Bernadette Carreon – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor
Manila, Philippines (4E) – About 100 men from the Philippines refused to leave the remote part of Sabah on Borneo Island.
According to Philippine television reports, the men has claimed themselves to be the “royal army” of the Sulu Sultanate which has historic claim to the area.
Malaysian troops are negotiating with these men,
Malaysian government has likened the men to militant groups in Southern Philippines, but the Philippine government said they are unarmed Filipinos wishing to live in the lands promised to them.
Sulu is an archipelago in the southern Philippines. Today, it is a province but the old sultanate covered a wider area that included the northern tip of Borneo, which is now the Malaysian state of Sabah.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has talked to his Philippine counterpart, Albert del Rosario, over the phone about the matter, says a statement from the Philippine Foreign Ministry.
Sabah became part of Malaysia in 1963, and the country still pays a token rent to the Sulu Sultanate each year.
However reports say the standoff does not appear to be tense and that the men appear not to be hostile.