Next step after Bangsamoro peace deal: Philippines to pay up – drop Sabah claim

So what happens to the Philippines’ claim on the Malaysian state of Sabah following the signing of the Bangsamoro “peace deal” between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)? It seems this is now conveniently in the backburner as Filipinos, on cue, dance to the tune of Malacanang’s “celebration of peace”.

But left out of the loop in this much-celebrated erstwhile posterboy of international “peace” collaboration were “smaller Islamic militant groups in Mindanao” which, as is now clearly evident, includes people and groups still loyal to the Sultan of Sulu as well as the MILF’s “main rival” the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Interestingly, the origins of the MILF as a militant breakaway group from the more moderate MNLF was over disagreements with the direction being taken by the MNLF leadership back in 1977 towards renouncing its own separatist agenda in favour of a more “conciliatory” deal with Manila then, a direction which bore fruit ten years later for the MNLF…

In January 1987, the MNLF signed an agreement relinquishing its goal of independence for Muslim regions and accepting the government’s offer of autonomy. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the next largest faction, refused to accept the accord and initiated a brief offensive that ended in a truce later that month. By one estimate the Mindanao-based Moro Islamic Liberation Front fielded around 3,000 troops.

'You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.'

‘You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.’

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more
It seems it’s déjà vu all over again for Muslim Mindanao. The bandit groups’ acronyms and the euphemistic names given to “autonomous” Islamic territories may have changed but not the overall situation and certainly not the question on the Philippines’ long-standing claim on currently-Malaysian Sabah. Was Mindanao “peace” supposedly architected by President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim achieved at the expense of the Sabah claim?

So far, all parties have been silent on the implications of this “achievement” as far as this elephant in the room is concerned. It is, suffice to say, an elephant that both cannot be ignored and cannot be made to go away. Former Senator Jovito Salonga who was part of Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez’s team dispatched to London in 1963 to negotiate the Sabah claim brilliantly articulated the clear historical reference that frames the Philippines’ still-standing position on the matter…

Thousands of years ago, what is now known as the Philippines and what is known today as Borneo used to constitute a single historical, cultural, economic unit. Authoritative Western scientists have traced the land bridges that connected these two places. The inhabitants of the Philippines and Borneo come from the same racial stock, they have the same color, they have or used to have similar customs and traditions. Borneo is only 18 miles away from us today.

North Borneo, formerly known as Sabah, was originally ruled by the sultan of Brunei. In 1704, in gratitude for help extended to him by the sultan of Sulu in suppressing a revolt, the sultan of Brunei ceded North Borneo to the Sulu sultan.

Here, our claim really begins. Over the years, the various European countries, including Britain, Spain and the Netherlands, acknowledged the sultan of Sulu as the sovereign ruler of North Borneo. They entered into various treaty arrangements with him.

The claim to Sabah which remained enshrined in the Philippines’ 1973 Constitution was weakened by the 1987 Constitution which dropped the words “by historical and legal rights” from the definition of the national territory. This paved the way for the drafting of Senate Bill 206 which sought to amend Repubic Act 5546 of 1968 which describes “the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty.” For now, Senate Bill 206 which, evidently, encapsulates President BS Aquino’s “promise” to drop the Philippines’ claim on Sabah is yet to be signed into law.

More disturbing, however, are the real implications of this bizarrely naive international exercise in negotiating with a terrorist organisation like the MILF. With its more than 10,000-strong active membership and cellular command structure, there is no guarantee that all of its members will lay down their arms. And, make no mistake, the MILF as recently as July 2013 was described as an “Islamic separatist terrorist organization” in a Stanford University document. The document states that the MILF “denies links to the Abu Sayyaf Group, Al-Qaeda, and Jemaah Islamiya” but that these bigger groups “through funding” have “bought loyalty from MILF members, and through more direct philosophical similarities, these groups have shaped MILF’s evolving tactics to secure an independent Bangsamoro state.”


According to Jane’s Intelligence Review, hundreds of MILF members from Mindanao trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, where they also secured strong ties with bin Laden. The National Bureau of Asian Research also reports that Al Qaeda has sent trainers to MILF training camps in Mindanao.

Philippine Star columnist Federico Pascual sums up this “achievement” of the Second Aquino Administration in one sentence: “Ignoring other sectors and rebel groups, Malacañang chose to talk only to the MILF, with Malaysia whispering behind the curtains as facilitator.”

Recipe for disaster? Only time will tell.

[Photo for #SelfieForPeace tweeted by Jee Y. Geronimo.]

38 Replies to “Next step after Bangsamoro peace deal: Philippines to pay up – drop Sabah claim”

  1. I’m confused by the use of ‘Sabah’ whenever I hear about this. I’m guessing it’s just shorthand to refer to some parts on the edge, as they can’t mean the entire area that comprises the Malaysian state of Sabah (including Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and all the rest)?

    It would be terrible if that all went to the Philippines, radicals or not. KK is my closest sanity stop from Mindanao, but they’re already having trouble with illegal Filipino immigrants setting up pirate shanty towns offshore as it is.

    (Also, I think that ‘land bridge’ hypothesis quoted from 1963 was refuted after, when they determined Sulu was always just islands).

    1. The people of Sabah have always reiterated that they prefer to be Malaysian; the referendum decades ago proves this, and they still want to be part of Malaysia today.

      But again, the issue of of who really possesses Sabah is complicated enough as it is. To claim that “Sabah is Filipino territory” is an oversimplification of things.

  2. It was like the late British Prime Minister Chamerlain; giving the Sudetenland, Czekoslovaokia to Hitler. And calling it ” Peace of our Time…” If you look at the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Agreements. How many times, they signed “Peace Deals”…another group, begins Rocketing the Israeli; then the war is re-ignited.

    Aquino sold the Philippines; and the legitimate claim of the Philippines to Malaysia. North Borneo Or Sabah is gone. Because of the stupidity of Aquino…

    1. Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain should be the name. Not “Chamerlain”. He was the Prime Minister before , Prime Minister Winston Churchill.


      Attackers throw grenades at Thai anti-graft office ahead of PM hearing:

      Grenades were thrown at the offices of Thailand’s anti-corruption agency, police said on Friday. The National Anti-Corruption Commission earlier summoned the prime minister to answer charges of dereliction of duty next week, Reuters reported. Nobody was injured in the overnight attack, the second on the agency’s offices this week. The commission is examining the alleged failure of Yingluck Shinawatra to stop corruption and stem huge losses in a government rice-buying program.

        1. We’re not sure whether Russian news is trustworthy or not, but we’re already sure that Philippine media, particularly ABiaS-CBN, is unreliable and untrustworthy.

          Pinoy masses have been brainwashed by Philippines media, that’s why Pinoy media is one of the poorest source for educating the masses.

        2. The news is not a source of education. It is a source for opinions on the reported happenings in the world.

          if you are looking at the news for an education, WOWO! you’ll be one sorry ass of a mess by the time U hit 40, if U live that long!

          & BTW, I TRUST NO ONE!

        1. @jerzy/gerry/jerk-off
          Ah the obnoxious specimen of americanus ignoramus – (sub-group – lower class)

          Naivete and stupidity meets myopia and delusion. Result – a burping, grunting, farting bag of wind.

          Thinking is not your forte, but am sure boring little man make species goldigga filipina laugh long time! What a clown you are, and winner of site idiot – just part of the dross along with the trolls.

  3. “A shared victory…” -BS Aquino in the Philippine Star today. Mr. Aquino must mean that this is a twin victory where the Philippines surrendered its territorial sovereignty to the Bangsamoro MILF criminal, bandit, terrorist group and their allies in the New People’s Army, Abu Sayaff Group, Jemaah Islamiya and Al Quaeda in Asia. What is in store in the near future? The so-called MILF sub-state will be safe haven to all sorts of Jihadists, bandits and terrorists. It can easily secede as it has all the elements of a state. This state can even turn into a Pan Islamic Super State powered by our own natural resources of oil and natural gas. In surrendering our sovereignty, BS Aquino committed multiple violations of the 1987 Constitution. He is guilty as hell in providing all the advantages and benefits to the MILF. Will there be peace in Mindanao? My answer is a resounding no! The MILF will not go against its Jihadist, criminal and terrorist allies. The BIFF is still operating in Mindanao. The Misuari faction is also operating in Mindanao. Experience tells us that the MILF, their allies and the other groups will not surrender their firearms. I saw the video footage and photos. The MILF infantry in parade ground formation displaying their firearms and shouting allahu akbar! The victory of the MILF and BS Aquino in Balkanizing our territorial integrity is the saddest event in Philippine history. We will lose all of Mindanao if these muslim jihadist groups unite along with their terrorist and criminal bandit allies. Mark my words… the worst is yet to come.

        1. THE TRUTH? R U sure U can handle THE TRUTH?

          THE TRUTH, in this day and age, can get one sent to prison. Maybe NOT in the Philippines, but in a lot of other countries!

        2. @JT Jerzy

          Why are you acting like a yellow troll? The truth can get one sent to prison? You are the one who cannot handle the truth of the criminal, bandit, terrorist group known as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. LOL! Are you high on shabu?


          and I am not a yellow troll, why U would even think that tells me you and ur uncle been huffing on the shit ,AGAIN!

          Who do you think you are kidding?

  4. Philippines’ claim over Sabah is a joke, Malaysia will never give it up and people there don’t want to be part of Phils.

    1. Dirch,

      Speak for yourself. Sabah needs the Philippines to save them from an oppressive Malaysian regime. Under the Philippines, Sabah will flourish and may even be as great as Luzon.

      1. The rest of Mindanao has been under Luzon for 70+ years. Is it considered “great” (according to your definition of it)?

      1. Ow, don’t get me wrong. A whole lot of them deserve the guillotine. But this idiot, in his few years in office, could have single-handedly brokered the wholesale giveaway of national territory. Among other things. All because he is too lazy to be bothered with.

        1. how would you resolve the issue then? considering the state of the economy, the armed forces and the popularity of a christian govt from luzon to mindanos

  5. The rape of our territorial sovereignty in Mindanao has begun! Foreigners with false pretenses of the false peace with the criminal, bandit, terrorist group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will go to Mindanao to assist the growth of a Pan Islamic State. Development will focus on the bangsamoro while the people of Mindanao including the dirt poor get nothing in terms of development and wealth sharing! Despite this being patently unconstitutional… our congressmen are pushing the bangsamoro basic law for the fully armed and fully operational enemies of the state! Damn BS Aquino and his political followers to hell for what they did for the MILF! They are Balkanizing our territories in Mindanao! What is the price for our freedoms?

  6. Talk about two governments on fire for underperformance (PDAF scandal? MH370 investigation?), using this whole armed conflict issue to seek popular validation. So much trumpet fanfare for a hollow agreement.

  7. Regarding on the GRP-MILF negotiations, it’s better if we give peace accord a chance. That’s what normal Filipinos want for Mindanao. There is no end/winner of war in Mindanao if there is no negotiations. In fact, how many years that the GRP waged wars against MILF? 4 decades and yet the latter members were not even totally purged but just grew in numbers and in groups as years passed by.

    1. They already tried that, that’s how the autonomous region of muslim Mindanao was formed. And clearly, it didn’t work. It only emboldened other groups to stake their claim.

      Peace through strength; that is my stance. Not peace through appeasement, which was Neville Chamberlain’s stance; and we all know how that turned out. “Peace in our time”?

      1. If those breakaway groups will remain to be stubborn and are not willing to join or cooperate on the recent peace agreement in the future then they deserve to be purged.

        Our government already considered the measures at stake on the possible outcomes of this peace accord and that they are ready. They know the remaining rebels are weakening and their days are numbered in terms of power and influence. Needless to say, the AFP is upgrading its military equipments to sufficiently eliminate these bandits in the future.

        1. You see, that was the notion after the first “peace deal”. The MILF is the breakaway group from the MNLF that “in the future then they deserve to be purged.” That future is right now as you see before you. Don’t let them repeat “the possible outcomes”, which by now should be clear what that is. The first deal should never have happened in the first place; and now this second deal just reeks of what-the-fuckery that the people involved in making this should be made to take an IQ test to gauge whether they are fit to breathe the same air as you and me.
          I get that you want a peaceful resolution, but as I’ve said; peace through strength.

        2. how about peace through brains?

          the AFP have proven it impossible for them to resolve the crisis through arms since independence.

          what can be done is to map out the different regions and “give them away” to different groups allowing them to govern in “democratic procedures” and let them get paid corruption money . and when holding on to their own territories get them paid without fighting why would they fight or give up their claims to larger groups. from there guage how the muslim leaders treat their people and slowly pick out the weaker ones while denying support to the larger ones outside of their territories.

          same goes for the china issue, instead of crying about technology differences, air power makes no differences if you cannot shoot or drop bombs. training planes can provide ample recon.
          train men to engage in naval warfare in disabling ships by going along side and targeting the propellers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.