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Sabah’s fragile peace


It is unfortunate that the standoff in Sabah between some Filipino Muslims and the Malaysian government is happening when our country is in the thick of negotiations for peace in Mindanao in which Malaysia plays a very important role.

Now our government is in a dilemma whether to support the Malaysian government or the Filipino Muslims who went to Sabah with instructions from Sultan Kiram one of the heirs of the Sultanate of Jolo who claims Sabah as part of their landholdings.

The Malaysian government issued a food blockade around Tanduo in Lahad town, Sabah and Sultan Kiram has written a letter to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for help for his followers who are running out of provisions after two weeks of holing up in Sabah.

The Philippine government has through diplomatic channels requested the Malaysian government for extension before it ends the standoff. The Philippine government’s position is that the action taken by the Sultanate of Jolo is sabotaging the peace talks between our government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Be that as it may I think it is about time that the government exert efforts to finally settle the controversy surrounding the Philippine claim over Sabah. Sabah as history goes allegedly belongs to the Sultanate of Jolo that leased it to a British corporation but when Malaysia gained its independence from British rule Sabah was part of the lands released by the British government.

It was Philippines Free Press columnist Napoleon Rama, a Cebuano, who exposed the issue that our claim over Sabah  was not pursued by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos tried renouncing our claim over Sabah. Sabah today has become a homeland for our Muslim brothers and sisters though they have been subject to deportation by the Malaysian government.

Unfortunately we continued to ignore the  claim over Sabah. Today’s developments were waiting to happen because the Philippines and the Malaysian governments never resolved the Sabah issue with finality.

I hope  the Philippine government will finally decide whether or not to pursue the Sultanate of Jolo’s claim over Sabah.

* * *

Yesterday the  country celebrated the 27th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolutionof 1986. The question in our minds was whether the EDSA people power revolution was a failure.

I was one of those who experienced the Marcos dictatorship after he declared martial law and I suffered with our people at the time a life without our most cherished and treasured freedoms.

People Power regained for us  long lost freedom and rights.  Many of us would not be  speaking openly today if not for Edsa People Power in 1986.

The revolt was not the end but the beginning of our struggle to free  people from poverty and oppression,  especially from politicians with the traits of Marcos, who are like dictators imposing themselves upon the people.

Now that we have  democracy restored, let us take good care of it that we shall not lose it again to politicos who are oppressive and corrupt, who only think of themselves, forgetting  the welfare of the people.

The May 2013 elections is a continuation of our struggle to build democracy by teaching people to vote according to their consciences and not to sell their votes.

Let us vote wisely for  a better future for our country.

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