Editorial: Malacañang’s bolder stance-A A +A
Monday, March 11, 2013
THE Aquino administration, thank God, has finally gathered the courage to issue a bold statement against the Malaysian government. Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said last Sunday that Malacañang considers as “unacceptable” the reported abuses committed against Filipinos in Sabah in the aftermath of the intrusion there by people of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu.
The bolder stance should remind Malaysia that there are matters that need to be considered aside from the act of flushing out Kiram’s people in Sabah, specifically in Lahad Datu. Authoritarian states usually throw away such concerns as human rights in battling threats to its rule.
But it did seem like Malacañang had all the time been hesitant to stand up to Malaysia, making the current stance a welcome change. Instead of talking with Kiram, President Noynoy Aquino has issued threats against the sultan and the “intruders” like they were the enemy.
By distancing from Kiram and his people, PNoy gave Malaysia the impression that it can do everything to the “intruders” and their suspected Filipino supporters without the Philippines letting out even a whimper. The Department of Foreign Affairs didn’t even protest with vigor Malaysia’s refusal to allow its officials to check the condition of Filipinos arrested in the Sabah crackdown.
That is why Malacañang’s criticism of Malaysia comes as a pleasant surprise. But the bolder stance shouldn’t be for the current Sabah skirmish alone. It should extend to the Philippines other dealings with Malaysia, including discussion of the Sulu sultanate’s claim to Sabah.
And any probe on the abuses of Malaysian authorities should not be limited to the current Sabah skirmish but must include past complaints of human rights violations committed against Filipinos arrested in that country, particularly in Sabah. Kiram had included his complaint of these abuses in his list of reasons why they are reasserting their Sabah claim.
Maintaining good relationship with one’s neighbor is not only about being friendly but is also about both sides gaining each other’s respect. A wimpish stand won’t generate respect; asserting what is right will.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 12, 2013.