MANILA, Philippines—Party-list representative and senatorial candidate Teddy Casiño on Wednesday called on the House of Representatives to investigate the executive department’s and President Aquino’s mishandling of the Sabah issue.
“Not only has President Benigno Aquino III’s actions antagonized the Sultanate of Sulu, resulting in a crisis, he has also undermined the country’s claim to Sabah,” said Casiño of the leftist Bayan Muna party-list group.
Casiño filed House Resolution 3042 on Wednesday, calling for an investigation into the armed conflict now going on between Malaysia and Filipino Muslim followers of the Sultanate of Sulu and “the propriety of the position taken by President Aquino in supporting Malaysia and thereby undermining the Philippine claim on Sabah.”
“By calling for the surrender of [Sulu Sultan Jamalul] Kiram III’s group, without conditions and echoing and justifying Malaysia’s militarist solution to the dispute, Aquino has basically dropped the country’s legitimate claim on Sabah. Surely, Congress and other bodies must do something to correct this,” said Casiño, who is running under the Makabayan Coalition.
Solid legal grounds
“I really don’t know how the President could think that he could force Kiram’s group to return home without opening talks, and even threatening to charge them. Add to that the fact that Aquino remains adamant on ignoring Kiram who had clarified that they want the government to have national sovereignty over Sabah,” he said.
“They had been snubbed during the peace talks on Mindanao, now they are being attacked by their own government for pursuing the centuries-old claim on Sabah,” Casiño said.
Casiño said the Philippines had “solid historical and legal grounds for reclaiming Sabah.”
“The Philippine government must follow through on its official claim to the territory not only for the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu but for the Filipino people and the nation,” he said in his resolution.
“It is in our national interest that the government revive the Philippine claim on Sabah. Sabah is inhabited by some 800,000 Filipinos. It is rich in oil, gas and other natural resources,” he said.
“It must not abandon our Filipino Muslim brothers and sisters on the island, who consider Sabah as part of their ancestral domain,” Casiño added.—With Christian V. Esguerra