MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Sunday said the schedule of the Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah during his two-day visit to the country this week was “too tight” to accommodate a meeting with Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
“There is no obstruction by us. The schedule, for everybody’s information, was a product of coordination between the Philippine side and the Brunei side. The schedule is a bit full. I don’t see any opportunity for that (meeting between Kiram and Bolkiah),” said deputy press spokesperson Abigail Valte in an interview over dzRB radio.
Kiram wants an audience with Bolkiah to seek his help in finding a peaceful solution to the Sabah crisis. Clashes between the forces of the Sulu sultanate and Malaysian authorities on Sabah since February have left 70 people dead.
“The sultan of Brunei is in the best position to explain to the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations how the Sabah problem started. Anyway, it was the sultanate of Brunei which gave Sabah to the sultanate of Sulu as a gift,” said Abraham Idjirani, the sultanate’s secretary general.—Gil Cabacungan and Marlon Ramos