Penson added that “a lot of Filipinos believe that Sabah is ours.”
By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Senatorial candidates believe that the Philippines have a claim over Sabah and that the Aquino government is not correctly addressing the problem.
In a forum hosted by the Ateneo de Davao University, law professor and Social Justice Society (SJS) senatorial candidate Samson Alcantara said “(t)he Sabah problem has been there for a long time. These are valid claims.”
Alcantara, who claimed that he was with a law firm that handled the claims of the Kiram family, said: “Can you believe this? The President of the Philippines, scolding our brothers and sisters in Sabah and saying that they should go back here, (but also saying that) we will charge you with a criminal offense. How will they then come back? For example, if they will be filed cases of illegal possession of firearms or rebellion which are not bailable?”
He said that the government must be more “sympathetic” so as not to “strengthen the will” of Malaysia who is now “abusing our brothers and sisters.”
“We have to insist on a plan to pursue these claims,” Alcantara said while reminding the President to abide by his oath of office “to do justice for everybody.”
Meanwhile, Makabayan senatorial bet Teodoro Casiño said that it’s time for the government to stop neglecting the issue of Sabah or “slipping it under the rag.”
“With the developments recently, and even before that, the cruelty, the bad treatment to the Filipinos in Sabah, shows that there is a problem that has to be addressed,” said Casiño.
He added that “the first thing the government should not do is to call them outlaws, or criminals or terrorists because these are our brother Muslims and they consider Sabah their home.”
The progressive lawmaker also noted that the distance between Tawi-Tawi and Sabah is only an hour boat ride and that it is being used by people everyday.
“The government must care about those who care to assert our claim,” said Casiño.
He added that the President should go down from his “ivory tower” and talk to Sultan Kiram and his followers.
“It will not demean that presidency for there is nothing wrong and there is everything to gain from dialogue and talking. But what is happening now is that the government is siding with Malaysia,” Casiño said.
Independent senatorial candidate Ramon Montaño, a soldier who was assigned in Sulu in 1961, said there was no Malaysia (claiming Sabah) back then.
“In 1961, there are already 300,000 Tausugs in Malaysia, including Chinese traders from Sulu. There was no peninsular Malaysian then,” he said.
He noted that the first Prime Minister of Sabah was in fact a Tausug from Jolo.
“The reaction of the government is terrible, it did not denounce Malaysia for aggression, (for the) violation of human rights by using its fighter planes, napalm bombs against the ragtag army of the sultan,” he said.
Another senatorial candidate, Christian Señeres said, “This is what we believe: the lease entered into by the Sultan and the British company at that time, will expire this March 2013, that’s why this is happening. Starting this April, Sabah is legally a part of the Philippines,” Señeres said.
If he was the President, Señeres said his action would be simple: “I would not ask them to surrender. I would have told the Malaysian that we are only asserting our sovereignty.”
Senatorial candidate and businessman Ricardo Penson slammed the Aquino government’s move.
“A lot of Filipinos are ready to fight for it because we cannot just give up sovereignty. We cannot just give up territory because we have a weak presidency,” Penson said.
Like in the controversy involving the lost letters of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to the President, Penson also claims that his group also wrote thrice to the President.
“In September we wrote to the President to ask him for three things: 1) all negotiations between the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) should be transparent; 2) there should be no negotiation in Malaysia because we have a standing claim in Sabah; 3) The MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) which have signed an agreement with the government be at least given an observer status,” he enumerated.
Penson said, “None of the three was taken up by the President. In fact, he said he never got the letter. This is the third letter we’ve sent him that he claims to have never received.”
Penson added that “a lot of Filipinos believe that Sabah is ours.” (John Rizle Saligumba/davaotoday.com)election 2013, philippine senatorial bet 2013, sabah, senatoriable 2013