We have a claim over Sabah

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

When Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad came to Manila last week, he mentioned that the Philippines has no claim over Sabah. Hmmm, the Malaysian Prime Minister thinks that his press statement suddenly solved this age-old problem because of his ties with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte. He probably doesn’t know that during the presidential campaign in 2016, no less than President Rodrigo Duterte said he would pursue the country’s claim over Sabah, which had been under the Sultanate of Sulu until it came under the administration of British North Borneo Co. in the late 19th century. However Mahathir blatantly insisted that the Philippines does not have claim over the area.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that “The position of President Duterte, as he pointed out, we have a claim. It is true that we have a claim. That has been a bone of contention ever since the time of President (Ferdinand) Marcos.” This is very true, but the problem then was Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. blocked the proposal of Pres. Marcos about our claims and the infamous Jabidah Massacre, which will be 51 years old next week, on March 18, 1968. When the late Sen. Aquino went to Jolo, he didn’t see any mourning Muslims seeking justice for the massacre…so in a way this was the first false news reporting in the Philippines.

No doubt, the Philippines has been claiming that Sabah was only leased, not ceded, to the British North Borneo Co. before the British government declared it a part of the newly created Federation of Malaysia in 1963 where they turned over Philippine sovereignty over Sabah to Malaysia… a monumental mistake of the British Colony. Come now, we really know for a fact that the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu continue to receive lease payments for Sabah even today. I remember even seeing a rental check which someone took a picture very recently.

Actually, the reason why Malaysia does not believe that the Philippines has no claim over Sabah is because Sabah was a part of the Philippines and the huge mistake was the British government knew this and transferred Sabah to Malaysia which the British just created. The main issue of contention is, simply the British could never transfer sovereignty of the Philippines in Sabah to Malaysia.

But the bigger issue here is simply, the Philippines has not done anything to reclaim Sabah even through official letters sent by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Mind you, Sabah is an oil producer, so all the more we should be serious in making this claim a reality. I hope Pres. Duterte will make this claim official in our meeting with ASEAN.

For me, the time for talk is over. We should never allow the mistake of the British government to become officially legal. The British made a serious mistake in dividing India and Pakistan without solving the problem of Kurdistan; they gave Israel a state but denied the Palestinian people their lands, etc. etc. So let’s ask Pres. Duterte to make good his promise to pursue Sabah. After all, it was truly part of the Philippines a long time ago and Sabah has made Malaysia an oil producing region, which we should have been known by now. While Pres. Duterte wants the Philippines out of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), we should have brought our claims over Sabah to the ICJ, but I guess it is too late now. Better through the ASEAN.

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Today, Cebu starts a forum to meet our political candidates; and the first in our list are the Senatoriables, whoever accepts our invitation. The title of our MEGA Candidates Forum is co-organized by the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc., Commission on Elections (Comelec), University of San Carlos (USC) CenVisNet, MyTV Cebu and the 888 News Forum and the two local news dailies, The Freeman and SunStar. This is a series of political guests starting with Senatorial candidates and would move to the local election scene next month.

This candidates forum officially started yesterday at the USC Law auditorium at 1:30 p.m. with our guests Gary Alejano of Otso Diretso, Ka Leody De Guzman of San Lakas, Evangeline Generoso, Richard Altajora and Emily Mallilin. These are Senatorial candidates that most of our readers do not know, which is the reason why we are presenting them to the public so they can really meet the candidates in person.

This event is open to the public and for those who cannot join us MyTV channel 30 and Channel 28 in Northern Mindanao will be showing on TV hopefully the next day. This is not presented on mainstream television simply because they could not cover the event in its entirety due to cost considerations. This forum is attended by students not only from USC but also from other schools that were invited to the event, and the electorate who might want to meet and ask questions from these Senatoriables.

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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