As the conflict between Malaysian security forces and the “Royal Army” of the Sultanate of Sulu escalated, the Muslim community in Metro Cebu wants the Philippine government to consider the claim of the Kirams to Sabah, an oil-rich territory in Borneo Island.
Abbas Murad, 53, Vice President of Mandaue Islamic Association based in Barangay Mantuyong, Mandaue City believes that Sabah belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu. “It was part of the 13 Sultanates in Mindanao and the neighboring islands including Sabah which existed a very very long time ago as what we have learned from my great grand father.” Murad told Cebu Daily News.
Murad was dismayed when he heard President Benigno Simeon Aquino III saying on television that the documents of the Kiram’s need further study to determine its authenticity.
Murad said that the Philippine government should helped facilitate a dialogue between the Malaysian government and Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, and even help in bringing the matter to the United Nations for arbitration.
In the same breadth however, Murad acknowledges the difficulty in reviving the country’s claim to Sabah. He said, it would really depend on the Malaysian government to give due course to the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu, “kay dili man nato kaya gubaton ang Malaysia.”
(We cannot win a war with Malaysia.)
This was also the sentiment of Jason “Itaw” Daligdig, a Maranao and president of the Muslim Community in Lapu-Lapu City said.
The Philippine government should not have taken for granted the claim of ownership of the Sultanate of Sulu to Sabah.
“Naa man sila mga dokumento, ang Malaysia naghatag man og renta sa mga Kiram, nganong ila man papahawaon ang mga Pilipino nagpuyo didto many years ago?” Daligdig said.
(They have the documents, Malaysia was giving a rent to the Kirams, why are they going to have the Filipinos who there many years ago to leave there?)
But he said, Muslims are peace loving people, and many Bangsamoro people are tired of war.
Daligdig said that he and his family left Mindanao to get away from the war between the government and Bangsamoro rebels.
Opposition senatorial candidates have also expressed their thoughts on the Sabah violence.
Sounding alarmed, Mitos Magsaysay of the United Nationalist Alliance said dialogue should have been pursued with the Kirams and the Malaysian government to avert violence.
After days of standoff, shooting erupted last Friday. The violence has so far reportedly claimed at least 20 lives from the side of the self-styled Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu and Malaysian authorities.
In a press statement, another UNA senatorial candidate Jack Enrile said he is “deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident involving Filipinos in Lahad Datu. They are Filipino citizens who deserve nothing less that the protection of the Philippine government and all its officials.
Even actor and balik-Islam Robin Padilla figured in the Sabah discussion when he expressed sympathy to the Kirams saying the Philippine government should give it a thought and bring up the matter to the UN. /Norman V. Mendoza, Correspondent