PH navy ships near Sabah as deadline for ‘Sulu army’ to leave looms


A Philippine Navy ship patrols the Sulu Sea . EPA

LAHAD DATU, Sabah—The Philippines sent six navy ships and an aircraft to the seas of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi as deadline for the Sultanate of Sulu’s “royal army” to leave Sabah looms, officials said.

The ships from the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard were patrolling the waters less than half an hour by speed boat from the seaside village of Tandau in Sabah, where the Sulu group of royal followers has been in a standoff with Malaysian authorities since February 9, Philippines Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commodore Gregory Fabic said Friday.

“We are conducting maritime security patrol. We were given instruction to do this to prevent the movement of people [to and from Sabah],” Fabic told Radyo Inquirer 990 AM.

“This is also to prevent the escalation of the Sabah issue,” he said.

Aside from six naval vessels and a Philippine Navy Islander aircraft, ships from the Philippine Coast Guard were also sent to the area as the country intensified its watch on the Sulu Sea amid a Friday deadline imposed by Malaysia for the Sulu group to leave the area.

Fabic said that the naval vessels would not dock in Sabah but were there only to help make the situation stabilize.

He said there were no instructions given for the evacuation of the Sulu group of about 100 men led by Raja Muda Azzimudie Kiram, the brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.

“We are hoping that this will be resolved peacefully. If they are retreating, we are not there to help them because we need instructions if they can be picked up,” Fabic was quoted as saying.

“If there are conflicts, we cannot help them. We will (only go there) if it is resolved peacefully and are given instructions to repatriate them,” he added.

The Malaysian security forces, who have thrown a tight land and sea cordon around the group, are reportedly in a position to deport the group anytime but are holding back pending efforts to resolve the standoff through negotiations without bloodshed.

Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino reportedly said in Manila that the Sulu gunmen, whose action has revived discussions in the Philippines on the dormant Sabah claim, should give up peacefully.

“Going there with arms is not the way to resolve this. When you brandish arms naturally the other side has only one way to respond to such a challenge,” Aquino was quoted as saying in his first public comment on the incident.

Aquino also said that his government had been talking to all parties, including the Sultan’s family, to find a peaceful solution.

Philippine Foreign secretary Albert del Rosario said in a separate statement that Aquino had ordered government authorities “to do everything” possible to try and urge them to peacefully withdraw and to do this as quickly as possible.

The Islamic Sultanate of Sulu once controlled parts of Borneo, including the site of the stand-off, as well as southern Philippine islands.

The sultanate leased northern Borneo to Europeans in the 1870s. While the sultanate’s authority gradually faded as Western colonial powers exerted their influence over the region, it continued to receive lease payments for Sabah.

Heirs to the sultanate still receive nominal yearly compensation from Malaysia under a long-standing agreement. One of the demands from the gunmen is more compensation.

Estimates of the number of the armed men has varied. Last week, Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein put the number at between 80 to 100 gunmen.

But the sultan’s spokesman, Abraham Idjirani, said in Manila there were about 400 members of the group, including 20 with arms.

Idjirani said the sultan, Jamalul Kiram, who lives in a Manila suburb, gave the men the authority to reside in Sabah and they were determined to resist efforts to expel them.

The sultan’s men in Sabah were instructed not to fire first, Idjirani added.

“But if the Malaysian military will attack us, we will be left with no choice but to defend ourselves,” he quoted Kiram as saying. Tetch Torres-Tupas, with Agence France-Presse

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • lex

    Ikaw, matapang ka? Anung gusto mo GIYERA agad? May nananalo ba sa giyera? Ang buhay na nawala, di na maibabalik kaya walang nananalo sa war. Ayaw nyo pa tanggapin, magaling lang kayong magsalita.
    Puede basta ikaw ang ibabala sa kanyon.

  • lex

    Ikaw, matapang ka? Anung gusto mo GIYERA agad? May nananalo ba sa giyera? Ang buhay na nawala, di na maibabalik kaya walang nananalo sa war. Ayaw nyo pa tanggapin, magaling lang kayong magsalita.Puede basta ikaw ang ibabala sa kanyon.

  • lex

    Ikaw, matapang ka? Anung gusto mo GIYERA agad? May nananalo ba sa giyera? Ang buhay na nawala, di na maibabalik kaya walang nananalo sa war. Ayaw nyo pa tanggapin, magaling lang kayong magsalita.Puede basta ikaw ang ibabala sa kanyon.

  • Klepto

    Hindi yan nagpapatrol. Nagbebenta yan ng supply na krudo sa mga gas stations sa Jolo.

    • Mamang Pulis

      nadale mo!! jajaja—‘sabah red’

  • Shooting Star

    when these pirates enter kg tanduo illegally the malaysian army didnt arrest them to prevent bloodshed… instead, they’re trying to negotiate with u guys want to know want they want? 1. the malaysia must recognized them as the sultan sulu royal army 2. send all the sulu ppl bck to pinoy.. but we ignored it n now they wont leave until they claim sabah? are these ppl rlly the follower of the REAL sultan sulu? i mean is the one who lead them is the real sultan sulu? if yes, then y try to invade? these ppl doesnt even have proper document -_-

  • BatangSingapore

    kapag filipino sinusupil, pero yun mga chinese sa scarborough.  tulad na rin ito ng sige.. kayong mga intsik pasukin nyo ang pilipinas at limasin ang yaman nila.  pero mga kapatid natin muslim ay binabantayan para hindi makapunta ng sabah.  kortisiya yan ng abnoy ninyong presidente.  kaawa awang mga filipino.

  • Platypus09

    These people would vanish if attacked by Malaysian authorities for one thing. They should think about this.

    The Malaysian authorities still has the jurisdiction over this place as part of the lease agreements. They can still be removed or evicted technically. They need to go back to Sulu asap.

    The Philippine government should bring them peacefully. They are encroaching other people’s territory until all the lease contract terms were consummated.

  • Petwil

    Don’t leave the place even if the Malaysians will attack you or else all your noble efforts will go back to zero.. Live up to your warrior tradition of honor. You already accomplished what this government had not for 50 years. Keep focused on what you are fighting for. Don’t be swayed by what others said. Enough of your submissiveness it had been abuse to the max and  now is the time to move aggressively. It is your land and you have all the rights to defend and keep it. Dying is not what counts, what counts most is that you die for what you are fighting for. You are now a living hero, dying will bring you to martyrdom..

  • Rodolfo

    If the land is on lease to the Malaysian Government, then the Sultan of Sulu is trespassing regardless if he is the owner.However, when the agreement( lease ) expires, the Sultan has every right to claim it back. I believe it’s unlawful to take something back when the lease still on going and it’s not on default !

    • Handiong

      Unfortunately, there is no expiration. The Sultanate of Sulu version of the agreement states: “…do hereby lease of our own freewill and satisfaction to…all the territories and lands being tributary to [us] together with their heirs, associates, successors and assigns forever and until the end of time…” Until the end of time.

  • Komen To

    The lease contract, if it exists, shall tell a lot. In addition to this contract, the agreement signed and agreed by Spain, US and Britain will also help us understand. Without all these, everything seem like a myth

    • Mandul Nusalalung

      GRANT BY THE SULTAN OF SULU OF A PERMANENT LEASE COVERING HIS LAND AND TERRITORIES ON THE ISLAND OF BORNEO DATED JANUARY 22, 1878. hope that can help.. actually copy of that grant circulated in Malaysian facebook 

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks




latest videos