The Sultanate of Sulu accused Malaysia of having planted “the seeds of Mindanao conflict” by aiding Moro rebels since 1970 as part of its supposed attempt to weaken the Philippines’ claim over Sabah.
The Sulu Sultanate claims to be the real owner of Sabah which Malaysia considers as a member of its federation of states.
Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, said that Kuala Lumpur is responsible for training the so-called “Batch 90” composed of Filipino Muslim fighters that eventually became the founders of the Moro National Liberation front (MNLF).
“The Mindanao conflict started in 1972 on the belief of liberating the Muslims, who started to call themselves Bangsamoro, from political, economic and cultural bondages but it was aimed at protecting Malaysia’s illegal administration of Sabah,” he added.
However, Idjirani said that tribal differences among MNLF leaders led to split of the Group — that led to the organization of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Idjirani said that the Sultanate of Sulu, led by Sultan Esmael Kiram II, continues to hold sovereign authority over Sabah as Malaysia only inherited rights from Great Britain in 1963.
“Malaysia’s continued payment in the small amount for a territory of 30,000 square miles is hiding the truth in the comfort of its citizens always creating a political scenario to prevent the Philippine government and the Sultan of Sulu in working closely to strengthen the Philippine position to repossess Sabah,” Idjirani told The Tribune.
Idjirani said that the Sultanate of Sulu and the administrations of President Diosdado Macapagal and President Ferdinand Marcos have worked closely to re-claim Sabah until the eruption of the supposed “Jabidah Massacre” in 1968.
The late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. branded the “Jabidah massacre” as a hoax, citing his own investigation that discovered 24 of the supposed victims came out alive in Sulu.
Idjirani said the Jabidah fiasco opened up the gate for Malaysia to indirectly intervene in affairs of the Muslims in the Philippines. It began with Malaysia’s giving the Muslim Filipino patriots in 1969 to take up their training in Pangkor Island, Johor, Malaysia.
“The training of Muslim Filipino patriots known as the Batch 90 planted the seed of what blossomed into a MNLF in the Malaysian soil and elected Prof. Nurullaji Misuari as its founding chairman with a mission to secede Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan from the Republic of the Philippines,” said Idjirani.
“Affected by strong sense of tribal and cultural influence, internal power struggle came to divide the MNLF as the core of Muslim revolutionary front, Muslims of mainland Mindanao headed by Ustadz Hashim Salamat formed the MILF as a separate Muslim revolutionary group in 1976,” said Idjirani.
Meanwhile, Idjirani said that the Sultanate of Sulu is thankful that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) clarified that the country’s claim over Sabah remains.
The DFA also cited that Malaysia is paying rent to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu up to now despite reported dismissal of Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman of the Philippine claims over Sabah.
“Sultan Esmael Kiram II appreciated very much the DFA stand to tell the truth the Malaysian foreign minister that Malaysia is paying the rent to the Sultan of Sulu. The DFA’s position confirmed that what Great Britain transferred to Malaysia in 1963 was lease rights delegated in 1878 to the British North Borneo Company by the Sultan of Sulu in whom sovereignty remained vested,” said Idjirani.
The MILF, meanwhile, told a Davao City publication that it is willing to accept amendments to the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) only as far as the changes are done “for improvement and enhancement.”
“For improvement and enhancement, yes we could accept it. They have to remember that BBL is based on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro,” Davao Today quoted MILF Chief Peace Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal as saying.
Iqbal said “diluting the BBL would not address the Moro insurgency in Mindanao.” Iqbal said the provisions contained in the proposed BBL were the “aspirations of the Bangsamoro people for a just and lasting peace.”
“We trust the Congress that a BBL that could enable peace to exist and prosper in Mindanao shall be passed,” Iqbal said.
Ghadzali Jaafar, MILF vice chairman, also said that BBL will “help build a strong nation that will provide benefits to the people in Mindanao.”
Both the Senate and Congressional hearings on the BBL hit a snag in the wake of Mamasapano incident that claimed the lives of 44 PNP’s elite cops after a tragic law enforcement operation.
The constitutionality of the BBL has been questioned by some lawmakers from both the Senate and Congress urging the proponents of the bill to weed out unconstitutional provisions.
“We are for peace and we do hope that they are with us in achieving this dream for our people,” Iqbal said.