MNLF men on alert as Sabah deadline nears
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) has alerted placed all its fighters in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi as tension mounted between the 235 followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and Malaysian security forces in Lahad, Sabah.
Relatedly, the Malaysian national government, has taken over from the Sabah prefectorate the lead role in resolving the almost three-week long Lahad Datu crisis as the extended deadline for the followers of Sulu Sultanate to leave and return peacefully to the Philippines is about to lapse.
The deadlines was set at Tuesday night.
"Wait and see kami. Our forces in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and its islands are in full red alert and ready once the situation (in Lahad Datu) worsen," Haji Gapul Hajirul, MNLF political officer said.
The MNLF, through Hajirul, issued this statement after the group adopted a resolution of the Sultanate of Sulu calling on the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to Sabah to prevent bloodshed between the Sultanate forces and the Malaysian authorities.
Hajirul also bared that armed civilians in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are very eager to enter Sabah to support the Sultan's followers.
This confirmed earlier ground monitoring by intelligence sources that groups of armed Tausogs have assembled in several areas, waiting for an opportunity to enter Sabah. These civilians reportedly are relatives of the sultanate's men now holed up in a shoreline village in Lahad Datu.
"The only thing that prevents these armed civilian groups from swarming to Sabah is the naval blockade being enforced by the Philippine Navy (PN)," a source from Sulu said.
At least six naval gunboats are currently imposing the naval blockade the prevent undocumented Filipinos from going to Sabah due to the prevailing security situation in Sabah.
The MNLF, meanwhile, said that President Aquino's statement warning Sultan Jamalul Kiram III may have aggravated the situation.
"By the action shown by PNoy, it's far from the peaceful solution. Siya ang dapat makasuhan dahil ipinagbili na niya ang Pilipinas," Hajirul said.
Kiram thanks PNoy
Kiram, meanwhile, said that he is thankful for Aquino's concern for him.
"For the first time, we thank the President for his official pronouncement on the standoff in Sabah and we are happy that he is officially aware of the issue now. You will note that emissaries sent to us have been denied by Malacanang in the first four days of the issue and that those emissaries sent were not diplomatic people but rather political and military officials," the Sultan said in a press statement.
He added: "Mr. President what more proof do you want us to show that Sabah is ours? By the mere fact that Malaysia is paying us annually in the amount of 5,300 Malaysia ringgit, it is not enough?"
He said that aside from the late President Diosdado Macapagal, the late strongman, Ferdinand Marcos, has in fact solicited the authority from the Sultan of Sulu and also given the special power of attorney to pursue the claim.
This, the Sultan said, erases doubts on the diplomatic recognition of the Philippine government to the Sultanate of Sulu as the rightrul owner of North Borneo.
He also stressed that he has not committed any crime when he permitted his brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, to enter Lahad Datu with armed security men.
"History proves that the Sultan of Sulu has never been involved in any violence in its quest for justice. As far as we are concerned we havent' committed a crime," the Sultan said, adding that the action is a benevolent aspiration and not a violent reaction to fight for what is historically, legally and morally right. (http://bit.ly/13OtvE8)