MANILA – The issue of the sultanate of Sulu’s claim over Sabah, Malaysia will need its own negotiations separate from the one the Philippine government is conducting with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels.
Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, chair of the government peace panel for negotiations with the MILF, said the sultanate of Sulu is not against the ongoing talks with the MILF since they were also consulted about the negotiations.
She noted that Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III was present during the signing of the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro in Malacanang in October 2012.
She said the Kiram family has been pushing for its own proprietary claim over Sabah, and sent around 200 followers to Lahad Datu last February 12 supposedly to assert their claim.
“What they are feeling now is, their issue towards their proprietary claim to Sabah has not been duly addressed but it does not run counter with the fact that we have been in negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that we have always been guided by the principles of inclusivity in this whole process that we have actually put their concerns in the provisions in the framework agreement,” she told Mornings@ANC.
Ferrer said government and MILF negotiators met with the Kiram family even before the signing of the framework agreement for the Bangsamoro. Present in the meetings with the government panel were Jamalul Kiram III, brothers Ismael and Agbimuddin and their wives.
The chief negotiator said the panel listened carefully to Kiram family’s concerns and identified some things that can be done in terms of “restoring the recognition and dignity of the sultanate.”
“From the very beginning, the government panel has acknowledged that this part of Mindanao has different narratives, that they do have a special history of their own. That is why one of the things we would like to do is to acknowledge the multiple narratives that exist, and the Sulu sultanate has a very special role in that society,” she said.
Ferrer admitted that the Kirams gave a letter to Malacañang, expressing their desire for action on their claim to Sabah.
She said the letter was submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Ferrer said that on the security front, the Philippine government is assessing and evaluating the security situation as a result of the Sabah conflict.
She said the Sabah issue needs its own separate negotiations with its own set of negotiators dealing with the Malaysian government.
“The Sabah issue will have to be put on another table where Malaysia will be one of the parties and not the facilitator,” she said.
“At the end of the day, it will have to be settled through negotiation,” she added.
ANC, March 6, 2013