PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

BIT OF HISTORY: JABIDAH MASSACRE  OR THE CORREGIDOR MASSACRE OF 1968


THE DISPUTE: The Territory of Sabah or North Borneo dispute refers to the territorial dispute between the Federation of Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines over much of the eastern part of the state of Sabah, a territory known as North Borneo prior to the formation of the Malaysian federation.  The Jabidah massacre, also known as the Corregidor massacre, refers to an incident on March 18, 1968 in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are said to have massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits who were escaping their covert training to reclaim Sabah.Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and some sources asserting that the massacre is a myth.The Jabidah Massacre is widely regarded as having been the catalyst behind the modern Moro insurgencies in the Southern Philippines. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO DFA: Philippines maintains claim on Sabah


The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah which is currently occupied by Malaysia.
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday denied reports that the Philippines offered Sabah to Malaysia for its support on the case against China before an arbitral tribunal. READ: Philippines offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China  During a press conference aired on television, DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose clarified that the note verbale from the Philippines to Malaysia was part of the two countries' "friendly bilateral relations" and that Sabah was not included in the issue. "There's no way that we are dropping our claim on Sabah," Jose said. A report from the VERA files stated that the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is reviewing its protest and action against Malaysia's extended continental shelf claim. READ MORE...

ALSO: DFA note sent to Malaysia revives inactive Sabah claim row with Malaysia?
(Sultanate spokesman Idjirani said the Aquino administration should explain to the Filipino people the motives behind making the Sabah claim a “sacrificial lamb” in order to get the concurrence of Malaysia to support the country’s territorial conflict with China.)


Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman --
MALAYSIAN MINISTER: ‘IS THERE A CLAIM?’
The Aquino administration, in sending a diplomatic note to the Malaysian embassy last week about the “features in the South China Sea and their implications in the extended continental shelf claims,” may have unwittingly revived an inactive Sabah claim dispute with Malaysia. Malaysia said that it will ignore as “irrelevant” any proposal from the Philippines that will involve its state of Sabah in reference to the Philippine note which was said to be an offer to downgrade the Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its territorial dispute case against China before the United Nations. Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, however, said linking any such issue to Sabah was “irrelevant” as Malaysia does not acknowledge any claim the Philippines has for Sabah.  “Is there a claim?” Anifah told Malaysia’s The Star Online when asked about Manila’s offer to “downgrade” its claim on Sabah. The government through Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose confirmed the existence of the diplomatic note but he denied that the note involved giving up or “downgrading” the Sabah claim. “We can not do that, we can not even think of that,” Jose said. Jose said the note’s content is all about the “features in the South China Sea and their implications in the extended continental shelf claims.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Is PH dropping Sabah claim? Lawmakers demand explanation, Palace disputes report


Lawmakers asked yesterday the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to explain the reported downgrading of the country’s claim on Sabah in a bid to gain the support of Malaysia for the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the disputed South China Sea before the United Nations, as they warned that it will be treason to drop the country’s solid legal claim over the island.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who heads the 75-man Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, pressed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to explain the reported note verbale handed by the DFA to the Malaysian embassy last week, indicating the country’s offer to downgrade its claim over the oil-rich island-state. PALACE DISPUTES REPORTS But Malacañang has disputed reports that the Philippines has supposedly abandoned its claim on Sabah to win Malaysia’s support over its territorial spat with China. “There is absolutely no basis to such report,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a text message to reporters. “I think it deserves Secretary Del Rosario to explain this note verbale. We cannot state that we were dropping, it will be treason if somebody will drop the Sabah claim because we have a very good legal title of the Sabah,” Rodriguez told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview. READ MORE...

ALSO: China shrugs off Sabah deal, says its tack clear


Malaysia Sultanate spokesman  China gave yesterday a cryptic reply to the supposed quid-pro-quo the Philippines offered Malaysia in “downgrading” its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysian support in the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China as a Chinese official said that China holds a clear position on the South China Sea issue. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that while China does not have information about the talks between Malaysia and the Philippines, it holds a clear position not only on the South China Sea but also in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines. China had rejected the move of the Philippines to bring the territorial friction for arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS) as it sticks to its position of negotiating only with countries involved in the overlapping claims over the South China Sea.“We are willing to work together with relevant countries to properly resolve the disputes through dialog and negotiation and safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Hua said. The Sultanate of Sulu also lashed out at Malacañang for negotiating with Malaysia on matters involving Sabah as it stressed that the Palace or even President Aquino has no authority to make such a move.READ MORE...

ALSO: VERA Files' reply to DFA on Sabah story


VERA Files @verafiles VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”  
The Department of Foreign Affairs is misleading the public when it says “Sabah is not in any way part of the note” verbale the Phililippine government sent recently to Malaysia in denying VERA Files’s story “PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China.” 
Note Verbale No. 15-1979 sent to Malaysia, the basis of VERA Files’ story, stated that it is reviewing the Aug. 4, 2009 protest (No. 000819) it filed with the United Nations. The Philippines’ August 2009 protest, contained in two pages, singles out North Borneo or the old name of Sabah. READ MORE...

ALSO: Senators blast ‘lying’ about Bangsamoro budget


Escudero 
SENATOR Francis Escudero on Tuesday hit the government’s chief peace negotiator, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, for claiming that the annual budget for the proposed Bangsamoro region is P35 billion when it is much closer to P75 billion.
Ferrer has been insisting that only P35 billion would go to the prospective Bangsamoro government—P27 billion in a block grant, P7 billion in development funds and P1 billion in a transition fund. But Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, disputed Ferrer’s claim and said P75 billion a year was a conservative estimate. “We have not included the revenue generating power of the BBL-- they can impose fees and charges. We have not included the royalties share from the natural resources, which were also given to them. Overall, it will surely reach that amount (P75 billion). That is even our conservative estimate,” Escudero said. The senator said it is good to clarify this to Ferrer because she might not understand the agreement she entered into when she signed off on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). READ MORE...

ALSO by Rigoberto Tiglao: ‘Jabidah’ was a big hoax
(The mythicization of Jabidah has been so successful that even President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and supporters of his Bangsamoro Basic Law have falsely, cruelly compared the Mamasapano massacre of 44 police commandos to the nonexistent “Jabidah massacre.” It was his father, then senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., who actually debunked the allegation of a Jabidah Massacre from the very start. His statements on this are preserved in the annals of the Senate as his privilege speech delivered March 28, 1968...)


Parts 1 & 2: 
The so-called “Jabidah massacre” has been the biggest hoax foisted on this nation. It was a yarn spun in 1968 by treasonous politicians of the Liberal Party at that time as a propaganda weapon intended to deal what they thought would be a fatal blow to then President Marcos’ bid for reelection the next year. In another demonstration of the law of unintended consequences, the just organized Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then used the allegation to rouse Muslim youth’s anger so they would rally to the fledgling organization, which the more powerful Muslim traditional politicians refused to support. The MNLF (and its breakaway group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front) ably mythicized Jabidah to become, as an academic put it, the “sacral moment invoked from time to time to mobilize the Muslims to the movement’s cause.”  Misuari portrayed it as the culmination of genocidal attacks against the Moros; therefore, a Bangsamoro—an independent nation-state of the Moros—is necessary. CONTINUE READING UP TO PART 2...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Jabidah massacre


THE DISPUTE: The Territory of Sabah or North Borneo dispute refers to the territorial dispute between the Federation of Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines over much of the eastern part of the state of Sabah, a territory known as North Borneo prior to the formation of the Malaysian federation. The Philippines, presenting itself as the successor state of the Sultanate of Sulu, retains a "dormant claim" on Sabah on the basis that the territory was only leased to the British North Borneo Company in 1878, with the sovereignty of the Sultanate (and subsequently the Republic) over the territory never having been relinquished.[4] However, Malaysia considers this dispute as a "non-issue" as it interprets the 1878 agreement as that of cession[5] and that it deems that the residents of Sabah had exercised their right to self-determination when they joined to form the Malaysian federation in 1963 (WIKIPEDIA)

MANILA, APRIL 6, 2015 (WIKIPEDIA) The Jabidah massacre, also known as the Corregidor massacre, refers to an incident on March 18, 1968 in which members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are said to have massacred a number of Moro Muslim recruits who were escaping their covert training to reclaim Sabah. Sources differ regarding the details, with the number of victims ranging from 14 to 68, and some sources asserting that the massacre is a myth.[8] The Jabidah Massacre is widely regarded as having been the catalyst behind the modern Moro insurgencies in the Southern Philippines.

Background

In 1963, the resource-rich territory of Sabah, which had been under British control since the late nineteenth-century, formally became part of the Federation of Malaysia. The Philippines, however, protested this, claiming that Sabah had never been sold to foreign interests, and that it had only been leased (padjak) by the Sulu Sultanate and therefore remained the property of the Sultan and by extension the property of Republic of the Philippines.

Operation Merdeka

This dispute is believed to have led the then-President Diosdado Macapagal, and his successor President Ferdinand Marcos, to establish special military units tasked with fomenting dissent amongst Sabah's non-Malay ethnic groups, namely the Tausūg and Sama, two groups closely aligned ethnically and culturally with Filipinos.

The codename for this destabilisation programme was "Operation Merdeka" (merdeka meaning "freedom" in Malay), with Manuel Syquio as project leader and then Maj. Eduardo Abdul Latif Martelino as operations officer.

The object of this program was the annexation of Sabah to the Republic of the Philippines. The plan involved the recruitment of nearly 200 Tausug and Sama Muslims aged 18 to 30 from Sulu Province and Tawi-Tawi and their training in the island town of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi.

Simunul is noted for being where the Arab missionary Makhdum built Taluksangay Mosque, the first mosque in the Philippines, in the 13th century.

The recruits were excited about the promise not only of a monthly allowance, but also over the prospect of eventually becoming a member of an elite unit in the armed forces.

From August to December 1967, the young recruits underwent training in Simunul. The name of the commando unit was Jabidah.

On December 30, 1967, 135 to 180 recruits boarded a Philippine Navy vessel for the island of Corregidor at the mouth of Manila Bay for "specialized training."

This second phase of the training turned mutinous when the recruits discovered their true mission. It struck the recruits that the plan would mean not only fighting their brother Muslims in Sabah, but also possibly killing their own Tausūg and Sama relatives living there.

Additionally, the recruits had already begun to feel disgruntled over the non-payment of the promised monthly stipend. The recruits then demanded to be returned home.

The massacre

The alleged sole survivor of the massacre, Jibin Arula, recounted how the young Moro recruits were taken in batches of twelve to a remote airstrip where they were executed with machine guns by their military handlers.

Arula, who was wounded in the left knee, managed to attach himself to driftwood long enough to be rescued by fishermen from the nearby province of Cavite.

There has never been an official count, and different sources number the victims from 11 to about 200.

Aftermath

The subjective truth of the massacre took some time to emerge.

In March 1968 Moro students in Manila held a week-long protest vigil over an empty coffin marked ‘Jabidah’ in front of the Malacañang Palace.

They claimed “at least 28” Moro army recruits had been murdered. Court-martial proceedings were brought against twenty-three military personnel involved. There was also a firestorm in the Philippine press, attacking not so much the soldiers involved, but the culpability of a government administration that would foment such a plot, and then seek to cover it up by wholesale murder.

Insurgency

Though it has been argued that the Jabidah massacre was a myth, feelings about it in the Muslim community led to the crystallization of Moro discontent and the subsequent formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and, later, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.(MILF)

For years, Filipino Muslims had been complaining of official discrimination at the hands of consecutive governments and the Catholic majority.

This included discrimination in housing and education, as well as lack of government funding for the majority-Muslim south.

Coupled with the official government policy of settling Filipino Christians in Mindanao, a class of radical Moro intellectuals emerged, led by student activist Nur Misuari (photo). The Jabidah Massacre further radicalised Filipino Muslims, leading some to take up arms in the style of the Communist Party of the Philippiness (CPP). This new organization, formed in the early 1970s and led by Misuari, was named the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Following a split over the role of Islam in a Bangsamoro state, a new, more conservative movement emerged in 1981, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)..

Official acknowledgement


President Noynoy Aquino

President Benigno Aquino III acknowledged the incident on March 18, 2013, when he led the commemorations on the 45th anniversary of the massacre. This notably marked the first time that a ruling President had acknowledged the massacre as having taken place. Aquino also directed the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to designate the Mindanao Garden of Peace on Corregidor as a historical landmark.

Contradiction


The late Ninoy Aquino

Contrary to the claim of his son President Benigno Aquino III, his father, the late senator, Benigno Ninoy Aquino Jr., a staunch critic of Marcos and a prominent opposition leader, conducted his own investigation and went as far to where it all started-in Sulu, where he found out that the 11 other recruits named by the sole witness Jibin Arula where all alive. Ninoy Aquino did not expose the Jabidah massacre but refuted it with clear evidences he gathered after his investigation. He categorically declared in his speach in the Senate that the alleged massacre is a hoax (see Ninoy Speech: Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil delivered in the Philippine Senate on March 28, 1968)

A Portion of Senator Ninoy Aquino Senate Speech:

xxx"This morning, the Manila Times, in its banner headline, quoted me as saying that I believed there was no mass massacre on Corregidor island. And I submit it was not a hasty conclusion, but one borne out by careful deductions. What brought me to this conclusion: 1. Massacre means, to my mind, the wanton killing of men — maybe premeditated, but definitely committed according to a previous plan. I submit that there was no plan to kill the Muslim recruits. 2. What would have been the motive for the “massacre”? Some quarters have advanced the theory that the trainees were liquidated in order to silence them. But then, 24 boys have already shown up in Jolo safe and healthy. To release 24 men who can spill the beans and liquidate the remaining 24 “to seal” their lips would defy logic. 3. Jibin Arula has been telling the truth all along. However, his fears, which in his place may be considered valid, may not be supported by the recent turn of events. Twenty-four recruits have turned up."xxx Full Copy may be accessed in the Official Gazette.


PHILSTAR

DFA: Philippines maintains claim on Sabah By Patricia Lourdes Viray and Mike Frialde (philstar.com) | Updated March 30, 2015 - 6:02pm


The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah which is currently occupied by Malaysia.

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday denied reports that the Philippines offered Sabah to Malaysia for its support on the case against China before an arbitral tribunal.

READ: Philippines offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China

During a press conference aired on television, DFA Spokesperson Charles Jose clarified that the note verbale from the Philippines to Malaysia was part of the two countries' "friendly bilateral relations" and that Sabah was not included in the issue.

"There's no way that we are dropping our claim on Sabah," Jose said.

A report from the VERA files stated that the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is reviewing its protest and action against Malaysia's extended continental shelf claim.

READ MORE...
Jose noted that the Philippines registered its objection to Malaysia and Vietnam's claim in 2009 to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

"We have this arbitration case with the UN and the essence of our case is to clarify maritime entitlements and it would be helpful to our case if the maritime entitlements of other claimant countries could be clarified," the DFA spokesperson said.

The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who claimed rights over the land in 1962, according to the report. Malaysia currently occupies Sabah.

"Sabah is not in any way part of the note," Jose stressed, adding that the note verbale was about the features i the South China sea and its implications in the extended continental shelf claims.

The Philippines recently filed an arbitration case against China's nine-dash line claim.

RELATED: Philippines says China rushing construction in disputed sea  and
Phl hits back at China over sea infra work

The reported plan of the Philippine government to downgrade the Philippines’s claim on Sabah in exchange Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations is a “betrayal of the people’s trust,” the spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu said Monday.

The claim by the Philippines over Sabah - which is at present occupied by Malaysia- is based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who ceded proprietary rights over the 76,115-square-kilometer land to the Philippines in 1962.

However, Sultanate of Sulu spokesman Abraham Idjirani clarified that the Sultanate has regained the propriety rights over Sabah as stated in a resolution passed by the Sultanate’s council of advisers during the time of then Sultan Esmail Kiram I and the late President Diosdado Macapagal.

The resolution signed in 1962 states that the Philippine government will represent the sultanate in the Sabah dispute. The resolution, however, also stated that should the government fail to act on the claim on a given period, its authority will be revoked and the Sulu sultanate may retain its sovereign rights to prosecute its claim on Sabah.

“We have already revoked that authority. So in the legal process, the Philippine government no longer has the authority through the Department of Foreign Affairs to talk to Malaysia on the issue of Sabah. That action would mean a betrayal of the people’s trust on the government,” said Idjirani.

Idjirani meanwhile said the Sultanate of Sulu would ask assistance from the United States to help broker its claim over Sabah. Idjirani said the Sultanate of Sulu would be invoking the 1915 Kiram-Carpenter Agreement for this purpose.

The agreement, signed on March 22, 1915 between the Sultanate of Sulu under Sultan Hadji Jamalul Kiram and Frank W. Carpenter, governor of the then Department of Mindanao and Sulu of the colonial government in the Philippine islands.

According to the agreement, the United States government then assured the sultan of Sulu of its full protection should a problem arises in Sabah between the sultan of Sulu and other foreign countries.

Idjirani also said the Sultanate of Sulu would also be holding consultations in Palawan, Basilan, Zamboanga and Tawi Tawi as these areas are also affected by the Sabah dispute.

“The Sabah dispute is not just about the Sultanate of Sulu. It is about national patrimony. We call on all Filipinos to support the Sabah claim,” said Idjirani.

According to a report by VERA Files, the quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the DFA handed to a representative of the Malaysian embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

The note verbale, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah.

The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the UN Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it effectively declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory.

In last week’s note verbale, however, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is “reviewing” its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

The first request is for Malaysia to “confirm” that its claim of an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.”

The DFA also requested Malaysia to confirm that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a state is entitled to 12-nautical-mile territorial sea over which it exercises sovereignty.

Malaysia, like the Philippines, claims parts of the Spratly islands in the South China Sea which is being claimed almost wholly by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Brunei is another claimant to some parts of the Spratlys.

There are some parts in the Spratlys where the 200-NM Exclusive Economic Zones of the Philippines and Malaysia overlap.

Sabah (North Borneo) originally belonged to the Sultan of Brunei, who gave it to Sultan of Sulu Salah ud-Din Karamat Bakhtiar in 1658 as a reward for helping quell a rebellion. In 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam Kiram leased North Borneo to the Hong Kong-based British North Borneo Co. of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent for 5,000 Malaysian dollars a year.

In 1946, Overbeck and Dent, without permission from the Sulu Sultan, transferred the territory to the British government when the company ceased operations.

On Sept. 11, 1962, Sultan of Sulu Mohammad Esmail Kiram ceded to the Philippine government full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory. President Diosdado Macapagal filed the Philippines’s claim over Sabah with the United Nations.

In 1963, the British government, again without permission from the Sultan of Sulu, transferred Sabah to the newly formed Federation of Malaysia.

Malaysia is currently the broker in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of a Bangsamoro, an autonomous political entity in the southern part of the Philippines.


TRIBUNE

DFA note sent to Malaysia revives inactive Sabah claim row with Malaysia?

Written by Tribune Wires  Tuesday, 31 March 2015 00:00


Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman

MALAYSIAN MINISTER: ‘IS THERE A CLAIM?’

The Aquino administration, in sending a diplomatic note to the Malaysian embassy last week about the “features in the South China Sea and their implications in the extended continental shelf claims,” may have unwittingly revived an inactive Sabah claim dispute with Malaysia.

Malaysia said that it will ignore as “irrelevant” any proposal from the Philippines that will involve its state of Sabah in reference to the Philippine note which was said to be an offer to downgrade the Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its territorial dispute case against China before the United Nations.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, however, said linking any such issue to Sabah was “irrelevant” as Malaysia does not acknowledge any claim the Philippines has for Sabah.

“Is there a claim?” Anifah told Malaysia’s The Star Online when asked about Manila’s offer to “downgrade” its claim on Sabah.

The government through Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose confirmed the existence of the diplomatic note but he denied that the note involved giving up or “downgrading” the Sabah claim.

“We can not do that, we can not even think of that,” Jose said.

Jose said the note’s content is all about the “features in the South China Sea and their implications in the extended continental shelf claims.”

READ MORE...
“Sabah is not in any way part of the note,” Jose said.

“The Philippines has excellent relations with Malaysia. In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of extended continental shelf in the South China Sea,” he added.

“Any note or anything in relation to that so-called claim is absolutely irrelevant,” he said.

The note referred, to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was projected from Sabah.

The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the UN Secretary-General, protested the joint submission because it declared Sabah to be Malaysian territory. In the note, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it was reviewing its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

The first request was for Malaysia to confirm that its claim to an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.”

The DFA requested Malaysia to confirm that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”
Sulu Sultan jumps into row

The Sulu Sultanate which claims ownership over Sabah under a decades old lease agreement with Malaysia immediately protested the reported government offer to downgrade the Sabah claim


Abraham Idjirani, the sultan's spokesperson

Abraham Idjirani, spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, said the government cannot treat the Sabah claim as a “bargaining chip” with Malaysia to gain support to resolve its territorial conflict with China.

Idjirani said the Philippines and Malaysia can’t just throw the proprietary ownership and authority of the Sultanate of Sulu legally recognized by Malaysia through its payment of annual rents to the Sultan of Sulu and their heirs.

In an investigative report of VERA Files it said the quid pro quo was included in the note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, shortly after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

“Corollary, Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs must be the first to show to the people that it observes the “rule of law” since Sultanate of Sulu already withdrew in 1989 and the 1962 Special Authority given to the Philippine government,” Idjirani said.

“However, the note verbale is an act of serious betrayal to the Muslims in the Sulu Archipelago and the nation,” he said.

Idjirani said the Aquino administration should explain to the Filipino people the motives behind making the Sabah claim a “sacrificial lamb” in order to get the concurrence of Malaysia to support the country’s territorial conflict with China.

He said they will reject the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which aims to create a new autonomous region in Mindanao, because it believes that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) would drop the Sultanate’s Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia’s support for the creation of a Bangsamoro government.

The spokesman of the Sultanate said the MILF would find legal means on how to formally drop the Sabah claim because ancestrally Sabah is not its property. Because it is the property of the people of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga Peninsula, and Palawan.

He added the MILF will drop the Sabah claim because its leaders are not interested in it, and they owe Malaysia a debt of gratitude.

In the current peace accord Malaysia acts as international mediator between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the MILF.

Last year, Sultan Esmail Kiram II renewed his family’s call on the government to pursue the country’s claim to Sabah.

They also strongly urged the present administration to support its claim to North Borneo (Sabah) as the government’s historic and moral obligations.

Trouble in Sabah erupted in 2013 after then-Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd, deceased, sent some 200 of his armed followers to Lahad Datu, Sabah, to assert their claim over the island, resulting in the deaths of more than 50 people and imprisonment of several others by Malaysian authorities.

As for the Sultanate Sabah, it is theirs because it was gift to them by Brunei when they helped Brunei in the war and it was only leased to Malaysia’s British North Borneo Company in 1878.
A House minority bloc member also lambasted Malaysia for allegedly meddling in the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

According to Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan de La Cruz statements coming from the Malaysian defense minister relative to the possible junking of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law could be considered as a form of interference.

“They seem to be threatening us. They seem to be part of the propaganda machine working for the passage of the BBL,’ Dela Cruz said yesterday.

De La Cruz expressed apprehension over the statement of Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishmmuddin Hussein who said that if the BBL is not passed into law war would erupt in Mindanao.

“That’s an unfriendly statement from the head of the International Monitoring Team. They warning of a war,” said Dela Cruz.

De La Cruz believes that Hussein’s statement would have an adverse effect on the passage of the proposed BBL.

He said that the statement should be explained by the members of the government peace panel headed by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Teresita “Ging” Deles and Government Peace negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer.

De La Cruz posited that a separate investigation should be conducted by the House in connection with Hussein’s statement.

“It’s expected that more questions are going to be raised against the BBL,” the Abakada lawmaker said.

Earlier, President Aquino created a council that would review the BBL.

Among those named in the council were Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr., businessman Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former Ambassador to the Holy See and Malta Howard Dee and youth leader Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, chair of the House ad hoc committee on the BBL, said the council should submit its recommendations to the panel by April 20 so that the members could read them before they vote on the proposed BBL on May 11 and 12.
Alvin Murcia, Gerry Baldo


MANILA BULLETIN

Is PH dropping Sabah claim? Lawmakers demand explanation, Palace disputes report by Genalyn D. Kabiling & Charissa M. Luci March 31, 2015

Lawmakers asked yesterday the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to explain the reported downgrading of the country’s claim on Sabah in a bid to gain the support of Malaysia for the Philippines’ arbitration case against China over the disputed South China Sea before the United Nations, as they warned that it will be treason to drop the country’s solid legal claim over the island.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, who heads the 75-man Ad Hoc Committee on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, pressed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to explain the reported note verbale handed by the DFA to the Malaysian embassy last week, indicating the country’s offer to downgrade its claim over the oil-rich island-state.

PALACE DISPUTES REPORTS

But Malacañang has disputed reports that the Philippines has supposedly abandoned its claim on Sabah to win Malaysia’s support over its territorial spat with China.

“There is absolutely no basis to such report,” Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a text message to reporters.

“I think it deserves Secretary Del Rosario to explain this note verbale. We cannot state that we were dropping, it will be treason if somebody will drop the Sabah claim because we have a very good legal title of the Sabah,” Rodriguez told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview.

READ MORE...
“The government owns Sabah. I am sure this is farthest from the minds and the plans of the DFA to drop of our claim. It will be treason to do that,” he pointed out.

Lacierda shared a statement of DFA spokesman Charles Jose, who insisted the issue of Sabah was not included in the note verbale sent to the Malaysian embassy.

Jose explained that the Philippines and Malaysia, having “excellent relations,” have been exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea “for years.”


DFA Secretary Albert Del Rosario

SABAH NOT PART OF NOTE VERBALE

“The Note Verbale that was written about was part of this process. The note is about the features in the South China Sea and their implications on ECS claims. Sabah is not in any way part of the note,” Jose said.

Despite Malacañang’s denial, Rodriguez said he will file a resolution calling for an investigation into the “alarming” report disclosing the DFA’s gesture to inform the Malaysian government about its move to review Manila’s protest lodged before the United Nations protesting the joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) which effectively declared Sabah as a Malaysian territory.

“We will investigate this. We will immediately file a resolution to be able to investigate that. This has to be clarified,” he said.

The Vera Files report said the DFA’s action would depend on Malaysian government’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the conficting claims on the Spratly islands – to confirm that its claim of an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia” and that “it does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”

Albay Rep. Al Francisco Bichara, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the DFA should have consulted Congress if the reported downgrading of the Sabah’s claim is true.

“We have to verify the report first before we investigate this. Congress has to be consulted if this information is true,” he said in a text message, when asked if his panel will look into the matter.

AKO BICOL party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a senior member of the Bichara panel, agreed with Rodriguez, saying that the supposed “horse trading” should be looked into.

“Definitely, we have to look into this alleged horse trading though I don’t find this alarming. Considering that we are in the advent of ASEAN economic integration, the Sabah issue will no longer be a thorny issue between us and Malaysia,” he said in a separate interview.

“But then, personally, I maintain that the Sultan of Sulu should be properly compensated and not just by a mere pittance,” he said.

CAUSE OF WORRY

But contrary to Batocabe’s view, Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle against Corruption party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna manifested his concern over the report, but expressed confidence that the DFA, led by Del Rosario, will not give up the country’s claim over Sabah.

“For me, if true, this is a cause for worry. Although, I highly doubt if our DFA Secretary and our President, both patriots, will do this. Based on how I know them, they will not compromise our nation’s sovereignty,” he said in a text message.

The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who ceded proprietary rights over the land to the Philippine government in 1962.

The Philippine claim is based on the argument that the 1878 deed entered into by the Sultan with an Austrian named Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and an Englishman named Alfred Dent was a lease agreement. Malaysia, however, is of the belief that it was a treaty of cession.

It was the late President Diosdado Macapagal who initiated the Philippine claim in 1961.

In 1950, the Philippine Congress adopted a“resolution expressing the sense of the Philippines that North Borneo belongs to the heirs of the sultan of Sulu and the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines and authorizing the President to conduct negotiations for the restoration of such ownership and sovereign jurisdiction over said territory.”

In 2009, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now a Pampanga representative, signed a law on the country’s archipelagic baselines, which was upheld in 2011 by the Supreme Court, affirming the Philippine claim to Sabah.

The new leadership of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo (SSNB) had assured it would pursue its claim through peaceful means.

The new rajah muda (crown prince), Datu Maharajah Adinda Pugdal Kiram, said Sabah was given as a gift by the Sultan of Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu for helping quell a rebellion.


TRIBUNE

China shrugs off Sabah deal, says its tack clear Written by Mario J. Mallari
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 00:00

China gave yesterday a cryptic reply to the supposed quid-pro-quo the Philippines offered Malaysia in “downgrading” its Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysian support in the Philippines’ territorial dispute with China as a Chinese official said that China holds a clear position on the South China Sea issue.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that while China does not have information about the talks between Malaysia and the Philippines, it holds a clear position not only on the South China Sea but also in the arbitration unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.

China had rejected the move of the Philippines to bring the territorial friction for arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLoS) as it sticks to its position of negotiating only with countries involved in the overlapping claims over the South China Sea.

“We are willing to work together with relevant countries to properly resolve the disputes through dialog and negotiation and safeguard peace and stability of the South China Sea,” Hua said.

The Sultanate of Sulu also lashed out at Malacañang for negotiating with Malaysia on matters involving Sabah as it stressed that the Palace or even President Aquino has no authority to make such a move.

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Abraham Idjirani, secretary general and spokesman for the Sultanate of Sulu, maintained that the Sabah claim remains under the full authority of Sultan Esmael Kiram II and the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, including the Filipino people.

Idjirani told The Tribune that the Sultanate of Sulu will write a formal note to Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to clarify the content of the note verbale forwarded to Malaysia.

“The Sultanate will send a clarificatory note to Malacañang on the nature and aim of the Philippine government to downgrade the Sabah claim to get Malaysia’s support in order to strengthen its territorial spat with China,” said Idjirani.

“To downgrade or even upgrade is not within the power of Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The matter still belongs to, and resides with, the Sultanate of Sulu headed by Sultan Esmael Kiram II, the heirs and the raayat of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi Tawi and Zamboanga Peninsula, Palawan, including the Filipino people,” he added.

The DFA denied dropping the Sabah claim in its note verbale handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, shortly after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the note’s content is all about the “features in the South China Sea and their implications in the extended continental shelf claims” and Sabah was not part of the note.
However, the note referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was projected from Sabah.

The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the UN Secretary-General, protested the joint submission because it declared Sabah to be Malaysian territory. In the note, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it was reviewing its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

The first request was for Malaysia to confirm that its claim to an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.”
The DFA requested Malaysia to confirm that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”

“Even with the denial of DFA that the note verbale focused merely on determining the continental, the DFA should base that on the historic and legal rights of the Sultanate of Sulu over Sulu and Palawan,” said Idjirani.

“The Sulu Sea extended up to the shore of the eastern and western part of Sabah or North Borneo. And by virtue of the definition of UNCLOoS –from the shore of Palawan, the Sultanate of Sulu’s ancestral rights reached up to the South China Sea,” he added.

Idjirani said that the ancestral rights of the Sultanate of Sulu were recognized by China after China agreed to sign a treaty in the Status of an Independent Tributary States, whereby the two sovereign nations in that time mutually agreed also in the principle of on-intervention of each other’s internal affairs.

“In discussing issues with vital importance to the national interests, Malacañang and the DFA must reach out to invite Sultan Kiram II. The Sultanate of Sulu in respect to its valid historic over areas in the South China Sea can play an important role in achieving an understanding to the territorial claims of China and the Philippines,” said Idjirani.

“Therefore, based on factual events and the withdrawal of authority of the Philippine government to stand and prosecute the Sabah claim, only Sultan Kiram II can assist to strengthen the legal and historic of the Philippines to assert territorial claims including assertion of a territory and continental shelf lying outside the national boundaries of the Philippines,” Idjirani added.

Idjirani stressed that Malaysia also recognized the authority of the Sultanate of Sulu over Sabah with the annual rent it pays to the sultanate and its heirs.

An ally of Aquino, meanwhile, rejected allegations that Malacañang is going to bribe lawmakers into passing the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law.

According to Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone it would be unthinkable for President Aquino to bribe members of the Lower House, this claim is being made despite the fact that Aquino had bribed the House and the Senate to impeach and convict the then sitting Chief Justice.
“That’s not true. We have not seen even the shadow of the alleged bibe,” Evardone said yesterday.

Rumors were rife that lawmakers would be given P20-million each in exchange for their vote in favor of the passage of the BBL while senators would be given P50-million each.

There were reports that the money has been funded through Malaysian money.
Gerry Baldo


ABS-CBN

VERA Files' reply to DFA on Sabah story ABS-CBNnews.com Posted at 03/31/2015 11:51 PM VERA Files Statement March 31, 2015;


VERA Files @verafiles VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs is misleading the public when it says “Sabah is not in any way part of the note” verbale the Phililippine government sent recently to Malaysia in denying VERA Files’s story “PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China.”

Note Verbale No. 15-1979 sent to Malaysia, the basis of VERA Files’ story, stated that it is reviewing the Aug. 4, 2009 protest (No. 000819) it filed with the United Nations. The Philippines’ August 2009 protest, contained in two pages, singles out North Borneo or the old name of Sabah.

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The Philippines took issue with an earlier joint submission by Vietnam and Malaysia for the extended continental shelf because it “lays claims on areas that are disputed not only because they overlap with that of the Philippines, but also because of the controversy arising from the territorial claims on some of the islands in the area including North Borneo.

Contrary to what DFA’s comment that putting out the story was a disservice to the country,

VERA Files released the story in the interest of the public to help it fully understand the issues involved.

VERA Files is releasing the Philippine government’s August 2009 protest along with this statement.



PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia's support for UN case vs China By Tessa Jamandre, VERA Files Posted at 03/29/2015 7:45 PM | Updated as of 03/29/2015 11:43 PM

The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations.

The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah.

The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the U.N. Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it effectively declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory.

The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah, which is at present occupied by Malaysia, based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who ceded proprietary rights over the 76,115-square-kilometer land to the Philippines in 1962.

In last week’s note verbale, however, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is “reviewing” its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

The first request is for Malaysia to “confirm” that its claim of an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.”

The DFA also requested Malaysia to confirm that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a state is entitled to 12-nautical-mile territorial sea over which it exercises sovereignty.

Malaysia, like the Philippines, claims parts of the Spratly islands in the South China Sea which is being claimed almost wholly by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Brunei is another claimant to some parts of the Spratlys.

There are some parts in the Spratlys where the 200 NM Exclusive Economic Zones of the Philippines and Malaysia overlap.

The DFA didn’t issue any statement when VERA Files sought its comment on the note verbale and its implications.

Former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr. said the Philippine claim to Sabah will be “prejudiced” if Malaysia accedes to DFA’s request.

“We are in effect withdrawing our objection to Malaysia’s claim of ownership to Sabah,” he said.

A DFA official who requested anonymity, said, however, the Philippine claim to Sabah would remain intact even if Manila withdraws its 2009 objection to Malaysia’s submission to the U.N.

Baja countered, “Even if we are not formally dropping the Sabah claim, it (the withdrawal of the protest) can be used as evidence against our claim.”

A DFA source said officials involved in the case against China before the U.N. Arbitral Court said if Malaysia confirms it doesn’t claim beyond 12 nautical miles from any maritime features in the Spratlys Islands it claims, the Philippine case will be strengthened because one of Manila’s demands for relief from the U.N. court is to declare that certain features, such as rocks, do not generate maritime entitlement beyond 12 nautical miles.

This would clarify that the 12 nautical miles surrounding among others, the Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc (Chinese name: Huangyan Island), are part of the Philippines 200-nautical-mile Economic Exclusive Zone.

The Philippines suit, which primarily sought to nullify China’s all-encompassing nine-dash line map invalid, also wants the U.N. court to rule that submerged features within and beyond 200 nautical miles of the Philippines are not part of China’s continental shelf. This would make China’s occupation of these features a violation of UNCLOS.

A diplomatic source said Malaysia may find the Philippine request “too hard to handle” because it has adopted the policy of “playing it safe” — expressing concern on China aggressiveness in the disputed waters while maintaining good relations with the economic superpower.

“A maritime entitlement of only 12 nautical miles for their reefs, as the essence of the Philippines request, will not be in the interest of Malaysia. Besides, Malaysia will not risk its close economic ties with China, its biggest trading partner,” the source said.

The source said China also protested the 2009 Malaysia-Vietnam submission to the U.N. So even if the Philippines withdrew its objection, the Chinese protest would stand, the source said.

The CLCS would not proceed on the Philippines’ withdrawal of its protest unless and until the Chinese 9-dash line claim is rendered invalid.

Also last week, the Philippines submitted a supplemental argument in answer to China’s position paper on the Spratlys territorial claim. The U.N. is expected to hand down its decision in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has denounced the massive reclamation of China on its occupied reefs.

Baja said the Philippine position on Sabah is much stronger than its Spratly islands claim.

Economically, the timber and mineral-rich Sabah is much more valuable than Spratlys, he added.

There are more than 600,000 Filipinos in Sabah, most of them considered by Malaysia as illegal residents and are often subject to harassment.

Sabah (North Borneo) originally belonged to the Sultan of Brunei, who gave it to Sultan of Sulu Salah ud-Din Karamat Bakhtiar in 1658 as a reward for helping quell a rebellion. In 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam Kiram leased North Borneo to the Hong Kong-based British North Borneo Co. of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent for 5,000 Malaysian dollars a year.

In 1946, Overbeck and Dent, without permission from the Sultan, transferred the territory to the British government when the company ceased operations.

On Sept. 11, 1962, Sultan of Sulu Mohammad Esmail Kiram ceded to the Philippine government full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory. President Diosdado Macapagal filed the Philippines' claim over Sabah with the United Nations.

In 1963, the British government, again without permission from the Sultan of Sulu, transferred Sabah to the newly formed Federation of Malaysia.

Malaysia is currently the broker in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of a Bangsamoro, an autonomous political entity in the southern part of the Philippines. — with additional reports by Ellen Tordesillas

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)


MANILA STANDARD

Senators blast ‘lying’ about Bangsamoro budget By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Apr. 01, 2015 at 12:01am


Escudero

SENATOR Francis Escudero on Tuesday hit the government’s chief peace negotiator, Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, for claiming that the annual budget for the proposed Bangsamoro region is P35 billion when it is much closer to P75 billion.

Ferrer has been insisting that only P35 billion would go to the prospective Bangsamoro government—P27 billion in a block grant, P7 billion in development funds and P1 billion in a transition fund.

But Escudero, chairman of the Senate finance committee, disputed Ferrer’s claim and said P75 billion a year was a conservative estimate.

“We have not included the revenue generating power of the BBL-- they can impose fees and charges. We have not included the royalties share from the natural resources, which were also given to them. Overall, it will surely reach that amount (P75 billion). That is even our conservative estimate,” Escudero said.

The senator said it is good to clarify this to Ferrer because she might not understand the agreement she entered into when she signed off on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).

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“It should be a line item [budget]. We should know where the funds will go. We in the national government, there’s a line item [budget]... Perhaps, the Bangsamoro Parliament should not also have that, and should follow the decision and direction of the government in spending funds. There should be accountability and transparency,” Escudero said.

With so much of the Bangsamoro budget in a lump sum, Escudero said, the chief minister of Bangsamoro government might end up having a bigger intelligence fund than the President of the Philippines.

Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, said P75 billion for the Bangsamoro was bigger than the budget of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police.

Marcos suspended hearings on the BBL after 44 police commandos were killed in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, by Muslim rebels, including fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), with which the government is in peace talks.

Marcos had scheduled a resumption of the BBL hearings on April 13, after receiving reports from the MILF, the police board of inquiry, and the three Senate committees that investigated the Jan. 25 incident.

Escudero said he will quiz Ferrer on where will the P75 billion would go and how they can justify this huge amount to other regions and provinces.

While acknowledging that the Bangsamoro area has been neglected for several years and suffered destruction from war, Escudero said it would still be difficult for them to justify the P75 billion budget.

“I also do not want to think that if one sows terror and challenges the government to a war, one will be rewarded in the end if they talk to you and talk peace,” said Escudero.

Escudero and Marcos questioned the huge annual budget for the Bangsamoro and raised the possibility that the MILF might use the funds to buy arms for their combatants who will later fight the government and launch a war against it. They also cited reports that the MILF was continuing to recruit fighters, establish camps and manufacture weapons.

These were the same views expressed by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who warned the government against talking peace with the MILF after the Mamasapano massacre.

Marcos said there was no assurance that the funds would not go into the pockets of the region’s leaders, as they did under the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Escudero also raised the alarm over the absence of checks and balances when it came to the P75 billion budget.

“How can we have checks and balances when this P75 billion is a block grant and a lump sum?” Escudero said.

Cayetano on Tuesday took exception to warnings that the MILF could go to war if the BBL is not passed or is watered down in Congress.

“We’re taking a weak position so the MILF continues to take advantage not only of our government, but also of our people. And this is not the road to peace. This is the road to disaster,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano, the most vocal critic of the BBL after the Mamasapano massacre, said he was not advocating war, but the government should not be cowed by the MILF, which he said was not a trustworthy partner in the peace process.

As it is, he said, the administration seemed to be inviting the MILF to take over Mindanao.

“It is as if we are telling them it’s okay with us if they turn Mindanao into their terrorism camp as long,” he said.

Cayetano said he had evidence that the government knew that the MILF was coddling Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan.

“Is this the reason the BBL is being rushed by the Palace, because as we get to know more, more and more people are saying, ‘Can we trust the MILF?’” he said.

He said he resumption of the hearings on the BBL would be a good venue for the MILF and the peace panel to answer all these questions.

“For me, every relationship has to start with truth and not a lie. So before talking about BBL, we will talk first if the MILF can be trusted. In this report (from the MILF on the Mamasapano incident)... is not changed, this shows they cannot be trusted since they fooled us here,” Cayetano said.

He said the MILF report, which justified the killing of the 44 police officers a self defense, was a deception and an insult to the intelligence of the Filipino people.

Reacting to MILF vice chairman Ghadzali Jaafar’s threat to bring their case to the United Nations, Cayetano said nothing would come of this because the MILF was never recognized.

Cayetano also said that so far, only the government peace panel agreed to the terms of the BBL, which has not been passed by Congress.

“They cannot file this with the UN. They don’t have a leg to stand on. In fact, the UN will be a forum for the Philippines to show that it is Muslims who are oppressing their fellow Muslims,” he said.

Oppression, the UN will find out, does not compel from the government or Christians, but from an armed extremist group, he said.

“The battle in Mindanao is not about the rich against the poor nor the Christians against the Muslims. This is simply the MILF pretending to be the savior of their Muslim brothers when in fact, they were among those causing the sufferings of their fellow Muslims,” he added.

On Tuesday, civil society groups associated with the administration aired their support for a national peace summit to discuss the BBL.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III named Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., chairman and chief executive of Ayala Corp. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, former ambassador to the Holy See & Malta Howard Q. Dee, as well as peace advocate and youth leader Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, as the conveners of the peace summit.

Groups that emerged after the BBL came under strong criticism, such as the Initiatives for International Dialogue, All-out Peace Now, and Generation Peace Youth Network issued statements Tuesday in support of the President’s national peace summit. With Sandy Araneta


MANILA TIMES CPMMENTARY BY R.TIGLAO

‘Jabidah’ was a big hoax March 22, 2015 10:05 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO

First of three parts; Part 2 follows below....

The so-called “Jabidah massacre” has been the biggest hoax foisted on this nation.

It was a yarn spun in 1968 by treasonous politicians of the Liberal Party at that time as a propaganda weapon intended to deal what they thought would be a fatal blow to then President Marcos’ bid for reelection the next year.

In another demonstration of the law of unintended consequences, the just organized Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) then used the allegation to rouse Muslim youth’s anger so they would rally to the fledgling organization, which the more powerful Muslim traditional politicians refused to support.

The MNLF (and its breakaway group the Moro Islamic Liberation Front) ably mythicized Jabidah to become, as an academic put it, the “sacral moment invoked from time to time to mobilize the Muslims to the movement’s cause.” Misuari portrayed it as the culmination of genocidal attacks against the Moros; therefore, a Bangsamoro—an independent nation-state of the Moros—is necessary.

The mythicization of Jabidah has been so successful that even President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd and supporters of his Bangsamoro Basic Law have falsely, cruelly compared the Mamasapano massacre of 44 police commandos to the nonexistent “Jabidah massacre.” In their ignorance and stupidity, they are spitting on the graves of our fallen heroes who fought for the Republic.

How stupid can this president get: It was his father, then senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., who actually debunked the allegation of a Jabidah Massacre from the very start. His statements on this are preserved in the annals of the Senate as his privilege speech delivered March 28, 1968:

The so-called “Jabidah massacre” was the purported murder on Corregidor island on March 18, 1968 of 24 Muslim Tausug recruits being trained by the military to infiltrate Sabah and foment there an uprising among their ethnic group against the Malaysian government.

According to the plan called Operation Merdeka (Freedom), hatched by Marcos’ armed forces, the uprising would be the excuse for the Philippine military to invade Sabah, which the Philippines had declared to be part of its territory.

At that time, our country had a more powerful military than that of the new nation Federation of Malaysia, founded only in 1963.


Benigno Aquino, Jr on the Senate floor: “No massacre on Corregidor.”

CONTINUE READING...
Two dozens of the Muslim youths who were recruited for Merdeka were purportedly killed because they decided to resign, complaining of poor food and low salary.

In the MNLF’s myth-making though, the reason was changed into a noble one, that the Muslims refused to fight their brother Muslim Malaysians.

It was a clever revision of the fictional story.

When the top-secret Merdeka was exposed to the public, Sabah’s first Chief Minister Tun Mustafa was livid, and would fund the MNLF and allow them to use Sabah as their refuge and base. Mustafa even arranged for 201 MNLF cadres, including the present chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Murad Ibrahim, to be trained in Sabah by former British Special Action Service offices, which formed the Muslim organizations’ officers’ corps.

The growth of the Muslim insurgency is, therefore, to a very large extent, due to Malaysia’s help.

The allegation of a massacre was made when former Cavite governor Delfin Montano, one of Marcos’ fierce political enemies, had one Jibin Arula, supposedly one of the Muslim recruits, file charges March 28 at the Cavite Court of First Instance against Army major Eduardo Martelino and 10 other officers and soldiers whom he alleged were involved in the purported atrocity.

One single witness to ‘Jabidah’

Arula would be the sole person ever to allege that he witnessed the massacre, and the fact that he was “handled” by Montano — who hated Marcos for having him defeated in the 1967 gubernatorial elections — would be an important element in piecing together what Jabidah was really about, as I will discuss in the second part of this series.

In his suit, Arula claimed that with 24 other Muslim trainees, he was ordered to line up at the airstrip in Corregidor in the wee hours of March 18, 1968, and then shot by their trainers.

He claimed that he was hit in the leg, so he managed to run, roll down a hill, hide in the bushes, and swim for hours as he himself put it in “shark-infested” Manila Bay until he was rescued hours later by fishermen – who promptly brought him to Montano.

Arula’s account was so fantastic, reminding one of a B-grade action movie, that it was obviously scripted as part of a well-planned plot.

How could a poor, illiterate Muslim who was shot (in the leg) on March 18 go through a near-death trauma and five days later file a case against the military in a Cavite court?

Even rich victims of crimes take months to file a case against ordinary citizens, and longer against those in power, such as the military.

I am not the first to have investigated “Jabidah” and to arrive at the inescapable conclusion that it was a hoax, which I first wrote about in March 2013.

National artist Nick Joaquin (as Quijano de Manila), then a journalist writing in the most respected magazine at that time, the Philippine Free Press, narrated based on his interview with Ninoy:

“Upon interviewing Arula, the sole witness to the alleged massacre, Aquino 2nd realized that for a second-grade dropout, this self-styled survivor of an alleged massacre had an amazing ‘photographic memory’ – he cited a litany of 48 names in full and retraced the elaborate unfolding of events, including the departure of the exact number of men from the camp, batch after batch.”

It was academic Arnold Azurin who was the first writer in recent years to question “Jabidah” in a 1994 Philippine Free Press article, which was expanded into a chapter in his book “Beyond the Cult of Dissidence.”

It is certainly one of the curious features of modern society that myths and so-called urban legends survive for decades.

Four congressional investigations by different committees were undertaken, all of which couldn’t establish that there was a massacre.

Note that this was four years before Martial law, when the country’s democratic processes were so vibrant, and the opposition was powerful both in Congress and in media.

Ninoy Aquino didn’t join the mob

Ninoy though, didn’t join the mob condemning the “massacre.” Like a good journalist, which he was before, he went to Jolo to check the facts, to look for the relatives of the Muslim youths purportedly massacred.

From the facts he gathered himself, Ninoy raised serious, even fatal, doubts on Arula’s claim, in his famous privilege speech at the Senate March 28, 1968, which had the misleading title “Jabidah! Special Forces of Evil?

Ninoy in his speech explained his conclusions:

“This morning, the Manila Times, in its banner headline, quoted me as saying that I believed there was no massacre on Corregidor. And I submit it was not a hasty conclusion, but one borne out by careful deductions.”

“After interviewing the self-asserted massacre survivor, Jibin Arula, doubt nagged me that there had, indeed, been a massacre… In Jolo yesterday, I met the first batch of 24 recruits aboard RP-68. This group was earlier reported missing – or, even worse, believed ‘massacred’ … William Patarasa, 16 years old, one of the (Muslim recruits’ leaders) denied knowledge of any massacre.” (Emphasis supplied)

What were these deductions? According to Aquino:

• “What would have been the motive for the ‘massacre?’
Some quarters have advanced the theory that the trainees were liquidated in order to silence them. But then, 24 boys have already shown up in Jolo safe and healthy. To release 24 men who can spill the beans and liquidate the remaining 24 ‘to seal’ their lips would defy logic.”

• “Arula’s fears, which in his place may be considered valid, may not be supported by the recent turn of events. (The) twenty-four recruits (allegedly massacred) have turned up (alive in their home province.)” (Emphasis supplied.)

There hasn’t been a single victim of the “Jabidah massacre” ever identified.

For an ethnic group known for its close yet expanded kinship system, no relative has ever claimed his brother, son, cousin, or husband was killed in Corregidor.

Yet, Ninoy’s son in his speech in 2013 when a commemorative plaque was installed in Corregidor for those killed in the fictional “Jabidah massacre’ said: In March 1968, my father exposed the Jabidah Massacre.

What kind of president is this to claim that his father exposed the massacre, when his father’s speech plainly debunked it? (Google it to read it yourself.)

We don’t have to believe Ninoy’s conclusions, though.

Just examine the facts — what happened to Arula, what happened to the military officers charged, and what happened to the Jabidah allegations subsequently?

I’ll discuss these on Wednesday, and the very sad reason why the Jabidah allegations were hurled in the first place.

PART 2: The real ‘fuse’ of the Muslim insurgency March 31, 2015 10:56 pm by RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO


Former Ambassador Tigalo's Curriculum Vitae at his website

I applaud the National Historical Commission for resisting President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s pressure to declare the Jabidah hoax as real.

However, the NHC’s claim, enshrined in the marker it approved for a “Mindanao Garden of Peace” on Corregidor, that the “reports of killings of Muslim youth served as a fuse that led to the national crisis in the 1970s decade” is patently wrong. In the first place, if these “reports,” as the NHC itself claims, could not be verified, why dignify these, when they could be proven false indisputably with just some investigation?

More importantly, though, the NHC’s claim that it was “a fuse for the Mindanao dispute” is hogwash.

The Jabidah controversy that erupted in early 1968 had burnt out and vanished from the front pages by the end of the year. Why?

The Liberal Party didn’t want to be pilloried as traitors who ratted on government’s clandestine plan for Muslim commandos to infiltrate Sabah and rouse an uprising against the Federation of Malaysia.

The Marcos government, together with his Nationalista Party on the other hand, obviously wanted all talk about the secret plan buried, since it was supposed to be secret.

There was one group, though, that tried to keep the controversy alive: the then fledgling Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Indeed, it organized vigils for many nights in front of the Senate, even claiming that the massacre victims weren’t just 24 as the sole eyewitness Jibin Arula claimed but 200, a figure accepted by gullible writers and our peace negotiators.

I
In 1972, Marcos demanded that all Muslims give up their arms. Above is the result of that colossal error. In 1972, Marcos demanded that all Muslims give up their arms. Above is the result of that colossal error.

Why? First, because it roused the Muslim youth to outrage, to believe that such peaceful movements as the Mindanao Independence Movement organized by Muslim politicians were hopeless, as it was the Philippine state that was killing Muslims.

Most crusades and mass movements, in fact, try their best to glorify the martyrdom of their first adherents as a source of inspiration and militancy.

Jabidah secured Malaysian help

There was a more mundane reason, though, for the MNLF’s propagation of the Jabidah hoax. It reminded the Malaysians, in particular Sabah Minister Tun Mustapha, that the Marcos government was intent on getting Sabah that it was already training commandos in what was codenamed Operation Merdeka (Freedom) to infiltrate the peninsula.

Mustapha, in a way, simply aped Operation Merdeka: His Sabah state provided military training to the recruits of the MNLF, given by retired British Special Action Forces officers.

There were two groups, a so-called “Batch 90” and a “Batch 120”: they would form the officers’ corps of the MNLF and now its breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Mustapha would also provide arms and finances to the MNLF.

As important as materiel, all successful revolutionary movements in history have required places of refuge—for example, the impregnable Yenan for Mao Tse Tung, the Cambodian and even Chinese territories for the Viet Cong. For the MNLF it was Sabah. Whenever our armed forces launched a campaign against the MNLF and the MILF, their leaders simply hid their arms and hid in Sabah until things cooled down.

Jabidah wasn’t the fuse for the Mindanao conflict. It was the fuse only for massive Malaysian support of the Muslim insurgency.

The MNLF, though, knew that “Jabidah” was a hoax.

The MNLF frantically searched for even one relative of those purportedly massacred, as a crying mother or wife would have been a powerful propaganda image. The MNLF couldn’t.

No MNLF nor MILF document refers to Jabidah now, since Malaysia had stopped its support of the insurgents in the 1990s.

In order to squeeze sympathy from the gullible, though, while distancing itself from the hoax, the MNLF website merely posts the made-for-movie account of Jabidah written by two journalists.

We must note that in the analogy we use, there is a fuse and there is the explosive mix the fuse detonates.

For the Muslim problem, this mix was made up of the poverty generated by the coconut industry in their lands (as in other provinces as Samar and Leyte), and the corruption of Muslim politicians made worse by a feudal datu outlook that government posts were mini-kingdoms they could use for their clansmen.

Most people, especially our negotiators, and the MNLF and the MILF as well, seem to be afraid to discuss the scale and power of corrupt political dynasties in Muslim Mindanao, which are worse than in Luzon and the Visayas.

National-level political leaders of course are averse to discussing corruption in Muslim Mindanao, since it is these corrupt Muslim politicians, like datus — feudal lords that is — of old who can deliver at will command votes, for the right price that is, that could be crucial in tight political contests.

Just two dozen Muslim clans, in fact, account for all the local government posts up to the barangay level in Mindanao, the largest of which are the Ampatuans, Miditimbangs, Sangki, Sinsuat and Mangudadatu clans.

You’d be surprised at the wealth of Muslim politicians.

The Ombudsman claimed that Andal Ampatuan, Sr., accused of the Maguindanao massacre, had “unexplained wealth of P183 million and that he and his family had 161 properties totalling 5 million square meters in size.

The Ampatuan’s arch-enemy, Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu, according to a report of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), had a net worth of P391 million in 2011, based on his statement of assets and liabilities.

This isn’t surprising given the billions of pesos allocated to the autonomous region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) every year.

From 2011 to 2013, Maguindanao got P15 billion for its internal revenue allotment, bigger than similarly sized provinces like Ilocos Sur and Tarlac.

In 2012, ARMM, in fact, got a humongous budget of P20 billion, P9 billion more than what the budget law gave it because Aquino allocated that much money through the Disbursement Acceleration Plan (DAP). Its governor, Hajiv Hataman, has the power to disburse these funds, and was even scolded by Aquino in 2013 for not disbursing it quickly enough.

I hope the PCIJ gets his latest SALN and makes it public.

Things like these make up the explosive mix for Mindanao insurgencies, not religion nor culture, most certainly not “Christian oppression.”


Ferdinand Marcos 1972-1981: Courtesy of PhilippineHistoryMarcosAdmin

Martial law proximate cause of insurgency

But what was the fuse of the Mindanao conflict?

Marcos’ martial law, but you’ll be a bit surprised—or maybe not—why it was.

It is, indeed, one of the tragedies of our nation. One factor that convinced Marcos to go ahead with his strongman rule was the fact that the Jabidah episode exposed an opposition so unpatriotic that it even exposed his plan to reclaim Sabah for the Philippines.

In Marcos’ mind, whether self-serving or not, he had the right to wipe out such an unprincipled opposition, through martial law. Indeed, his declaration of martial law on Sept 22, 1972 was justified as a move not only to protect the Republic from the communists and the rightist opposition but to stop the “secessionist movement in Mindanao.”

The Muslim insurgency in 1972, however, was really so puny. As University of California scholar Thomas McKenna* explained why it grew:

“The imposition of martial law was, in fact, the proximate cause, not the consequence, of an armed Muslim insurgency against the Philippine state, and it led to an unprecedented level of violence and disruption in Cotabato and all of Muslim Mindanao.

By 1977, the government estimated that there were as many as million displaced civilians in the South and at least two hundred thousand additional refugees who had fled to Sabah.”

But the one major reason for Muslim outrage against Marcos didn’t have anything to do with a Bangsamoro nonsense, nor outrage over a fake “Jabidah hoax:

“The martial law regime immediately moved to collect all unauthorized guns in the Philippines by ordering the surrender of civilian firearms. Three weeks after declaring martial law, President Marcos announced that he was prepared to commit an entire division of troops to the South to “annihilate” outlaws if all guns were not turned in by the 25th of October.”

“A few days before the deadline, Marawi City, in the province of Lanao, was attacked by more than four hundred armed Maranaos. They held strategic positions in the city for three days until overpowered by superior army forces. One week later, fighting began between Muslim rebels and government soldiers in Cotabato, and in mid-November Marcos sent thousands of troops to Mindanao. By late November, fierce clashes between government units and separatist rebels were occurring throughout the South.”

In short, Marcos made the colossal error of demanding the Muslims to give up their arms, and even gave them a deadline to do so—forgetting that old adage since the Spanish period that a Muslim would give up his wife first rather than his kris, in modern times, his Armalite.

The rest is history. As radical students rallied to the Communist Party and the New People’s Army to protest a dictatorship, Muslim youths rushed to join the MNLF, and the myth of Muslims fighting for their homeland Bangsamoro was invented, and propagated.

The big difference between the two insurgencies, though, and why one has become a clear and present danger to the Republic, is the waning and rise of their different sources of international support and their ideologies.

China stopped its support of the communists by the 1980s, and Marxist radicalism among the Filipino youth has waned, if not vanished.

What replaced Malaysian support for the MNLF and MILF is now much bigger and much more dangerous: the global Islamic jihadist movements financed, ironically by rich Muslims, like Osama bin Laden, from such affluent countries as Saudi Arabia.

The MILF in particular has embraced jihadism, and the notion that Islam requires establishment of Islamic caliphates.

(*McKenna, Thomas M. Muslim Rulers and Rebels: Everyday Politics and Armed Separatism in the Southern Philippines. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.)

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