Kiram ready to face charges over Sabah incursion
MANILA, Philippines—Bring it on.
A defiant Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III maintained on Wednesday that he did not violate the country’s laws when his brother Agbimuddin Kiram and 235 of their followers occupied the coastal town of Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia.
Speaking through his spokesman Abraham Idjirani, the leader of the sultanate of Sulu reiterated that he and his followers would face the charges that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has reportedly recommended against them.
“We will face the cases for the love of our homeland. If we abandon our responsibility, then our fight for historical and legal truths will be put to waste,” Idjirani told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“The sultan said if President Aquino considers that love for our ancestral land and homeland is not an act of patriotism and nationalism, then clearly the Philippine government is siding with the Malaysian government,” he added.
Idjirani said the sultanate would issue an official statement as soon as they receive a copy of the supposed NBI recommendation, noting that even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has been “mum” on the matter.
But he brushed off allegations that Kiram was involved in a conspiracy to occupy Sabah when members of the “royal security forces” sailed to the coastal town of Lahad Datu on Feb. 12.
“If ever the accusation of conspiracy would prosper in court, that would be concocted. Even members of the media who covered the Sabah standoff did not see any evidence of conspiracy,” Idjirani said.
“We maintain that the main objective of (the sultanate’s followers) was to live in peace and permanently in their homeland… and to show the whole world that the sultanate of Sulu has not abandoned its ownership rights over Sabah.”
Reports said the NBI had recommended the filing of cases of inciting to war against Kiram and 38 of his armed followers who were intercepted by Philippine authorities off the Sulu sea while they were returning from Sabah.
The NBI purportedly found enough evidence to charge Kiram’s followers with illegal possession of firearms and violation of the election gun ban.
Idjirani, the sultanate’s secretary general, said he was able to contact Agbimuddin over the phone. He said Kiram’s brother told him that he had no plans of leaving Sabah.
From 166 in April, he claimed the sultanate’s “royal security forces” and “volunteer fighters” who had launched “guerilla warfare” against Malaysian forces in the hinterlands of Lahad Datu had increased to some 1,600.