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.
BS Aquino has also called the Sultanate’s incursion into Sabah as “foolhardy” against which Kiram III fumingly replied: “Is it foolhardy to defend the patrimony of your nation? To fight for what is right? To sacrifice the lives of 235 people for the sake of truth?”
Spawning more faux pas of the government, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima likewise showed their own share of incompetence. Roxas said that the government of Malaysia will not even bother talk to the Sultanate, against which the Sultan argued “Is he now the spokesman for Malaysia? Is it that hard for the Philippines and Malaysia to sit down and talk to us settling this issue amicably?”
De Lima, for her part, implied that there are some saboteurs who swayed the Sultan and funded his drastic action, against which Kiram III responded, “I pledge to our Holy Quran that this aspiration to fight for what is rightfully ours, is a unilateral act of the Sultanate. Please do not insult our sacrifice by saying we can be swayed.”
The Office of the Press Secretary also carelessly shot column feeds, one digested by Ellen Tordesillas using the Gloria Arroyo bogey to confuse the issues. The newshen’s blog “The Inbox”, picked up by Yahoo News, said that “Malacanang believes the occupation of Lahad Datu…is really meant to sabotage the peace talks with the MILF”, implicating Arroyo’s former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales. In fact, she ate the red herring thrown by Malacanang, “It is easily believable because Gonzales has deep network in Muslim Mindanao and is close to Nur Misuari…”
It has only been more than two years, and the Razak-Arroyo conspiracy pushing for the MOA-AD through the Supreme Court where it perished by only a single vote, has been forgotten.
As earlier said in this article, this cost Nur Misuari seven years of incarceration as a political prisoner for seven years without the benefit of an arraignment or trial.
Arroyo and Gonzales, first as his national security adviser and later as defense secretary, also completely ignored both the MNLF that Misuari leads and the Sultanate of Sulu from the peace process.
Yet the incumbent president does not really have to go very far to get to confirm the Sultan’s lucidity despite appearance of a helpless diabetic. Aquino can ask Jovito Salonga, one the greatest Philippine legal luminary and chairman-emeritus of the Liberal Party, who is still alive.
On March 30, 1963, Salonga rebuked Noynoy’s uncle the late Senator Lorenzo Sumulong who berated the Philippine claim to Sabah filed by President Diosdado Macapagal a year earlier on June 22, 1962.
Salonga issued the following historiography: “In 1704, in gratitude for help extended to him (by 600 Tausugs) in quelling a rebellion, the Sultan of Brunei ceded North Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu. Over the years, the various European countries, including Britain, Spain and the Netherlands, acknowledged the Sultan of Sulu as the sovereign ruler of North Borneo. They entered into various treaty arrangements with him.
“In (January 22) 1878, a keen Austrian adventurer, by the name of Baron de Overbeck, having known that the (Sultanate) was facing a life-and-death struggle with the Spanish forces in the Sulu Archipelago…took advantage of the situation and persuaded the Sultan to lease to him, in consideration of a yearly rental of Malayan $5,000 (roughly equivalent to a meager US$1,600), the territory now in question.”
The contract of lease read:“… (2) all the territories and lands being tributary to us on the mainland of the island of Borneo…(5)but the rights and powers hereby leased shall not be transferrable to any nation, or company of other nationality, without the consent of their Majesty’s government.”
Salonga continued “Overbeck later sold out all his rights under the contract to Alfred Dent, an English merchant, who established a provisional association and later a company, known as the British North Borneo Company, which assumed all the rights and obligations under the 1878 contract. This company was awarded a Royal Charter in 1881.
“A protest against the grant of the charter was lodged by the Spanish and the Dutch governments and in reply, the British government clarified its position and stated in unmistakable language that ‘sovereignty remains with the sultan of Sulu’ and that the Company was merely an administering authority.
“In 1946, the British North Borneo Company transferred all its rights and obligations to the British Crown. The Crown, on July 10, 1946—just six days after Philippine independence—asserted full sovereign rights over North Borneo, as of that date. Shortly thereafter former American Governor General Francis Burton Harrison, then special adviser to the Philippine government on foreign affairs, denounced the cession order as a unilateral act in violation of legal rights.”
Salonga summarizes: “Our claim is mainly based on the following propositions: that Overbeck and Dent, not being sovereign entities nor representing sovereign entities, could not and did not acquire dominion and sovereignty over North Borneo; that on the basis of authoritative British and Spanish documents, the British North Borneo Company, a private trading concern to whom Dent transferred his rights, did not and could not acquire dominion and sovereignty over North Borneo; that their rights were as those indicated in the basic contract, namely, that of a lessee and a mere delegate; that in accordance with established precedents in international law, the assertion of sovereign rights by the British Crown in 1946, in complete disregard of the contract of 1878 and their solemn commitments, did not and cannot produce legal results…”
Up to this writing, BS Aquino still insists on being reprobate. Instead of focusing on the Sabah standoff, he has joined his Team Pnoy senatorial candidates in their hustings for the May 2013 elections, taking his talking points directly to diminishing crowds.
When he issued yet another ultimatum to the Sultanate and his Royal Security Army last March 1- “Surrender now without conditions or face consequences,” Aquino irresponsibly sent a strong signal to Prime Minister Najib Razak that the Philippine government will not act even if the Malaysians massacre the Filipinos in Sabah.
Princess Jaycel Kiram, daughter of Sultan Kiram III, was quick to respond, “The Royal Security Army will never surrender because they are prepared to die for a cause. To the Filipino Muslim, the issue is one of Honor above Life.”
Her mother Fatima Celia Kiram adds “What is profoundly important among our men in Sabah is that they are fighting for their rights and honor. The Malaysians could wipe them out but the problem won’t go away, they would be replaced by others and generations more to come.”
As Jacel was about to wrap up a press conference, Nur Misuari, himself could no longer swallow the president’s traitorous language when he told reporters at the house of Sultan Kiram III at Taguig City, “What the president has done is very bad. It is unbecoming of a head of state, to be siding with the enemy of his own people.
“And for what reason is he (Aquino) aligning this country with Malaysia, a colonial power occupying the land of our people? I am totally against that, with all my soul. I hope the President will be properly advised. I hope he will recant. Otherwise we won’t forgive him.
“I understand there is an attempt even to arrest the Sultan. Let them do that. The country will be in total chaos if they do, I promise you,” the founding MNLF chairman said.
Despite United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon call to an end in violence and the start of dialogue among all parties to resolve the three-week old conflict in Sabah, Malaysian troops have hyped the death toll and are searching houses and terrain for armed members of the Sultanate.
Civilians in the affected areas have started to relocate seeking refuge away from conflict, with some Filipinos not having proper immigration papers sailing back to Tawi-Tawi.
My prognosis is that the situation will definitely worsen and develop a mind of its own before it becomes better and manageable. As we speak, Moro insurgency has been implanted in Malaysia. Incursions not just by the Tausugs, but eventually by the MNLF and even the Abu Sayaff will incessantly fester Malaysia, as the Royal Security Army is reinforced, ushering in a semblance of a civil war in Sabah.
The BS Aquino government is doomed, as the real Bangsa Suluk crescent rises, and with Sabah at that! When Filipino Muslims – Maguindanaoans, Maranaos, Lumads and even former Christians who have become Balik Muslims – are placed in an awkward position of not coming to the aid their besieged brothers in Sabah, the MILF too will join the fray, blasting the Aquino’s Framework Agreement to smithereens.
With a good portion of Mindanao engaged in the war, Malaysia could retaliate using its more superior navy and air force against Philippine territory dragging the Christian population of Mindanao into the escalation.
The temptation to Kuala Lumpur unleashing a genocide or ethnic cleansing of nearly a million Filipinos in Sabah could bring about unmitigated human rights atrocities spreading as far as Sarawak, magneting the Indonesians to possibly revive a “konfrontasi” with Malaysia.
In the same way that Marcos was deposed, the territorial and border disputes could bring about the fall of Najib Razak and his political party and the ascent of oppositionist Anwar Ibahim ushering in democratic reforms to the Malaysian Federation and peaceful negotiations with the Moros and the Sultanate of Sulu. Meanwhile,
Nur Misuari and the MNLF, with the blessings of the Sultanate of Sulu could declare a Bangsa Suluk state comprised of the Sulu archipelago and North Borneo (Sabah) and apply with the United Nations for self-determination.
As a new nation is born, Christians from the Zamboanga Peninsula, Palawan and Basilan could also discuss a collaborative rule of an expanded territory which with Sabah would be very viable.
As the amputation of the Philippines becoming more apparent, the rest of the Philippines ought to definitely respond proactively to prevent it.
BS Aquino could be overthrown before the 2016 elections and a civilian-military junta established to immediately negotiate peace and reunification with a real Bangsa Suluk de facto State.
To prevent dismemberment, a new Constitution is crafted providing for a midstream between the Spanish autonoma and the federal forms, as new structure models, accommodating a new de jure state.
As Sabah declares its own independence from Malaysia, following Brunei and Singapore to meet its own manifest destiny, the Philippines graduates into a vibrant tiger economy and stability is restored to the region.
Indeed, these are clearly and imminently dangerous but exciting times!
Alhamdulillah! Allahu Akbar!