MANILA, Philippines - Financial supporters of the sultanate of Sulu involved in its foray in Sabah are undergoing investigation, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Wednesday.
She said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is confirming the identity of people who may have convinced Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to order his "royal army" to pursue their their claim on Sabah.
Criminal cases will be filed against the personalities behind the Sabah incident, de Lima warned.
"We are including everyone in the investigation - the principal, accomplices and accessories," she said.
"The President can't help but suspect that there might be other groups or personalities behind this adventure made by the group," de Lime revealed.
Kiram allegedly met with some political personalities before the standoff in Sabah between his men and Malaysian security forces.
Kiram and his brother, Datu Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, and their supporters could be charged with violating Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code, the DOJ chief said.
"By their unlawful and unauthorized acts, these groups are provoking or giving occasion for a war and exposing our citizens to reprisals," she said.
Being found guilty of the charges could mean imprisonment of up to 12 years.
"By doing so they are putting at risk the lives and safety of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens in Sabah and jeopardizing the good relations that our country has with Malaysia," de Lima said.
She said no arrest warrant has been issued yet against people involved in the incident.
De Lima added that President Benigno Aquino is not abandoning the Philippines' claim on Sabah.
"The administration has not made yet a definitive stand at this point on the claim of the sultanate. As we all know this claim has been considered dormant because that has not been seriously pursued in the past. But the President's appeal doesn't mean we are already
relinquishing or abandoning such claim," she said.