Aquino: Guns won’t solve it

Confirms gov’t in talks to recall Sulu men in Sabah


ILOILO CITY—The drastic action being pursued by the sultanate of Sulu to press its claim to the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah is not the best way to resolve the ownership dispute, President Aquino warned on Thursday.

“If you [use] guns, of course, the other side will have only one possible response to [your] challenge,” Aquino said, breaking his silence on the standoff between Malaysian security forces and a group of armed followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III in Tanduao village in Lahad Datu town in Sabah.

“[T]hat cannot be the solution,” the President told reporters in an interview here.

The President inadvertently confirmed a report published by the Inquirer on Thursday that his administration was silently working through emissaries to convince Jamalul to recall his followers from Sabah so that the standoff could be resolved peacefully.

“[W]e have been dealing with this. We have been talking to parties concerned, including the family of the sultan, to ensure that there will be a peaceful resolution to this,” Aquino said.

But he added that the matter is not entirely in the government’s hands.

“There has to be cooperation among all entities to achieve, first, a resolution of the current crisis and, later on, what could be a long-term solution to this dispute,” Aquino said.

The standoff between Malaysian police, military and naval forces and the Sulu sultan’s followers is now in its second week.

Aquino said he expected that Malaysia would not give away Sabah without a fight.

He disclosed that he had long tasked a legal team to study the basis of the Philippines’ claim to Sabah.

“Any country [that] has territory will be naught to give up sovereignty. And Malaysia has not been—I think forever—they have been very, very friendly to us. And they have been very, very supportive to us. And we have to, as a brother nation in (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), also respond,” he said.

Malaysia is brokering the peace talks between the Aquino administration and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The two sides signed a preliminary peace agreement last October, and they are thrashing out a final peace accord that they hope to conclude this year.

Sultan’s brother

According to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the government has asked Esmail Kiram II, a brother of Jamalul, to talk to the sultan and convince him to recall the armed group led by their brother Agbimuddin Kiram from Sabah.

Roxas said a military general, a police general and a provincial official had been communicating with Esmail to ask him to help end the crisis in Sabah.

He said other government emissaries were talking to Jamalul, who is undergoing dialysis treatment in a Manila hospital.

Esmail was traveling to Manila from Zamboanga City on Thursday to meet with Jamalul, Roxas said.

The idea, he said, is for Esmail to travel to Sabah to talk to Agbimuddin about ending the standoff and going home to Sulu.

“Our officials have communicated with Esmail to consult with Sultan Jamalul to obtain his guidance because the government has asked Esmail, in view of the sultan’s illness or need for dialysis, to go to Sabah to talk to his brother prince,” Roxas said on the phone.

Come home

Through Esmail, he said, the government is sending a message to Agbimuddin, “Come home peaceably.”

“The message of the government is that nothing will be attained through force and aggression,” Roxas said.

“We must try to find a way to resolve the standoff and pursue their claim in other [forums],” he added.

The Malaysian authorities have agreed to give Agbimuddin and his group time to talk to a “prominent figure” before they leave Tanduao to be deported to the Philippines.

The authorities have given them until Friday to decide whether to leave on their own or be rounded up and deported.

Esmail could be the “prominent figure” Agbimuddin’s group is waiting for.

“The best person to talk with Agbimuddin is his brother and fellow claimants,” Roxas said.

Sabah study

Asked about the Philippines’ claim to Sabah, Aquino said he himself was confused about the historical antecedents that led to the standoff.

He was referring to an agreement that the Sulu sultanate signed in January 1878 to lease Sabah to the British North Borneo Co. for 5,300 Malaysian ringgit a year.

The Kirams claim that the lease continues despite the formation of the Malaysian federation in 1963 and cite that, in fact, they continue to receive the paltry sum through the Malaysian Embassy in Manila.

Aquino said Cabinet officials concerned were studying and compiling “all the data that we have,” including the 1878 document

Lost in translation?

That document has gone through “massive amendments” and been translated into English, French and Tausug, Aquino said.

“There is a school of thought that says the translations are not faithful translations. There were clarifications that even made the agreements confusing. So, if you ask, definitively, what’s the basis of our claim … [and] what are the documents that are existing [to support the claim], the [story becomes] confusing,” Aquino said.

Whether to keep the claim dormant or revive it is “part of the [Sabah] question,” he said.

Aquino raised several points related to the claim.

“If we say that we agree that the sultan of Sulu owns Sabah, does that also mean that they own Sulu? If we (sultanate) own Sulu, can we (the sultanate) suddenly say we are separate from the Philippines?” he said.

“Then, if they (sultanate) surrendered their sovereignty to the Americans when we were a colony, [then] the Philippine government, currently as a successor to that government, [now] has the right to Sulu,” Aquino said.

Why the Germans?

“So again, if you start from the source documents written in several languages, I think, there was a time that the British and the Germans had an agreement. This is not clear to me—how did the Germans come to be included?” Aquino said, referring to the 1903 amendments to the 1878 agreement.

“Everybody was signing a document in his native language. And you wonder how many of them understood what was written in the other copy. Now, I am not an expert. I have tasked the experts to study all of this and to find out precisely where we stand,” Aquino said.

A Cabinet legal team is doing the study, he said.

The team is headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and presidential legal counsel Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.

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  • disqusted0fu

    Where is Pnoy’s aggressiveness when the country needs it? There’s no question about his judgement regarding guns, we all know he is an expert on that. But what happened to his aggression and authoritative ways? Does that only apply to his political enemies? Only to those he knows he can push over by over powering?

  • BURADOR—Phil. Voice

    ———–KAHIT po PUERSAHIN ng SULU na O sige SAKUP ng SULU ang SABAH—KOKONTRA po ang mga SABAHANS dahil po mas MAHUSAY ang PAMAMALAKAD sa kanilang EKONOMIYA ng Malaysia——
    Kung ang DEVELOPMENT po ng SULU at SABAH ay PAREHAS, Baka po MA- CONVINCE ang mga SABAHANs na mailaim sila sa SULU—–
    —————–GANYAN po IYAN——

  • oh_noh

    Inaction won’t solve it either!
    Not because a country is friendly means everything is ok. And kindness in exchange for a much bigger thing is not friendship at all!
    Compare the amount of generosity with the amount they’re getting from Sabah, then tell us who gains more…
    Hold your ground brothers!

  • kilabot

    what about noynoying? 

    “Aquino said he expected that Malaysia would not give away Sabah without a fight.”; 
    just as noykapon with hacienda luisita.

  • J

    It is time for Noynoy to save face from the damaged done by his grand-uncle Senator Sumulong (March 1963).


    FIFTY YEARS AGO, on 30 March 1963, Senator Salonga, described by one of this Admin’s closest friends (a public figure himself now deceased) as one of the extremely rare ethical leaders and political figures this country has ever produced, delivered an exquisite “Point-by-Point Reply to Senator Sumulong’s Speech on the Philippines’ North Borneo (Sabah) Claim”.

    Senator Sumulong, uncle of President Cory Aquino, had berated the Republic’s claim to Sabah as invalid and had supported then Malaysia’s position, even praising the record and vision of then Malaya/Malaysia leader and prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman instead of supporting the Philippine Sabah claim.

    Senator Salonga, father of the Philippine Sabah claim, rose to the occasion and delivered a stinging rebuttal to what Defenders of the Philippine Sabah Claim describe as Senator Sumulong’s unpatriotic — almost treacherous, position.

    INTRO: “Largely through the efforts of President Diosdado Macapagal, MaphHindo was bom, composed of Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. How to settle the Sabah claim of the Philippines through peaceful means was one of the items in the Tokyo Maphilindo Summit of June 1964, which I attended as Legal Adviser to President Macapagal. It was agreed that the Sabah claim would be settled by peaceful means, but the “verbal understanding” between the Tungku and Macapagal regarding the elevation of the case to the International Court of Justice, was denied later by Malaysia.” 

    EXCERPTS: “Senator Sumulong has now found it proper and imperative, if we take him literally, to ventilate his views berating the merit and validity of the Republic’s claim, accusing his own Government of gross ignorance and holding in unbelievable disdain the Philippine position on the British-sponsored Malaysia plan. He has chosen to assault the Philippine position at a time when his own Government, by virtue of the British request, may be said to be somewhat helpless in making, right in our own country, an adequate, fully-documented defense of the Philippine stand.” 

    “…the claim to North Borneo is not the claim of the President, nor of the Liberal Party, nor of his Administration, but a claim of the entire Republic, based on respect for the rule of law, the sanctity of contractual obligations, the sacredness of facts and the relentless logic of our situation in this part of the world.”

    ~~ Senator Jovito R Salonga  
    To read the speech go to: Jovito R Salonga Journal (http //jovitosalongajournals blogspot com/)
    ~~ Admin Adb, Defenders of the Philippine Sabah & Spratly Claims
    Posted by NEMO NOS IMPUNE LACESSIT at 16:03
    http //sabah-claim-society blogspot com/

  • Harry

    If we cannot fight Malaysia how can we expect to fight China.

  • J


    PAKI-SHARE NA LANG PO! MEDYO INGAT PO SA PAGKAKAINTINDI SA PROBLEMA NG SABAHMay nakita po kaming banner na nagsasabi na “SABAH IS OWNED BY THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT”… MALI PO. WILL TRY TO EXPLAIN PO. Sabah is NOT OWNED by the Philippine government but the Republic of the Philippines ‘possesses’ sovereignty rights over Sabah. However, the proprietary rights to the land belong to the Sultanate of Sulu heirs. There is a difference.

    The Philippine government has NO ownership claim to Sabah land — as in proprietary rights claim (in the same manner that Philippine government has NO ownership claim to your private lupa at bahay.)

    So, sa madaling sabi, dalawang bagay po ito: SOVEREIGNTY RIGHTS & PROPRIETARY RIGHTS

    The sovereignty rights to Sabah belong to the Republic by virtue of an official transfer made by Sultan Esmail Kiram I on 12 Sept 1962 witnessed by President Diosdado Macapagal. But the proprietary rights remain in the hands of the Sultanate of Sulu heirs.

    Para po bang iyong sariling lupa at bahay at bahay ninyo maski sa dulo ng Pilipinas: kayo ang may-ari at sa inyo ang titulo ng pag-aari (proprietary rights) pero ang batas na susundin ay sa Republika, ang batas na umiiral ay sa Republika ng Pilipinas (sovereignty rights) pero hindi ibig sabihin na pag-aari ng gobyerno ang lupain.

    DAGDAGAN PO NATIN ANG PALIWANAG at sana makatulong ito (pasensya na lang po sa Taglish explanation heheheh)

    Tama po ang isang myembro natin na sabi niya na ang transfer ng sovereingty rights galing sa Sultanate ay FULL SOVEREIGNTY…

    “Full Sovereignty” means full control but it doesn’t signify proprietary rights to the piece of land. With ‘full sovereignty’, it would mean, the Republic will have full control of defence, police powers, foreign policy, taxation, execution of laws, coinnage, education, health etc etc…

    Allow us to illustrate what FULL SOVEREIGNTY means by comparing it to the framework agreement being devised between govt and MILF for a Bangsamoro: despite “genuine and full autonomy” proposed to cover the new political entity, sovereignty rights will be shared between the autonomous Bangsamoro govt and the Republic of the Philippines and basing it on the 10-points agreed between the MILF and the Republic, Bangsamoro will have police powers, capability to sign trade agreements with other countries, taxation, but because it is only shared sovereignty with the Republic, the Philippine govt will have control of national defence, foreign policy, coinnage (meaning currency) and other aspects of sovereignty rights that usually belong to the STATE (national government), etc.

    BUT in the case of Sabah, sultanate indeed transferred FULL sovereingty rights to Republic as in full control of Sabah to take control of all the instruments of governance and does not mean shared sovereignty rights with the Sultanate of Sulu (unlike with the proposed MILF Bangsamoro ‘homeland’ which is under shared sovereignty.)

    Salamat po.~~ Defenders of the Philippine Sabah and Spratly Claims
    From NEMO NOS IMPUNE LACESSIT at 14:17http //sabah-claim-society blogspot com/

    • opinyonlangpo

      Thats enlightening. However, the lack of action and interest of the Philippines buried whatever truth that remains and right now the Philippine president is even discouraging whatever initiative the sultanate has started.

  • frudo

    ang tatapang ng mga comment dito, baka mamaya sa harap ng lappy nyo lang kayo matapang pag dating ng giyera tiklop kyo, eh kahit anong bansa sa mundo di natin kaya sa giyera eh, yun ang katotohanan, magpalakas muna tayo ng pwersa tapos mag isip ng long term solution para sa pag claim ng sabah dahil ilalaban na tlga ng malaysia ng giyera yan, panahon nga ni Marcos na di  pa malakas masyado ang malaysia kumapara now eh di yan nakuha(sabah) ngayon pa kaya na lam nman natin na mas malakas ang sandatahan nila,  

  • Derlie

    ang sakin lang bigayan pansin ang karapatan ng mga Kiram sa lupaing minana nila sakanilang ninuno, dont care san man under of government ang Sabah karapatan pangtao ang pinaguusapan dito.Ito lang din masasabi ko magbabayad kaba ng rental kung pagaari mo totally ang isang bagay…

  • freeview

    Neither would siding with Malaysia Mr president

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