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09 December 2023

Filipinos pursue claim to Sabah

By Correspondent

Just what exactly does the group of armed Filipinos who recently entered the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah want?

“They are not interested—this government and the previous governments—so we decided to act on our own,” said Rajah Mudah Agbimuddin Kiram, the crown prince of the southern Philippine autonomous island-province of Sulu, who was quoted in today’s article posted on inquirer.net.
He is referring to the ruling administrations of President Benigno Aquino III and those of his predecessors’, whom he described as having neglected the claim of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu to Sabah.
He said the ongoing standoff between his group, comprising of about 1,000 Filipinos from a Muslim territory on the southern Philippine second-largest island of Mindanao, and the Malaysian security forces would not escalate into a violent confrontation.
“We came here in peace,” he said, describing his action as a journey back home. “We are not here to wage war. … We will never bring war to our own territory, much less to our own people.”
He also told inquirer.net that he and his group have not been arrested, and that he was communicating with General Zul Kipli, head of the Special Branch of Sabah’s special forces.
Rajah Mudah and his group left for Sabah on February 11 from the southern Philippine island-province of Tawi-Tawi using speedboats. They landed in the village of Tunduao, in Sabah’s Lahad Datu town, after less than an hour.
His group, he claimed, included members of the ‘Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo’.
He said his group felt betrayed and left out in the recently concluded peace process between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He stressed that the claim to Sabah was supposed to be an “integral and essential” part of any peace accord with any armed group on the Philippine second-largest island of Mindanao.
Late last year the Aquino administration signed a Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro with the MILF.
The ruling administration has been reported to be reluctant to meddle in the issue, which has sparked one of Sabah’s security crises in recent history.
A palace spokesman said the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has sent a police attaché to Sabah to look into the issue.
The Malaysian government, meanwhile, has said it has been negotiating with the group of Rajah Mudah to leave peacefully.