Misuari supports Sulu's royal army
MANILA – Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari has extended his support to the Filipinos who crossed to the Malaysian state of Sabah to claim the land.
Misuari said the claimants, some 400 people who have been holed up in the Malaysian territory since last week, are the rightful heirs to the land.
"May karapatan yan. Ang sulu, iyung Sultanate of Sulu ay may-ari ng North Borneo," said Misuari, also the former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
"Sila ang nagke-claim, ang legitimate na claimants is my family, my clan from my father's side. Ang importante ay somebody or a group representing the Bangsamoro people, the Tausugs, ay sila ay mag-claim ng ownership."
The southern Philippine-based Islamic sultanate once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, and its heirs have been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah.
Sultan Jamalul Kiram said he was prompted to send the group to Sabah after the sultanate was left out of a framework agreement sealed in October between Manila and Filipino Muslim rebels, which paves the way for an autonomous area in the southern Philippines that is home to the Muslim minority of the largely-Christian nation.
The sultanate's spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, later said the sultan's brother Raja Muda Abimuddin Kiram, who led the group to Sabah, had told him via telephone that the party was preparing to stay.
Misuari said Jamalul Kiram, in a summit held in Davao last October in response to the framework agreement, had declared his support to pursue their Sabah claim.
The peace deal, which was brokered by Malaysia, aims at establishing the "Bangsamoro" region. Misuari's group believes Malaysia backed the peace deal to prevent a renewed claim on Sabah.
Misuari explained that Sabah was given to his great grandfather Panglima Mahabassal Elidji by the sultan of Brunei Darussalam, which once owned the land.
The sultanate later leased Sabah to the British North Borneo Company, which then transferred the territory to Malaysia. – with Agence France-Presse