P-Noy haters feasting on the Sabah incident
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-03-03
The Sabah standoff that was instigated by the Sultanate of Sulu led to its logical conclusion — violence and bloodshed. Sultan Jamalul Kiram, his family and followers, have only themselves to blame for their ill-timed misadventure.

The known haters of President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) have converged on the Sabah incident in their unrelenting effort to erode the president’s political stock. This clearly demonstrates their desperation and lack of valid issues. These P-Noy haters have been muddling this Sabah issue in order to promote a political agenda.

They’ve affected some Filipinos who reacted with their emotions and lost altogether their ability to weigh the vital considerations. Some of them bit into the P-Noy haters’ line of the supposed government’s act of “abandoning Filipinos” in Sabah. They missed altogether the government’s position - that our primary concern is the welfare of the over 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah and not this controversial and neither here nor there Sabah claim. This shows how shallow a society we have, how easily Filipinos can be driven to make emotional decisions and thus be manipulated to undertake a certain illogical behavior.

One of the P-Noy haters questioned the quality of advisers of the president on the Sabah incident. That’s odd because up to this point, there’s nothing wrong that the government has done. P-Noy was willing to meet with Sultan Jamalul Kiram but after he orders his people home and diffuse the tension. All throughout this Sabah standoff, P-Noy was mindful of Philippine national interest. The P-Noy government has tried its best to reason with Sultan Kiram, even providing sea transport for their safe return. That’s as much as we can realistically do unless you’re entertaining the idiotic notion that we should send the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and we thus engage Malaysia in a shooting war.

It’s an idiotic notion because even within the ruling family of the Sultanate of Sulu there are unresolved counter claims by relatives that they’ve been left out. Do we expect our AFP to fight and die for a claim that may not even be legally binding? How do we explain that to the relatives of the slain AFP personnel?

Not only that — the claims of Sultan Kiram have now been overtaken by historical events. By his own wife’s admission, they’ve recalled in 1989 their 1962 ceding of Sabah to the Philippine government. This is a tussle between the Sultanate and Malaysia and best left at that. Those colonial documents that the Sultanate brandishes are as binding as the Palestinian claim to where the State of Israel now stands. Sabah is no better than fool’s gold.

Does the Sultan have the legal claim and if he did, can he enforce it? Nobody ever gave it a thought that this is precisely why he is now asking the Philippine government to support his drive to reclaim Sabah. Throughout the Sabah incident, Sultan Kiram has been acting like a spoiled brat. The spoiled kid must have his lollipop! What he could not attain by negotiation with Malaysia, he tries to attain with bravado — but with our AFP in tow. Do you expect our president to pander to that?

Consistent with larger Philippine interests, P-Noy has made all the right moves throughout this Sabah incident. He placed priority on keeping our good relations with Malaysia that’s key to attaining the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) peace deal as well as protecting the over 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah. It’s stupid aspiring for Sabah, something past presidents never got off the ground, when we have a major peace accord to shepherd. We don’t even have the naval and ground forces to send to invade and secure Sabah. Get real folks!

Teddyboy Locsin placed this issue in the right perspective in his February 26 WHAT IF Teditorial on ANC. Teddyboy said that the Sabah claim is no different from a Filipino family owing land in Long Island, New York. Yes, a Filipino owns that Long Island property but that doesn’t make it Philippine territory. Sultan Kiram and his family might own Sabah but that doesn’t make it Philippine territory that our armed forces must fight and die for. That’s not too difficult to comprehend is it?

What bears watching is if there’s indeed a sinister group behind this Sabah incident that’s paying for the costs and fanning the fires — hoping that it could create a major crisis against the P-Noy government. Notorious political operators linked to the former Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime have been trying to destabilize the government from Day 1. They’re now being eyed for involvement in this Sabah caper. If so, then this escalates the Sabah problem from a mere police problem to a national security concern.

It’s a national security concern when your actions provoke war between the Philippines and Malaysia. On this point, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima announced last February 27 that “Sultan Kiram and his brother Datu Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram and some of their men may be charged with violation of Article 118 of Revised Penal Code or inciting to war or giving occasion or motive for reprisal.”

She added: “By their unlawful and unauthorized acts, these groups are provoking or giving occasion for a war and exposing our citizens to reprisals,” she stressed, adding that if found guilty they could face six to 12 years imprisonment. Furthermore, she said: “By doing so they are putting at risk the lives and safety of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens in Sabah and jeopardizing the good relations that our country has with Malaysia.”

If indeed, this Sabah caper is a front act for a more sinister political subterfuge, then all these known P-Noy haters in media should also be investigated for complicity in an act to promote war. Their uniformed chorus — even if they’re all P-Noy haters — in this Sabah issue is very suspicious and they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this.

Filipinos shouldn’t lose sight of the real claim that our country should pursue — our territorial claim to those portions of the South China Sea that China is now occupying. If mishandled by our government, this Sabah misadventure could give China a good propaganda weapon that Filipinos have this knack for grabbing territories that are not legally theirs. Did anybody ever think of that?

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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