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Princess Kiram: We only surrender to Allah
MANILA – Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III on Wednesday slammed the Malaysian government for calling his followers battling Malaysian security forces in Sabah "terrorists."
"Tinatawag nila 'yung mga tauhan namin na 'terorista.' Terorista ba ang taong nasa lugar nila? Terorista ba ang taong nasa bahay nila, in their own homeland? Ang terorista ay sila," Sultan Kiram told dzMM.
In a separate interview at the Kiram family's residence in Maharlika Village in Taguig, the sultan's daughter, Princess Jacel Kiram, said the labeling of the sultan's followers as terrorists is meant to prevent international intervention in Sabah.
"Ano pa ba ang 'di nila ibabato sa atin? Kahapon nga bomba ang binato nila," Jacel told ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."
"Itong pagbansag na terorista, inaasahan na natin ito dahil alam natin na kapag binansagang terorista ang Filipiono fighters natin sa Sabah, eh, of course, mape-prevent ang anumang international intervention dito," she added.
The Kirams have sought help from the UN Human Rights Committee to look into alleged abuses by Malaysian forces against the armed group led by the sultan's brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram.
Around 30 people have been killed since clashes began last Friday in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
Terrorists or terroristic acts?
In a statement after Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario's Monday meeting with his counterpart, Anifah Aman, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Del Rosario vowed that the Philippine government will file criminal cases against those involved in the Lahad Datu and Semporna incidents "to the fullest extent of the law in the Philippines."
"Malaysia considers this group as terrorists following their atrocities and brutalities committed in the killing of Malaysia's security personnel, two in Lahad Datu and six in Semporna, Sabah," Anifah said.
"Secretary Rosario agreed that this group should be labeled as terrorists," Anifah added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), however, later clarified in a statement sent early Wednesday morning that Del Rosario did not exactly label the sultan's followers as "terrorists."
"According to (Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Ed) Malaya who was present at the meeting, the report is out of context," the DFA said.
"In Semporna, there were alleged acts of terrorism. As reported by the Malaysian Foreign Minister, after the police forces were lured into an ambush and killed, their bodies were brutally mutilated and desecrated. If indeed these atrocities were committed as reported to him, the Secretary and the Foreign Minister both agreed that these were, at the very least, terroristic acts," the DFA added.
'We will only surrender to Allah'
The princess also said during an interview with ABS-CBN's UKG on Wednesday that the fight of the Sulu royal army is also the battle of the entire Filipino nation.
Asked for her message to President Benigno Aquino III, Jacel said: "Hindi ko na alam kung ano pang mensahe ang kailangan kong ipaabot sa pangulo para maintidihan niya na ito ay 'di lamang laban ng pamilya Kiram. Ito ay 'di lamang laban ang isang grupo. Ito ay laban ng buong Pilipinas."
"Hindi natin kailangang payagan kailanman na ang dayuhan ang makinabang sa ating pagmamay-ari. Ito ay para sa bansang Pilipinas. At 'di natin ito ginagawa para sa ating interes lamang."
Jacel said the royal army fighters will not surrender to the Malaysian forces, which launched an attack against the sultan's followers on Tuesday morning in an attempt to end the three-week standoff.
"Naniniwala kami na hindi masasayang ang mga buhay na nabuwis para lamang sa ipinaglalaban na ito," she said.
"Tanggap na namin kung ano man ang mangyari sa kanila (royal army). Ipinag-paubaya na namin iyan sa poong maykapal. But the word 'surrender' is not acceptable. Para sa aming mga Muslim, we only surrender to the almighty Allah."
Still open to negotiations
Both the sultan and the princess said the sultanate is not closing its doors to negotiations with the Philippine government.
"Hindi naman natin isinasarado ang linya sa pakikipag-usap dahil totoo tayo sa ating intensyon na gusto natin itong ma-resolba ng mapayapa as [much as] possible - na sana hindi na madgagdagan pa ang mga buhay na nabuwis," Jaycel said.
Kiram III said he would like to directly talk to President Aquino since the emissaries sent by the latter have not been helpful in resolving the issue.
"Gusto ko directly to the President para maintindihan niya, hindi [sa pamamagitan nung] mga taong pinapadala niya [na] mga salbahe talaga, walang puso," the sultan said.
According to the sultan, his brother Agbimuddin and the members of the royal army are in good condition despite the attack by Malaysian forces on Tuesday.
The sultan said the crown prince and the royal army will not return to the Philippines, and that he will never order them to do so.
"Hindi naman 'yan uuwi... [Si Raja Muda, handang] magpakamatay 'yan dun e. Hindi ko bibigyan ng instruction na umuwi," he said.