Kiram 'missing' letter to Aquino found with DFA-A A +A
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has taken "full responsibility" for failing to attend to the letter that the camp of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III had sent to President Benigno Aquino III in 2010, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.
In a Q & A on Lahad Datu posted on the government's website, it said that the letter was found to be with the Foreign Affairs chief.
"On the issue of the missing letter written by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram to the President days before the President took his oath in June 2010, that letter has been found with the DFA. The Secretary is taking full responsibility for the oversight," the department said.
According to reports, the letter informed then the president-elect about the forming of the Interim Supreme Royal Ruling Council (ISRRC) under the sultanates of Sulu and Borneo. The letter asked for the President's guidance on what action should be taken regarding their claims in Sabah.
The letter had also asked the President to discuss with Malaysian authorities the said claims during meetings held under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
There are two points reiterated in the letter: one, that the authority given to the Philippine government to claim the disputed territory was revoked by the sultanate in 1989; and two, that the ISRRC has been established to take over all actions regarding the claims.
"Since years later the so-called missing letter was found in the DFA under the principle of command of responsibility, the buck stops with me," Del Rosario said in a text message.
"I take full responsibility and will convey my deepest apologies to the Kiram family for our inadvertence," he added.
Aquino earlier said that the letter was lost in the "bureaucratic maze."
The President, however, said the missing letter was not enough reason for Kiram and his followers to stage a standoff in Malaysia-controlled Sabah.
Raja Muda, the brother of the Sulu Sultan, brought his followers to Lahad Datu on February 12 to reclaim their "ancestral homeland." The event resulted in a three-week standoff with Malaysian security forces and the death 18 Filipinos and two members of Malaysian police force. Air and ground attacks have been launched against the Filipino gunmen.
The Kirams claim Sabah region belong to their sultanate.
They said their forebears leased the territory to a British company in the 1870s but was illegally annexed by Britain which then handed over Sabah to Malaysia when it gained independence from the Britsh crown in 1963.
The sultanate continues to receive nominal payment from Malaysia amounting to $ 1,500 a year for the lease. (CVB/PNA/Sunnex)