The Sultanate of Sulu's Sultan Jamalul Kiram III today reaffirmed his readiness to meet with President Benigno S. Aquino III to resolve the Sabah standoff which has now lasted for more than a month.
But as this developed, the "word war" between the President and the sultanate was still on.
Kiram said he will accept an invitation from the President for a meeting, and said that it would be better that there is no one in-between them.
Kiram also said negotiation is better than an armed confrontation.
"That's true. Negotiation is important. But there is nothing. Up to now, there is no negotiation," he said.
"As I told them, my house is open. The door is open for any negotiation. Pero hanggang ngayon wala pa rin nangyayari (But up till now nothing has happened)," the sultan said when asked about the President's statement about negotiation.
Kiram was also asked if he sees the President as sincere.
He would not comment, saying he would have to ask the public.
"If he (Aquino) is sincere, he knows that I am a Filipino. Dapat kinakampihan niya Filipino. Pero kinakampihan niya malamang hindi Filipino (He should be siding with Filipinos, but he is siding with non-Filipinos)," the sultan said.
When asked whether he could convince his younger brother Rajah Muda Agbimuddin to come home, he answered that is up to Rajah Muda.
"If Rajah Muda wants...he will come home. Pero para sa akin hindi ako makapag-ano (But for me I can't decide) with all these going around. I have no control with all these," said the sultan.
"As of now, I don't know where my brother is. Malaysia said he is in now in the Philippines. But I said if he is here, he will be in my house. But up to now he has not shown up," said Kiram.
He quoted Rajah Muda as saying "Bahala na. Matira ang matibay (Only the strong survives)."
Abraham J. Idjirani, the sultanate's spokesman, responded to the President's statement that the people behind the Sabah standoff were after their personal interest.
"Pag ang tao may lack of understanding, kung ano-ano ang sasabihin niya," he said.
"For a leader to really understand it, one must have insight of the history of the territory, specially the territories with legal and historical circumstance to its citizens," he said.
He echoed the sultan's words that the sultanate is still open for a dialogue anytime.
Meanwhile, Idjirani criticized the government's filing of cases against the 35 members of the Royal Security Force (RSF) intercepted by the Philippine Navy last Wednesday.
"They filed cases. Ito ba ay confidence-building measures. May doubt kami sa actions ng government (Are these confidence-building measures? We doubt the actions of the government)," he said.
Whether the sultanate acted on self-interest, Idjirani had an answer.
"Ito na lang ang pwedeng sabihin para ilihis ang issue. Ang gusto ni Sultan ay personal legacy. Kung may personal claim, it must redound to the Filipino people. If that is a personal interest, Sultan Jamalul Kiram's intention is to establish a legacy for the people of Sulu and the entire nation," he asserted
"What is wrong with personal interest if you think of the entire nation? he asked.
On the other hand, the sultanate appealed to the United Nations anew, this time to help in determining the cause of death of the slain members of the RSF in Sabah.
He said it is important to know if they died in combat, or tortured then killed.