MANILA, MARCH 11, 2013 (PHILSTAR) It is too late for many things regarding the Sabah crisis. Unless the remaining armed followers of the Sultan of Sulu who are now in Sabah lay down their arms and surrender, their fate is practically sealed.

The Malaysians have suffered casualties as a result of the conflict and are probably not in a very forgiving mood. And why should they when they have the upper hand. They have superior strength, and they have the intruders surrounded. Besides, they are defending their country.

President Aquino, who should have acted swiftly to address the situation but did not, has let too much time pass and too many things to occur he can no longer control their consequences. All he can do now is go into damage control mode and hope he survives this crisis of leadership.

Philippine relations with Malaysia cannot be expected to emerge from this crisis unscathed. To what extent is the damage to bilateral relations, no one can say at the moment. The only thing certain is that our ties will get worse first before they get better.

The thing that suffers most in any certain damage to our bilateral relations with Malaysia is the fact we need Malaysia more than it needs us in the area of global geopolitics. As the only Christian country in these parts, it is reassuring to have a moderate Muslim friend.

One thing, though, that we cannot list up as part of the huge cost we will have to pay for this huge policy blunder are the lessons we need to learn from the experience, if only because the current crisis is not the last we see of it.

Sabah will henceforth be a recurring problem for as long as the government fails to appreciate the importance of the Sabah claim, be it personal on the part of the Kirams, or as a matter of national sovereignty as outlined in the Constitution itself.

However the current problem will be resolved, it will not be resolved permanently at this time. This is a problem for the long haul and the sooner government, particularly the president, acknowledges it as such, the greater the chance we walk away without a permanent limp.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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