'My father was offered presidency in exchange for Sabah'

by Ira Pedrasa, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 10 2013 09:10 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2013 05:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines -- Princess Jacel Kiram said her father, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, was previously offered the presidency in exchange for giving up their claim over Sabah.

Dismissing claims of conspiracy and greed, she said the fight over Sabah is now all about principles as the death toll keeps on rising every day between the followers of Kiram and Malaysian troops – but mostly on the part of the royal army.

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s "Bottomline," the princess said “if this is all about money, I remember when my father was offered by someone [in the past], ‘boss, just sign this [cede Sabah] and you will be next president of the Philippines. My father said, ‘Pare, it’s too heavy, I can’t carry that.’”

Jacel said that when she learned of this incident, “I got goosebumps. My father is priceless. Ang sa kanya ay prinsipyo.”

Criticisms continue to dog the Kiram family amid reports that many among their ranks have died in the ongoing operations of Malaysia to ease them out of Sabah.

Kiram already announced an immediate ceasefire last week following calls by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. But Malaysian defense officials rejected the call and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said they won’t consider any request for a ceasefire for as long as the armed intruders refuse to leave.

“The issue here now is honor above life. What is life without honor,” she said, when asked if the royal army has done the right thing in claiming their proprietary and sovereign right over Sabah.

She said the fight is not only for the sultanate, but the whole Philippines. “We carry the whole sultanate, the whole country, the people.”

This is the reason why they felt insulted when they were called terrorists despite a subsequent denial from Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. The latter earlier said he was misquoted by Malaysian officials in calling the Filipinos in Sabah as “terrorists.”

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario tagged only as terroristic acts the “mutilation” and “desecration” of the bodies of the police forces. Whether or not these indeed happened would still need validation, he said.

“How can it be a terrorist act when there are only a few of the followers there,” Jacel said.

She lambasted anew the Aquino government for acting as the mouthpiece of Malaysia. She said if there is one to blame for putting the government in a bad light over the standoff there, it should be the government itself.

She insisted the Philippines owns Sabah, contrary to claims by Malaysia that the sultanate has already ceded control over it. “If we get Sabah, we can lay claim over $73 billion of its resources, not one Filipino will anymore experience poverty.”

She said this is also the reason why Malaysia is afraid of bringing the case to the United Nations. “In Islam, if you grab the land of another, when you eat the fruit of the land that is not yours [it is a sin]…Malaysia is a Muslim country, it should prove its being a Muslim.”