What Marcos failed to achieve…By Ramon Tulfo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Malaysia ordered air strikes and mortar attacks against 200 men sent by the Sultan of Sulu to occupy a coastal village in Sabah.
Malaysia will regret its action because it was tantamount to declaring war against the Tausugs, the fiercest of Philippine Muslim tribes.
Ironically, it was Malaysia that helped the Tausugs fight the government of President Marcos in the 1970s and ’80s.
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Nur Misuari, founding chair of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) that waged war against the government, is back in the limelight after many years in oblivion.
He warned President Noy that any attempt to arrest Sultan Jamalul Kiram III would result in “total chaos” for the country.
Misuari, who has royal blood, has the backing of the long dormant MNLF, its members spoiling for a fight.
Better for our government to let the Tausugs fight the Malaysians in Sabah, which they claim is their homeland, rather than fight the Tausugs in the country.
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Ironically, it was P-Noy’s mother, the late President Cory Aquino, who brought Misuari back to the country from a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia.
Misuari was already a forgotten figure among his people when “Tita” Cory, upon the advice of her brother-in-law, Butz Aquino, and then Interior Secretary Aquilino Pimentel, recalled him from oblivion.
President Noy is now suffering from his mother’s wrong decision.
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There is no way Misuari had no hand in the dispatch of 200 men to Sabah by the Sultan of Sulu.
Sultan Kiram doesn’t have men and arms to back up his claim of ownership of the former North Borneo island—the MNLF has.
Kiram doesn’t have the money to launch a large-scale expedition to Sabah.
My sources close to the sultanate told me that even before Kiram sent his men to Lahad Datu, about 2,500 armed Tausugs had already been prepositioned in Sabah.
During the standoff or before the attack on Lahad Datu by Malaysian security forces, 150 armed Tausugs from Palawan province were able to land in Sabah.
An additional 600 Tausugs landed in Sabah last week, according to my sources.
The men who landed in different areas in Sabah are being harbored by their fellow Tausugs in the former North Borneo.
There are 800,000 Filipinos, mostly Tausugs from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, who are in Sabah.
Let’s do some Math: 2,500 plus 150 plus 600 equals a very formidable fighting force of combat-savvy Tausug veterans.
We’re not even counting the number of armed Tausugs who came to Sabah in small numbers before Sultan Kiram brought his men to Lahad Datu.
What President Marcos failed to achieve in 1969, the MNLF just might succeed in taking Sabah this time around.
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So who is (are) behind Sultan Kiram’s decision to send an expedition to Sabah?
Apart from Misuari, what about the Sultan of Brunei?
The Sultan of Brunei has an interest in Sabah because it used to belong to the Sultanate of Brunei.
In the 1600s, the Sultan of Brunei faced a revolt by some of his men and sought the help of the Sultan of Sulu in quelling the rebellion.
The Sultan of Brunei, out of gratitude for the Sulu Sultanate’s help, gave away to the latter North Borneo, which was then part of his kingdom. This is what we now know as Sabah.
In 1878, the Sultan of Sulu leased North Borneo to the British North Borneo Company. The Malaysian government, which inherited Sabah from the British, continues to pay rent to the Sultanate of Sulu.
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