Or we'll be forced to protect our people, says MNLF leader
MANILA - Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Nur Misuari on Tuesday warned Malaysian authorities against killing the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Sabah as doing so would be tantamount to a declaration of war against the Tausugs and the former separatist group.
Speaking to reporters, Misuari advised Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak against killing the sultan's brother, Crown Prince Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and his men engaged in a battle with Malaysian security forces in Sabah.
"Once you do that, that will be tantamount to declaration of war against our people and the Moro National Liberation Front. It is our sacred duty to protect our people," he said.
"Every drop of their blood is sacred to us," Misuari added.
The MNLF founding leader, who signed a peace agreement with the Ramos government in 1997, also rejected as "wild speculation" any insinuation that he was behind the moves taken by the followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Sabah.
Speaking to reporters, Misuari said it is irresponsible to link him to an alleged conspiracy to finance the venture of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and his men to press the sultanate's claim over Sabah.
"These are all wild speculations. In the first place I have not implored anyone to make this venture. I cannot, you know, preempt the role of the sultan," he told reporters.
"To finance is out of the question ,of course. If indeed, I am that well off, why should I finance the adventure of the sultan's men? Only about 200 people, like that. That's not my way of doing things," he added.
Misuari said that as leader of the MNLF, he was able to mobilize 4,000 fighters in the hunt for the bandit Abu Sayyaf who held hostage several foreigners in Mindanao.
He said he deployed a larger force during the Sipadan hostage-taking incident in April 2000 after being tapped by then President Joseph Estrada.
"So, for anyone to speculate that I have anything to do with this is a kind of madness. It is very irresponsible for anybody to implicate me in this," he said.
On the other hand, the MNLF leader said he is very much concerned about the fate of Raja Muda Kiram and his men after they were reportedly bombed by Malaysian fighter jets Tuesday morning.
President Aquino on Tuesday said there are definite signs of a conspiracy in the move of Kiram III and his followers to use force to press their claim over Sabah, Malaysia.
"Mulat tayo na may mga taong nagkutsabahan upang humantong tayo sa sitwasyong ito, isang sitwasyon na walang agarang solusyon. Ilan po sa kanila ay nakikita natin habang ang iba naman ay nagkukubli naman sa dilim," he said.
"Sa mga taong nasa likod nito, ngayon pa lang sinasabi ko sa inyo, hindi kayo magtatagumpay. Pananagutin natin ang nagkasala sa bansa," he added.
Aquino said all the individuals pushing for the Kiram claim were mouthing the same lines over and over again. He also noted the Kirams would have had to spend at least P100,000 to hire a large boat to bring their forces to Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia.
Aquino said the Kiram family used 2 large boats and a speedboat to bring their men to Sabah.
He indicated that the Kirams could not have financed the operation, noting that Kiram III is receiving financial support from the government through the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for his regular dialysis.
"Funds and the food, the money that was left behind, yung mga concerted, seemingly concerted criticisms all point to a conspiracy," he said.