ZAMBOANGA CITY, 18 January 2006 — The influential sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, Sharif Ibrahim Ajibul Mohammad Pulalun, has rejected attempts by a secessionist organization to convince his group in the southern Philippines to support a proposal for an independent Mindanao.
Former Transportation secretary Pantaleon Alvarez, organizer of One People Mindanao (OPM), a movement lobbying for a separate Mindanao Republic, was in Zamboanga City to convince the Sultan and his Cabinet members to support the proposal, Sultan Pulalon’s spokesman Prof. Sami Tanjil said yesterday.
He said Alvarez tried, but failed to convince the sultan to throw his support to the proposal.
“Sultan Pulalon walked out from the meeting after Alvarez sought his support for the so-called Mindanao Republic. The sultan said that he will not allow Mindanao to be dismembered and for Muslims to be used for political agenda,” Tanjil told Arab News.
Pulalun confirmed the Friday meeting and said he was unaware of Alvarez’s real motives.
He said the meeting was attended by Cabinet members of the Royal Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and advisers.
“I was shocked to learn that he was here to convince us to support this so-called Mindanao Republic, and I walked away. We don’t want any part of this political agenda.”
“We will not allow ourselves be used for whatever purpose other than promoting peace and unity in the southern Philippines,” Sultan Pulalun, a staunch supporter of President Gloria Arroyo, said.
Pulalun said the Muslims are supporting the government and President Arroyo’s peace and economic agenda in the southern region.
“I have told my people to continue to stay united and not to allow themselves be used by any political groups,” the Sultan said.
Alvarez previously said only a separate Mindanao Republic can help solve the problems the island is facing.
He said a charter change as proposed by lawmakers would not resolve the current political problems and crisis the country is experiencing.