MANILA: National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has recommended the filing of criminal charges against the self-proclaimed sultan of Sulu for allegedly inciting his followers to “intrude” into and boost his territorial claim to the Malaysian state of Sabah in February.
In its report, the NBI recommended that Jamalul Kiram 3rd and his leaders be charged in court for allegedly inciting 38 of their armed followers to sail for Sabah which triggered clashes with Malaysian security forces and resulted in several killings on both sides.
NBI said it found evidence there was conspiracy, which also indicated that the Kirams in Sulu as well as their relatives and supporters in Metro Manila “had planned (the incursion) as early as November 2012.”
The probe agency, which was ordered by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to conduct an exhaustive investigation on the issue, has been confirmed to have submitted its report to Secretary Leila de Lima of the Department of Justice which has jurisdiction over the agency.
A reliable source who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that one of the major factors that led to the NBI recommendation was the interview by its agents of the 38 armed Kiram followers who were arrested on March 13 while returning to Mindanao from Sabah.
The 38 followers, the source disclosed, admitted they were allegedly recruited by Kiram and his leaders to go to Sabah to bolster their claim to that Malaysian island state.
On Wednesday, Nonatus Rojas, the NBI director, told GMA News that they have yet to co-ordinate with the justice department to finalise the official report before it is submitted to Aquino.
However, Rojas did not dispute the gist of the report recommending the filing of the charges against Kiram which came out as exclusive in the Wednesday edition of Philippine Star.
Abraham Idjirani, the Kiram spokesman, also challenged the Aquino administration to file the criminal charges against the sultan and his leaders as recommended by the NBI.
“Prepare a big jail for all of us,” Idjirani told the Star adding: “We will not hide. It is up to the Filipino people to decide who really abandoned the claim to Sabah.”
The Kiram forces have been locked in a standoff with Malaysian security forces since they landed in Sabah on Feb. 12 to boost their ancestral claim to the island state.