The “deadline“ for the Filipino followers of the Sultanate of Sulu to surrender or leave Sabah may have already passed, but it seems they are defiant and have decided not to go home. Adding to their problems is that they are running out of food, and that the Aquino government has given them an ultimatum to surrender.
Now, if you put yourself in the followers’ shoes, why should you leave Sabah? If you go home, there is only punishment waiting for you from the government of “Imperial Manila” for possible violations of laws, which of course president Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s government is still doing research on. If you stay, you’re running out of food, but so far, it seems that the Malaysian government hasn’t made moves to deport your group back to the Philippines. That may soon change, though.
Underneath it all, if you’re a follower of the Sultanate of Sulu, why should you heed the demands of a government whom you don’t recognize, and quite possibly, doesn’t recognize you either? Why should you heed the demands of a government who is only too willing to side with the Malaysians instead of helping you with your territorial claim? Why should you heed the demands of a government who apparently ignored the sultanate and gave control of majority of Sulu to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) through the Bangsamoro Agreement?
Kaya naman pala. (So that’s why.)
Maybe at this point, it would be appropriate to ask if the Sulu Sultanate would like to consider full independence from both the Philippines and Malaysia.
It doesn’t really matter whether the Sultanate considers itself part of the Filipino “nation” or not.
I assumed that after facing crunch time situations such as the stand-off with China, or the hostage situation with Mendoza, the Aquino government has finally learned to deal with such. I was dead wrong.
I don’t condone what the Sultan and his followers did, but who can blame them when it seems that “enough is enough” from a government that has largely ignored them?
It makes you wonder, does BS Aquino have a backup plan now that the Sultanate’s followers are staying put?
The resolution of who really owns Sabah is a complex process that will involve countless periods of time reconciling old documents, sorting out historical events, and making concessions between Malaysia and Philippines.
It looks like neither BS Aquino nor his government wants anything to do with that.
If I were BS Aquino, I wouldn’t want to add another “problem” to my list. After all, I have to micromanage the Liberal Party (LP) campaign. I have to make sure I don’t piss the Malaysians off, as they were the brokers for the Bangsamoro Framework agreement. And I just signed into law Republic Act 10368, which forms a basis for evaluating and compensating supposed human rights victims under the Marcos regime. I don’t have time to deal with the Sulu Sultanate’s followers, never mind a letter from them asking to be consulted on the peace talks got lost in the “bureaucratic maze”.
As far as BS Aquino is concerned, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his band of merry men are making him look bad. And that’s exactly where the problem lies.
BS Aquino’s government has had a track record of poor diplomatic and negotiation skills, and how he’s handled this mess with the sultan only adds to the track record.
What’s next for this ongoing incident? The longer it goes on, the more that the Aquino government looks incompetent. The inability of BS Aquino and his people to deal effectively with the sultanate’s people, and his refusal to talk to the “offending” party directly, shows unpreparedness for situations that he can’t control.
The sultanate may have started the fire, but it’s in BS Aquino’s hands to resolve it. To restate the obvious, simply telling them to pack up and go home isn’t going to work.
[Photo courtesy Malaysia Today.]
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