Fight back, sultan orders 'royal army'

by Jay Ruiz and Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2013 07:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2013 06:04 AM

MANILA - Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III lifted on Monday his earlier declaration of a ceasefire against Malaysian security forces, his spokesman said.

Abraham Idjirani said the order means that armed members of the sultan's "royal army" will fight back if attacked by Malaysian forces. 

The sultan's order was prompted by the death of another follower of the sultan Sunday, Idjirani said.

He, however, said the earlier ceasefire declaration remains, in accordance with the United Nations' plea for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. 

Idjirani also reiterated their call for a peaceful resolution to the Sabah crisis, saying that they have always been open to a peaceful dialogue similar to the call of President Benigno Aquino over the weekend. 

He, however, criticized the Aquino administration's decision to file cases against the sultan's supporters. 

Idjirani said if peaceful dialogue is pursued, there should be no conditions set on the sultan's followers in withdrawing from Sabah. 

He reiterated that the sultan has been open to dialogue from the beginning. 

He said any road map in resolving the Sabah issue should include the sultan and his followers. 

Idjirani also urged the Malaysian government to allow a neutral agency like the UN or the Red Cross to conduct autopsy examinates on the bodies of the people killed in Sabah.

Hataman: Raja Muda wanted government help

Meanwhile, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman on Monday said the sultan's brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, contacted him as early as March 1 or 2 and asked the Philippine government to help him flee Sabah.

"At that time gusto niyang magpakuha. Pero sigurado ko sasabihin ng taga-Taguig dito na hindi totoo. Pero sasabihin ko from (March) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, at kami ni (Tawi-Tawi) Governor Sadikul (Sakali), si Sultan Ismael, nakausap namin mismo si Agbimuddin, at that time nagpapakuha na," said Hataman, who was appointed as the President's emissary to speak with the Kirams.

Hataman, however, said he does not know the current whereabouts of Agbimuddin but pointed out that Malaysian authorities have reportedly said that there are no more "royal army" forces in the conflict area.