Malaysian security forces are now facing battle-tested, Malaysian-trained commanders of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), who know Sabah like the palm of their hands.
Hadji Acmad Bayam, former chief propagandist of the MNLF, revealed this yesterday to the Manila Bulletin, adding that these MNLF forces may have at their disposal a huge arsenal, which they hid deep in Sabah's rugged terrain when they returned to the Philippines after their rigid training.
Among the firearms are Belgian-made G1 and FAL, which the late Libya leader Colonel Moammar Khadafy supplied through Malaysia.
Bayam said he was confident the Malaysian authorities were not able to find the hidden MNLF firearms because they were kept very well by the MNLF commanders who stayed behind in Sabah.
During that training, Malaysian military trainors even joked about the firearms at the MNLF training camp on Jampiras Island, off Sabah, as they turned over Khadafy's weapons' supply.
"We are not even sure if the firearms we are giving you will not be turned against," the Malaysian trainors had said in a jest.
"Well, speaking of self-fulfilling prophecy," Bayam said, recalling the jokes of the Malaysian trainors.
Now, Filipinos in Sabah, who are not part of the forces of the Sultanate of Sulu, have already joined the fighting in reaction to what they perceived as Malaysian "atrocities" for killing Imam Maas and his four sons at 7:50 p.m. Saturday.
He recalled that Malaysia's leadership had even suspected the then chief minister of Sabah, Tun Mustapha, a Tausug from Sulu, of "conspiring" with MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to secede the oil-rich island.
"You know, if Mindanao is to Manila, Sabah is to Kuala Lumpur," said Bayam, explaining that Mindanao and Sabah are the "milking cows" of the Philippines and Malaysia, respectively, for their rich natural resources.
Bayam, who yielded to then President Fidel V. Ramos, stayed in Sabah, Malaysia, for nine years before the peace talks with the Ramos administration in 1993.
Bayam stayed in Sabah on-and-off, in 1976-79, in 1980-1986, among other dates.
Further, he said many of the seasoned rebel commanders and rank-and-file members chose to remain on Sabah island to live there.
Majority of them are from Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Peninsula, but there are also Maguindanaons, Iranons, and probably Maranaos, he said.
A few days ago, he said one of the MNLF foreign-trained commanders belonging to the Top 90 Batch, told him that he was enlisting Tausug warriors and others for reinforcement to the Royal Security Force (RSF) of the Sultanate of Sulu.
"I was trying to contact him yesterday but his phone cannot be reached anymore. I guess he was able to penetrate the Malaysian and Philippine sea-borne blockades in their respective borders.
Bayam described the commander "as soft-spoken but firm and true leader-fighter in actual shooting war." However, he requested that the commander's name be not made public.
Last Sunday, Abraham J. Idjirani, spokesman of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, said 40 people from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Peninsula breached the blockades and reached Lahad Datu, Sabah, scene of the standoff that erupted into a firefight.
He said there are many others who are now trying to go to Sabah and help the sultan's followers led by Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram.
Bayam said that with the way the situation in Sabah is going on, he sees no turning back.
On the other hand, he said this gives the United States an opportunity to correct its "historical error" it committed against the Moro people.
He said this was even acknowledged by the administration of then President George Bush in response to a letter from the late Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chairman Ustadhz Salamat Hashim.
Cooler heads should put themselves at work and resolve the issue on Sabah claim.
"This is the best time and opportunity," Bayam said. "They should seize the fleeting opportunity or lost it forever."
"As the only leader of the free world, the only guardian of human rights, freedom and democracy, the American government has the opportunity to correct the historical error against the Moro people," Bayam said.
Meanwhile, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III who still feeling abandoned by the Philippines yesterday said they are now relying on the United Nations, United States, and United Kingdom for help.
He said they are no longer waiting for any help from the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III because none is coming anyway.
Kiram aired his sentiments on DZMM radio early Monday morning.
"We are not waiting anymore. No more. There is no help (from the Philippines)," he said in
He said now they will rely on the UN, US, and UK.
On the appeal of the President to preserve the lives of the Sultanate of Sulu's followers in Lahad Datu, Sabah, the sultan struck a defiant mood.
"No more. There is no more preservation... it's in the hands of Almighty Allah," the sultan said.
As this developed, former congressman Satur Ocampo, Dr. Carol Araullo, both Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, and Vice President Rafaelita Gonio of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), paid a visit yesterday at Astanah Kiram in Maharlika Village, Taguig City.
Ocampo and Araullo expressed support to the cause of the Kirams in trying to claim Sabah from Malaysia.
Ocampo said that the President should review the government's stand because the new developments.
Gonio said her support is a personal one because Philconsa has not yet made its position on the issue.
At about 12:20 p.m. also yesterday, another militant, independent senatorial candidate Teddy Casino also arrived to visit the sultan.
Early Sunday evening, former secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) Norberto Gonzales made a surprised visit at Astanah Kiram, as he belied allegations he had a hand in the Sabah standoff.
He said he saw the sultan on television and felt sad for his condition.
On Malacañang's allegations he was allegedly one of the "instigators" of the Sabah standoff, he said he did not know about it.
Whether he is a "collaborator" in the now bloody standoff, he had an answer.
"If being a friend (makes you) a collaborator, then I am a collaborator," said Gonzales, the former former National Security Adviser of then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Manila Bulletin/Yahoo Philippines | March 5, 2013 | Article Link