Tag: MILF

Malaysia’s masterstroke that buried our Sabah claim

 

The “Jabidah massacre” commemoration at Corregidor March 18. Why did the MILF and the MNLF ignore it? This article answers that question.

The “Jabidah” question

Second of Three Parts

Malaysia’s leadership have been probably laughing their heads off reading about President Aquino delivering a speech in the event commemorating the alleged 1968 “Jabidah massacre” of Muslim youths initially recruited to form a commando unit codenamed to infiltrate Sabah.

It was the “Jabidah” allegations that hugged headlines for several days in 1968 that buried our claim to that territory in Borneo.  

This was due to three of its consequences:

  • The publicity over the alleged massacre enraged thousands of Muslim youth to swell the ranks of the fledgling Moro National Liberation Front.   Malaysia after “Jabidah” not only gave it substantial finances, but also even militarily trained its first officers and provided sanctuary to its leaders.  President Marcos’ Operation Merdeka (“Freedom”) was intended to create a Tausug rebellion in Sabah. Instead, because of allegations of a massacre of Muslims by Marcos’ army,  it was a Muslim rebellion that broke out in Mindanao,  aided by Malaysia.
  • The Malaysian involvement proved to be crucial to the MNLF’s strength that by 1976 Marcos declared that the only way to end the insurgency is to give up the Sabah claim  so that  Malaysia would stop its crucial support of the secessionists.
  • In the public consciousness, the allegation of such an atrocity as a “Jabidah massacre” was tightly linked to the Philippine claim to Sabah. Indeed writers who have been passionate in claiming a massacre occurred expectedly denigrated the claim as merely due to “Marcos expansionist tendencies.”  It therefore became an unpopular agenda to champion.   Since 1968, no politician would touch with a ten-foot pole our Sabah claim. That attitude ended only as a result of the  bold but bloody expedition to Sabah recently by the Sulu of Sultan’s fighters.Continue reading
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Bring Sabah issue to the International Court of Justice now

The Manila Times, March 3, 2013

AS this column last Friday expressed apprehension over it, President Aquino and his officials were throwing to the Malaysian wolves Filipino Muslims digging in what they claimed was their legitimate homeland in Sabah.

Government’s do-what-you-want-to-do-with-them message to Malaysian authorities was made through such irresponsible statements from Mr. Aquino and his officials that the Sultan of Sulu’s claim was dormant, and that they would be even charged for violating our Constitution for the crime of inciting to rebellion.

And indeed, after the Malaysians’ assault that resulted in 12 of the Sulu Sultan’s men and two Malaysian soldiers killed, that country’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in effect said that our government implicitly cleared their move. “The Philippine Government had already said that it wanted those involved to return to the Philippines,” the Malaysian new website thestar.com quoted the home minister as saying.

Especially with blood now on his hands, Mr. Aquino must comply with his oath of office—that he will defend the Constitution and implement the laws of the land—by pursuing our territorial claim over Sabah. The Philippine claim on Sabah is only dormant— as a presidential spokesperson claims it is—if one believes that certain laws, Republic Acts, can be treated as “dormant.”Continue reading

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Aquino throwing Sulu sultan’s people to the wolves

As published in The Manila Times, March 1, 2013

Malaysian Home Minister inspecting his troops surrounding Filipino Muslims in Sabah

IF violence erupts in Lahad Datu town in Sabah, and the Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram 3rd’s men are massacred, the blood will be on President Aquino’s hands. His statements and those of his spokespersons have thrown the Muslim Filipinos standing their ground in Sabah to the wolves.Mr. Aquino should have emphasized publicly that they have a legitimate aim although their means to achieve these are inappropriate, at the very least, and would only weaken their cause.

Instead, the president and his spokespersons have been questioning their motives (that they are being used by saboteurs of the peace talks), that they are being financed by hidden powers, that their claim to Sabah is moribund, and they are violating the Constitution— not of Malaysia— but of the Philippines.Continue reading

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‘If you want peace, prepare for war’

That was the slogan prominently displayed at the main assembly hall at the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s headquarters called Camp Abubakar.

An aphorism from classical Rome (“Si vis pacem, para bellum”), it means that a nation or society is likely to be left in peace by its enemies if its military capacity to wage war is a deterrent enough—an idea that proved true during the Cold War’s arms race. The slogan speaks volumes of the MILF’s real thinking even with the peace talks: The Moro homeland will finally be left alone in peace when the government is confronted with an MILF that can really wage war.

In fact, in my interview then with the late MILF chairman Hashim Salamat, he explained that his organization’s strategy is not for a Maoist guerrilla war, but to match, battalion per battalion, the government’s military force—at which point government will have no choice but agree to an Islamic state in Mindanao. Ceasefire agreements during peace talks simply allow it to build up its forces. Indeed, the MILF force, which recently decimated an Army’s Special Forces platoon, is referred to as the 113th Base Command, already mimicking our Army’s organizational nomenclature.

I stayed at Camp Abubakar in Maguindanao for several days when I was correspondent for the Hong Kong-based magazine Far Eastern Economic Review. I still think the area, on a plateau with its idyllic fields, waterfalls and virgin forests, is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Such a colossal waste: even with the camp captured by government forces in 2000, the area is still deserted and will remain as such even for a century—because of the Muslim insurgency.

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‘MILF: Noy gave us hope’

That was this paper’s headline in August quoting Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Murad Ebrahim, who was ecstatic then that the President of the Republic went on a secret trip to Tokyo just to meet him and his comrades.  Two months later now, President Aquino has indeed given the MILF hope in ways beyond Murad’s wildest dreams.

He ordered the military to stand down, after the MILF massacred nineteen Army Special Forces soldiers in Basilan 18 October.  And even as he tied the military’s hands while the rebels made their get-away, Mr. Aquino called for a command conference only two days later.  The generals couldn’t believe what they were hearing in that meeting: instead of asking them to come up with a plan to retaliate against the massacre, he blamed the commanders, and ordered relieved Col. Alexander Macario as head of Special Operations Task Force Basilan and Lt. Col. Leo Peña as commander of the 4th Special Forces Battalion, the mother unit of the ambushed platoon.   Mr. Aquino fired even the Army spokesman Col. Antonio Parlade whose fault was to articulate soldiers’ anger over the murder of their comrades.

With his statements deflecting blame away from the MILF, the President sadly has assumed the role of PR man, spinmeister for the MILF.

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Envoys queuing up to meet MILF head

It didn’t take too long for President Aquino’s meeting with Moro Islamic Liberation Front chieftain Murad Ebrahim in Tokyo—originally intended as a dramatic achievement for the State of the Nation speech—to unravel as one of his biggest blunders so far. In an insult to the President, as it ignored totally his “historic” meet last August 5 with Murad, the MILF ended the talks August 29, a day before its scheduled end, practically with a walkout.

The fallout from Aquino’s misstep had started earlier. Making Aquino’s meeting with the rebel chief as an excuse, the Japanese ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe, with his political affairs minister and other ranking embassy officials, trooped on Aug. 18  to the MILF headquarters in Maguindanao to meet  with Murad and other central committee members.

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