PNoy: Support what is right on Sabah
Blasts sultan for putting OFWs at risk
GENERAL SANTOS CITY (1st UPDATE) - President Aquino said the insistence of the Sulu sultanate's forces to remain in Sabah has led to a "propaganda war."
He categorically described as wrong the move of the Sulu sultan to bring armed men to Sabah, putting the blame on Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his followers for dragging Filipinos to danger.
The Palace has repeatedly said that it was concerned about the status of around 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, many of them illegal migrants but are able to work in plantations and other economic sectors.
Aquino rallied the people to support what is "right."
In his speech during a program with the administration's senatorial candidates, Aquino explained that in asking the sultan's forces to surrender, he has to consider the welfare of the larger number of Filipinos that would be affected by sultan's actions.
Aquino said the current standoff can be traced from the problematic lease granted by the Sulu sultanate to the British North Borneo Company.
Aquino then drew from history and cited a power of attorney dated February 1, 1968 supposedly showing that the heirs of the Sulu sulan had recognized the authority of the President "to represent them in the settlement of their proprietary rights over Sabah."
Aquino said this was mentioned by Senator Ambrosio Padilla on March 29, 1968.
Aquino reiterated that sending armed men to Sabah is not the key to press the sultanate's claim, saying the matter should be discussed in a peaceful manner.
He cited the government's recent move to bring its territorial dispute with China before an arbitral tribunal.
Aquino expressed worry over the country's relations with Malaysia because of the sultanate's actions.
The bilateral relations, he said, has gone a long way, with Malaysia helping broker peace talks between the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
He said this is a far cry from what happened in the 1960s when the two countries' relations reached a low point following the discovery of "Oplan Merdeka," the plan of President Ferdinand Marcos to destabilize Sabah to pave the way for an invasion.
Aquino noted that his father personally looked into the so-called Jabidah Massacre.
The President has tasked a study group to study the validity of the country's claim over Sabah.