By Kathlyn dela Cruz
No order to pullout forces due to Palace ‘lies’
MANILA, Philippines — The remaining 224 followers of the Sultanate of Sulu in Sabah have decided not to retreat and instead die in Lahad Datu town “in pursuit of their dreams and aspirations,” the daughter of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III said on Saturday.
Reading the letter of Crown Prince Datu Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, Princess Jaycel said the sultanate’s followers decided not to leave Lahad Datu despite the shootout with Malaysian security forces Friday morning which claimed 10 lives from their group and injured four others.
Two Malaysian security personnel also died in the encounter, the police chief of the Malaysian state of Sabah said. Malaysian officials also claimed 12 armed Filipinos were killed in the incident.
“After we buried our nine brothers and one sister at sundown, everyone of the 224 left decided to die in Lahad Datu in pursuit of their dreams and aspirations…and have decided to put everything in the hands of Allah,” Princess Jaycel said, reading Raja Muda’s letter in a press conference Saturday morning.
Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani, likewise, said: “Intact sila, the remaining 224.”
The sultanate’s followers, led by Sultan Kiram’s brother Raja Muda, have been holed up in Lahad Datu town since February 12 in an effort to strengthen their claim to the Malaysian territory.
Idjirani earlier said the standoff between their group and Malaysian forces in Sabah is not yet over, refuting earlier statements made by the Malaysian and Philippine governments.
Idjirani had said that the standoff continued and the group of Raja Muda had moved to another location to continue their fight.
“If the standoff is over, that means Raja Muda and his companions have either been captured or have been killed,” he said Friday.
But Idjirani confirmed on Saturday that no shootout between the royal army and Malaysian forces had occurred since 8 p.m. Friday.
“Since 8 p.m. last night, wala pa ho. And as of 5:30 this morning, wala po.”
10 KIRAM MEN ARRESTED; NO ONE SURRENDERED
Idjirani confirmed that 10 men from Raja Muda’s group were arrested by Malaysian authorities but again insisted that no one surrendered.
“Tinanong natin kay Raja Muda kung confirmed na may nahuli. Ang sabi niya ‘confirmed,’” Idjirani said.
“Ang tanong papaano nahuli ‘yung sampu. ‘Yung sampu sabi ni Raja Muda habang siya ay iniinterview, nakatutok ang paningin sa kanya. So all of a sudden…parang nataranta lahat, ‘di nakahawak ng baril,” he added.
“Hindi [nagsurrender],” he continued.
NO PULLOUT OF ROYAL ARMY
Despite the confirmed casualties and injuries from their side, Princess Jaycel said the sultanate’s followers were still not ordered to retreat and return to the Philippines.
This, she said, was due to the “lies” being peddled by Malacañang, pertaining to the government’s conflicting reports on the situation in Sabah.
“My father was about to consider ‘yung sinusuggest ng gobyerno natin. But because of the lies of this government, my father stay firmed up to the moment to continue the fight and not surrender,” she said.
‘TANTAMOUNT TO MASSACRE’
During the press conference, Princess Jaycel also slammed the Philippine government for allegedly not taking any action after the incident.
She said the bloody firefight was “tantamount to massacre,” noting that the 3,000 Malaysian forces obviously outnumbered Kiram’s group of over 200 men.
“Clearly, walang ginagawa ang gobyerno,” she said.
“Wala sinuman from the office of the Malacañang is taking this seriously. Bakit kung sincere kayo sa mga pangako niyo, bakit hindi mismo ang mga officials ng Malacañang ang magpahayag direkta sa amin?” Princess Jaycel added.
The sultanate wants that a formal agreement recognizing their Sabah claim, brokered by Manila, be reached with Kuala Lumpur.
Manila, however, said the sultanate’s condition is unacceptable.
It even warned members of the sultanate of possible criminal charges as a result of their decision to enter a foreign territory while bearing firearms.
The sultanate of Sulu is citing historical accounts as basis for its claim.
Sabah was given to the Sultanate of Sulu by the Sultanate of Brunei due to the former’s help in quelling a rebellion during the 17th century.
In 1878, the Sultanate of Sulu leased Sabah to the British North Borneo Company. Britain eventually annexed Sabah in 1946. The disputed territory was then turned over by Britain to the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.