MANILA, Philippines — Senatorial aspirants are blaming the Philippine government for the standoff in Sabah that ended in the death of three people Friday when Malaysian forces attacked the “royal army” of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram encamped in the area.
In separate statements, former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon and Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino hit the Aquino administration’s methods in handling the Sulu sultan’s claims on Sabah and condemned the violence that took place in Lahad Datu, which the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed.
The government’s manner of handling the situation had been “severely woeful, anti-Filipino and subservient to Malaysia,” said Gordon.
He said that violence could have been prevented had foreign affairs officials advised the President well. “Whoever is advising the President on foreign policy matters has done terribly wrong by our people and has put us on a slippery slope with regard to this conflict.”
Gordon added that the Philippine government may have given the wrong signal to the Malaysian government, allowing them “to think by our own authorities that Filipinos are expendable.”
Casino also believed that violence could have been averted had the President offered a dialogue on the Sultanate’s claim on Sabah.
He said that Aquino’s “hardline policy of no-talk unless they pull out, in addition to prosecution, practically pushed Kiram’s group against the wall.”
“Paano sila uuwi eh kakasuhan sila? This position definitely did not solve the issue but worsened it. It may even have emboldened Malaysia to attack them because their own President appears hostile against the Filipino Muslims’ attempt to stake their claim to Sabah,” said the partylist lawmaker.