Not really against Sabah
Narciso M. Reyes Jr. proposed that, for several reasons, it is pointless for us to pursue our claim to Sabah. Rereading his piece, however, it seems that his case is not really against Sabah; it is against the Philippines! Our country is so bad a place to live in (he almost ran out of space listing what’s wrong with our land or people), he said, and so why get another headache, like reclaiming Sabah (Inquirer, 4/8/13)?
Reyes cited historical facts that some countries, not bigger than ours, like England, Spain, Germany and Japan, could be powerful and great, simply because, as he saw it, they have much more than the basic elements of a state; the “base” of their iceberg is solid and strong.
But I recall that, historically, all these countries became great mainly because they were colonizers, taking advantage of young or weak nations like ours. Of course, the Philippines is not trying to colonize Sabah; it merely wants to get back what is ours under international law, but illegally snatched away from us, through stealth and machination by Britain and Malaysia.
Again, defeated aggressors, like Germany and Japan, rose from the ashes of World War II, not really because of the “tip” and “base” of the iceberg theory, but because the victorious allied powers, especially the United States, decided that their national interests needed Germany and Japan to contain communism in Europe and in Asia during the Cold War. In fact, the United States gave more assistance to former enemy states, like Japan, than to America’s World War II allies, like the Philippines. Indeed, geopolitical considerations dictated the rise of Germany and Japan after the war.
As to England, British national interest dictated the release of the colonies of the Empire; however, they remain bound to the British flag under the commonwealth of nations around the world—from Canada to Australia, from Uganda to Malaysia. Of course, religion has more or less secured Spain’s interest in its former colonies. In the Philippines, the tenacity of the Catholic Church position is highlighted by its ridiculous opposition to the Reproductive Health Law. And in Africa, colonizers came with the cross too. They then got the land; the natives, the cross.
Indeed, international politics is not only about gold or wealth; it involves higher precepts or principles, like honor, law, sovereignty, state responsibility. Margaret Thatcher’s England went to war against Argentina, losing men and money, on the Falkland islands (which have more sheep than people). President Aquino initially stood his ground against China on Scarborough Shoal, mere rocks, not minding the prospect of losing men and money—also in the name of honor, law and sovereignty.
Lastly, Reyes did not approve of the handling by Malacañang of the Sultan of Sulu’s petition and with President Aquino’s treatment of Agbimuddin Kiram and his followers, including giving them an ultimatum to “surrender without conditions.” I agree with Reyes. But his position on this issue is an argument for our claim to Sabah.
—NELSON D. LAVIÑA,
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