the sultan’s timing

on facebook boo chanco posted a portion of former senator rene saguisag’s email on the sabah issue that starts thus:

I have yet to read an account on Sabahans pining for our export-quality type of governance, after 20 years of Marcos-Imelda and ten of GMA-Mike.

Many columnists have again found something they don’t understand and proceed to explain it, validating once again that media is the plural of mediocre…

and ends with:

The instant experts of three or four weeks may soon realize that only the tip of the tip of the iceberg they may have seen and should not be so forward with their explanations, suggestions and brickbats. Mike, of UP and Cornell, Nina, of UP, and Letty, of Wellesley and Sorbonne, were serious Senators. We should also engage Muslims Amina, of UP, and Adel, of Harvard, for their inputs.

We in our bivouacs may not irresponsibly continue blasting the Prez in his commanding heights, who may see more and farther. We should not casually provoke war and reprisals

so i’m not going there, except to say that i hope the former senator would be less cryptic and speak more plainly about what it is we don’t know about the sabah claim so that maybe we can begin to appreciate how the president has handled/is handling the crisis, including the “hopeless cause” part of it.

meanwhile, i’ve been waiting for media to ask the sultan or the princess about the timing of the sabah incursion.  why now, why not last year, why not later this year.  clearly it catches the president at a very bad time when, on the one hand, he’s campaigning for a 12-0 win of his senatorial slate come may, and on the other, things were looking up for the malaysia-brokered bangsamoro deal with the MILF, or so we were being told.  the stakes are so high, it would seem that the prez has reason to cry conspiracy.


The Sulu Sultanate Quarrel and Wider Implications 
Salonga explains Sabah claim 


  1. baycas

    In September 2002, Raissa Robles wrote that Arroyo pledged to help the heirs of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram II on their claim.

    In February 2013, she might have fulfilled that pledge despite knowing this:

    During the lunch, Mrs Arroyo learned that the special power-of-attorney granted by the sultanate to the Philippine government to pursue the sovereignty rights over Sabah expired in 1982.

    Please read it here…

  2. baycas

    In April 1989:

    Sultan Jamalul Kiram, III, who said that he is the “reigning” Sultan of Sulu, told newsmen in a press conference that the Sultanate has revoked the authority given to the Philippine government to act on its behalf in working for the recovery of North Borneo.

    Kiram said that a resolution adopted by the Sultanate’s Ruma Bechara (Cabinet) on Feb. 12, 1989 mandated the Sultanate to pursue on its own claim over North Borneo “through all available means.” The latest resolution, according to Kiram revoked another resolution dated Aug. 29, 1962 which gave the government the right to assert sovereignty over North Borneo. North Borneo includes the present Malaysian state of Sabah.


    …Jamalul Kiram said that copies of the Sultanate’s resolution saying that it has now assumed sovereignty over Sabah and other territories of the old Sultanate were already sent to the United Nations, foreign governments and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).

    On that day too:

    When asked if the Sultanate would resort to the use of force in order to pursue its claim, Kiram said, “Yes, if there is no alternative.”

    Kiram said that as of now it has no armed forces of its own but added that it could easily mobilize about a million people in Sulu and Basilan in time of war. He said that the old Sultanate includes Sabah, Palawan, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Sulu and the Zamboanga peninsula.

    In February 2013, with perceived futile peaceful efforts in their claim and with perceived marginalization from peace talks, the Sultanate having mustered an army for their Sabah homecoming practically went home to their land.

    Please read the news here:,1334482

  3. baycas

    March 2, 2013…

    Prof. Harry Roque said Philippine documents to support the Sabah claim got burned, especially about the Lease of Sabah to Malaysia (not transfer of ownership). He relies on Malaysian documents which he hopes will surface when the case is filed with the ICJ. Those were the same documents Malaysia had provided the ICJ with her territorial dispute against Indonesia. (Live interview on “Pasada 630 Sabado” on March 2, 2013)

    I believe the DOJ is gearing up to finally go to the ICJ for the settlement of the issue.

  4. baycas

    Bottom line is…

    Malaysia will just repeat what she said in this document she submitted to the ICJ:

    Overcoming Malaysia’s arguments will persuade the Court to side with the Philippines, that is, if this Philippine Sabah claim will get to see the light of day in the ICJ.

    I pray and hope, still, that the ICJ will eventually settle the issue.

    However, the burnt documents (according to Prof. Harry Roque) which left us without proof of our claim and the contemporary International Law thinking that self-determination (UN-sanctioned Sabahan referendum in 1963) negates even true historical claims are legal hurdles the Philippines must contend with.

  5. manuel buencamino

    The issue is involves Sabahans too. What do they want? That’s what Kiram. Malaysia, and Philippines cannot ignore. Because the right to self-determination of peoples is now the gold standard for political status. Secondly, the heirs of the Sultan claim they own Sabah by historic title etc. There is another development in political thought – the right of indigenous people to their lands. Native title is what some call it. Although the kirams can claim that they owned sabah even before the existence of the republics of the Philippines and Malaysia, Sabah was already inhabited by more than a dozen tribes. They predate the kirams and the brunei sultanate. So that’s another thing the kiram’s will have to address as far as their pqnership claim is concerned. So ayan – self-determination and native titles are two of the things that stand in the way of Malaysia and the Philippines laying claim over Sabah and native title against the ownership claim of the kirams.

    There is no doubt that there is a document between the kirams and the brits. There is dispute over itstranslation. To the kirams and the Phil govt. it was a lease agreement so the annual payments are rent and paying rent is proof that it was a lease. To Malaysia and the brits it was cession and the annual payments are perpetual subsidy in exchange for the cession and so the annual payments are proof of subsidy. Mag-aaway tayo dyan hanggang pumuti ang ating mga mata. Pwede din magkasundo tayo kung sino ang sovereign at ang may-ari ng Sabah. Pero magkasundo man tayo, kung ayaw ng mga Sabahans magpailalim o sumanib sa Pilipinas o sa Malaysia o di kaya gusto nilang maging independent, ang desisyon ay nasa Sabahans. Ang karapatan bilang peoples, ang karapatan pang tao, ay nasa kanila at hindi sa mga ibang gobyerno. Kung hindi natin kikilalahin ang karapatan ng mga sabahan mag desisyon sa kanilang political status, ibinabalik natin ang kapanahunan ng colonialismo. Ginagawa natin yun Philippine American War bilang isang Insurrection lang at binabalewala natin ang sakripisyo ng ginawa ng ating mga ninuno sa pagatalsik sa mga kastila at pagtatag ng isang estadong independyente.

  6. baycas

    Talagang napakasalimuot…

    Una, pumayag ang Malaysia at ang Pilipinas sa time ni gloria arroyo na kilalanin si Jamalul Kiram III bilang Sultan ng Sulu.

    May duda naman ngayon kung siya ang sultan.

    Pangalawa, matagal nang pumayag ang Malaysia at ang Pilipinas sa SELF-DETERMINATION.

    Mayroon nang referendum noong 1963. Ito ang panghahawakan ng Malaysia malamang. Takot ang Malaysia dahil napakarami ng Pilipino sa Sabah. Posible pa ang “sailing voters”.

    Ang Pilipinas naman maaaring gugustuhing magkaroon ng panibagong referendum (self-determination).

    The decision of the Aquino-Laurel administration to resolve the North Borneo/Sabah problem “frontally” is well-taken. Certainly Malaysia subscribes as well to tbe principles of justice (called for in monetary settlements for the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu) and self-determination that from the very start the Philippines had bound itself to and consistently reaffirmed at every conference table from London to Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and the UN Assembly Hall.

    While a “formal renunciation is indeed called for from the Philippines, there must also be insistence on “fresh options” afforded to the Sabahans for their future by way of a genuine referendum however superfluous Kuala Lumpur might regard this exercise.

    The time for name-calling is past. ‘Ihe ghosts of colonialism in the ASEAN mgion should be hnally laid to rest. Kuala Lurnpur and Manila should truly subordinate their respective “national interests” to the ASEAN common good or, better still, identify the former with the latter.

    “The Philippine Claim on North Borneo: Another Look” by Alfredo G. Parpan, S.J., Philippine Studies vol. 36, no. 1 (1988) 3-15 [link below]

    Ang STANDOFF na noon ay siya pa ring STANDOFF ngayon.

    Will another 50 years help???


    • I agree with baycas, it will still be an impasse if our historical and contemporary view will not change. Instead of myopic path towards a political confrontation on national boundaries, both govt should be creative in recognizing that this is a human rights issue involving social and economic injustice done to a tribal generation whose claims to piece of land transcend both national boundaries and historical antecedents.

      • baycas

        Sino ba talaga ang, “MALI SIYA“?

        Eh, lahat UNILATERAL naman!

        Malaysia: “Cession.”

        Pilipinas: “Lease.”

        Ito pa…

        Malaysia: “May referendum na.”

        Pilipinas: “Peke ‘yun. Dapat may genuwayn na botohan.”

        Malaysia: “Ayoko.”



        Oo, unilateral nga ang mga posisyon. Pero sino ba dapat ang kampihan ko na alam kong tama. Ang PILIPINAS, siyempre!

        Sapagka’t alam kong MALI SIYA

          • @gabby ;=( according to one Jay Caedo, the self-determination survey was conducted by British officials and submitted only 1,600 consensus representing Christians elite communities not entire residents of Sabahans. It was recommended that the UN team should conduct the votation. Presently, there are about 800K migrants filipino workers and inhabitants who have been there since time immemorial.

          • Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking.


            Historically, self-determination was not genuinely consummated.

            (Now, that statement is quite ironical or paradoxical because “self-determination” presently trumps “historical claims”.)

  7. Mong Palatino: “The timing of the violence in Sabah – during election season in both Malaysia and the Philippines – has created an atmosphere in which everything that political actors involved in the drama say or do can be reduced to an election stunt.

    “In normal circumstances, conspiracy theories can be readily dismissed. The picture is blurred, however, when the sources of such theories are no less than the president and prime minister of two neighboring countries.”

  8. Mga paglilinaw din…
    1. Walang nangyaring Sabah referendum noong 1963.

    ”No referendum or plebiscite was in fact held in Sabah and Sarawak…”
    – Bob Reece on the Kitingan Case

    2. Ito pa (Salamat @saxnviolins.)…

    United Borneo Front (UBF) chairman Jeffrey Kitingan has disputed the context of the 1962 referendum which academics and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak claim confirmed Sabahans’ desire to be part of Malaysia.
    “There has never been a referendum on Sabah as stated by some academics.

    3. Survey lang ang nangyari noong 1963 para magkaroon ng “self-determination” (Salamat @Rene-Ipil.).

    The maverick opposition leader also pointed out that the Prime Minister also needed to realize that Sabah belongs to the people of Sabah and is only part of Malaysia.
    “Malaysia does not own Sabah as the Malaysia Agreement is yet to be implemented. Sabah is not a piece of lifeless property to be fought over between the Philippines (Sulu claim) and Malaya.
    “Therefore, any talks between Malaysia/Malaya and the Philippines must include Sabah because only the people of Sabah can decide what they want. There has never been a referendum on Sabah as stated by some academicians,” he said.
    The so-called ‘referendum’ in 1962/3 is not a referendum but only a sampling survey of less than 4% of the Sabah population, he further pointed out.
    – Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan being quoted

    4. Ito ang pahapyaw na pamamaraan ng survey na inilahad ni Dr. Kitingan (Salamat @TonGuE-tWisTeD).

    The so called ‘referendum’ in 1962/3 is NOT a referendum but only a sampling survey of about 4,000 people in 15 locations  (lessthan 1 %) of the 467,000Sabah population.  It is also not correct to state that 2/3 of the population agreed when only 1/3 agreed unconditionally.

    5. At ito pa…survey lang siya na irregular at naisakatuparan sa maigsing panahon…

    Indonesia and the Philippines had reservations about the findings of the UN survey teams and declined to welcome the new Federation of Malaysia because, in their view, the UN team had failed to comply with the agreements under the Manila Accord concerning a fresh approach, the presence of observers from the three countries to witness the proceedings and the timetable of operations which was cut from six weeks to ten days.
    – Alfredo G. Parpan, S.J.

  9. Sabah history by Rev. Fr. Pacifico A. Ortiz written in 1963…with my emphasis and italicized annotations:

    In resumé, on the basis of the historical facts presented, there are solid reasons to sustain,

    first, that the Deed of 1878 was a lease;

    second, that even if it were a cession, it was null and void as such owing to non-observance of the formalities required (such as State Council’s or Ruma Bechara”s affirmations of the cession deed to legalize and authenticate the Sultan’s “more serious acts”) and for lack of contractual capacity on the part of Overbeck and Dent;

    third, that the Sultan, although he signed the Treaty of Capitulation of 1878 and constituted himself a loyal subject of Spain, and later, of the United States, remained the sovereign of North Borneo;

    fourth, that the Sultanate was not extinguished (during that time) nor was the North Borneo territory ever abandoned in a manner that would entitle Great Britain to acquire it by occupation and/or prescription under international law;

    fifth, that, therefore, the successors of Sultan Jamalul Alam since 1878 continue in possession of Borneo (most likely up to this day); and

    sixth, that therefore, finally, if they cede North Borneo to the Philippine Government as they actually did sometime last summer (unfortunately, no longer in effect as one heir recently attested to because the power-of-attorney lapsed into expiration in 1982), the Philippine Government would then become the rightful sovereign thereover (presently, highly debatable…but proper “self-determination” by genuine methods will probably settle the issue).