Condemn the Aquino regime for endorsing all-out suppression of armed Filipinos in Sabah

Communist Party of the Philippines
March 5, 2013

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) condemns the Aquino regime for endorsing the all-out armed suppression by Malaysia against the small contingent of armed Filipinos in the Lahad Datu coastal district of Sabah. The armed contingent was deployed a few weeks ago by the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu, in an effort to press their claim over Sabah, which is also part of the baseline territory defined under the laws of the reactionary Philippine government.

Not only has the Aquino regime refused to act upon the clamor for a resolute effort to pursue the Philippine territorial claim to Sabah, it has also denounced the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu for deploying their armed supporters and demanded their unconditional surrender to the Malaysian police and armed forces. In a vain effort to justify its policy, the Aquino regime has put to question the legitimacy of the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu and imputed "instigation" by, and "conspiracy" with, anti-Aquino political forces.

The Aquino regime, however, has succeeded only in further inflaming the heirs and armed followers of the Sultanate of Sulu. It has shut the door to a peaceful resolution of the armed standoff at Sabah, paving the way for the attacks by the Malaysian armed forces against the Filipino armed contingent in Sabah.

The CPP further denounces the all-out armed attacks carried out over the past few days by the Malaysian armed forces, not only against the Filipino armed contingent, but against the Filipino residents of Sabah as well, which have resulted in the killing of several Filipinos, including a religious leader in Semporna town. The Filipino community in Sabah is now being subjected to harassment and suppression by the Malaysian armed and police forces.

If there is anything this whole episode has starkly brought to the fore, it is the Aquino regime's continuing failure to take up the cudgels for Filipino interests--both that of the Sultanate's heirs and the Filipino migrant community not only in the territory but anywhere else in the world. The Filipinos in Sabah have been largely abandoned by the Philippine government over the years. It is thus hypocritical for Aquino to invoke the interests of the Filipinos in Sabah in demanding the surrender of the armed contingent of the Sultanate of Sulu.

There are up to 800,000 Filipinos in the region, or more than 20% of the population of Sabah. Many of them are undocumented and stateless, driven to Sabah in search of work and to escape the vicious military campaigns against the struggling Moro people. Most of them have ended up working in large rubber and oil palm plantations. Because of their status as illegal immigrants, they are subjected to highly oppressive and exploitative conditions. Their situation is of primordial concern and should be vigorously exposed.

The CPP takes cognizance of the claim of Sabah being asserted by the Sultanate of Sulu in behalf of the Filipino people. It notes the assertion that the region once comprised the North Bornean territory granted to the sultanate in the 16th century and later leased to the British North Borneo Company and transferred to the Malaysian government starting in 1963. The CPP also takes cognizance of the counter-claims by other entities, as well as the de facto political rule of the Malaysian government. There can be a settlement of the claims and counter-claims in a manner that is mutually acceptable and beneficial to all parties concerned.

In the face of the Philippine government's refusal to pursue the claim, the democratic and patriotic forces can work with the Filipino claimants to help pursue it in various political, diplomatic and other possible arenas, including the possibility of bringing the dispute to an international tribunal. There can also be a united effort to put to the fore the conditions of the oppressed workers and farm workers in Sabah.

At the same time, the progressive and democratic forces should encourage the Sabah claimants to unite with the rest of the Filipino people in vigorously demanding an independent foreign policy and the country's right to self-determination where territorial integrity and the sovereign will of the people are given primordial importance. They demand primarily an end to foreign military intervention, particularly the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Mutual Defense Treaty with the United States which allow the permanent stationing of US troops, the rotational docking of US warships and use of Philippine airspace by US jet fighters and drones.

The Aquino regime's foreign policy is subservient to the dictates of the United States government and is defined not by the interests of national freedom but rather by the geo-political interests of the US. The US government itself has been actively pursuing the so-called peace process between the Philippine reactionary government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front with the aim of bringing in foreign investors to the Moro areas to the detriment of the Moro people's aspirations for self-determination.

As long as the Philippines is under a puppet regime of the US imperialists, it can never stand on solid ground in asserting its claim over other disputed territories.