By PATNUBAY DE GUIA
Spokesperson, NDFP Southern Tagalog Region
The delayed action of the US-Aquino regime on the claim of the Sulu Sultanate over Sabah greatly exposes how the US-Aquino regime disregards the welfare of the Filipino people and surrenders de jure the Philippine territorial claim over North Borneo. No matter how comprehensive the latest findings of the Department of Justice on the Sabah claim, it can never return the lives of the Filipinos lost in the all-armed repression of the Malaysian government on the Sultanate’s royal army nor can it deodorize the Aquino administration’s flimsy posturing.
The findings of the legal study does not matter anymore for it cannot erase the fact that many Filipinos have already been victims of human rights violations and draconian anti-terror policy of Malaysia. Malaysia commenced its armed repression after the Aquino administration ignored the claim of the Sulu Sultanate on Sabah. To order the DOJ to investigate the issue on Sabah claim is a desperate move of the Aquino regime to silence its critics over the issue and yet again deceive the Filipino people. The legal study is a maneuver of the Aquino regime to stop the growing public clamor regarding the Sabah issue.
The US-Aquino regime is responsible for the massacre of the Filipinos in Sabah. Instead of honoring the claim of the Sulu Sultanate, the Aquino administration has openly sided with Malaysia to force the Sultanate’s armed contingent to surrender. The Aquino regime did not only abandon the Philippines’ legitimate claim on Sabah, worse its negligence condemned to death Filipinos in the said area.
While Aquino is preoccupied with campaigning in favor of the administration senatorial ticket for the 2013 elections, more and more Filipinos are now victims of severe human rights violations in Sabah. Reports say Malaysian armed forces arrested and even tortured Filipinos in Sabah who are civilians and are not even supporters of the Sulu Sultanate. Currently, the 800,000 Filipino immigrants, majority of whom are undocumented, are targets of repressions of the Malaysian armed forces and are subject to different forms of harassments.
Even before the standoff in Sabah, Filipinos are greatly oppressed and abused in Malaysia. Their impoverished livelihood and conditions are not afar from that of the status of many Filipinos at home. They also face unemployment and are exploited with low wages and lack of social services.
Ruthless militarization, unemployment and poverty in the Philippines lead massive illegal immigration to transpire. Filipinos leave the country in search for work in Sabah and to escape from the worsening militarization in Mindanao by the Armed Forces of the Philippines. As war becomes vicious and aggressive in the region, Filipinos in Sabah do not yearn to return in the country.
Aside from militarization, the massive displacement of Filipinos from Mindanao to Sabah is the effect of globalization policies of liberalization, deregulation, privatization and denationalization imposed by US imperialism on the country through the puppet Aquino regime and previous regimes. These favor the interests of foreign private corporations to the detriment of the development of our national economy that shall truly provide livelihood and social security to the people.
The Sabah question is not merely an issue of the Sulu Sultanate claiming rights of property over Sabah. More than the Sulu Sultanate’s historic claim over North Borneo is a case of defending national integrity and sovereignty which the alternating Philippine regimes have failed to assert. The Philippine regimes had consistently yielded to the US foreign policy in the Southeast Asia over the country’s own foreign policy concerning Sabah.
An 1878 agreement between the British North Boneo Company and the Sultanate of Sulu proves that North Borneo (Sabah) is lease for payment of 5000 Malayan Dollar. In 1903, Sultan Jamalul Kiram signed a document leasing additional islands in the vicinity of the mainland of North Borneo from Banggi Island to Sibuku Bay to the British North Borneo Company.
Every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines issues a check in the amount of 5,300 ringgit (US$1710 or about 77,000 Philippine pesos) to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu. The Sulu Sultanate did not cede sovereignty and ownership over Sabah to the British North Borneo Company, not even to the Malaysian Government.
Moreover, the argument of Malaysia that all historical and political issues have been overcome by the people of Sabah exercising the right to self-determination and voting for incorporation in Malaysia cannot stand because the referendum in 1963 was executed under conditions of coercion and manipulation by the British colonialism and their Malaysian puppets.
Now, the current Aquino regime has willingly followed suit – diligently subservient to the US imperialism and inutile in defending the Philippine sovereignty over Sabah. No argument on the claim over Sabah is fit for the Aquino regime as it only plays a puppet for US imperialism.
Aside from the Aquino regime avoiding dispute with Malaysia because of Malaysia’s role as broker in the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the legitimate claim of the Philippines over Sabah cannot be pursued until the Philippines has no independent foreign policy from the US and the country’s stand will remain subservient to the US foreign policy.
The interests of the Filipino people suffer due to Aquino administration’s overdependence and puppetry to US imperialism whose economic interest covets the rich oil deposits in the South Sulu stretching towards Sabah. Sabah’s capacity to produce oil is equivalent to about 40% of Malaysia’s crude oil production. In addition, one of the most important project in Sabah today is the Sabah Oil and Gas Terminal (SOGT), which will process oil and gas produce from the region’s offshore fields. It can handle 300,000 barrels of oil per day and 1.25 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
Like the Philippines, Malaysia’s rich natural resources are one of the main reasons why imperialist plunder continues in the country. Oil companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell and Caltex benefit from Malaysia’s capacity to produce oil. The Malaysian-United States Free Trade Agreement (MUFTA) ensures the liberalization of Malaysia’s economy, not different from that of the Philippines, which the US imperialist is able to control through the World Trade Organization.
It is vital that US imperialist controls the East Asian region in order to maintain its dominance. The deployment of US Military Forces in the region implies the goal of US imperialist to maintain and strengthen its hold in the region in line with its aspiration to preserve its supremacy as the leading imperialist power in the world.
With the continuing exploitation of US imperialist, it is important for the Filipino people to unite in order to abolish prevailing agreements of the Philippine government with US imperialist relating to national defense, economy and politics. They should unite to dislodge the presence of US troops in the country, repel the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty and stop the Balikatan Exercises.
Relative to stopping US troops from coming in and out the country, the Filipino people should intensify its struggles against US-Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan. The Oplan Bayanihan, crafted along the US Counter Insurgency Guide, manifests how the reactionary government plays puppet to US imperialist.
In this light, the Sabah claimants should unite with the rest of the people to demand territorial sovereignty and independence from imperialist rule. The people should uphold their struggles against the dominance of imperialist rule in the region. They should put all their efforts in stopping the US imperialist’s continuing plunder not just in the country but also in the entire world. Now is the time to put an end to the control of imperialist powers over the Philippine state of affairs in order to attain genuine independence and national sovereignty.