PERHAPS it was because of something like the so-called fog of war or an instance of the adage that history is written by the victors. But there were facts — now indisputable — that we didn’t know, or were hidden from public knowledge, during the February 1986 People Power Revolt and even three decades later. Perhaps because of the disillusionment with the presidency of the son of the so-called heroine of EDSA I, the facts have been ferreted out or have simply become clearer.
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The “Jabidah” question
Second of Three Parts
Malaysia’s leadership have been probably laughing their heads off reading about President Aquino delivering a speech in the event commemorating the alleged 1968 “Jabidah massacre” of Muslim youths initially recruited to form a commando unit codenamed to infiltrate Sabah.
It was the “Jabidah” allegations that hugged headlines for several days in 1968 that buried our claim to that territory in Borneo.
This was due to three of its consequences:
- The publicity over the alleged massacre enraged thousands of Muslim youth to swell the ranks of the fledgling Moro National Liberation Front. Malaysia after “Jabidah” not only gave it substantial finances, but also even militarily trained its first officers and provided sanctuary to its leaders. President Marcos’ Operation Merdeka (“Freedom”) was intended to create a Tausug rebellion in Sabah. Instead, because of allegations of a massacre of Muslims by Marcos’ army, it was a Muslim rebellion that broke out in Mindanao, aided by Malaysia.
- The Malaysian involvement proved to be crucial to the MNLF’s strength that by 1976 Marcos declared that the only way to end the insurgency is to give up the Sabah claim so that Malaysia would stop its crucial support of the secessionists.
- In the public consciousness, the allegation of such an atrocity as a “Jabidah massacre” was tightly linked to the Philippine claim to Sabah. Indeed writers who have been passionate in claiming a massacre occurred expectedly denigrated the claim as merely due to “Marcos expansionist tendencies.” It therefore became an unpopular agenda to champion. Since 1968, no politician would touch with a ten-foot pole our Sabah claim. That attitude ended only as a result of the bold but bloody expedition to Sabah recently by the Sulu of Sultan’s fighters. (more…)
The Manila Times, March 13, 2013
With the death toll of Filipino Muslims killed in Sabah by Malaysian authorities rising to 62 and with reports of human rights abuses against our countrymen, where the heck is ASEAN?
Forgotten it seems is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, one of whose main purposes is to “promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region”.
Ban Ki Moon, the secretary-general of the United Nationswhich consists of 193 member states last week issued a statement calling for “dialogue among all parties to end the (Sabah) conflict peacefully. He also urged “all parties to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards.”
Why hasn’t there been a similar statement – even just an innocuous one like “ASEAN is concerned over the fighting” — from ASEAN consisting of just ten member countries, whose two founders, the Philippines and Malaysia, are involved in this flashpoint in Southeast Asia?
Did our department of foreign affairs even ask ASEAN to persuade Malaysia not to throw its full, brutal force against the Sultan of Sulu’s men who had dug in in Lahad Datu and to give the government more time to talk to them? Or did it just forget to ask ASEAN? (more…)
The Manila Times, March 11 2013
THE horrific reports have started to trickle in: Muslim Filipinos being rounded up in Sabah, locked up with some without food, “treated like animals” according to eyewitness accounts, sadistically ordered to run and then shot like wild game.
Photos in Kuala Lumpur newspapers depict Muslim Filipinos—clearly unarmed— pinned down brutally by uniformed armed men. Malaysia has brought its entire military force to bear down on the Sulu sultan’s men.
The Philippine ambassador to Malaysia and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose Brilliantes— three weeks late in action though— were ignored in Sabah, their pleas to visit Filipinos detained there and for Malaysian authorities to allow our humanitarian ship dock at the port were not even given the courtesy of a reply.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario stages a dramatic trip to Malaysia to ask its government to exercise “maximum tolerance” toward the Filipino Muslims who had holed out in Lahad Datu. Even while he waited for his plane, the Malaysians were deploying instead maximum force against the Filipinos there.
His trip turned out only justify the Malaysian onslaught against the Sulu sultan’s men, as his counterpart reported that he agreed that the Filipino Muslims were terrorists. Del Rosario didn’t say the Malaysian foreign minister lied, only that he was quoted: “Outof-context”—the worn-out excuse for officials trying to wiggle away from something they regretted saying.
We have a President impotent in handling the Sabah crisis. Worse, he and his spokesmen have even been issuing statements denigrating Muslim Filipinos who had dug in in Sabah in what they believe is their homeland.
The Manila Times, March 8, 2013
Pardon the harsh words, but more than two dozen Muslim Filipinos have been killed in Sabah – some, their bodies burned by incendiary bombs. More most probably will be killed in the next few days because of lies, ignorance, or dimwittedness.
President Aquino’s policy stance, which is to let the Malaysians do what they want to do with the Sultan of Sulu’s followers who have dug in in Sabah, is due to his view that the Philippine claim on Sabah, at best, to use his words, put it “hopeless cause,” and at worst, “a weak claim.”
But Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda has demonstrated how grossly misinformed he and President Aquino are on the Philippine claim to Sabah.
In his March 5 briefing (transcript below) Lacierda was asked by Patricia Chiu, a reporter for GMA News Online, for his reaction to Senator Richard Gordon’s statement that Mr. Aquino may be courting impeachment for violating Republic Act 5446 (enacted in 1968) which affirms Sabah as Philippine territory. Gordon was referring to the law’s section 2 which reads:
“The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine Archipelago as provided in this Act is without prejudice to the delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty. (emphasis mine).”
With a mocking smirk on his face, Lacierda replied: “My goodness Senator Gordon, that has been repealed by Republic Act 9522, the new baselines law. It repealed section 2, where the demarcations [sic] of Sabah were removed.”
“So I don’t know where Senator Gordon is getting his legal knowledge but the law he is invoking has already been repealed by the new baselines law.” (more…)
The Manila Times, March 6, 2013
Here, in the US and elsewhere, the President (or the Prime Minister’s) Cabinet is not just collection of department heads or underlings, but the “official family”, the collective, as it were, whose combined wisdom and experience the nation’s leader taps for him to arrive at the most appropriate decision on problems and crises confronting the nation.
Convening regular Cabinet meetings is a recognition by the Chief Executive that he does not have the monopoly of leadership wisdom that he needs to consult with those he appointed not only for their expertise in a particular field but because of their appreciation of national issues. Since Cabinet members have, or should have , their constituencies, captive audiences, or at least social networks, Cabinet meetings are also make up a mechanism for developing national consensus on an important issue.
Except for Corazon Aquino and his son Benigno, it has been a practice for Philippine presidents – including the strongman Ferdinand Marcos – to regularly convene their Cabinets, especially to formulate a strategy to deal with a national crisis.
While the Sabah crisis has become a national crisis, one that has taken and will take the lives of many Muslim Filipinos who believe they are fighting for what is theirs and that of the country, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras said February 20:
“I don’t think you need to call a full Cabinet meeting. I can assure you that the President is on top of the situation. It is just that there are some things that are best handled in smaller groups so it’s not a full Cabinet issue.” (more…)
The Manila Times, March 4, 2013
“Is (Interior Secretary) Mar Roxas now the spokesperson for Malaysia (by claiming) that Malaysia will not talk to us? ” angrily asked Sultan Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd, whose men led by the crown prince Raja Muda defied Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s ultimatum for them to leave Sabah, or else.
Kiram though should be also asking that question rather to Roxas’ boss: Mr. Aquino, and I’m afraid the answer would be in the affirmative, so much so that Malaysia should confer on him one of its honorific titles that can be given to foreigners, like Dato.
“There will be no compromise; either they surrender or face the consequences,” the Malaysian prime minister was quoted in The Borneo Post the other day. “Surrender now, without conditions, Aquino for his part announced.
Check out everything Aquino said since the crisis broke out in February 13 — and you can easily do this in this day and age through the Internet– and you will realize that he never made even the vaguest reference that the Philippines claims Sabah as its territory, and that is the root of the crisis. (more…)
AS this column last Friday expressed apprehension over it, President Aquino and his officials were throwing to the Malaysian wolves Filipino Muslims digging in what they claimed was their legitimate homeland in Sabah.
Government’s do-what-you-want-to-do-with-them message to Malaysian authorities was made through such irresponsible statements from Mr. Aquino and his officials that the Sultan of Sulu’s claim was dormant, and that they would be even charged for violating our Constitution for the crime of inciting to rebellion.
And indeed, after the Malaysians’ assault that resulted in 12 of the Sulu Sultan’s men and two Malaysian soldiers killed, that country’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in effect said that our government implicitly cleared their move. “The Philippine Government had already said that it wanted those involved to return to the Philippines,” the Malaysian new website thestar.com quoted the home minister as saying.
Especially with blood now on his hands, Mr. Aquino must comply with his oath of office—that he will defend the Constitution and implement the laws of the land—by pursuing our territorial claim over Sabah. The Philippine claim on Sabah is only dormant— as a presidential spokesperson claims it is—if one believes that certain laws, Republic Acts, can be treated as “dormant.” (more…)