Aquino: I won’t allow Sulu sultan to drag PH into war with Malaysia


President Aquino: Peace

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—President Aquino on Wednesday declared that he would not allow the sultanate of Sulu to drag the country into a conflict with Malaysia.

A day after Malaysian forces launched a major operation to flush out the sultan’s armed followers at Lahad Datu town in Sabah, Aquino noted that the family of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III was engaged in a “propaganda war” ostensibly to elicit sympathy from Filipinos.

Addressing a campaign rally of Team PNoy, the President turned emotional as he explained his decision not to discuss the Sabah claim with Kiram unless the sultan first recalled his followers from Sabah.

“I appeal to you—we should be really clear on this—this incident is wrong. If this is wrong, why should we lend support to this? We should support what is right … which will lead us to brighter prospects; the wrong option will only bring us ruin. That’s it, that’s my simple message,” he said to applause from the audience.

“Let’s not forget: What they are pushing for is their right as so-called heirs of the sultan of Sulu. It’s not yet clear if their rights have been transferred to the Philippines. But we will all be affected by their conflict (with Malaysia),” the President lamented.

Women spokespersons

A Palace official told the Inquirer that the President had been advised against further commenting on the Sabah standoff but still made these impromptu remarks during the rally to explain the government’s position in clear and unequivocal terms.

The official, who was not authorized to talk to reporters, admitted that the Palace’s position was becoming unpopular with the public, referring to Kiram using women as spokespersons.

In his speech, the President reiterated his call for the Kirams to stand down, order their followers to leave Lahad Datu, “and talk about your problem through a peaceful and orderly process.”

“Was that suggestion wrong?” he asked. “Is it right for others to seek support for those (at Lahad Datu) who are carrying arms that have led to killings?”

He admitted that the relations between Malaysia and the Philippines had been colored by the Sabah issue.

“Is it the interest of the Kirams, or the interest of the nation? Naturally, (we would prefer to achieve) both. This made me think, and we have truthfully studied this: They are claiming Sabah. Where did the problem that they no longer own it come from? Wasn’t this caused by their forebears who gave the lease or authority to the British to administer Sabah?” Aquino said.

“If they have a problem with the (lease) agreement, and if we are interested (to pursue this), we should talk about it through a peaceful dialogue,” he said. “If the agreement is flawed, let’s correct it.”

Conflict with China

Without mentioning China, the President noted that the country had a territorial dispute with a “big nation” but he said he never advocated the use of force to settle the issue.

“We brought the issue to the (international) court to press for our right as a state. Whichever community, wherever you are in the whole wide world, an armed group entering the (territory) is not the key to a peaceful and orderly dialogue?” he said.

In the last three weeks, Aquino admitted that he learned a lot from studying the Sabah conflict.

Jabidah massacre

He recalled that his father, the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., had delivered a privilege speech on the Jabidah massacre in 1968 that later sparked the Moro revolt.

He cited the power of attorney mentioned by then Sen. Ambrosio Padilla dated Feb. 1, 1968, “allegedly executed by the heirs of the sultan of Sulu, in favor of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, recognizing the authority and power of the President to represent them in their settlement of their propriety rights over Sabah.”

“Therefore, I, as father of the nation, it is my obligation to safeguard the welfare of all Filipinos,” Aquino said, highlighting the decision of Malaysia to broker peace talks between his administration and the Moro rebels.

“Our relationship was becoming stronger when this (conflict) suddenly broke out … Someone in Malaysia will say: Is this how our relations with the Philippines will progress? We will always quarrel over Sabah? Are we fighting over this?”

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  • sopingac

    Who said we want to go to war with Malaysia? Kahit mga Kiram ay hindi ganyan ang gusto nila. Gusto lang nila na maparating sa international community ang kanilang ipinaglalaban. 

    I am not even sure myself if I will support their claim of Sabah but I do understand their side of the story but our own President failed to recognize it. The Sabah claim has been consistent since the time of Macapagal and it is only now that we have a leader who not only failed to help and protect the heirs of the sultanate but also acted like he is the spokesman and lynch man of Malaysia.

    Kahit mga kriminal na Pilipino sa ibang bansa ay tinutulungan ng pamahalaan pero bakit wala man lang tulong na diplomasya na nai-ambag si Pnoy? He should have acted like our leader and not as a lapdog of Malaysia.

    Dumb President.

    • Jose

      “Who said we want to go to war with Malaysia?”

      Multiple idiots on these forums.

  • Platypus09

    Sabah belongs to Sabah natives for centuries.

    Sultan Brunei claimed it against Sabah natives will and passed it on to Sulu Sultan as if they own it. And this Kiram thinks they own it.

    Sabah is owned by Sahanans, not by any sultan or any king.

  • AllinLawisFair

    ARTICLE II, Section 2 of the Constitution states that

    “The Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy, adopts the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land and adheres to the policy of peace, equality, justice, freedom, cooperation, and amity with all nations.”

    As Father of the nation, the President of the Republic cannot be dragged by any citizen or group of citizens who what to pursue their personal claim on “their real property,” especially in this case where the claimants wanted to carry out their claim with the use of arms which may only lead to bloodshed as has been the case now. 

    It is just right that he calls on them to return home and lay down their arms first before any talks or negotiations is possible. Those armed groups cannot raise their weapons and make their demands. As the Constitution also stipulates, anything obtained with the use of threats or force is null and void.

    And, the Kiram family cannot and should not demand help from the national government and its armed forces to aid them in their personal family claim as if the whole armed forces of the nation is at their service.

  • JasonBieber

    There is basically a war happening in Lahad Datu…is PNoy aware of that? If PNoy does not want to engage in war maybe he should have thought of that before ignoring the Sultan and his people for over 3 years.

  • AngAswang12

    The Malaysians have the upper hand. We call it realpolitik. Their economy is better than ours. Their military might is greater than ours. Why drag the country into a fight with a stronger neighbor out of a claim being historically contested by other claimants. I hope now the Kirams, Nur Misuari, the MNLF, and brainless dudes who thinks from their balls rather their brains are now happy with the mess they have brought to hardworking innocent filipinos just trying to earn a decent living in Malaysia.
    Allahu Akbar.

  • Jojo

    team pinoy will face toughest defeat in this MAY 2013 senatorial election specially in mindanao muslim voters…

  • branlem

    Difficult balancing act for the President here.  Yes we have a legitimate stake on Sabah but the timing or the manner of reviving the issue is very suspicious.   It is meant to primarily put the President in the bad light.   Take an aggressive position with the Sultan and you drag the entire nation into a conflict situation – not tenable.  Going easy on the issue means anti nationalistic stance.   Whew….there is no other way but go the middle which is what the President is trying to do..let’s help him out.   There is no other way but take the issue before the ICJ.   If we win then malaysia will definitely accede to the findings of such a prestigious body.   The only way….

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