Bangsamoro transition body tiptoes around Sabah issue


MANILA, Philippines—Should the ongoing conflict in Sabah be tackled by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission?

An MILF negotiator from the indigenous community says not at this early stage of the TransCom, which formally began its work to create the Bangsamoro Basic Law that signals the peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had led a secessionist movement for the past decades.

Datu Antonio Kinoc, a member of the MILF negotiating panel, cited on Wednesday a B’laan tribal saying that one doesn’t put two glass bottles together or else one might break.

“Instead, we handle the bottles one after the other,” said Kinoc, the MILF indigenous people’s representative who is part of the B’laan tribe based in South Cotabato.

While not part of the Transition Commission, Kinoc listened to the barrage of questions thrown by the media at the 15 members of the commission led by MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, mainly about what the Bangsamoro Transition Committee, in crafting the Basic Law, could do to help resolve the long-standing Sabah issue.

It appeared that none of the commission’s answers, including Iqbal, could satisfy the reporters’ questions about the Sabah being claimed by the Sulu Sultanate, a major stakeholder in the Bangsamoro community.

The Sulu Sultanate revived its long dormant claim over Sabah, with the Royal Security Forces led by Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram arriving in the town of Lahad Datu last February.

The gunbattle between the Sultanate’s followers and the Malayian security forces has resulted in a number of deaths and arrests among both Filipino and Malaysian citizens.

There are also claims by displaced persons who have fled Sabah of human rights abuses by Malaysian authorities.

Therefore, why should Sabah be an issue alienated from the peace talks?

TransCom members answered that the issue of Sabah has not been ignored.

But commission member Hussein Munoz, the deputy chief of staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) conceded that the Sabah issue was a “very difficult question to answer.”

“But we have not yet crafted the law. So as far as Sabah is concerned, as the chairman (Iqbal) mentioned a while ago, it is not an issue in the peace negotiations,” Munoz said.

He added: “It is a matter that involves a bilateral issue between the Philippines and Malaysian governments. It is not an issue in the peace negotiation.”

Iqbal also stressed that the task of the committee is based on what is mentioned in the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement, the so-called blueprint for the peace deal between the government and the MILF.

Lawyer Johaira Wahab, the youngest member of the Transition Committee, gave the assurance that the group would not be working in a “vacuum.”

“It is not the intention of this body to ignore the realities on the ground. Of course, consultations will happen. We will talk to the communities, those who will be affected by the law. The people in the island provinces of Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan will be included in those consultations and all of these issues will be considered there,” Wahab said.

She added: “The reason why we are very careful in handling the Sabah issue is because this is the Bangsamoro transition Commission. This is not the Department of Foreign Affairs.”

“As much as we would want to comment on our personal stand on the issue of Sabah that is beyond our mandate as a group, that is beyond our mandate based on our personal appointments to the Transition Commission,” she said.

Beyond Sabah and back to the concerns on the peace deal between the government and the MILF, Iqbal said in his opening remarks that the MILF “views the Commission as its first initial partnership with the (government).”

“As such, it shall endeavor to reach consensus with representatives of the government on major decisions in the course of its work. We shall not work against each other but instead work with each other to address the Moro Problem, or more correctly, the Moro Question,” Iqbal said.

For her part, government chief negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said that despite the many challenges faced by both panels, no one has been “defeated” and that with the Transition Committee, “We have moved forward.”

At the press conference, Iqbal stressed the need to finish the three remaining annexes on power sharing, normalization, and wealth sharing so that the Transition Committee would be able to discuss “substantive issues.”

But like Ferrer, he is optimistic that the annexes would be signed soon, following a sudden postponement of the 37th exploratory talks reportedly because President Aquino first wanted to review the three annexes.

The MILF said the negotiations could no longer afford any delay.

But Iqbal said he remained confident because “the gains we have achieved so far are really tremendous.”

“We see that we have partner in government in the person of the President himself…. We need to surmount the obstacles,” he said.

Asked if the Transition Commission would see the need to amend the Constitution, Iqbal said the issue “cannot be settled now.”

“The position of government is that the flexibility of the current Constitution will accommodate the (provisions in the peace accord). But the MILF position is the current Constitution of the Philippines requires an amendment. But we will move forward and time will come we will see if there is a need to amend the Constitution or not,” Iqbal said.

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  • Albert Einstien

    with gdp of $ 500 billion..the 3rd largest economy in ASEAN …29th largest in the world (RP number 43 only )

    the way i see it….

    MALAYSIA’s ambitious game plan… will take MINDANAO then visayas & luzon there will be failure of RP governance mainly due to peace & order… that sabah will be safe from RECLAIM..they will increase their resources & gdp..economic strenght will be attained…..and will take BRUNEI next because brunei will be depleted in oil & gas by 15-20 years time. they will become weak but malaysia is already a developed country by then…….if malaysia have taken the territory & resources of both RP & BRUNEI…..then indonesia will be last on the menu ….. tiny singapore will only be their dessert by then….if ever they can defeat indonesia….EXPANSION is their game plan….BEWARE RP…!

    VISION 2050 of RP should be APOLITICAL..a patriotic cause….!

    • antinutcase

      Ever occurred to you that the main reason any country develops its resources and economic potential is to keep improving quality of life of its citizens Einstien ?

      • Albert Einstien

        thats VERY VERY true…….that’s were INSATIABLE GREED comes in …WANT & NEED of resources…that’s why wars are inevitable…a NATION prepared is a NATION secured…..

        that is why MALAYSIA ..have to pass three countries singapore, indonesia & brunei..and crossed the vast south china sea JUST to ROB the resources & territory of RP SABAH…… : > )

      • antinutcase

        Actually from the east coast of peninsula malaysia, we can cross directly the south china sea to reach sabah without the need to go through singapore, indonesia and brunei. Have a look at the map of malaysia, einstien.

      • John John

        And FIlipinos who are frustrated that their country is being ruined by their own weak government & corrupt officials and politicians take it out by blaming other people.

    • Guest

      hahaha, I think u have eaten something that make u drunk; The latest economic info is that Philippines posted the highest economic growth of 6.6% the highest in Asia second only to China. Malaysia is only the third in the bracket. U go to CNN and other internationa medias even youtube for your eyes to be opened of the aspiring economic tigers in Asia and Philippines lead them all.

      • Albert Einstien

        your argument is LIGHT YEARS away from the topic of MALAYSIA’s game plan….just READ first before you comment ………lol

        do you REALLY want me to argue about the economic growth of RP?

        if you are a yellow zombie…just say so and i will tell you that your NOYNOYING govt is JUST CREDIT GRABBING…but if you are not a yellow zombie then i wont argue with you about economic growth of RP…. : >)

      • John John

        Even if Philippines is gaining 6.6% GDP now,Malaysia already had reached consistent 6.3% GDP for the last few years.And Malaysia has a much solid larger base economy to support & sustain this GDP growth than the Philippines.

        The days of the Philippines as an Asian tiger economy died in the economic crunch in 1997.

  • Psiitoon Charoenkrung

    It is very clear that the MILF is falling into the grand design of the Malaysians and that is to let MILF face the MNLF and kill each other. The MNLF is backing the Sultanate of Sulu in its struggle to take Sabah back. To neutralize the MNLF and to keep Sabah, the Malaysians is trying to broker a peace deal between the government and the MILF. Then they will use the MILF to run after the MNLF especially the sultanate of Sulu. All Muslims in Mindanao should open their eyes on the hypocrisies of the Malaysians. Its the Malaysians who fomented rebellion in Mindanao and for that they never have a sincere desire for peace in Mindanao. All Muslims in Mindanao should unite to take Sabah back because it is their promise land given to them by Allah

    • antinutcase

      You are not trying to start a new religion, are you? I don’t believe any of the Kitabs – Zabur, Taurat, Injil and Quran, mentions anything about sabah being The Promised Land for the people of southern philippines. And you just don’t pawn off ‘ the promised land’ in the first place .


    Trouble in Southern Philippines will go on forever no matter how much PH government will pour Taxpayer fund on this sink hole. Simply because Malaysia is funding the trouble so that Sabah will remain on Malaysian federation.
    Take over Sabah for it belongs to PH. Only then there would be peace in Southern PH.
    The Abnoy in Malacanang is a Traitor. A lapdog of Malaysia.

    • John John

      then by your standards Cory,FVR,Erap & GMA all are also lapdogs of Malaysia because they also did nothing on the Sabah claim. Please include them in your list of traitors.

      • ARIKUTIK

        The mentioned past presidents did not devise a SECRET deal with Malaysia through MILF to give away Sabah including southern PH. Only Penoy the TRAITOR had done everything on his power to sell out Philippines. He even permitted the torture and massacre of Filipinos in Sabah and whoever may scape. Penoy will persecute and throw in jail. His mouth decreed it so.

        Penoy is corrupt, salivating for Malaysian bribe.

  • Natx Bacalzo

    The reason Sabah is not part of the Bangsamoro transition is clear and simple – malaysia. MILF being agents of malaysia in the sell-out of Sabah will not include it in the Bangsamore transistion now or in the future. It is now up to the Filipinos and especially the people of Sulu, Tawi-tawi and Basilan to claim Sabah as their patrimony,

    PH-MILF peace pact is a dead meat once it is submitted for plebiscite.


      Penoy is the broker to sell out PH Sabah claim. Remember PENOY deal with MILF and MALAYSIA was SECRETLY cooked outside the country beyond the prying eyes of PH citizens. Luckily they caught but no any explanation why they meet in SECRET.
      Penoy is a cheat TRAITOR.


    In terms of demographics, Sabah belongs to PH, NOT Malaysia.

    Penoy insist that Sabah is Malaysia by granting them license to oppress and massacre Filipinos in Sabah.
    The Pwesident is a Traitor.

  • antinutcase

    Yes pitiful indeed when you have to use distance between two places to argue and decide the sovereignty of a territory. Who cares about the desire of the inhabitants of the territory, right ?

    • Albert Einstien

      why NOT ?…..DISTANCE & PROXIMITY will expose ROBBERY & territory grabbing ….they are powerful convincing evidence if coupled with the malaysian CHECKS as rental payments…a mere LEASE will not ripen to ownership……distance & proximity are very relevant in ownership dispute resolution….all evidence pointing to RP as true owner of sabah….PITIFUL isn’t it…taking illegally the property of another …against the protestation & consent of its owner…….just return sabah to rp….. : > )

      • antinutcase

        If it is as easy as you have just argued, I wonder why all of the Presidents that had been in power through the years did not manage to bring the matter to icj and won this ‘slam-dunk’ case ?

        Perhaps, they made the mistake of not using your argument of distance and proximity ?

      • Albert Einstien

        superpower interest, malaysian corruption , malaysian funding , training & arming rebels & incompetence made them

  • misuari playboy

    GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! the land of moros and tausugs have the largest gold deposit but the conniving philippines government does not want the southerners to know. Instead they press on with philippines government agenda of keeping mindanao and sulu in poverty. It is time for a UN REFERENDUM so the people can VOTE INDEPENDENCE FROM PHILIPPINES!

  • LabkoPinas

    The relatives of Aquino such as the Cojuangcos are getting lucrative deals to do in Malaysia and the MILF brokered peace is dependent on Malaysia so why are we not surprise why they have this to say about Sabah? We understand. You all got your share of the booty!

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