security was imposed in the area to prevent armed members from sending reinforcements to some Filipinos, who are cordoned off in a remote area of Sabah.
Manila Times/Zamboanga City
A supposed heir to the throne of the sultanate of Sulu province and north Borneo has called on the President Benigno Aquino government to peacefully pursue claims to Sabah, where hundreds of Filipino Muslims continue to defy orders from the Malaysian government to surrender.
He has also called on Malaysia not to harm the sultanate’s followers there.
Sultan Raja Mohamed Ghamar Mamay Hasan Abdurajak said Sabah rightfully belongs to the sultanate of Sulu and north Borneo.
He also said that those who were rounded up by Malaysian security forces are natives of the sultanate and should be accorded their rights to the oil-rich Malaysian state near the Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi.
“Malaysia should respect our rights, and Sabah continues to be part of the sultanate of Sulu and north Borneo. We are the owners of Sabah,” he said in an interview to Mindanao Examiner in Zamboanga City.
The sultan called on the Malaysian government not to harm some 600 Filipino Muslims now holed up in a village in Lahad Datu town.
His wife, Queen Maria Makiling Helen Fatima Nasaria Panolino Abdurajak, also made an appeal to the president to ensure the safety of those being held in Sabah.
She said that thousands of Muslims in Sabah are supporting the sultanate of Sulu and north Borneo in its claims to Sabah.
“The government and Congress should do something to reclaim Sabah. It appears that we have become foreigners in our own territory,” she said.
Sabah was a gift by Brunei to the sultanate of Sulu for helping crush a rebellion. But Sabah was leased by a British company to Malaysia that also pays the sultanate of Sulu some 6,300 ringgits.Meanwhile, Aquino’s relative, former governor Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco of Tarlac province, yesterday, denied reports that she and her husband, former rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco of Tarlac, provoked Sultan Jamalul Kiram of Sulu, to regain Sabah.
Reports said that the Cojuangco couple, along with Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari and former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, instigated Kiram to regain Sabah to bungle the administration’s peace efforts in Mindanao.
The report, citing highly reliable sources, also said that Aquino viewed the couple’s move as a way to sabotage his administration’s peace initiatives with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
But Cojuangco, who is a senatorial candidate running under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said that the report did not come from the president himself but from an anonymous source. She dared the source to come out in the open, otherwise, his allegations will remain “hearsay.”
“Who is that unknown source who is so coward he should come into the open],” she stressed.
Cojuangco said that it is unfair that she and her husband are being linked with the travel to Sabah of Kiram’s followers, denying that they had a hand in the incident.
She maintained that her relationship with the president remains intact amid the peace sabotage reports.
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