Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares charged the Aquino administration for mishandling the standoff in Sabah that resulted to unconfirmed number of casualties after a firefight broke out yesterday between the Malaysian military and “royal army” of the heirs of Sulu Sultanate.
“Our claim of Sabah is very strong especially since Malaysia paid rent to the Sultanate as early as during the British occupation. In fact it is as strong as our claim over Panatag shoals. It was a wrong move for the Aquino government to distance itself from the claim even portraying the claim as nuisance and threatening the Sultan’s men with arrest when they return”, he said. “There was obviously a serious lapse in handling the issue. The standoff might be avoided if Aquino recognized the legitimacy of Kiram’s claim of Sabah and helped them negotiate with the Malaysian government on how to resolve the standoff peacefully without abandoning our claim”, Colmenares added. “Aquino should have asserted our claim in the same way that we asserted our territorial integrity over Panatag Shoal. This is a clear sign of selective patriotism largely influenced by the US who wants to use the Panatag tension as reason to deploy troops and weapons in the region”, the solon said.
Based on a report, a spokesman of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III claimed that 10 of their men were killed and four others were wounded in the firefight while DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez said that at least two were killed and one wounded from the side of the Malaysian Police.
“The Philippines and the Sultanate, more than any entity, have solid historical and legal basis for claiming Sabah. Sabah is within the Philippine territory and Aquino should have had asserted along with our Muslim brothers and sisters our sovereignty,” Colmenares explained.
“The attack of the Malaysian military is an attack on Filipinos which requires accountability, and the Philippines must lodge a strong protest and the government must defend our territory. Aquino should face this territorial dispute with patriotism,” ended Colmenares.