Sultan Kiram III declares unilateral ceasefire in Sabah. At a press conference in Taguig City on Thursday, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III (center) gets teary-eyed as he thanked the United Nations and the media for their support. The sultan declared a unilateral ceasefire in Sabah where at least 40 lives have been lost. He also ordered his followers to initiate evasive and defensive posture against Malaysian forces. Sherie Ann Torres
The daughter of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III on Friday said negotiations regarding the ownership of Sabah should be between their sultanate and Malaysia only, virtually excluding the Philippine government.
In an interview on GMA News’ “Unang Hirit,” Princess Jacel Kiram said the resolution authorizing the Philippine government to represent the sultanate in the territorial dispute has already “lapsed.”
“Nag-lapse na po ito. Nakalagay po ‘dun sa kasulatan na in 20 years time, kung wala pong nagawa ang gobyerno… may expiration ‘yung authority. So back to the Sultanate of Sulu na ulit,” she said.
The resolution — passed by the sultanate’s council of advisers during the time of Sultan Esmail Kiram I and the late President Diosdado Macapagal — effectively authorized the Philippine government to represent the sultanate in the dispute.
The resolution also stated that should the government fail to act on the claim on a given period, its authority will be revoked and the Sulu sultanate may retain their sovereign rights to prosecute their claim on Sabah.
“Ang isyu nga po dito is about Sabah, dapat talaga ang mag-usap rito ay Malaysian government at Sultanate of Sulu. Dahil po alam naman natin na ito ay pag-aari ng Sultanate of Sulu at nagbigay lang po ang sultanate ng authority sa Philippine government ‘nung time pa po ni Diosdado Macapagal at gayundin po ‘nung time ni Ferdinand Marcos,” she added.
Hataman meets with Jacel
In the same interview, acting Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Mujiv Hataman said he met up with the Kirams on February 18 and was told that the Sabah issue is now between Sulu and Malaysia.
“Sabi niya (Jacel), ang problema na ito ay problema ng sultanato at ng Malaysian government. Hindi problema ng Pilipinas,” Hataman said.
This did not sit well with Hataman, who criticized Kiram’s camp for accusing the government of inaction in the claim but insisting that the government no longer has the mandate to negotiate.
“Ang gusto ko rin sabihin kay Jacel, unang-una po parang pinalabas nila rito na walang pakialam ang Philippine government pero mismo sila ‘nung pumunta po ako, sinasabi nila sa akin na walang pakialam ang Pilipinas dito sa usapan na ito dahil ni-revoke na ng sultanato ang awtoridad ng Philippine government to represent the sultanate dito sa kaso na ito,” Hataman said.
But Jacel evaded the statement and instead accused the government of being Malaysia’s puppet.
“Nakita naman natin ‘dun sa mga statement na pinapalabas po ng administrasyon ni PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III) kung gaano po sila kawalang pakialam sa buhay na naroon ngayon sa Sabah. Ang nakikita po dito they’re protecting the interests of Malaysia at nakikita po natin dito, nababasa natin sa pahayagan our govenrment is just echoing what Malaysia wants at hindi po ang proteksyon natin,” she said.
She went on to say that Malaysia rejected the ceasefire that their camp called for on Tuesday because the Malaysian government is aware that the Philippines is not supportive of the sultanate’s claim.
“Alam naman po natin na ang gobyerno natin ay tuta na po ngayon ng Malaysia at sila po ang tagatahol ng kagustuhan ng Malaysia. That is very obvious,” Jacel said.
Hataman denied the allegations, saying the government wanted to negotiate with the Kirams to save lives of the Filipinos caught in the crossfire.
“Hindi po totoo ang allegations na pinabayaan dahil ako mismo, alam ni Jacel kung paano ako nakipag-usap sa kanila dahil nilinaw ko sa kanila ang interes ho ng pamahalaan rito at ni Pangulong Aquino, personal na pinasabi sa akin para sabihin sa kanila na ayaw niyang mayroong masakripisyo na buhay rito,” Hataman said.
The standoff in Sabah that erupted in bloodshed has claimed 52 lives of Filipinos as of last count. Kirams’ followers is claiming a territorial stake on the resource-rich part of the Borneo island on the basis of an ancient, historical agreement with the Brunei sultanate during the British colonization in Malaysia.
Jamalul Kiram III — Sulu’s famed sultan and son of crown prince Datu Punjungan Kiram — is only one of many other sultans claiming to be legitimate owners of Sabah. — Marc Jayson Cayabyab/KBK, GMA News