Aquino to Sulu Sultanate’s heirs: ‘It’s all your fault’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — President Benigno Aquino III continued blaming Wednesday the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu for the bloodshed in Sabah, Malaysia, noting it could have been avoided if only the group heeded his call to surrender unconditionally.

“Ang pangyayaring ito mali. Kung mali bakit natin susuportahan? Dapat suportahan po natin yung tama. Yung tama magdadala sa maaliwalas na kundisyon. Yung mali dadalhin tayo sa kapahamakan,” said the President at the campaign sortie here of the ruling party’s senatorial bets.

Aquino recalled that he had asked Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, the titular head of the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, several times to pull his men out of Lahad Datu in Sabah even before the clashes erupted that already left 40 people dead as of Wednesday.

The President noted that the relationship between the Philippines and Malaysia “is greatly improving” until this “regrettable incident” surfaced, noting Kuala Lumpur’s role in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Aquino defended the decision of the Malaysian government to go after members of the so-called Royal Army of the Sultanate of Sulu after they disregarded last week’s deadline to leave Sabah.

“Maski anong kumonidad maski saang lupalop ng mundo pag pumasok ang armadong  grupo, di yata naggiging susi yon para sa mapayapa at mahinahong paguusap,” he said.

“Kung dito may pumasok di taga sa inyong armado at nagwalang kibo ang gobyerno, palagay ko may karapatan kayong ireklamo  o ipatangal sa pwesto ang namahamahala kung di kayang pangalagaan ang inyong kaligatasan,” he added.

Aquino said “it is still not clear for the Philippine government whether the state shall pursue country’s claim over Sabah.”

He cited the speech of Sen. Ambrosio Padilla on March 29, 1968 in which the senator revealed a document dated February 1, 1968.

That document contained a power of attorney allegedly executed by the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu in favor of then President Ferdinand Marcos “recognizing the authority and power of the President to represent them in their settlement of their proprietary rights over Sabah,” according to Aquino.

In book accounts, that special power of attorney was given in official capacity for Marcos to exploit the resources in Sabah in his personal capacity,” the President added.

“Di pa ganon kaliwanag kung ang karapatan nila ibinahagi na sa Pilipinas (It is not that clear yet if they imparted their rights to the Philippines),” Aquino said.

“Pero sa away nila idadamay tayo lahat, bilang ama ng bansa obligasyon ko yung kapakapanan kundi ng lahat ay yung talagang nakakarami,” Aquino said.

But Aquino thumbed down the possibility that the Philippines will go to war with Malaysia as a result of the latest bloodshed involving the sultanate’s followers, citing an historical event in the 1960s.

In his 25-minute speech, the President cited Operation Merdeka that eventually led to the Jabidah massacre in Corregidor Island.

The plan was to send young Muslims recruited by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to Sabah “to create trouble” that would give the AFP reason to enter the area and rescue them,” Aquino said.

Back then, newspaper accounts said that our forces had six days supplies of ammunition to wage war in Sabah, he recalled.

Aquino said the Sabah issue has generated a “propaganda war” with critics of the administration bashing the government’s “mishandling” of the matter.

The President defended himself, saying that the nation had witnessed his repeated appeal for the followers of the sultanate to return home so they can discuss the matter peacefully. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)