From GMA News (Oct 20): Palace sympathizes with Kirams over sultan’s death
Malacañang on Sunday sympathized with the friends and relatives of the late Sulu
Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, who died after a battle with a kidney
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte also said the
Palace continues to study how the Philippines would go about its claim to
“We offer our condolences to the bereaved family and to his loved
ones,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
Kiram died before dawn
Sunday at the Philippine Heart Center. His remains were brought to his house in
Taguig City and then to the Blue Mosque.
Before he died, he had "ordered"
his followers to continue their efforts to “repossess” Sabah.
Valte said President Benigno Aquino’s order to the government to study how to go
about pursuing the Philippine claim to Sabah is “still ongoing.”
added Philippines' efforts to pursue Sabah will not be dependent on Kiram
“The study is still ongoing,” she said.
Last March, two
party-list lawmakers had asked Aquino to elevate the Philippines' claim to
the International Court of Justice.
The appeal was done days after
conflict erupted in Lahad Datu in Sabah, between Malaysian authorities and
followers of the Sulu sultanate.
In February this year, Kiram's followers
engaged Malaysian forces in an effort to assert their claim
on what they call their ancestral territory.
Based in Mindanao, the
Islamic sultanate once controlled Sabah in northern Borneo, including Lahad
Datu, the site of the stand-off.
Until now, the sultanate's heirs have
been receiving a nominal yearly compensation package from Malaysia under a
long-standing agreement for possession of Sabah.
conducted offensives in Sabah to flush out Kiram's followers, and have since
charged several of the "intruders" with terrorism and waging war on the
The second offense carries the death penalty upon conviction.
However, common in all three options is that all takes too long to see results or to achieve the avowed objectives. Sometimes, the situation worsens in the transition. Besides, armed struggle is bloody and destructive and the outcome cannot be ascertained until all the prerequisites needed for victory are present. Mere reforms will hardly make any difference. The powerful will only listen with closed ears and minds to people’s voices and rumblings. Sometimes, force is used to cow people and kill their aspiration dead on track. Similarly, negotiation is not an assured menu for solving, say, the Bangsamoro Question. Without effective safeguards and people’s participation and foreign good offices or helping hand, agreements can be set aside by powerful partners in negotiation.
However, in the case of the GPH-MILF peace negotiation, there is clearly enough goodwill on both sides. The MILF has found a fitting and reliable peace partner in President Benigno Aquino III. This alone gives enough reason for the success of these peace talks.
However, much of the difficulty in the current peace negotiation between the GPH and MILF is about the mistrust for the future. Both sides have legitimate fears and risks that cannot be aside just that. However, between the two partners, the MILF is clearly the weaker partner and, therefore, its fears shall be seriously considered by government. There is no guarantee for the uncertain future except good agreement and effective implementation mechanism. More importantly, this agreement should be enshrined in the Constitution to make it difficult for the next administration in Manila to change.
Moreover, the GPH should be magnanimous enough to give enough powers and resources to the Bangsamoro, so that it can stand on its feet, without detaching the umbilical cord that connects the son to the mother. The Bangsamoro is still part of this country and it is still Filipino by citizenship. The real guarantee for the unity of this country is to give what is fair and due to everybody, especially to the Bangsamoro. On top of it all, this government must have the political will to overcome all challenges to the deal with the MILF.