MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has taken “full responsibility” for failing to attend to a letter that Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s brother had sent President Benigno Aquino III in 2010 to seek the Sulu sultanate’s participation in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
In a statement early Wednesday, the DFA bared that the “missing letter” of Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram had been found to be in the foreign office’s keep.
Kiram (the brother) is now at the lead of the Sulu group standing their ground in Sabah, Malaysia, where gunfights erupted last week as the Sultan’s followers refused to leave the district of Lahad Datu asserting ownership of the territory.
“On the issue of the missing letter written by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to the President days before the President took his oath in June 2010, that letter has been found with the DFA. The Secretary is taking full responsibility for the oversight,” said the DFA.
The statement did not elaborate on the content of the letter and how it got “lost in the bureaucratic maze,” as Aquino himself had said last week in explaining why the government had failed to respond to the sultanate’s letter.
In addressing Kiram on Feb. 26, Aquino said, “There was no intention to ignore your letter.”
The Kirams had said their group decided to pursue the Philippines’ claim to Sabah last month as they felt left out of the peace negotiations between the government and the MILF. The two sides had achieved strides last year, with the signing of a framework agreement for the establishment of a Bangsamoro juridical entity.
The DFA said the Kirams’ independent act in Sabah “should not affect the peace process with the MILF.”