Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) founding chairman Nur Misuari on Tuesday lambasted President Aquino for his alleged mishandling of the Sabah conflict and warned any attempt to arrest Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III would plunge the country in “total chaos.”
President Aquino in a TV address on Monday spoke about the alleged involvement of former officials in the previous Arroyo administration in the Sabah conflict.
He said he had no evidence yet of this conspiracy and did not give details but news reports have tagged Misuari among the conspirators, along with former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and several others.
Gonzales denied the reports.
“Does he feel guilty? The President never mentioned anybody. He said that ‘I will not name names until I have sufficient evidence,’” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters.
Lacierda said that Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was looking into the role of the personalities in the standoff, and would determine what charges to file against the players and conspirators.
Siding with enemy
“What he has done is very bad. It is unbecoming of a head of state, to be siding with the enemy of his own people,” Misuari told reporters at the house of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Taguig City. He arrived as Princess Jacel Kiram, the sultan’s daughter, was wrapping up a press conference.
“And for what reason is he (Aquino) aligning this country with Malaysia, a colonial power occupying the land of our people? I am against that, totally against that with all my soul. I hope the President will be properly advised. I hope he will recant. Otherwise we won’t forgive him,” Misuari said.
“And there is an attempt even to arrest the sultan, I understand. Let them do that. The country will be in total chaos if they do, I promise you.”
Misuari also belied allegations that he “inspired” the Sulu sultanate to sail to Sabah and renew the claim over Sabah, which he described as “our homeland.”
He recalled that he used to cross the seas to go to Sabah as a young man without a passport “because it is our homeland.”
Misuari said that he could not have “inspired” the sultanate to reclaim Sabah now with only some 200 men because “that is not my way of doing things.”
He said that when the MNLF decided to resolve the problem about the Abu Sayyaf’s kidnap-for-ransom trade, around 4,000 MNLF fighters were deployed to face the terrorist group.
Misuari said that he had warned Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that fighting the sultan’s men “would be tantamount to war.”
Nonetheless, Misuari said he still wanted a peaceful end to the conflict. He said he was willing to send his grandnephew who lived in Malaysia and was a relative of Najib to dialogue with the prime minister if the Malaysian leader allows it.
No impeachable offense
Lacierda also challenged former Sen. Richard Gordon to cite the specific law violated by the President that could qualify as an impeachable offense in the handling of the Sabah crisis.
Gordon said that Aquino may be courting impeachment for violating Republic Act No. 5446, the old baselines law, which he said stated that Sabah was part of Philippine territory.
Lacierda reminded Gordon that RA 5446 had been repealed by RA 9522.
“There was a baselines law that was enacted in the time of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And it repealed Section 2 where the demarcations of Sabah were removed. So, I don’t know where Senator Gordon is getting his legal knowledge but the law that he is invoking has already been repealed by the new baselines law,” he said.
The new baselines law did not repeal the claim to Sabah, he added, suggesting that Gordon “update” his research.
“And let me also educate you further. The constitutionality of the new baselines law was questioned before the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court answered in very categorical terms. The new baselines law did not repeal the claim to Sabah,” he said.