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Opinion

Peace talks with MILF didn't bring peace

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

I'm no prophet, but the column we wrote the other day about the signing of that Peace Accord by the Government of the Philippine Republic with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as we said will not bring peace in Mindanao, but more conflict and true enough, the headlines of the Philippine Star yesterday blared "AFP Raids BIFF Lairs." Friends of mine always tell me to help the government in achieving a lasting peace in troubled Mindanao…and plead to me to give peace a chance.

But then, I would like to emphasize that the Philippine government panel led by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles should have listened to us when we wrote articles warning her that it is downright reckless for the Philippine government panel to push through with the talks in Malaysia only with the MILF on the peace table. She probably thinks so low about the BIFF or the Moro National Liberation Front or even the Abu Sayyaf that they would bow down to her as a peacemaker when the MILF signs their joint agreement. So things are not going her way there!

Well, the expected has finally happened. While this news item apparently shows that it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines that started the offensive against the BIFF with the support of the MILF, the bottom line in this long saga in the search for peace in Mindanao is peace can only be achieved if all armed terror groups would sit down together and talk peace. This has not happened in the latest round of talks with the MILF in Malaysia. In fact, I've always warned the Aquino Presidency about the role of Malaysia as a peace broker for the Muslims and the GPR because of the still unsolved issue of sovereignty in Sabah.

How soon we have already forgotten that five years ago (that's tomorrow) on Jan. 30, 2009, Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo hosted a dinner on a Friday evening in honor of Brunei Sultan and Head of State, his Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah. Invited to that State Dinner was Sultan Muhammad Fuad Abdulla Kiram I whose arrival was announced as "The Sultan of Sulu & Sultan of Sabah."

Let's go back further into Philippine history. On July 10, 1946 the Territory of North Borneo was annexed as a Crown Colony by Gustavus Baron Overbeck and Alfred Dent who represented a British North Borneo Company that leased Sabah since Jan. 22, 1878 by the Sultan Mohamet Jamal al Alam for five thousand dollars annually. A case was filed against the British in the 1930s but the High Court of North Borneo ruled that the Sovereignty of Sabah belonging to the Sultan of Sabah is the Philippine Islands. Yet despite this knowledge the British still gave Sabah to Malaysia.

On Nov.25, 1957, the Sultan Muhammad Esmail Kiram, Sultan of Sulu, issued a proclamation declaring the lease on Jan. 22, 1878 to the British North Borneo Company as terminated. Then on Aug. 29, 1962 the heirs of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram signed a declaration that irrevocably recognizes, admits and accepts the ultimate sovereign title and dominion of the Republic of the Philippines to North Borneo.

Then on that historic day of Sept. 12, 1962, Sultan Mu-hammad Esmail Kiram, Sultan of Sulu acting with the advice and authority of the Ruma Bechara (this is the Moro Sultanate's version of a Legislative Congress) confirmed and ratified and formally ceded the sovereignty of Sabah or North Borneo to the Philippines and this was accepted by then Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez who was concurrently Secretary of Foreign Affairs. This instrument has not yet been repealed as we speak and it is our basis for our claim to North Borneo or Sabah.

I suggest that you take a good look at the Island of Borneo today or go to Wikipedia and you will see that Borneo is considered the third largest island in the world and it is divided among three countries, Brunei and Malaysia on the North and Indonesia to the South. In fact 73 percent of Borneo belongs to Indonesia. I find it sad that the Philippines isn't even mentioned in Wikipedia when in fact, we have been given sovereignty in September 1962 a full year before Malaysia (and Singapore) was given its Independence on Aug. 31, 1963 by the British, which they call Hari Merdeka.

If you want to know why didn't the Philippines question this land grab by Malaysia? I honestly don't know. I was too young to remember those events. However I remember that back in those days, there was a talk about the creation of an East Asian Federation called Maphilindo for the Malaysian, Philippines and Indonesian Federation. But somehow this did not materialize. In fact Singapore was thrown out by Malaysia and look at Singapore today. So let me say it here again. The only time we shall see peace in Mindanao is when we fix the Moro questions and that includes our claim to North Borneo or Sabah. Anyone who denies this claim commits treason!

***

Email: vsbobita@gmail.com.

BORNEO BRITISH NORTH BORNEO COMPANY JAN MALAYSIA MINDANAO NORTH NORTH BORNEO PEACE SABAH SULTAN SULTAN OF SULU
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