Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Sabah Uprising: a solution

Malacanang is clearly desperate. It wants to extricate itself from the rut it is in, and regain the initiative. The Sabah uprising has scored massive points against the administration, exposing it as an uncaring, insensitive and intolerant government, whose only concern is maintaining economic relations with neighbors such as Malaysia.

That is why it is releasing news about cases filed against known Arroyo associates and trying to bury the issue to the inside pages of major newspapers by coming out with such stories as the Atimonan rub-out case. The UNA says it will not be using the Sabah issue as a platform issue, though, several UNA candidates have launched massive spurts of criticisms against Pnoy's handling of the issue.

True--it is unfair for candidates to use this issue against LP senatorial candidates because they are not the ones who bungled--it is their brand ambassador who did. President Aquino is bungling all over the place, and it is expected since he surrounds himself with advisers who are poor students of history and politics. The President may very well keep advisers who know the issue and clearly knows how to solve them.

One of the most surprising things about this issue is the apparent lack of good information. The President keeps billions of pesos in intelligence funds and I am curious where he spends these. The reason why this President acts this way is the fact that he is ill-advised, or at best, un-informed. How can the Chief Executive issue a justicious ruling when his foreign affairs unit is in disarray and cannot even get the proper information from the ground? This holds true with his internal security and surveillance agency, the NICA. Don't tell me that they don't know and is in the blind when it comes to insurgent groups?

The intelligence adviser admits that the Royal Sultanate army has been in existence since 2001 and was just re-activated in early 2005 when things with the Arroyo administration got a little bit problematic.

Surely, the intelligence adviser should have been well advised that this group would take action the minute the OPAPP leaves the MNLF and the Sultanate out of the peace negotiations?

These actions being taken by the Sultanate are indications of the mishandling of the peace negotiations by the OPAPP. They should have negotiated with the Sultanate and the MNLF prior to entering into a formal agreement with the MILF in the first place. They should not have underestimated the MNLF. This shows you how poor these people are in their interpretation of historical and cultural differences.

Anyway, the prescription is simply allow a few remnants of the Sultan to live in peace in Sabah by categorizing them, not as "terrorists", but as "political refugees". Likewise, allow the Sultanate to be part of the on-going Mindanao-wide peace negotiations. Tell the Sultanate that the government will pursue the claim in a peaceful manner, by using international bodies to resolve the case.

If Malacanan continues in its direction, this country may end up at war on two basic fronts---a war against Tausugs and a war against Malaysian forces. At best, contain this war within reasonable and manageable limits.