We’ve been doomed to repeat the Sabah issue
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - March 7, 2013 - 12:00am

I don’t know where they get their information, but it seems that Malacañang is seeing conspiracy theories in the recent bloody incident that has been happening in Sabah in the last two weeks. Whoever is feeding the wrong information to President Benigno Aquino III is doing this nation a grave disservice and should be fired from his job. No one ever said that there were easy solutions to the problems of the Sultan of Sulu and of Sabah or the Tausugs now being mercilessly killed by Malaysian soldiers.

One Malacañang adviser even dared to suggest that media personalities who agree with the thinking of the Sultan of Sulu should be indicted! Wow! I didn’t know that press freedom in this country meant that every journalist must think like the people propping up the Aquino regime. I submit that I’m a student of history and one of the few columnists who already wrote about the Sabah question long before this incident even got into the national consciousness, should I now face charges under this regime because we believe that this issue should finally be resolved?

Last Oct. 14, when President Aquino signed that peace agreement with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Chief Al Haj Murad and said, “Today, we signed an agreement that can finally see genuine lasting peace in Mindanao. This agreement marks a new chapter in history.” But we wrote columns contradicting this claim of peace, not because we don’t want peace, but rather because we know that lasting peace can only be achieved if you talk with all the armed groups roaming in Mindanao.

We also wrote that the peace panel created by P-Noy should have included the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) which is the group recognized by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), but instead, this government sat down and talked peace with the splinter group that veered away from the MNLF. Hence our conclusion that there could never be any lasting peace in Mindanao until the issues of the MNLF, including the Sabah claim is resolved. But how can the Sabah case be resolved when the majority of the Filipino people have no knowledge of the history behind it?

I was a guest speaker at a Mindanao Pro-Life Conference in Iligan last Feb. 23 and aside from my topic on the ramifications of the RH Law, I also talked about the coming elections and the use of the PCOS machines. Then I asked the audience if they wanted to know more about the Sabah issue and the audience was very thankful that I included it in my talk because they never knew about this issue. They even told me that their teachers were still in grade school when the Sabah case hogged the headlines in the 1960s.

Remember that old quote by George Santayana (1863-1952) “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is one quotation that stares every Filipino in the eyes. I have written volumes in our previous columns about our nation’s inability to solve our problems and if I’ll name them all, I’d run out of space. But like it or not, the Sabah question is one of them. Why did our past and present political leadership not dare to tackle this question is something of an enigma.

I can only say that perhaps all the past Presidents after the EDSA Revolt to the present President never cared to solve this issue. In fairness to President Ferdinand E. Marcos, he concocted “Operation Merdeka,” a covert operation to infiltrate Sabah, but this ended in that disaster called the “Jabidah Massacre”. Even the court martial of this mass killing in the island of Corregidor was totally forgotten… another unresolved case of injustice. 

Speaking of a grave injustice… are columnists now being under threat because they believe that Sabah belongs to the Philippines? Let’s take a quote from my dear friend, Nelson Navarro who wrote in this paper, “I am saddened by President Aquino’s harsh attitude towards Sulu activists holed up in Sabah and his insensitivity to human rights issues that seems to fall heartlessly in line with the overblown national security position of the Malaysians.” That was quite a mouthful from Nelson who supports P-Noy.

In his column, Hindsight, F. Sionil Jose wrote, “Malaysia started supporting the Moro Rebels. Why Malaysia became an arbiter in the current Moro rebellion raises two questions. Why has Malaysia, which has a vested interest in the dispute, become an arbiter? Why did our leaders internationalize a purely domestic problem? In the first place, why is there such a problem at all? The Tausugs should infiltrate Sabah. It is their right, too. If the government cannot help the Tausugs publicly, it should help them secretly. They must not let the claim be dormant merely because Malaysia is a member of ASEAN.” At least, here in the Philippine STAR, including Jarius Bondoc, we are not alone in believing that the Philippines has a legal claim to Sabah.

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com


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