New Sulu sultan vows to reclaim Sabah again if talks fail

By Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 21 2014 04:53 PM | Updated as of Jan 22 2014 12:53 AM

MANILA -- The newly-installed Sultan of Sulu Esmail Kiram II on Tuesday declared that their fight for ownership of North Borneo continues.

His spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, said they are not ruling out the possibility of sending their men to reclaim Sabah if diplomatic talks fail.

It was a year ago when hundreds of members of the Sultanate of Sulu, led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, was accused by Malaysia of invading North Borneo.

"As we pursue to recover possession of North Borneo, we are appealing to the United Nations to take the necessary preferential attentions for a peaceful resolution of the conflict to avoid further bloodshed," Kiram said.

The 34th Sultanate of Sulu also called on the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to help in the peaceful resolution in the claim over Sabah. He likewise urged President Benigno Aquino III to support their cause.

"In the pursuit of our historic rights and legal claims, we urge the Philippine government to support the Sultanate of Sulu in its claim over North Borneo by historic and moral obligations," he said.

The Sultanate has created what it calls an "organized legal panel" that will pursue cases in the International Court of Justice, and it also plans to file charges in the London Court since Britain was involved in the lease agreement in 1957.

Idjirani said that while Sultan Kiram's initial order was a peaceful settlement through dialogues and negotiations, if all diplomatic ways are rendered useless, some of their members might just do what Raja Muda did exactly a year ago.

"That is the possibility, if cessation of hostilities will not be resolved, iyon ang magiging resulta," Idjirani said.

The sultanate's political adviser, Almarim Centi Tillah, echoed what Idjirani said and warned the Philippine government against not paying attention to them. He said the government should pursue the Sabah claim similar to the way it pursues its claims over Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

"If this government deny us of our constitutional rights as citizens to be protected, we have the option to decide if we still want to be part of this country," he said.

Raja Muda and some of his men are still in Sabah, still alive and wandering around from place to place, according to Idjirani.

They are aware that Malaysia is cracking down on illegal aliens, and that hundreds of Filipinos mostly from the Sulu archipelago are in danger of either being jailed or deported.

"They are summarily rounded up and to be deported because of absence of legal document, they deserve the assistance and protection of the Philippine Government," Kiram said.

Palace says open to discuss Sabah claim

Meanwhile, the Palace said it is open to a call for a dialogue to discuss the Sabah claim.

"Ang atin pong posisyon diyan ay isang posisyon ng pagiging bukas sa dialogue at willingness to talk dahil sila naman po ay mamamayang Pilipino at habang ang kanilang sinusulong ay ayon sa batas, wala naman po tayong suliranin na makipag-ugnayan at makipagtalakayan sa sa kanila," Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma said.

Coloma also said the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia is ready to assist Filipinos needing assistance there. -- With report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News