‘Limited force’ could be used to rescue Filipinos in Sabah, says Santiago


Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippines may use “limited force” against Malaysia if the  lives of Filipinos caught  in the middle  of a violent dispute in Sabah are in danger, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago said  on Friday.

While the use of law is prohibited under international law, Santiago said there are certain conditions that allow a state to use a “limited  force”   to protect and save the lives of its nationals.

“International law prohibits the use of force.  But there is an unwritten exception which allows states to protect or rescue their nationals by means of armed forces in the territory of another state,”  she said before the annual convention of the Association of Nursing Service Administrators Philippines held at the Manila Hotel.
“However, this exception should not be invoked, unless the Philippines has to carry out rescue operations,” said Santiago, a judge-elect at the International Criminal Court.

Santiago said among the pre-conditions that the  Philippine must first observe before  undertaking rescue operations in Malaysia are the following:

  • The lives of Filipino nationals should be genuinely in danger
  • Malaysia is unwilling or unable to ensure the safety of the persons concerned
  • The Philippines does not pursue any other purpose at the occasion of the operation
  • The scale and effects of the military force used are adequately measured to the purpose and conditions of the operation.

Asked  later during a press conference if the present  situation  in Sabah  warrants  the  Philippines’ use of  a limited force against  Malaysian authorities, Santiago said, “ According to the preconditions that are available, then the   Philippines could go to war in a limited sense as long as  these preconditions are met…”

“So as long as we meet these conditions under international law, we can avail of the exemption that allows us to use limited force to rescue Filipinos. We should have rescue operations there if the Filipinos are in danger of losing their lives,” she said.

Under international law, Santiago said, the  states in  conflict  with each other must avail  only peaceful means of settlements  of dispute.

“Meaning to say that war is considered illegal under international law for proving that a state has the right of sovereignty over a certain territory…That  of course applies to the dispute in Sabah by the Philippines and Malaysia,” she pointed out.

But the senator pointed out   how Malaysia stood  firm in sending first Filipinos out of Sabah before discussing any means  of settlement to end the dispute.

This attitude  by Malaysia, she said, was not approved by the international law.

“That’s is not provided for  by international law. If Malaysia insists that first Filipinos should all get out of Sabah then it will be willing to discuss any means of settlement of dispute, I’m afraid that Malaysia will be in danger   of being branded as a rouge state by the international community. That behavior is not anticipated and is not approved of by international law,” she said.

But  before  the  Philippines  takes  any action against  Malaysia, Santiago proposed the appointment of a third-party that would investigate  the recent spate of violence  in  Sabah.

When Congress opens in July, the senator said she would file a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that President Benigno Aquino III should invite  Malaysia to agree  to an investigation by a third-party.

Santiago said the third-party could be a former prime minister or president of Southeast Asian Nations.

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  • gryzyxwoz

    Now, this is exactly the kind of action we shouldn’t be taking. What Ms. Santiago is suggesting could start an uncontrollable conflagration. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire! A military expert, she is not.

  • avmphil

    Reply to: Raymond Adam: − “where did you get your facts and figures? Totally misleading….”

    My demography is based on the collective 3 principal ethnic peoples. The Kadazandusun , their derivatives, The Sabah Malays ( proto Malay Filipinos ) and their derivatives and the Chinese to make the main plural races. But one must come to terms especially those at PutraJaya, what next after this Sulu fiasco?

    West Malaysia’s hold and the manipulative methods to bind the East Malaysian peoples is on the fringes of collapse. Nevertheless, the sweeping actions by Malaysian Armed force against the Sulu” rebels” is an interlude. And it now brings to fore important effects, where the political consciousness of Sabahans has given a great stimulus for self-determination. And there is no stopping in this process.Lest West Malaysian leaders turn ‘dictatorial’.

  • Olibo

    The fourth precondition wil make the PH govt. to think twice prior to undertake rescue operation as Malaysia has capability to deter such action. Lalakas lang ang loob dahil sa batas pero mahina pa rin ang tuhod. Maaring tolongges ang Malaysians sa retaking attempt ng “Royal Army” ni Kiram, but this served as wake up call for them to fortify their coastlines. It would be foolish now for a weakling country like PH to attempt such rescue action. Sa pelikula lang ni James Bond nagkakatotoo yun.

  • iym

    and this skank vying the office of ICC? what a joke…

  • Eagle from Davao

    These unwritten laws decribed by Sen.Santiago were used by US,UK ,Israel and France in many occasions. Such us in Panama against noriega, grenada islands when rebels hostage US students,Killing of osama in pakistan, invasion of afghanistan going after
    Al Queda when they refuse to handover osama, rescue of french nationals hostaged by al shabbah in somalia,somalia against aidid(blackhawk down), boxer rebellion rescue of US embassy in Peking,The failed rescue of US embassy in tehran,Raid in Entebbe by Israeli special forces and more.
    But, the real bottom line here is not the intention,it is the capabilities of your armed forces to carry out those limited military operations successfully.

    • Lansik Mata II

      Absolutely, when you don’t care about other people. However, I would do the same against Al Queda, Somali pirates and war lords, Taliban and the like, including the Royal Sulu Army. In fact, if I am in the commanding general of the Malaysian Army, I would authorise incursions into Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Mindanao and nearby island, to terrorise the terrorists. Fortunately, for good relation between Malaysia and the Philippines, Alhamdulillah, I am just a blogger.

  • blowcoldblowhot

    can never guarantee that even if you try really hard, you will succeed. But you
    can always guarantee that you will fail, by quitting.

  • Edgardo Mendoza


  • Lansik Mata II

    Why not prevent such limited war? Send in the boats now and peacefully bring back and resettle the 850,000 Filipinos;.Isn’t this a logical and responsible solution?

    It appears that this lady want her cake and eat it at the same time.

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