This article first appeared in March 2013 in Washington DC in the Philippines Soberano, an internet newsmagazine and the precursor of the news website Sovereignph.com. — Ed.
An old Tausug saying goes “An kusog ko, ha raayat ku”, translated to English as “Our power comes from our people!” What Ferdinand Marcos and his 20- year rule failed to complete, that is the liberation of Sabah from the Malaysians, Jamalul Kiram III is achieving in a flash of events, acting in the name of the Sultanate of Sulu and without support from the government of the Philippines.
As a result, two heads of state feebly crams to consolidate foothold in their respective governments – Prime Minister Najib Razak who is facing Malaysian parliamentary elections this June and President BS Aquino who is presently campaigning for a clear majority in both houses of Philippine Congress for local and senatorial elections a month earlier in May.
Sultan Kiram III had sent the Philippine president three letters since he was inaugurated last July 2010, which BS Aquino admitted had been lost in what he termed as “bureaucratic maze”.
Intelligence reports that from what Manila coffeehouses are filtering today indicate that communists of Saul Alinsky-Akbayan orientation in the present Aquino cabinet, with the names of both Teresita Deles and Ronald Llamas surfacing, deliberately lost in transit the letters of the Sultan. of Juan These two “yellow” celebrities, Llamas as national security adviser and Deles as presidential adviser on the peace process, are in control of all negotiations with insurgency groups.
Civil society was therefore taken in complete surprise when in an obvious display of classic damage control Secretary Albert del Rosario confessed that one letter was marooned in his Department, albeit conveniently alleging receipt before he took office.
Instead of placating the coffee habitués, it reminded them how the Americans, in collaboration with the British, recently fast-tracked the signing of the Framework Agreement for a Bangsamoro Entity with a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – theMaguindanao-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Framework was merely an edited redux of the Memorandum Agreement for Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that the Supreme Court had already declared as “unconstitutional” under the Gloria Arroyo administration sending then US Ambassador Kristie Kenney to puke an abrupt disavowal even if she was the most visible one of the dignitaries who made it to Kuala Lumpur to witness its aborted signing.
The embassy row in Washington DC however understands that this is just one of the United States’ prestaging strategies to transfer its security impetus from the Middle East where it has experienced great setbacks and massive budget reversals, to Southeast Asia in view of a recent series of low-level maritime confrontations in disputed waters in and around the South China Sea, but covertly in search of partners for cheaper Almighty oil.
Najib Razak was just more than willing to go along with the deal with the MILF first with Arroyo and now with Aquino, thinking it would buffer any retaliation of the larger and more potent MNLF whose chairman Nur Misuari whom the Malaysian government repatriated back to the Philippines in 2001 to be incarcerated until 2008 while using the same single stone to push back further into oblivion the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu to Sabah.
What is not being said here is that after the late Benigno Aquino Jr. exposed President Marcos’ covert plan in the late 1960s to send Tausug commandos to Sabah acting as trojan horses to seed insurgency there, Malaysia began training, arming and financing its own insurgent proxies beginning with the MNLF first and then the MILF, in its island of Pulau Pangkor, to sow low intensity warfare in southern Philippines, prominently in the Muslim dominated areas in Mindanao.
Abaraham Julpa Idjirani, secretary-general and spokesman of the Sultanate of Sulu, said “The Framework Agreement was consummated without any mention of the historic and sovereign rights of the Sultanate over Sabah.
We thought that President Aquino gave weight to ancestral domains, we were utterly wrong.” Even before thrice corresponding with the incumbent administration, Idrijani added that the Sultanate’s “desire” and intentions to be part of the Peace Process was expressed in an April 13, 2009 letter to former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The heirs, completely left out of the peace process and feeling betrayed, moved towards their own unification late last year, forgetting personal and policy differences and deciding to proceed with the Sabah claim on their own, superseding a 1962 accord with the government of the Philippines.
The once feuding royals who joined Jamalul Kiram III, were led by Rajah Mudah Agbiruddin Kiram, Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram II, Datu Alianapia Kiram, Datu Phugdal Kiram and Datu Bagurddin Kiram.
Shedding light on why Aquino is scandalously tardy in his appreciation of the Muslim concerns in the very county he heads, former Washingtonian Amina Rasul, now leading advocate for women and Muslim rights in Manila, blamed that Marvic Leonen, who the president peddled to the public as a “genius and expert in Filipino Muslim affairs” and later on appointed to the Supreme Court, miserably shortchanged all Filipino-Muslims with his haphazardly crafted Framework.
She said: “the late Muhammad Esmail Kiram officially transferred the Sultanate’s sovereignty over Sabah to the Philippines on Sept. 12, 1962, through a written instrument signed by himself and Foreign Affairs Secretary Emmanuel Pelaez, after the Ruma Bechara (literally “House of Talk,” equivalent to Council of Advisers or Cabinet) passed a resolution authorizing the same.
By assigning its sovereign rights, Razul said that the Sultanate however retained proprietary rights over Sabah, subject to a provision in the same Ruma Bechara resolution that “in the event the government fails or refuses to protect its sovereignty and proprietary claims, the Sultanate of Sulu reserves the right to prosecute its claim over Sabah, in whatever manner it can think of.”
Thus on February 11, 2013, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III issued a royal decree despatching more than 200 of its Royal Security Force in speedboats from Sumunul Island in Tawi-Tawi, under the leadership of his younger brother Crown Prince Rajah Mudah who announced upon arrival in the village of Tungduao at Lahad Datu in Sabah their intent to reclaim their homeland: “We come in peace. We are not here to wage war. This is not an act of aggression but a journey back home. We will never bring war to our own territory, much less to our own people.”
A bizarre border drama ensued as the Malaysian police immediately surrounded their “un-invited” guests.
Randy David writing for the Inquirer noted, “The ‘invasion’ led by the brother of the current Sultan is clearly an attempt to shove the issue into the faces of the two governments (Philippines and Malaysia), neither of which relishes being dictated upon by the heirs of an archaic sultanate. A messy end to this impasse could stoke ethnic resentments and needlessly inflame nationalist sentiments.”
Mel Sta. Maria, resident legal analyst of InterAksyon TV5, wrote: “The context of this action of the Sultan of Sulu and his followers is beyond question. It is not a power grab. It is a reassertion of their historic, legal and moral right to be in Sabah… It was for them the pursuit of a noble cause.”
But President Aquino, who may be credited to have already sold-out to Malaysian best interests as early as the signing of the Framework Agreement, appeared more concerned about saving face before his foreign patrons rather than being wise.
Last February 26, BS Aquino called for a press conference where he appealed to the Sultan in an even more bizarre manner, “These times require you to use your influence to prevail on our country to desist from this hopeless cause.”
The statement immediately drew all kinds of retort from every media organization in the country. Mel Sta. Maria issues a rejoinder that “hopeless cause” may be construed as “lost cause that implies surrender, capitulation or even abandonment of interest.”
UNA senatorial candidates Richard Gordon and Mitos Magsaysay said the president may be impeachable for betraying public trust.
Ms. Magsaysay was graphic: “If Sabah is a hopeless cause, then it means Aquino is not fighting for our sovereignty despite the fact that we have a legitimate claim…”
Gordon said the president violated a law recognizing Sabah as part of Philippine territory citing Section 2 of Republic Act 5446: “The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine archipelago as provided in this Act is without prejudice to the delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty.”
What is unfortunate is that Aquino’s propaganda machinery has consistently missed its mark, as its official pitbull, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda twatted “I don’t know where Senator Gordon is getting his legal knowledge but the law that he is invoking has already been repealed by the new baselines law” (referring to RA 9522).
Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao returned the twat to Lacierda by asserting he is “lying, ignorant or plain dimwitted”. Affirming Gordon, he clarified that on July 16, 2011, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld RA 5446 in its decision GR#187167, “Petitioners’ argument for the invalidity of RA 9522 for its failure to textualize the Philippines claim to Sabah…is also untenable. Section 2 of RA 5446, which RA 9522 did not repeal, keeps an open door for drawing the baselines of Sabah.”
Another clown sucking up to the president is Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, “If you had a house and then somebody comes in armed, how would you react.” Tiglao reduced his analogy to absurdity – “If you leased your house and your tenant refuses to give it back to you and brandishes his arms, how would you react?”
Tiglao also assailed Team Pnoy senatorial reelectionist Chiz Escudero: “As has been his style, he has pursued Aquino’s playbook but tries hard to appear not to be his factotum when he said that “the Sabah claim is a personal issue involving the Sultan of Sulu. It’s a private right and a private claim.”
This baboon cannot however say that Sabah is part of the Philippines much like pissing on our legs and telling us that it’s raining.
The Ateneo Human Rights Center expressed its disappointment on the BS Aquino’s “dismissive” treatment of the incident when BS Aquino threatened the Sultanate and the Royal Security Force “that if they choose not to cooperate, they will face the ‘full force of the law’.”
The Center said, “The government has exhibited insensitivity to the root cause of the incident and an impaired (sic) knowledge of the historical, cultural, political and personal dimensions of our aspirations of our Tausug brothers and sisters… Indeed (it) may have unduly alienated citizens who have hitherto exhibited loyalty to the Philippines.”
(To be continued)