Thursday, March 7, 2013
Too late for apologies, Kiram clan tells Manila
Filipino Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III (2nd-R) prays with his family and supporters in Taguig, Metro Manila March 6, 2013. Jamalul said on ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday night that ‘the door of the Sultan is still open for negotiations’. – Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 – The Kiram clan turned a cold shoulder today to reports that the Philippine government wants to apologise for losing the letter it wrote in 2010, pointing out that it was too late as many Filipinos have already died during the violent clashes in Sabah.
Fatima Celia, wife of the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said on ABN-CBS News Channel in the Philippines tonight that the government should instead apologise to the families left behind by the Sulu’s “royal security force”.
“Damage has been done, no? Lives have been lost,” she said during prime time news at 8pm.
Jamalul’s brother, Agbimuddin Kiram, had led a group of over 200 armed man from the Sulu “royal army” to Lahad Datu in Sabah on February 9, hoping to stake its claim over the northern Borneo territory.
But today, nearly a month after their surprise landing, the men have suffered casualties at the hands of Malaysia’s security forces, who are currently still undergoing ground operations to flush them out of the east Malaysian state.
The incident has place Malaysia and the Philippine’s border security control under the spotlight, as well as ruffled feathers in the Aquino administration, which has been taking the brunt of attacks from Filipinos for allowing the gunfight on the Sulu militants.
Despite the attacks, Jamalul said on ABS-CBN News Channel tonight that “the door of the Sultan is still open for negotiations”.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported this afternoon that Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who just returned from Malaysia yesterday, plans to pen an apology letter to Agbimuddin for failing to attend to the letter that the Sulu leader had written to the Aquino administration in 2010, seeking wisdom on his clan’s claim over Sabah.
“I Intend to write a letter of apology,” Del Rosario was quoted as saying in a text message to the Inquirer.
In a statement published on its website today, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) admitted that the letter from Agbimuddin, which is believed to have been sent to Aquino two days before he took office in 2010, has been found in its possession.
“... that letter has been found with the DFA. The Secretary is taking full responsibility for the oversight,” the statement said.
Aquino had previously said that the letter was likely “lost in the bureaucratic maze”, while his spokesman Edwin Lacierda said recently that the Malacañang, the president’s official residence, never received the correspondence from Agbimuddin.
According to previous reports, the letter first congratulates Aquino on his presidency, before urging for the government’s guidance over the Sultanate’s ownership of Sabah, as well as a role in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Malaysia is a facilitator in the peace talks.
In the letter, Agbimuddin had also told Aquino about the creation of the Interim Supreme Royal Ruling Council (ISRRC) under the Sultanate, following a series of consultations in Siminul, Indanan and Kawit, in the Philippines, the daily reported.
Agbimuddin, who is the ISRRC chairman, had also expressed his followers’ frustration at being ignored for five decades over its Sabah claim, ending the letter by expressing hope to see “a change in the treatment of the Sabah issue” under Aquino’s administration.
The Inquirer reported that the Agbimuddin’s brother, Sultan Jamalul, had himself written to Aquino in 2011 and last year but upon receiving zero response, had agreed to a “royal decree” permitting the former to return “home” to Sabah with a group of followers in early February this year.
Malaysian security forces and the Sulu gunmen are still locked in a nearly one-month standoff that has claimed the lives of over 20 individuals, including eight Malaysian police personnel.
A dawn aerial attack and subsequent ground sweep yesterday by Malaysian forces have yet to prove successful, however, and Agbimuddin and his band of rebels are still believed to be on the loose and on the move.
According to reports from their family members in Taguig City, Philippines, the group has no plans to lay down arms and are ready to fight to the last, believing that their struggle would be for the betterment of their clan’s future.
Posted by Abu Hatim at 7:46 AM