Right after the catastrophic incursion of the Royal Sulu Army into Lahad Datu in 2013 to enforce the Sulu Sultanate’s historic claim on Sabah, a certain Datu Khudar S.J., who claimed to have a direct lineage to the Sulu royal family, said he was dropping the claim.
The datu said his forefather negotiated the lease of Sabah with the British government, and that he had the support of powerful Filipinos, one of which he referred to as Maruas.
The self-proclaimed Sulu datu suddenly turned up in Malaysia after the death of Sultan Esmail Kiram II, who was one of the supposed claimants of the Sulu throne.
The Malaysians with the help of Maruas were apparently in search of an assurance that another Sabah intrusion will not happen.
The sudden presence of Datu Khudar and Maruas, whose name was a homophone of the 2016 anointed of President Noynoy Aquino, also came amid the strong push for the Bangsamoro Basic Law, which the Duterte administration drastically revised since it was patently unconstitutional, as it would have handed a substate to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The mention of “Maruas” becomes significant since it pointed to the likely treasonous effort of dropping the claim, which historical documents support.
Also, then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been recently convicted of corruption, would give anything to resolve the Sabah problem under his term similar to the desperation of Noynoy in forging a Bangsamoro agreement as his supposed legacy.
There were also talks of “gold” and assistance to set up an independent monarchy in the renewed Malaysian political offensive.
The Sulu datu appears to be extremely confident that he would get backing from Maruas once the proposals for an independent monarchy were presented on the table.
Later on, a controversy arose from a note verbale of then Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert del Rosario issued to Malaysia, supposedly downgrading the country’s Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support to the arbitration case against China over the disputed West Philippine Sea before the United Nations.
After the memorandum was leaked out, the administration of Noynoy disputed the intent of the message sent to the Malaysian embassy, as it said Sabah was not included in the note verbale.
After much noise from some House members, who stated the need to investigate, the supposed inquiry on the contents of the note verbale suddenly died down.
The reason for it was that a virtual gag order happened after the filing of charges against a new batch of accused legislators in the pork barrel scam.
Noynoy had used to the hilt the pork barrel allegations as leverage against members of the House for them to kowtow to his agenda.
It should also be noteworthy that Noynoy’s father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., had promised Malaysia in 1983 that the Philippines would drop its claim over Sabah in exchange for its support in the move to oust strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
The revelation was made by Hermes Dorado, former national territory division head of the DFA, who said Aquino met with then Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Mahathir before he went back to the Philippines and was assassinated on 21 August 1983.
Dorado said there was no official record of the supposed meeting between Aquino and Mahathir, but said he “became privy to this bit of intelligence” from former ambassador and retired general Rafael Ileto.
The most significant leaves in the country’s history have Malaysians making Filipino politicians, who are famous for their corrupt ways, play in their hands and, thus, fend off support to any move to reclaim the resource-rich territory of Sabah.