Third party sought to probe violence in Sabah-A A +A
Friday, March 15, 2013
(UPDATED) Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago asked the governments of the Philippines and Malaysia on Friday to invite a third party to conduct an investigation on the alleged violent acts in the ongoing armed crisis in Sabah.
"Under international law, impartial fact-finding facilitates peaceful settlement of disputes, particularly settlement by negotiation, mediation, good offices, or conciliation," she said.
Reports said the crackdown of Malaysian security forces on followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III have resulted in over 60 deaths, arbitrary arrests, and forced evacuation of Filipinos who have no involvement in the incident, which stemmed from Kiram's plan to reclaim Sabah.
Malaysia has already denied the allegations.
In pushing for the independent probe, Santiago said the United Nations and other international organizations have availed of this option in the 1981 involvement of mercenaries in an invasion of the Seychelles; the 1987 use of chemical weapons in the Gulf War between Iran and Iraq; and the 1988 destruction of Korean Air Lines Boeing 447.
Malacanang, for its part, said Friday that it would be up to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to study the proposal of Santiago.
"We will leave that to the DFA to study that particular mechanism under international law, and to make the appropriate recommendations to the President (Benigno Aquino III), if and so warranted," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a press briefing.
Valte also said that there were no discussions in relation to Santiago's reported proposal also that the Philippines could send its armed forces to Malaysia to rescue Filipinos who are in danger.
But she said what the government has sent was a humanitarian ship to conduct assistance to Filipinos in Sabah. However, Malaysia has yet to give green light for the vessel to dock in Lahad Datu.
Valte also said that the lines of communication between Aquino and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have remained open.
She said that the two leaders have already talked twice over the phone to discuss the Sabah problem.
Rights group Karapatan, meanwhile, said Aquino should take the blame for not doing anything to resolve the crisis.
"He has, in fact, aggravated it by mounting threats against the Sulu Sultan Kiram," said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Santiago said Sabah belongs to the Philippines as the disputed 1878 Deed over Sabah executed by the Sulu sultan in favor of two Europeans is described as a "deed of pajak," meaning lease.
She said that since the Deed was merely a lease, the Sulu sultan never transferred sovereignty to the Europeans, who eventually formed the British North Borneo Co. (BNBC), which later transferred sovereignty to the British crown and then to Malaysia in 1963.
"Since no transfer of sovereignty was involved in the 1878 Deed, no transfer of sovereignty has ever passed to Malaysia," she said.
The senator even quoted statements by the British foreign minister at that time, Lord Granville, that sovereignty remained in the Sulu sultan. (Virgil Lopez/SDR/Sunnex)