Why can’t PNoy say ‘Come Home’ instead of ‘Surrender’
God forbid, but what a members of your family are killed and someone comes during the wake and blames you for the tragedy, what would you do?
Answers of close friends I asked ranged from a tempered reaction of showing the rude person the door to violent acts including use of a tool that is banned during this election campaign period.
That must be the feeling of relatives of the 12 Filipinos who were killed in Lahad Datu, Sabah when Malaysian commandoes assaulted the place where some 200 followers of the Sultan of Sulu, led by his brother Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, were camping out. Two of the commandoes were also killed, according to news reports.
Agbimuddin Kiram and his followers arrived in Lahad Datu Feb. 12 to re-affirm their ownership of a large part of Sabah which Malaysia is renting from them for a pittance.
The day after the bloody encounter, President Aquino issued this statement which puts the blame on the followers of the Sultan of Sulu for the Friday massacre:
“To our citizens in Lahad Datu, from the very start our objective has been to avoid the loss of lives and the shedding of blood. However, you did not join us in this objective. Because of the path you have taken, what we have been trying to avoid has come to pass.
“If you have grievances, the path you chose was wrong. The just, and indeed, the only correct thing for you to do is to surrender.
“To those who have influence and the capacity to reason with those in Lahad Datu, I ask you to convey this message: surrender now, without conditions.”
Anne de Bretagne, a Filipino based in Europe who follows closely the Philippine claim on Sabah, took note of the close similarity of Aquino’s statement to that of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. She reproduced a report from the Malaysian press where Najib disclosed:”I telephoned President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines last night to state the stand of the Malaysian government on the matter after the gun battle yesterday.
“I said the government felt that the time to consider the group’s demands had lapsed and that they had the option of surrendering or facing the action of the authorities and security force…their armed intrusion into the country and the killing of two security forces personnel and injuring of three others was a serious crime.”
Najib further said, “As such, the government would not proceed with negotiations or consider their demands.”
Dante Simbulan, a retired military officer, remarked “What kind of leader is this? Rather than protect the interests of his countrymen, he took the side of a foreign country! Sabah belongs to the Philippines! It was illegally given to Malaysia by the British imperialists. The British did not own Sabah. They were leasing it from the Sultan of Sulu. Proof? The Malaysians are still paying rent to the Sultanate.”
Aquino’s empathy for the Malaysians and lack of sympathy for the cause of the Sultan of Sulu (he called it a “hopeless cause” in an earlier speech) are obvious from the beginning of the standoff. This is attributed to the role of Malaysia as broker in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
The reservation expressed by many of the inadvisability of Malaysia as peace broker in the talks with the MILF because of the Philippine claim on Sabah (based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu) has now come true. There cannot be genuine, lasting peace in Mindanao under an arrangement brokered by Malaysia because that would necessitate the giving up of the Philippine claim on Sabah.
That’s why Aquino considers the current Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram III spoilers to the peace agreement that they are about to conclude with the MILF which they want wave as achievements of his administration.
Aquino has been taking a hardline position towards Kiram III. He probably didn’t realize that as he pushed Kiram against the wall, thinking that it would soften and make him (Kiram) surrender, he was also boxing himself in a situation that would not be easy for him to wiggle out.
He gave Kiram an ultimatum: “Surrender now, without conditions.” (Was it so hard for him to say, “Come home”?)
What happens if the Kirams will not surrender? What’s Aquino going to do when Malaysian commandoes resume the killing of Filipinos.
Does Aquino think that if they eliminate Rajah Muda Kiram and his followers in Lahad Datu, his problems with the Sulu Sultanate will be solved?
He is grossly mistaken. The wound created by the tragedy would be so deep, he would wish he had agreed to the meeting requested by Kiram III three years ago.