Quantcast

Get Real

Win-win solution needed for Sabah issue

By

I certainly agree with P-Noy that the standoff in Malaysia must end. (The stand-off ended before noon yesterday after an assault by Malaysian security forces, according to reports quoting the Malaysian ambassador.—ED.) But it must end with all sides holding their heads high, honor and dignity intact (a win-win solution, former President Fidel Ramos would call it). As it is now, unfortunately, it looks like two sides are being made to back off, tail between legs. And that is not acceptable.

Which is why I do not agree with P-Noy’s lecturing the Sultan of Sulu on what a leader should or should not do, or subjecting him to threats of retribution (prosecution for possible violation of the Constitution and laws) as well as emotional blackmail (holding over his head the fate of “hundreds of thousands” of Filipinos whose livelihoods are jeopardized). Is it any wonder that the Sultan of Sulu remains defiant? Who wants to withdraw with tail between legs? At the same time, it must be pointed out that if 800,000 Filipino workers were terminated as a sign of Malaysia’s displeasure, Malaysia would be shooting itself in the foot. Such an action would wreak havoc on Malaysia’s economy, not just ours—at least temporarily in both cases.

And which is why I tend to sympathize with Fr. Eliseo Mercado of Notre Dame University when he replies, in answer to queries about who is advising P-Noy on the Sabah issue, that because of the tone and content of the President’s official statement, the adviser would have to be Malaysian or Malaysian-Filipino, and might even be the Malaysian prime minister.

And this is as good a time as any to (respectfully) point out to P-Noy that while he had “just been made aware that a letter” to him from Sultan Kiram was sent during the first weeks of his (P-Noy’s) term—which did not get to him because “we were organizing the government” and it was “lost in the bureaucratic maze”—his underlings must have failed (again) to show him another letter sent by Kiram. This one is dated Oct. 15, 2012, and, I am told, it was neither acknowledged nor answered. Was this letter also lost because of organizational problems or the bureaucratic maze? And, in any case, isn’t an apology called for, rather than the high-handed “I have just been made aware…. Let me make clear that there was no intention to ignore your letter….”? What is to be gained by treating Kiram in such a fashion (like dirt)?

Can there indeed be a win-win solution? Former President Ramos (FVR) seems to think so. He points out to me that my recollection was incorrect (see my column last week) when I said he was in favor of renouncing the Philippine claim to Sabah. What he wanted, he says and writes, was to put the issue and similar problems on the “back burner,” and instead concentrate on this “win-win” solution: the BIMP-Eaga, short for Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area, where Sabah would be part of the equation.  This is what he proposed in 1993 to his counterparts at the time (Bolkiah of Brunei, Suharto of Indonesia, Mahathir of Malaysia), who gave it their support.

Coupled with the BIMP-Eaga, FVR also constituted a Bipartisan Executive Legislative Advisory Council on Sabah, which apparently agreed in early 1993 to work “quietly with the Malaysians” to establish a corporation whose activities would presumably solve the financial problems of the Sultanate of Sulu.

The BIMP-Eaga was born in 1994, and includes essentially Mindanao and Palawan, and most if not all of Borneo, which includes Sabah, all of Brunei, and parts of Indonesia and Malaysia. What happened to it?

It still exists. But whether it has shown itself to be a win-win solution to the Sabah problem is very much in doubt. For example, it was supposed to facilitate the free movement of people, goods and services. Yet, during its existence, mass deportations of Filipinos from Sabah under the harshest conditions have taken place, and charges of torture and sexual abuse/rape by Malaysian authorities accompanying these activities are not uncommon. Moreover, there are continuing reports of exploitation of Filipino workers in Sabah, documented or undocumented.

Given that there is a standing claim, however “dormant,” to Sabah, given that for centuries travel between Sabah and Sulu was unrestricted, given that the Tausug from Sulu have always considered Sabah home and feel that they have as much right as Malaysians to live there, one would think that the Malaysians would approach the situation with more sensitivity. But they behave in exactly the opposite manner, seemingly confident that the Philippine government would not “rock the boat.”

And, alas, they are right. A report by a nongovernment organization talks about “the pathetic stance of the Philippine government on deportation… showing that it cannot protect the interest of its citizen[s] much more assert itself as a sovereign nation.”

And what happened to the corporation that was to be set up (supposedly with Malaysian cooperation) to protect the heirs of the Sultanate? Twenty years later, absolutely zilch. It is a wonder the Sultan hasn’t run amok.

* * *

Note: The final services for the late Angge Soriano, wife of Noel, will be held on March 3, 2 p.m., at the Ateneo de Manila High School Chapel. Until then, her remains will lie at the Santa Maria della Strada Church on Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More from this Column:

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Short URL: http://opinion.inquirer.net/?p=47937

Tags: Benigno Aquino III , Get Real , opinion , Sabah , Solita Collas-Monsod



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
Advertisement

News

  • Sayyaf man linked to Sipadan kidnapping falls
  • Drilon calls for sobriety as mudslinging, witch hunts loom due to pork scam
  • S. Korea ferry toll hits 150 as search gets tougher
  • If Napoles names Aquino allies, they’ll be brought to bar of justice – Palace
  • Lacson says diamond-studded earring snatched from wife fake
  • Sports

  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Pacers rally past Hawks 101-85 to even series
  • David Moyes out as Manchester United manager
  • Nadal to face fellow Spaniard at Barcelona Open
  • Defensive Chelsea holds Atletico in scoreless draw
  • Lifestyle

  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Sweet party for Andi Manzano
  • Entertainment

  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Summer movie preview: Bay reboots ‘Transformers’
  • Business

  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • $103M Vista Land bonds tendered for redemption
  • Oil slips to $102 as US crude supplies seen rising
  • SC stops Meralco power rate hike anew
  • Technology

  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Brazil passes trailblazing Internet privacy law
  • New York police Twitter campaign backfires badly
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • No word yet on inking of US-PH defense pact during Obama visit
  • Filipina, 51, shot dead by 24-year-old American boyfriend
  • China, rivals sign pact to ease maritime tensions
  • Visa-free US trip? Do not believe it, says consulate
  • Obama visit to Asia seen as counterweight to China
  • Marketplace