Following the appeal of Jamalul Kiram III, one of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu whose followers in Lahad Datu are engaged in bloody clashes with Malaysian forces, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called on all parties to end the violence that has resulted in the death of more than 30 Filipinos and Malaysians.



The statement said, “The Secretary-General is closely following the situation in Sabah, Malaysia. He urges an end to the violence and encourages dialogue among all the parties for a peaceful resolution of the situation.


“The Secretary-General expresses concern about the impact this situation may have on the civilian population, including migrants in the region. He urges all parties to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance and act in full respect of international human rights norms and standards.”


A tearful Kiram III immediately ordered a unilateral ceasefire to his forces in Lahad Datu, Sabah led by his younger brother, Raja Muda Agbimuddin Kiram.


Sultanate spokesperson Abraham Idjirani announced: “The Sultan (Jamalul Kiram III) is calling for a unilateral cease-fire of the sultanate of Sulu effective this hour, 12:30 in the afternoon [of Thursday],” adding that the ball is now in Malaysia’s court. Latest reports say the Malaysians are not reciprocating.


Lauro Baja Jr., who once served as Philippine Permament Representative to the United Nations, said, “We should welcome the statement attributable to the spokesperson of the UN Secgen. This means that the UN has taken cognizance of the situation in Sabah and has also voiced our concerns on dialogue and peaceful resolution and on delivery of humanitarian assistance and full respect for intl human rights. It can also mean that Malaysia can no longer control the developments as it pleases.”


Malaysia has rejected UN’s ceasefire call. As of this writing Malacañang has yet to react to the UN call.


It’s a far cry from tempo the other day (Wednesday), when Malacañang was in a frenetic damage control mode with both Malacanang and the Department of Foreign Affairs issuing statements one after another.


I’m interested to see how the Aquino government would react to the “internationalization” of the Sabah standoff issue because in the beginning they tried to treat it as a domestic issue, a police matter.


Remember when he made his Feb. 26 statement dismissing the Kirams’ stand on their Sabah claim a “hopeless cause,” he was flanked by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima? Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who was quick to rush to the Middle East every time there was an outbreak of war was nowhere in the picture.


It was only last week, after more than 30 had been reported killed that Del Rosario was dispatched to Kuala Lumpur to meet with his counterpart to appeal for “maximum tolerance” which the Malaysians ignored.


After that, the situation became farcical which was threatened to become a comedy of errors if only there were no human lives lost and many more at risk.


Out of nowhere, DFA disclosed that the letter of Kiram III requesting for a meeting with President Aquino way back in 2010, which he said was “lost in the bureaucratic maze” was discovered at the foreign office. And Del Rosario was writing an apology to Kiram III.


But Del Rosario was not the secretary of Foreign Affairs at that time. It was Alberto Romulo. Why was he apologizing for something that did not happen under his watch? They clearly needed a scapegoat or fall guy.


They need something to divert the attention from the Sabah crisis. The Atimonan report was released by De Lima.


There were other side issues that cropped up like the Malaysian Foreign Ministry statement saying Del Rosario agreed to call Filipinos allegedly involved in the clashes in Lahad Datu and Semporna, Sabah “terrorists.”


Del Rosario said he was taken out of context.


The highlight of last Wednesday’s battle for the hearts and minds of Filipinos on the Sabah issue was the speech of Aquino in General Santos City. It was a rather lengthy which was actually a repetition of what he has been saying the past days.


Choice cuts from his remarks: “Inaangkin nila ang Sabah, saan ba nagmula ’yung problema na hindi na sa kanila? Hindi ba galing sa ninuno nila na nagbigay nung lease o nung awtoridad sa British para mamahala sa Sabah.


“Sa ngayon ho, nagkakaroon tayo ng propaganda war. Kayo po testigo, nagmakailang ulit na po akong nakikiusap na kung pupuwede lumikas doon, bumalik na muna dito at pag-usapan natin ang problema niyo, sa ulit, mapayapa at mahinahon na pamamaraan. Mali ho ba ‘yung mungkahing ‘yon? Tama ho ba ‘yung sinusugsog ng ilan na dapat suportahan natin ‘yung mga nandoon na may dala-dalang armas, na nagkaroon na ng patayan? ‘Yung Malaysia po at ang Pilipinas, ang relasyon nila nagkaroon ng maraming kulay dahil dito sa isyu ng Sabah. Huwag ho nating kalimutan, ano, ang sinusulong nila ‘yung karapatan nila bilang heirs raw po ng Sultan of Sulu. Hindi pa ganoon kaliwanag na ‘yung karapatan nila ibinahagi na sa Pilipinas. Pero sa away nila, idadamay tayong lahat.”


This is the choicest of his quotes: “Pasensiya na ho kayo kung may halong emosyon ‘yung talumpati ko sa inyo ngayon. Talagang, alam ho niyo, na-ambush nga ako noong ‘87 po. Tatlo sa apat kong kasamahan patay.”


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