June 13, 2012 News: A group led by Moro lawyer called on President Benigno Aquino III over the weekend and asked him not to abandon the Philippine claim to Sabah, now in the Federation of Malaysia.
The Manila Times reported that Sultan Firdausi Abbas, chairperson of the executive council of the Bangsa Moro Party (BMP), lamented that the government has seemingly abandoned the country’s claim over the cited territory.
Abbas also claimed as Sultan of Lanao. He is the younger brother of another lawyer Macapanton Abbas Jr., and the uncle of another lawyer Adel Tamano, a defeated senatorial candidate in 2010.
Abbas had been a consistent member, as legal counsel, of the MNLF peace delegation, especially during tripartite reviews of the GPH-MNLF Final Agreement of 1996.
In 1999, he wrote the late MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim and volunteered to be part of the MILF negotiating team but he wanted to be the chief negotiator. The letter was not responded to, but Salamat told colleagues in the Central Committee that while he welcomed the overture but he explained that there is an existing MILF policy on the matter, which he did not elaborate.
Abbas explained that while the Philippine risks to provoke China, perhaps the third most powerful country in the world over the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal which are just huge rocks visible at low tide, it has frozen or abandoned the claim over Sabah.
He stressed that Sabah is a rich and bountiful source of financial resources not just for the Tausug people, whose ancestral homeland are Sulu, Tawi Tawi, Basilan and the Zamboanga provinces, but also for the entire nation.
“The claim has already been solidly established and clearly proven that Sabah legitimately, legally and historically is owned by the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo [Sabah] and duly acknowledged by Malaysia which to this day continues to pay lease rentals to representatives of the Sultanate,” he explained.
Abbas maintained, “The Philippine presidents from Marcos to Arroyo used the Sabah claim for political and personal interests to the detriment of the Tausug people. They were those who benefited from the Sabah claim through clandestine arrangements with the Malaysian authorities and government and muted their handpicked Sultans with trivial benefits they extended to them.”
Abbas hurled a challenge to the President “to lay the cards on the table and be honest, as honesty is now the issue of the day after the ouster of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona and in all honesty answer the following questions raised by the Bangsa Moro.”
“What happened to the Sabah Claim? What arrangement has the government through the Executive Office with Malaysia on the Sabah Claim? Is Malaysia’s mediation of the talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation front outside of the auspices of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation part of this arrangement with Malaysia? And why has the Philippine government failed or refused to protest against the illegal and harsh, even cruel deportation of Tausugs who have been there in Sabah for decades by Malaysian authorities even before there was a Malaysia?” Abbas asked.
He said it is the moral and legal duty of the government through President Aquino to answer the cited questions in the soonest possible time.