A good day to die hard-A A +A
One Small Voice
Friday, March 1, 2013
MUCH has been said, and much has been written, but not much has been done, about the Sabah standoff. This is not in terms of cooling down the heated arguments. This is in terms of solving the problem with finality.
We do not demand a signed agreement. We just need a definitive roadmap on how the issue will be resolved. There was none, before. There is none, right now.
For starters, the hundreds of armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu are established and accepted to be Filipinos, not just subjects of the Sultanate of Sulu. That they own Sabah, however, is an entirely different matter. This has been, and maybe for a very long time from now, but hopefully not for another century or so, a subject of debate.
Yes, there should be a debate, in order to proclaim a winner. To be sure, there may not be a clear winner or a clear loser in this case, as the matter is as complicated as complicated can be. At the very least, though, the debate should settle some things, once and for all, if this can be done at all.
It appears, however, that our present government is unwilling to enter into a debate, or a dialogue for that matter, as the official claim of the country to the ownership of Sabah has been shelved, or this is the way that it looks. We claimed it once before. We no longer seem to be claiming it now.
Maybe, the present government believes that it has bigger fish to fry, like the Spratleys controversy and other international issues and other domestic issues. Perhaps, it does not want to antagonize, at least at this time, a seemingly friendly neighbor that was obviously instrumental in forging a framework agreement that can be the prelude to a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) - the single largest armed group in Mindanao that has withdrawn its secessionist line for a collaborative line.
Whatever may be in the mind of the present government, the people can only guess, rightly or wrongly. The point is that it may know what others do not, or may have other plans that it cannot as of yet disclose as of the moment. The question is if we can trust the present government enough that its decisions will eventually be for the common good. Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But it is the present government, so what it says is what it will be. In this, there is no debate, and even if there is one, the present government will always win.
In the meantime, given that the hundreds of armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu are established and accepted to be Filipinos, not just subjects of the Sultanate of Sulu, and that they are now in Sabah under threat of at least being harmed and at most being killed, the present government must do everything in its power within the bounds of our laws and our international commitments, to protect these armed followers, with emphasis on followers, not on armed.
At the end of the day, they are still and are all Filipinos, and deserve the protection of the present government, subject of course to disciplinary action if they may have violated any policy, law, rule or regulation.
Lastly, the present government should already try to put closure into this concern - the real ownership of Sabah. We should either claim it, aggressively, vigorously, and bring the case to international tribunals like in the case of the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea, or otherwise declare in no uncertain terms that the Philippines is officially relinquishing its supposed claim.
Otherwise, there will be no other logical conclusion to the Sabah standoff other than bloody, and this may create a scenario of one thing leading to another, and this may create a situation where a protracted war on different fronts may erupt.
Hopefully, this whole thing will not boil down to a story where the plot will be a good day to die hard.
Comments are most welcome. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 02, 2013.