Gov’t., not sultan, can pursue claim on Sabah-A A +A
Thursday, March 7, 2013
AMID swirling charges of conspiracy the Aquino government has raised about the Sabah adventure, no one has questioned the right of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to pursue the claim.
The sultan has pictured himself as a wronged landowner who can fight for his cause in the international court and even use armed warriors to assert ownership.
Kiram has been saying their claim for Sabah is solid, as then congressman Jovito Salonga 50 years ago lucidly argued.
He may be right about the strength of the claim but not about the right to take the matter into his hands.
On Sept. 12, 1962, then reigning Sulu sultan Muhammad Ismail Kiram I ceded to the Republic, through president Diosdado Macapagal, North Borneo and the "full sovereignty, title, and dominion" over the territory. Since then, only the Government has the "full authority to pursue their claim."
Besides, the sultanate, not being a state, cannot be a party to a case in an international court.
Sending 200 armed warriors to Sabah villages was foolhardy but Kiram apparently thought it was the kind of noise that would be heard. And it was heard.
Method in madness
Kiram may argue the Government has slept on its right through the years, never mind the rupture, then mending, of ties with Malaysia. But pursuit of the claim never contemplated a shooting war and body bags.
Kiram's moves might seem mad but there's some method: to jolt the Government into action on the claim or, if conspiracy exists, to embarrass the president who's never good at this sort of crisis.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 07, 2013.