Time to pay the piper
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-03-14

Judging from the comments now being received in my feedback mailbox, it’s evident that many Filipinos have seen through the pattern of deception that was woven by the Sultanate of Sulu and his followers. Asking Filipinos to support their cause, even at the risk of a Philippine-Malaysian war, when in their heart of hearts they knew that the Sabah claim was strictly between them and Malaysia, just didn’t sit well with many folks. The Kirams were deceiving Filipinos here and in Sabah to risk life and resources for something that didn’t involve them at all.

Many of the feedback received reflect realization that President Benigno Aquino III (P-Noy) did his job well in this Sabah crisis. P-Noy couldn’t have mishandled a claim that didn’t involve the Philippines anymore, as admitted by the Kirams. Mishandling would have happened if P-Noy engaged Philippine resources and the armed forces in the pursuit of a claim that didn’t involve us. Clearly, P-Noy’s actions consistently protected Philippine national interest — the over 800,000 Filipinos working in Sabah, avoiding war and maintaining our mutually beneficial relations with Malaysia.

One reader even absolved the government for those charging it for failure of intelligence. Fernando Anluagui wrote: “I tend to disagree that there was a failure of intelligence with the unexpected and now debacle of the followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram at Lahad Datu in the Northern Federal State of Sabah, which is a part of Malaysia. The Tausugs including members of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) who consider Sabah home and can traverse Sabah back and forth without entailing the suspicion of either the Philippine and Malaysian navies, shows that Sabah is like a melting pot for all Muslims in the south, just like Divisoria for Christians of the north, and the Sulu and Tawi Tawi islands which are only a stone throw from the enticing allure of Sabah.”

Anluagui thinks this “has encouraged the Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu to visit as home sick inhabitants of their ancestral land. It is not unusual for the Philippine Navy and Malaysian Navy to see Muslims even with guns sailing back and forth to Sulu and Sabah. What failure of intelligence are we talking about when even Special Forces from the US army, as members of the VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement), also see this thing going on in front of their myopic eyes.”

He added: “How can you find fault when the economies of Sulu are intertwined with that of Sabah. All the basic commodities of the islands of Tawi Tawi and Sulu, such as rice, sugar and even gasoline and diesel, comes from Sabah instead of coming from either other points of Mindanao, Visayas or Luzon. What was despicable was for the Sultan of Sulu to have telegraphed his move without thinking about the eventuality of his braggadocio on the lives of around 800,000 undocumented Muslims and predominantly Tausugs who are now bearing the brunt of the Malaysian onslaught.”

“Now, Sultan Jamalul Kiram, his family and followers who were openly promoting this Sabah misadventure will have to face charges both here and in Malaysia. The appropriate charges that apply to them here are found in Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code — Inciting to War or Giving Motives for Reprisals. The provisions read: “The penalty of reclusion temporal shall be imposed upon any public officer or employee, and that of prision mayor upon any private individual, who, by unlawful or unauthorized acts provokes or gives occasion for a war involving or liable to involve the Philippine Islands or exposes Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property.”

Per a legal eagle, the Giving Motives for Reprisals aspect of Article 118 is the easiest crime to prosecute because this doesn’t even require actual reprisals to happen — but in this case the reprisals did happen and are still happening against Filipinos in Sabah. Whether the Kirams and their followers anticipated this consequence of their acts is immaterial. The results of their acts — reprisals against Filipinos in Sabah — make them accountable here.

Media here should stop providing coverage to persons and groups now preying on this issue in order to share in the media attention. Publicity hound Dante Jimenez visited the Kiram Palace, suggesting that peacekeepers be sent. That’s idiotic because you don’t send peacekeepers where there are good relations between the Philippines and Malaysia. Media should focus now on how we can repair the damage that Kiram’s Sabah misadventure spawned, especially the displaced Sabahans who returned but have no jobs here.

After their announcement of a unilateral ceasefire remained unreciprocated, the Kirams are now probing other face-saving mechanisms. They’ve called on the United Nations (UN) to probe human rights violations in Malaysia. When you commit a criminal act that threatens a country’s national security — be ready to be dealt with severely. What did the Kirams expect from Malaysia — punishment of 50 pushups, as inspired by former president Fidel V. Ramos in dealing with coup plotters?

Last Monday, the Kirams tried a new approach. They met with Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to explore the avenue of disengagement — a euphemism for surrender. What a fake! Admit it! Your jig is up and it’s time to pay the piper.

* * *

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

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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