Senators back Aquino’s call to end Sabah standoff peacefully


President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Four senators on Tuesday rallied behind President Benigno Aquino III’s call for a peaceful settlement to a two-week long standoff in Sabah, two of them even suggested a need for intervention by international bodies  to  end  the  conflict.

“Maybe we should intensify our request for intervention by the international bodies, international tribunal including  Asean to reduce its negative effect in the ongoing peace process and to avoid any problem with Malaysia without renouncing our claim to Sabah,”  Senator Gringo Honasan  said in a mix of English and Filipino  in a phone patch interview.

“But it is important that the debate is calm, peaceful and diplomatic,” Honasan added.

Instead  of resorting to violence, Senator  Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said the “heirs” of the sultan  of Sulu, Jamalul  Kiram  III,  may raise their  claim  of the  land  before international  tribunals.

“Yes, Sabah should be peacefully settled. I suggest to the heirs to use international courts and tribunal,” Pimentel said in a text message

Senators  Francis “Chiz” Escudero and  Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan  also  backed Aquino’s call  for a peaceful  end to the Sabah claim.

“Bringing the supposed Sabah heirs and government representatives in one table would allow discussions on the complex issues involved in the Sabah claim including the plight of Sabah residents who have Filipino roots,” Escudero said in a separate statement.

He said a dialogue on the Sabah claim should include the Malaysian government to address the plight of the Filipino living in Sabah, who are reportedly subject to frequent exploitation.

“The immediate concern of the government should be the welfare of Filipinos who were born and raised in Sabah which is the bigger humanitarian issue that must be addressed through diplomatic channels,” Escudero  said.

Escudero had earlier urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to set up a representative office in Sabah to document Filipinos who are stateless and deprived of social services from both the Malaysian and Philippine governments.

“The welfare of our countrymen who consider Sabah as their homeland should be the focus of any government negotiation with the Malaysian government,”  he added.

Pangilinan , meanwhile, said the standoff has reached a “critical point”  where the Philippine government “must now act decisively and do what is necessary”  to protect the general interest of the Filipino people.

“Kiram is essentially declaring war on Malaysia. He must understand that it has never been a policy of the Philippines to take on other countries by force. Regardless of Sulu’s rightful claim to Sabah, an armed invasion will unlikely lead to an amicable resolution,” he said.

The Philippines’ ties with Malaysia, Pangilinan said,  should take precedence over contested claims.

“This has come at a time when we are so close to achieving lasting peace with our brothers from the South. Malaysia has played a crucial role in brokering talks between the Philippine government and our Muslim brothers in Mindanao. We cannot afford to have a wedge between our country and Malaysia because of one person’s whim,” he added.

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  • Hong Wee Cheah

    As reported by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the independence of North Borneo was brought about as the result of the expressed wish of the majority of the people of the territory in a 1963 election. This is further reinforced by the International Court of Justice view that,“…historic title, no matter how persuasively claimed on the basis of old legal instruments and exercises of authority, cannot – except in the most extraordinary circumstances – prevail in law over the rights of non-self-governing people to claim independence and establish their sovereignty through the exercise of bona fide self-determination.”

    • Pedring2

      It was explicitly written in the lease agreement that “the property (Sabah) cannot be transferred to another nation or any other person WITHOUT THE WRITTEN CONSENT OF THE SULTAN”.  There was no such given consent and so the contract was NULL and VOID.  Besides no one has the right to sell or give away a property that he/she does not own.  Britain, Malaysia, and Overbeck and Dent all contrived to steal the property by using the might of the British empire. The referendum by Malaysians in 1963 is also NULL and VOID for the same reason: “That you cannot have a referendum on a property that is not your own”. All the persons involved including the two countries, Britain and Malaysia are guilty of the crime of GRAND THEFT. In the 1970s, Malaysia was asked by the Philippines (the new owner of Sabah after the property was ceded by the sultan)  to come to the International Court of Justice, but Malaysia would not like to come.

      Britain has left a trail of plunder all over the globe. To name a few places: the Malvinas Islands, Hongkong, the Middle East, India, etc. And Sabah is among them.

       Fifty years of milking a stolen property is enough. Shame on you Malaysian Alibabas! Get out of my land!

    • puza65

      the US alread told to the british to gave it back the sabah to the sultanate of sulu…baecause the US knows there will be a problem and now it’s time…they are fighting that for almost 50 yrs..and the malaysian does’nt want to bring the case in ICJ..

  • disqusted0fu

    Perhaps Pnoy is worried that his only supposed significant achievement in the framework agreement will be negatively affected that’s why he is reluctant in fighting for Sabah and he is appealing to the sultanates to just back off. If the sultanates continue to fight, Malaysia will get irate and they just might say goodbye to the framework agreement, thus Pnoy also has to say bye to his only achievement.

  • Sandiego

    I like Mr. Aquino he’s a good man and a good leader but to become great he needs to stop being timid.  Mr. Aquino should take bold steps. Move the talks with MILF to Japan or Indonesia.  Then push the Sabah claim. This will get MNLF and Sulu to support the peace agreement with MILF. And also tells MNLF and Sulu that the government will support their claim to Sabah. Mr. Aquino keeps mentioning Filipino unity in his speeches but yet he fails to see that this standoff is not a crisis but a chance to rally his people to one common purpose. The reacquisition of Sabah. Mr. Aquino should use Sabah as an example of our inability to defend what is ours. So we must unite as a country to keep foreigners from taking what is ours. We need to become strong. It’s an effective ploy used by smart leaders. Unite a country by shifting focus on a foreign enemy. And honestly who cares if Malaysia is our enemy. Who are they anyways. They look soft in comparison to our fighters. AFP, MILF, MNLF united under the same banner will burn Malaysia to the ground.  Filipinos don’t fear Malaysia neither should Mr. Aquino.

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