Kirams' army allowed under Arroyo - ARMM gov
MANILA (UPDATED) - Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, was allowed by the Arroyo administration to build a camp for their private army, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said Monday.
Hataman, in an interview with radio dzMM on Monday, said the issue about the Kirams' camp in Simunol, Tawi-tawi, was in the intelligence reports he has seen.
"May report na sa amin, alam ko, even panahon ni GMA, sinasabi ng mayor doon sa Simunol na mayroong kampo doon. Kampo ni [Raja Muda] Agbimuddin [Kiram] at inauthorise daw ng gobyerno noon," he said.
Hataman said that they were caught off-guard by the recent armed clashes in Sabah between Agbimuddin's followers and Malaysian security forces.
President Benigno Aquino, in a press conference at the Palace Monday, echoed Hataman's statement.
"Does the Constitution sanction any armed force beside the Armed Forces of the Philippines? Is there not a provision against private armed groups? They are, obviously, by any definition are armed group," he said.
"Meron daw yatang connivance allegedly by certain members of the past administration in the formation on this, which is a violation of the Constitution and various other laws of the land," he added.
Aquino, however, sidestepped a question if former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was personally involved in the alleged conspiracy leading to the Sabah standoff.
"You are asking me for a conclusion that I wish I had right now. But, again, unless we have the evidence that can we brought before a court that will prove the case, I will not make an accusation," he said.
He said Sabah, which was under the sultanate of Sulu before the arrival of European colonizers in Southeast Asia, now has many claimants.
"Sa isyung ito [Sabah claim], andaming claimants, hindi lang pamilyang Kiram," he said. "Hindi ko sinasabi na mali sila. Ang sinasabi ko, maraming claimants sa Sabah na iyan, hindi lamang pamilya Kiram."
Hataman said Aquino wants to talk to all of the claimants.
"Gusto ng ating pangulo, sabay-sabay silang kausapin," he said.
However, he reiterated the stand of the Palace that Agbimuddin Kiram and his followers should return to the Philippines first before formal talks are held with the President.
Hataman earlier said pressing the Philippines' claim over Sabah should be done through peaceful means.
"Ang problema ho, ang laging sagot na natatanggap natin sa kanila ay handa silang mamatay," he said.
"Kung meron silang paraan, dapat bumalik pa rin sila dito sa ating bansa. Nananawagan din kami na pagusapan ito peacefully... Hindi ito panahon ng karahasan," he added.