Whether the heirs of the sultanate of Sulu acted on their own to reclaim Sabah or wereinstigated by an external force to do so, one thing is certain, according to government intelligence sources: It was a business that proved too big for the heirs to handle on their own.
The sources said that the Philippine government’s policy on Sabah is to keep it in the back burner.
But apparently “some people” want to push it forward now. And why now, at this time, is one of the questions government intelligence is looking into.
The sources consistently mentioned three groups that appear to have taken advantage of the decision of the Kirams to pursue their Sabah claim.
“These are groups that wanted to ride on the Kirams’ pursuit with their own interests in mind,” one of the sources said.
Another source added: “There are a lot who can gain from this, not just in the Philippines but in Malaysia as well.”
These “external factors,” as an Inquirer source described the groups, are one small faction that is in it for the money, an anti-Aquino administration group, and the Malaysian political opposition.
“The Kirams planned to pursue their claim as early as last year. But they went to Lahad Datu also on the instigation of these groups,” the intelligence officer said.
The small group supposedly goaded the Kirams to ask Malaysia for a higher rent on Sabah. If Malaysia gives in, this small group would allegedly have a share of the increase.
The anti-administration group simply wants to discredit President Aquino and is using the peace process as a cause of disenchantment for the Kirams.
“All those who do not like P-Noy (the President’s nickname) have joined forces. This is one way to really test how this administration will react (to such an issue). Whatever happens in Malaysia, there will be a backlash on us,” one source said.
“In a way, whoever wants to disrupt the peace process or the gains of President Aquino has already won,” the source added.
The third group is allegedly the Malaysian political opposition, which is gearing up for general elections that may be called before June.
The intelligence officer said that one member of the Malaysian political opposition allied with Anwar Ibrahim was running for a post in Sabah.
“Apparently, this politician was one of those who spoke with the Kirams. He supposedly gave the opposition’s support to the Kirams’ claim to Sabah,” the source said.