Kiram seeks Vatican support on Sabah
MANILA, Philippines – As Malaysia moves to further strengthen its security forces in Sabah, the self-styled Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, continues to push for his claim to the area. Dissatisfied with the United Nation's response to the issue, he is turning to an unlikely ally for support.
A few hours before Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma flew to Vatican on Monday, April 1, Kiram met with him at his office in Manila.
Kiram’s spokesperson Abraham Idjirani told Rappler that the meeting came at a perfect time as the Sultanate sought an audience with Palma not just to ask for the support of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines but also the Vatican's.
“It seemed as if the meeting earlier had divine intervention. We didn't expect that that would be the scenario, that His Eminence Jose Palma will be going to Rome," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Present at the meeting were Kiram’s political consultant, Pastor “Boy” Saycon, his daughter, Princess Jacel Kiram, and Idjirani.
Idjirani told reporters that the meeting was brokered by the founding chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Dante Jimenez.
During the meeting, Idjirani said Kiram’s political consultant, Pastor “Boy” Saycon, told Palma about the alleged human rights abuses against Filipinos in Sabah. The group also presented documents supporting the Sultanate of Sulu’s claim over Sabah.
Palma, as quoted by Idjirani, said he will bring the issue with the CBCP Council. Since he is flying to the Vatican Monday night, Palma told Kiram he will also try to present the documents, as well as raise the issue of alleged human rights violations in Sabah, before the Vatican committee that handles peace concerns, according to Idjirani.
The Sultanate of Sulu is also planning to seek a dialogue with other Christian denominations, including the Iglesia ni Cristo, Jesus is Lord Church and Ang Dating Daan, but they are still studying the “protocols” for each group.
“We are showing that the Sabah claim is for all religious [groups] because the point here is, as per the advice of the Sultan's staff, especially of adviser Saycon, is that we should have Christian-Muslim solidarity,” Idjirani said.
“Sabah is not for sale but is the patrimony of the Filipino people,” he added.
Since the Sabah standoff, nearly 5000 Filipinos have fled Sabah. Reports from the Malaysian security forces claimed about 60 of Kiram's followers died during the clashes. - Rappler.com