The interest of the nation is paramount
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - March 14, 2019 - 12:00am

I have a letter in response to my Sabah article. “Hi Mr. Bobit, this is my feedback regarding your column  in the Philippine STAR titled “We have a claim over Sabah.” In my opinion, this is impossible and should already been a closed case. I have to cite a copy of The Deed of 1878 (page 266, History of the Filipino People, 8th Edition by Teodoro A. Agoncillo) which was signed by Sultan of Sulu Mohammed Jamalul Alam complete with the Official Seal ]. It has a part there which says “to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck of Hong Kong, and to Alfred Dent, Esquire of London, who act as representatives of a British Company, together with their heirs, associates, successors, and assigned Forever until the end of time, all rights and powers which we possess over all territories and lands tributary to us on the mainland of the Island of Borneo.” From this, it is clear that the Sultan of Sulu had made a big mistake of dealing with the British and signing the document in which the damages are now irreversible.

Add to that the Sabahans prefer to remain a part of Malaysia through a referendum.Btw, why would they choose the Philippines especially Imperial Manila who failed to improve the conditions in Mindanao (with ARMM now BARMM, the poorest region in the Philippines)? Mind you many places in Mindanao still didn’t have proper electricity,roads,water services, etc.Would the Sabahans exchange their better standard of life under Malaysia? The Pinoy politicians with the backing of some establishments still pushing for Philippine claim over Sabah should be ashamed of themselves, I know their intention is just to profit from the lucrative oil industry in Sabah not for the welfare of the people there. BTW, my mother is a Tausug and shares the same sentiment. Sabah is BETTER off with Malaysia. Regards” I will not go on a debate with this letter writer but ask the question, why is Malaysia still renting to the Sultan of Sulu until now?

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Allow me to speak out on the issue of the still non-approval of the 2019 national budget, which, to put it bluntly a quarrel between House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson who insisted that the GAA version approved by the House and Senate bicameral conference committee had been amended by the House and P95 billion in “pork barrel” funds realigned to favor allies of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We are definitely seeing the present reality that Sen. Lacson never liked House Speaker Arroyo even when she was still President?

Surely people know that Sen. Lacson had always been against GMA, even branding her getting elected as House Speaker as a maneuver to get herself elected as Prime Minister under a new parliamentary system of government as the Duterte Administration sought to push amendments to the 1987 Constitution to implement a shift to a federal system of government. Speaker GMA blandly crushed the argument by declaring she was already on a retirement mode and was on her last elective post which she never sought as it was pushed by political factions that were dissatisfied with the leadership of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. 

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said there is a rationale explanation to the Senate claim that amendments were made to the bicam-approved version of the 2019 GAA by the House. There is no conspiracy, no changes made in the bicam-approved 2019 national budget, except the House contingent wanted an itemized allocation of the budgets approved for departments to make them more transparent and easy to scrutinize, and he added that it is within the Constitution, the same amounts are allotted to the departments and the districts, and if the senators feel they should be removed then they should just specify which portion of the 2019 GAA should be vetoed by President Rodrigo Duterte when he signs it into law.

So why is Sen. Lacson gunning for the House Speaker especially when he accused her of putting infrastructure allocations in this budget for GMA’s Pampanga Congressional District which he says is the largest for 2019 when a look into this budget would reveal that Pampanga is listed as number 100 in a list of 194 Districts. Now this is totally false reporting. Pampanga got only P1.4 Billion, while the others got very high budget allocations. Even anti-Duterte Rep. Edcel Lagman got P3.5 Billion!

So should the 2019 National Budget be withheld just because Sen. Lacson and his peers still have an axe to grind with GMA? If you ask me, these trade and counter-trade of accusations of chicanery on the 2019 national budget is just an obvious proof that instead of resolving issues amicably so that matters of state could proceed without rattling public confidence in our institutions, the leaders of the Senate and the House would prefer to destroy each other publicly due to unsettled political rivalry. If you ask me, the interest of the nation is far superior to the interests of politicians!

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