March 2013

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

RUSSIA-CHINA-DIPLOMACY-ECONOMYThe collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991 catapulted the United States as the only superpower on Earth. It ushered in a new age — Pax Americana — with the balance of power securely ensured by the United States encircling what is left of the once-mighty Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the Russian Federation.

But don’t be fooled by the demise of the communist regime. Russia, with 6.6 million square miles of land area covering more than one-eight of the world’s inhabited land area. In 2012, Russia was the world’s sixth largest economy with a GDP of $2.22 trillion, behind the U.S. (first-ranked at $16.66 trillion), China ($10.09 trillion), Japan ($4.31 trillion), India ($4.06 trillion), and Germany ($2.94 trillion).

Endowed with rich natural resources, Russia has the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, second-largest reserves of coal, and the eight-largest reserves of crude oil. In 2011, she became the world’s largest producer of oil, surpassing Saudi Arabia; and the second-largest producer of natural gas. And she possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.

With the election of Vladimir Putin to the presidency in May 2012 for the second time around — he served as President for two terms (from 2000 to 2008) but was constitutionally prohibited to serve a third consecutive term — there are high expectations that Putin would take Russia on the high road to economic progress and propel the country on a trajectory that would regain her share of dominance — if not total dominance– of world geopolitics.

Enter the Dragon

On March 14, 2013, China’s rubberstamp national legislature elected Xi Jinping to the ceremonial title of president, which capped his rise to the pinnacle of power as China’s undisputed ruler. Last November, Xi was named Secretary General of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), which controls the CPC’s military arm, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). As the country’s de facto armed forces, the PLA has an active membership of 2.25 million, which makes it the world’s largest standing army.  Never before since the time of Mao Zedong had a Chinese ruler consolidated his power within a short time– four months!

Upon his ascension to the presidency, Xi’s first venture outside China was to visit his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. At their summit in Kremlin last March 22, the two leaders agreed to form a “strategic partnership” to advance their countries’ interests.  They affirmed their mutual support for each country’s geostrategic and territorial interests, which include territorial disputes. With more than 20 territorial disputes that China is embroiled with various countries — including Japan, Philippines, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam — this could put Russia squarely on the paths of conflict, which could involve the United States who has mutual defense treaties with at least four of China’s adversaries.

“Sweetheart deal”

Signing 30 agreements in the areas of energy, trade, technology, and military exchange, the highlight of Xi’s visit was a rare glimpse into Russia’s defense command headquarters — or “war room” — a first by any foreign leader.  Chinese media videotaped the event showing Xi being briefed as he looked at computers and giant screens tracking military intelligence targets.

On the economic front, the new China-Russia strategic partnership would bind the two countries in jointly developing Russia’s most strategic economic resources — oil, gas, and coal — to meet China’s massive current and future energy requirements.

One of the summit’s immediate results was an agreement for Russia to triple her oil supplies to China in exchange for a $2-billion loan. In addition, the two countries agreed on a preliminary deal to build a gas pipeline. Indeed, with Russia as one of the world’s largest energy producers and China the world’s number one energy consumer, one can say that Xi got a “sweetheart deal” he couldn’t resist.

At a joint press conference, Xi told the media: “China’s friendship with Russia guarantees strategic balance and peace in the world.” But what he presumably meant to say was that the new China-Russia military-economic alliance would be so formidable that it would establish a new world order never seen before.  In Xi’s mind, only a China-Russia military-economic alliance could stop the United States’ “pivot to Asia” strategy. And one of Xi’s concerns was the United States’ building of an intercontinental ballistic missile defense system, which could tilt the balance of power towards the U.S.

Kim goes ballistic

Kim-Jong-Un-salutingBut when Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s young– and untested — leader, went ballistic, it rattled everybody!  His scrapping of the 1953 Korean War Armistice and testing of a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead have prompted the U.S. to reassess her missile shield system against North Korea.

Last March 15, Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the U.S. would spend $1 billion to add 14 interceptors to the current 30 interceptors that are already based in Alaska. In addition, he said that the U.S. is planning to deploy an additional radar system in Japan, a move that would provide an “improved early warning and tracking of any missile launch from North Korea at the U.S. or Japan.”

Encirclement

Aegis-Combat-SystemIt is interesting to note that in January 2010, it was reported in the news that the U.S. had completed the transfer of a $6.4-billion weapons deal with Taiwan that included 200 advanced Patriot anti-ballistic missiles. It was also reported earlier that month that the U.S. had provided Taiwan with eight frigates equipped with the Aegis Combat System, which has the capacity to launch ship-based interceptor missiles.

That completed the deployment of the Aegis component of the U.S. interceptor missile system in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia. In addition, Taiwan has already a network of 22 missile sites around the country… ready to go!

And that made China nervous… very nervous.  The government-owned China Daily reported in its February 22, 2010, that China and Russia are encircled by chain of U.S. anti-missile systems with a footprint that extends from Japan to South Korea to Taiwan. As one Chinese military strategist explained: Washington has deployed a ring of anti-missile systems around China’s periphery forming a crescent-shaped encirclement that begins in Japan, stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in Afghanistan.

In addition to the Aegis Combat System and batteries of Patriot anti-ballistic missiles, the U.S. had moved a squadron of 12 B-52 nuclear-armed bombers and two squadrons of the advanced F-22 Raptor stealth jet fighters to Anderson Air Force Base in Guam. And at least three nuclear attack submarines are also deployed in Guam, which is beyond the range of China’s land-based Dong Feng 21D anti-ship ballistic missile.

With the U.S.S. George Washington nuclear-powered super carrier battle group forward-deployed in Yokosuka, Japan, the U.S. provides an awesome array of state-of-the-art defensive armaments that would keep North Korea, China or Russia from toying with the notion of attacking the U.S. or any of her allies in the Asia-Pacific.

Conspicuously missing from the United States’ military defense network is the Philippines, who was once identified as a “major non-NATO ally” of the U.S. Other than the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the untested Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries, the Philippines has no role in the “Air-Sea Battle” plan of the U.S. in Asia-Pacific.

Pax Pacifica

Be that as it may, what we’re seeing here is a geostrategic shift from a “one world power” — Pax Americana — to a “strategic partnership” of countries with common interests that is centered in the vast Pacific. With more than 130 countries forming the rim of the Pacific, the age of Pax Pacifica is about to begin. And who would be the dominant force that would chart the destiny of Pax Pacifica — China or the United States?

At the end of the day, one might say that Pax Pacifica could usher in a world of new order… or disorder?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)

 

ON DISTANT SHORE
By Val G. Abelgas

In the next few weeks, about half a million students will graduate from more than 2,000 colleges and universities in the Philippines. That would have been a source of joy for many people, except that based on statistics, only about 30 to 40 percent of them would find any kind of employment, and only about 5 to 10 percent would be employed in jobs that match their course, while close to 60 percent would join the growing ranks of the unemployed.

And yet, every single high school graduate dreams of earning that much-sought after college diploma and every single parent would work his bones off to send his children to college. In the Philippines, a college diploma is the measure of one’s worth in life and the measure of a parent’s success in raising his child.

A high school graduate, however poorly he had passed through the four years of secondary education, attends whichever college or university is willing to accept his tuition money, coasts along through four years, earns his diploma and finds out, to his dismay and disappointment, that he could not find the job for which he studied and for which his parents spent thousands of hard-earned pesos.

If he has good grades, he would be lucky to join the some 10 percent who would get into the profession that matched their degree, or he can become one of the lucky ones who end up as call center agents. Otherwise, he can land a job as a salesclerk in a department store, a part-time worker selling phone cards in malls, a minor clerk in a small office, or any other job that would otherwise need just a six-month training in a vocational or technical school.

Worse, he can be one of the close to 300,000 new graduates who will join the growing ranks of the unemployed.

Many of these graduates can’t even find a job in the overseas labor market because many of these jobs require special skills that do not need a four-year college diploma and only requires a six-month, or two-year training at the most in a vocational school.

In the United States, because of the high cost of education and the strict and tough admission requirements of universities, many high school graduates attend community colleges that have two-year associate degree course or vocational and technical course. This way, many students do not have to accumulate thousands of dollars in student loans or force their parents to get money from their retirement funds just so they can get a bachelor’s degree that do not guarantee them success in the workplace anyway.

In fact, at the onset of the recession, many people found out that it was the vocational and technical courses that remained in demand and paid higher wages, such as mechanics, X-ray technicians and medical assistants.

An influential financial guru, Suzie Orman, said “college is worth it if you plan on being a doctor or lawyer. Technical or vocational programs give you a better return on investment. Other financial advisers suggest that if you are in the bottom 40% of your high school graduating class, forget about college, you probably won’t graduate or you won’t do well anyway.”

Seems a sound advice. But would Filipino students and parents care to listen?

During the term of President Marcos, the Department of Education implemented the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE) whose purpose was to determine if a student would qualify for college admission, and to encourage those who would not pass to enroll in vocational course instead. If the NCEE were implemented properly, it could have saved millions of students billions of pesos squandered on a college course that didn’t give them desired jobs anyway, and perhaps it could have stopped diploma mills from mushrooming and operating further.

In 1994, then Education Secretary Raul Roco scrapped the program, saying he was in favor of allowing every high school graduate the opportunity to get a college education. I consider this move one of the very few mistakes committed by the highly respected Roco in his colorful government career.

The b government should start re-assessing the country’s education program. Our leaders are obviously aware that hundreds of thousands of college graduates are not finding jobs and swelling the ranks of the unemployed, and yet nothing has been done to correct the situation. If they can’t provide jobs to college graduates, why not do something to make sure only the qualified students attend college and encourage the others to take up vocational and technical courses that are what the country needs, after all? Why not assess and close down the hundreds of colleges and universities that only churn out diplomas that are not worth anything in the job market?

The Department of Education should start an information drive among students and parents explaining the advantages of taking up the more sought vocational and technical courses. College education is desired, but if the students are not qualified and the parents are not capable financially, vocational training may be the way to go for many of them.

And will somebody please tell Filipino students that nursing, business administration, and hotel and restaurant management (HRM) graduates are no longer in demand in the Philippines or abroad?

Records show that in 2011, there were more than 400,000 nurses who were not gainfully employed, with 80,000 board passers joining the ranks each year. Add to these the 420,000 students that are enrolled in over 2,000 nursing schools in the country, only 40 percent of which will pass the board exams, and you will see why nursing is no longer the desired profession in the Philippines and yet hundreds of thousands continue to enroll in the course.

Many of the unemployed nursing graduates, just like many college graduates, end up in the country’s call centers, a job that perhaps require just a one-month training at the most.

The government should start redirecting the Filipino students’ enthusiasm to courses that are not only in demand in the country and abroad, but which the country needs more, such as agriculture courses, geology, mining sciences, and software engineering, the enrolment of which are low but which are in demand.

A college diploma is every Filipino’s dream, but it is never a guarantee to success. One has to make the right career choice to succeed. And the parents, the teachers and the government have the duty to help students make the right choice.

(valabelgas@aol.com)

GLIMPSES
By Jose Ma. Montelibano

It is time to review the program of subsidizing state universities and colleges. Like any government expense, school subsidies must have justification, their objectives clear and desirable, and their results measurable and proportionately beneficial to the common good.

The massive support for public school system from grade school to high school is understandable and necessary. It is not really about education per se because there is no question about the value of education. Rather, it is about giving everyone the chance to access that education, most especially the millions of young Filipinos who are too poor to afford a grade school to high school education.

When it comes to college and post-graduate studies, however, the government must review the reasons why a very small percentage of students will be able to enjoy the benefit of higher education when the rest cannot. The practice of giving scholarships or subsidized education to a few while the great majority have to struggle for the same on their own, or not have it at all, must have substantive advantages to the collective good. That is the only justification why a Filipino college student, as an exception, receives much more from the state over the vast majority who receive nothing. Why is he or she an exception? What does the state want so much that it makes an exception?

What comes across as somewhat obsolete and limiting is to use results of entrance examinations and economic status as bases for subsidized scholarships. This practice is an extension of an old tradition when benefactors choose to support the most deserving who cannot afford a college education. This has less to do with education and more about rewarding talent, or an act of charity. This is about giving a greater opportunity to the most talented over giving a chance to those who need it more. It may be true that the students who were admitted to subsidized state colleges and universities did use their education to better themselves and their families. But everyone deserves to better themselves and their families via higher education if such opportunity could be made available to them as well.

If the principle is charity, then all who want the higher education but cannot afford should have a chance at having one. With charity, those in greater need, all things being equal, should have priority. Those who have more in terms of talents should give way to those who have less and need more support.

If the principle is education more than charity, then the one with greater talent may have priority only because the state, or the collective, benefits more. Because it is the people’s money that is funding an individual ‘s academic progress, then the people’s needs must be served best by their choice of investment. State-subsidized education must remain focused on what its selection of scholars can do for the state more than what the scholars can do for themselves and their families. Scholars of the state are scholars of the people – their obligation is first to the state and the people, the common good over personal interest.

Because the subsidy through state colleges and universities has been a tradition that had quite colonial purposes and motivation, including charity, the present times demand for a review of the program itself. Is it still necessary to support tens of thousands over tens of millions with the money that belongs to all of them, to all of us? If so, to what end, for whose end? Definitely, the people’s money should demand a payback to the people, or to the state as representative of the people. The service of the scholar who sought and received the support of the people’s money must thereafter have the people as his or her primary beneficiary, even over his or her own interest. That is the only justification why the treasure of the people is invested on a select few – because these select few can best serve the most good to the greatest number.

I think there should be an outcry from the people who do not know how their common good is benefited from the service of those they had given special opportunity to receive what most did not. If we hear more outcry from students over increases of tuition fees, this is justifiable only if students who have been blessed by state subsidies actually have a record of doing their share of the bargain. This is debatable, of course, as there is very little, very, very little information of what the people and the country have gained from all the state-subsidized scholars and students. In contrast, there have been more information how many of these lucky scholars and students from state colleges and universities have helped themselves and their families.

We do not need more scholars, we need more patriots. We need our talented young to become the warriors for the people, not the first to use their state-sponsored development more for themselves and less, if at all, for the people. The most talented among our people, whether they can afford or not, should have other mechanisms to develop their talent further without the help of the state unless the state is able to make that help available to the majority. The companies or industries who will be in need of the more talented may be harnessed to support the most promising of our youth. Or, perhaps, a national, massive educational fund that can support the brightest through college and even post-graduate studies through student loans that will be paid once the graduate is employed.

Government scholars, though, must have a different criteria, a standard that demands service to the people ahead of service to the self or family. The state must help those who are determined to help the common good, who are committed to become models of good citizens.

By REY O. ARCILLA
MALAYA

‘Our officials concerned should treat “common” as the operative word, the watchword, in their discussions with the American official.’

MALAYSIANS now claim that Agbimuddin Kiram, younger brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram, has slipped back to Mindanao. So? You want him back?

Fine. But let us have that soulless Manuel Amalilio who is a Malaysian national, back too. That bastard, figuratively speaking, has killed more people, hundreds of them, than Agbimuddin might have during his and his men’s encounters with Malaysian security forces. His (Amalilio) pyramiding scam has driven hundreds of our people to penury. Some, maybe even to their graves.

Question is, why has Malaysia not taken any action on our request for the extradition of Amalilio? Is it true he is being protected by certain high Malaysian government officials?

Incidentally, there are reports that Malaysians operate the PCSO lotto here. I faintly recall that sometime ago, they were indeed given the license to do so.

If they still are the licensees, I think the government should have a look at their contract with a view to terminating it as soon as possible. Why should foreign nationals control a lucrative business that Filipino entrepreneurs could very well do themselves?

***

Speaking of the PCSO, three weeks ago, the Commission on Audit (COA) found several irregularities committed by its present management. One of them is the payment to board directors millions of pesos in per diems which covered board meetings, committee meetings and draw allowances (fee paid for attending the lottery draw). They later vowed to return the illegal and unconscionable payments. Have they? Our people want to know.

COA also raised concerns over the unnecessary advertising expenses of the agency in 2011 saying that the PCSO “is neither engaged in the marketing of a consumer product that needs so much advertising nor is there that competition factor to contend with.”

Last Friday, I was watching a series of prime time boxing bouts on one of our TV’s sports channels. During the numerous commercial breaks of the telecast, the ad that came on most is the tasteless and irritating PCSO commercial, with that even more irritating ditty “Pusong Pilipino, Pusong Panalo”.

What gives? Everybody knows that a 30-second TV spot costs hundreds of thousands of pesos. It looks like the “daan” leading to PCSO isn’t “matuwid”. The agency is headed by a close Aquino friend, Margarita Juico.

***

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak tried to justify his government’s actions in Sabah. No matter what he says, no one can ever justify the merciless killing of people, including women and children.

“Malaysia was on the side of the truth in defending the country’s sovereignty from the terrorists. The government is most careful in the matter and about what we are doing,” Najib was quoted as saying.

To begin with, Malaysia’s “sovereignty” over Sabah is not a settled issue. That’s why the people of the Sulu Sultanate are there. “Careful” about what you are doing? How? Through systematic killing and terrorizing of our people? Why? Could it have anything to do with your forthcoming elections?

And, pray tell, why do you deny our humanitarian and consular assistance and media teams access to confined Filipinos in detention and evacuation centers? What are you hiding? Well, the answer seems pretty obvious.

***

The No. 2 man of the US Defense Department, Ash Carter, is visiting the country for a “consultation meeting on matters of common security interests in the Asia-Pacific region”.

Our officials concerned should treat “common” as the operative word, the watchword, in their discussions with the American official.

Expect Carter also to pay a visit to President Noynoy Aquino, accompanied not by his counterpart, but by our defense secretary and possibly our foreign secretary too. Then again, they might read this piece and do the proper thing… No need to bother the busy Noynoy.

In the meantime, let us welcome and be grateful for the toxic wastes dumped anew in our sea and shore by another US warship, the USS Emory S. Land, now anchored in Subic Bay.

As usual, the warship’s visit is touted as highlighting “the strong historic, community and military connections between the US and the Philippines”.

Yeah, right!

***

Food for thought for our officials who will be talking with Deputy Secretary Carter:

Now that the Aquino administration has “shelved” the Panatag dispute for the next four years at least in the Arbitral Tribunal, our foreign and defense departments should start reassessing our position on the so-called US Pivot to our region. It has always been my contention that we are giving far too much to the US than what we should get in return.

They should also raise the question of reviewing or abrogating the Visiting Forces Agreement which is erroneously being used as the cover for the US Pivot. It will be recalled that the Senate passed a resolution not too long ago urging the executive branch to do exactly that.

In this regard, I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that Noynoy may have decided to send our Panatag claim to the Arbitral Tribunal because he wanted that off his agenda in his remaining two years and nine months in office.

As I have stated often enough, he should have sent back our ships to Panatag – first, to test China’s resolve; second, to show our resolve; and third, to test US’ resolve to defend us, as she professes.

Now, it’s too late. Our Panatag claim is already in the backburner for the rest of Noynoy’s term. Neat.

That’s why the need to re-assess our position on the US Pivot which, as some quarters say and with which I agree, is really geared towards the China-Japan and the two Koreas issues. China-PH relations are merely peripheral.

***

Noynoy “welcomed” the election of Pope Francis. However, I have not heard or read any news item about him congratulating President Xi Jinping of China whose appointment was formalized by the New People’s Assembly last week. Only his chief mouthpiece congratulated Xi.

Why? Aren’t we supposed to be friends with China notwithstanding the West Philippine Sea dispute? Or was his Amboy of a foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, sleeping on the job?

I stand corrected if indeed Noynoy congratulated Xi before or after his chief mouthpiece did.

***

Reminders (for Noynoy’s action):

1) Filing of charges against officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) during Arroyo’s illegitimate regime. Noynoy himself said on several occasions that there is documentary evidence to prove the venalities in the past in that agency.

2) Investigation of reported anomalies in the GSIS during the watch of Winston Garcia and ordering his successor, Robert Vergara, to file the proper charges, if warranted, against the former.

Noynoy should also order Vergara to report to him on COA’s findings that at least P4.13 billion in contributions and loan payments made by 12 government offices to the GSIS had not been credited to the offices as of Dec. 31, 2011. COA also said the amount of unrecorded remittances could go much higher because only 36 agencies have so far responded out of the 186 that were sent confirmation requests by government auditors. Of the 36, 27 confirmed “discrepancies” in their premium and loan payments ledgers when compared with those of the GSIS.

Last week, a GSIS official wanted to discuss this matter with me. I requested her instead to email me GSIS’ side which I can publish. She agreed. I’m still waiting for her email.

3) Facilitating the investigation of rampant corruption in the military and police establishments.

4) Expeditious action by the AFP on the case of Jonas Burgos.

***

Today is the 317th day of the sixth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.

***

From an internet friend:

DON’T MESS WITH KIDS

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.

The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it was physically impossible.

The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.”

The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?”

The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

***

Email: roacrosshairs@yahoo.com

By Mike Frialde
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Eight men charged with terrorism-related offenses in Malaysian courts in connection with the violence in Sabah are neither Filipinos nor followers of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani said yesterday.

He said one of the men had even assumed the identity of one of the fighters of the sultanate killed by Malaysian forces last March 1.

Malaysia’s state news agency Bernama said on Thursday that the man – identified as Hooland Kalibi – admitted before a court that he had been paid to join the Sabah incursion.

Idjirani said they got the information from “a relative of the wife” of the leader of the sultanate’s armed followers in Sulu, Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of the sultan.

“What does the Malaysian government intend to do? They are lying through their teeth. They are fooling the Philippine government and the entire world,” he said. “Hooland Kalibi is dead, that we are sure about.

“Malaysia will continue to lie so that the sultanate will not get any support from President Aquino, from our own government. Malaysia is fooling the world,” Idjirani said.

Malaysia’s Star Online had reported that eight Filipinos – aged between 17 and 66 – had been charged before a Magistrate Court in Lahad Datu with “waging war” against Malaysia’s king and with terrorism. Waging war against Malaysia’s king is punishable by death, while terrorism carries a prison term of up to 30 years.

Idjirani also accused the Malaysian government of waging a disinformation campaign to discredit the Sulu sultanate before the Philippine government and the international community.

He also dared Malaysia to allow international media access to the territory.

“I think we understand why they did not want international media to enter Sabah. It’s because they’re hiding something,” Idjirani said.

According to Idjirani, a total of 108 Filipinos in Sabah have been arrested under Malaysia’s Security Offences (Special Measures) Act of 2012 for allegedly supporting the “royal sultanate force” which entered Sabah on Feb. 12.

At least 243 others face charges for alleged violation of the country’s Immigration and National Registration Acts, he added.

Idjirani also denied reports from Malaysia that Agbimuddin had already left Sabah and is now in hiding in Mindanao.

Plea for access granted

As Malaysia continues to round up Filipinos suspected of having links to the Kirams, Philippine authorities have finally been given access to those in detention.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday that the Malaysian Foreign Ministry, through a note verbale dated March 20, stated the “procedures of the access in due course.”

“In reply to our requests for access to Filipinos under their custody, our embassy in Kuala Lumpur has received notes from the Malaysian Foreign Ministry that consular access to eight members of the armed group charged for offenses under Malaysia Penal Code will be granted to the embassy,” said DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez.

The “embassy will submit an application for access to the Foreign Ministry which will be processed within three days,” he said.

Malaysia’s Attorney General, for its part, announced that the eight accused would be assigned local lawyers.

“We welcome the announcement by the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers that the eight individuals who were allegedly involved in the Lahad Datu incidents will be assigned local lawyers to defend them,” Consul General Medardo Macaraig said.

“To ensure that the eight individuals are accorded due process and fair trial, the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur is in communication with the Malaysian Bar Council and the Sabah Law Association which offered their services in defending the accused,” he added.

The Tawau High Court has scheduled the hearing on the charges against the eight Filipinos on April 12.

“The embassy will ensure the availability of legal counsels to assist the accused in time for the resumption of the court session,” Macaraig said.

The real sultan

As the Kirams in Manila decry what they call lack of government support for their cause, a professor in Davao City claiming to be a daughter of the real sultan of Sulu is urging the government to first help unify the three houses of the Sulu sultanate if it wants to strengthen its claim on Sabah.

Rita Tuban said Jamalul Kiram alone cannot speak for the sultanate regarding the Sabah issue.

“The three houses should peacefully settle it first among themselves,” she said, referring to the houses of Kiram, Sakirawllah, and Alimuddin.

Tuban insisted that her father, Sultan Tuban Wizer Hankiram Sakirawllah Alimuddin I, who died in 1997, was the real sultan of Sulu based on the Salsila or the record of genealogy of the Tausug nobility. Tuban had written a book about the genealogy of the Sulu sultanate.

Meanwhile, 161 people, mostly women and children, have been rescued adrift in the Sulu Sea on a boat whose engine conked out while sailing from strife-torn Sabah.

A Philippine Navy patrol boat spotted the M/L Okay near Tuba Lubak Island at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and escorted it to the Port of Sulu where the refugees were given food and provisions.

The group skipped the usual Sandakan-Taganak route to evade Malaysian sea patrols.

Refugees yesterday reported intensifying crackdown by Malaysian security forces on suspected followers of the Sulu sultanate, including house-to-house search and setting up of roadblocks and checkpoints.

“The Malaysian security forces have started stopping cars and buses coming from Kota Kinabalu to Sandakan and other major routes heading towards the eastern coast, checking documents of commuters,” a Filipino employed in Sabah said.

The Malaysian forces were reportedly venting their ire on Filipinos in Lahad Datu, Tawau, Sandakan and Semporna after failing to capture or kill Agbimuddin.

“Any day now, the Malaysian security forces are launching a Sabah-wide major operasi (crackdown) against document and undocumented. The operasi is now being felt in Kota Kinabalu,” another Filipino said. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Jaime Laude, Edith Regalado, John Unson, Marvin Sy, Evelyn Macairan

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

Many of the charlatans and overnight Sabah claim experts thought they were patriots fighting for Philippine national interest. They didn’t even realize that the arguments they were mouthing were supporting China’s very claims to our territory in the South China Sea.

Dr. Renato de Castro heads the De La Salle University International Studies Department. Rene was kind enough to share with me an article written by him in 2000 where he probed weaknesses of China’s claims to our Spratly islands.

Rene wrote:

“International Law and the status of historic claim

China’s historic claim to the Spratlys is based on the principle of first discovery. However, international law does not recognize discovery as a sufficient mode of territorial acquisition. Rather, international law recognizes effective control of the territory as the important element in the acquisition of territories, irrespective of modalities. Claims based on discovery, in the sense of first sighting, are generally considered insufficient to acquire a territorial title. Effective control requires not only a single act of assertion of naked control but by a continuous and comprehensive acquisition of a title to a landmass or a maritime area of the earth and its use and exploitation. Noted international law scholar L. Oppenheim emphasizes the importance of effective control or possession of a territory when he noted:

The territory must really be taken into possession by the occupying state. For this purpose it is necessary that it should take the territory under its sway (corpus) with the intention of acquiring sovereignty over it (animus). This can be done by acquiring sovereignty over its animus. This can be done by a settlement on the territory accompanied by some formal act, which announces both that the territory has been taken possession of and that the possessor intends to keep it under his sovereignty.

A more contemporary scholar on territorial acquisition, Surya Sharma, supported this opinion when he wrote:

“Discovery and symbolic annexation, taken separately or together, were not regarded by states as sufficient to constitute an independent mode of exclusive territorial acquisition. These modalities were frequently equated with the intent to occupy. The most extreme legal title which the general community concedes in favor of these modes [of territorial acquisition] was the creation of an “inchoate title,” which had to be perfected within a reasonable time by effective occupation, or else the inchoate title would lapse. In short, nothing less than effective occupation was regarded as sufficient to establish title to territory and temporary titles created by discovery and symbolic annexation have to be perfected within a reasonable time by effective control. This view, has the support of the majority of influential writers and a vast body of state practice, in addition to judicial backing.”

The importance of effective control over discovery has been clearly imputed by famous legal cases such as the Island of Palmas Case (1928), the Clipperton Arbitration Case (1931) and the Minquiers and Ecrehos Case (1953).

The island of Palmas Case involved a dispute between the United States and the Netherlands over the island of Palmas, which is located between the Celebes Island and the Philippines. The United States, as a successor to the rights of Spain over the Philippines, based its claim on discovery, based on the Spanish sighting of the island in the 16th century. On the other hand, the Netherlands founded its claim on a continuous and peaceful display of authority over the disputed island. The arbitrator, Judge Max Huber, decided in favor of the Netherlands by ruling that even admitting that Spain had discovered the island and had a inchoate title over it, an inchoate title could not prevail against continuous and peaceful authority by another state. The ruling further added that such display might prevail over a prior, definitive title put forward by another case. The Island of Palmas case showed that holding a title based on effective exercise of sovereignty is superior to a claim founded on discovery. The Palmas case maintains that even if discovery was recognized by international law as a mode of acquiring a title to a territory, the present title has to be complemented by an effective display of authority. In other words, a title established by discovery, if valid, could be lost by “failure to display continuous state activity.” Based on the Las Palmas Case, it has been maintained that there is greater weight in the opinion [of the international legal community] that discovery alone does not constitute an independent mode for territorial acquisition: at beast it creates an inchoate title which must be perfected within a reasonable time by effective occupation or it will lapse.”

“Another case that provides an important precedent on the importance of effective occupation over discovery is the Clipperton Case Island Arbitration Award.”

Rene mentioned a third case to demonstrate his point — the Minguiers and Ecrehos Case.

He wrote: “The three cases raise valid questions on the legal validity of China’s claim of sovereignty to the Spratlys in three ways. First, they weakened China’s claim over those islands on the basis of discovery. The three cases uphold an argument that discovery, in itself, is an insufficient basis for the acquisition of a territory.”

Rene’s article provided more insights but we opted to use only this portion that drives home the point — historic claims, such as the one we have with Sabah, are the weakest cases when international courts decide territorial dispute. Favoring the historical claims would have opened a Pandora’s box worldwide.

The problem with our charlatans and self-appointed Sabah experts is that they choked on reference materials and failed to see the big picture. They should first make sure that their brains were engaged before putting their mouths into gear. They didn’t bother to check if we have a say in something that’s strictly a row between the Kiram family and Malaysia.

Never mind the President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) haters who rode on this Sabah issue to try to bring down the president’s political stock. They’re best left to wallowing in their venom. What’s deplorable is how otherwise right thinking Filipinos had been taken for an emotional ride. Many bit into the Sultanate of Sulu’s deception and were ready to castigate one of the best presidents that we ever had.

Alas, we’re indeed our biggest enemies.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

E-mail: macesposo@yahoo.com Website: www.chairwrecker.com

By AMADO P. MACASAET
MALAYA

“Again it must be said that the Court voted on its best lights. But the voting shows the deep division in the Tribunal.”

A President with a hardly changed high popularity rating in the middle of his term usually commands the respect of co-independent institutions like the Supreme Court.

Apart from widening the poverty gap as a result of its decision to suspend for 120 days the reproductive health law which petitioners describe to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court might also have “shamed” the President.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, the most senior justice who was sidestepped by the President when he appointed Ms. Maria Lourdes P.A. Serreno as chief justice, was one of five dissenters to the majority decision. The other four, including the Chief Justice, are appointees of PresidentArroyo.

Carpio, one of 12 appointees of the former president, is a known dissenter. Which means he was on the side of the Constitution according to his interpretation of the Constitution and also on the side of the President who fought the Catholic Church hard and long to make sure the bill becomes law.

Associate Justice Bambit Mendoza, appointed by former President Arroyo, is the decision’s ponente. The court voted 10-5, with the Chief Justice joining Mr. Carpio in the dissent. The presumption must always be the justices voted in their best lights. But if we consider the politics in the Court we might say that the Chief Justice failed to herd her peers on the side of the President.

Which means that, as earlier said here, the new Head Magistrate who will run the Court for 18 long years from the time she was appointed by President Arroyo two years ago, cannot lead the court to her wishes which, in this case, is not merely for the President but for the starving millions of Filipinos whose number will multiply as a result of the decision. That will happen if the Tribunal’s decision becomes final.

If there is politics in the Court as there always is, the ruling means the Court is controlled by the appointees of Gloria Arroyo. If that is so, the decision has the effect of retaliating against President Aquino who vowed to prosecute the former leader for plunder and other high crimes but after more than three years hardly any big case against her has been filed in court.

The majority, all GMA appointees, could have tempered their 120-day TRO by considering that the RH controversy is an economic issue. It becomes a religious question if we consider the violent objection of the Church against the RH Law. The small comfort we get is the Tribunal has not ruled on the issue with finality.

In a manner of speaking the Catholic Church beat President Aquino black and blue. The beating was done by the justices appointed by a former leader the President swears he would send to jail or to trial.

If this is a portent of things to come, we may not expect conviction of Gloria Arroyo for any alleged heinous crime including plunder. If the Court controlled by her appointees can go against the President in a question that the majority declared unconstitutional, what can we expect of Gloria’s majority when her own case or cases reach the High Court?

I cannot be optimistic.

The persuasion of the Court might have changed if President Aquino had picked as Chief Justice an appointee of Gloria Arroyo who incurred her ire by almost consistently dissenting on all cases involving Malacanang when GMA was the tenant.

Again it must be said that the Court voted on its best lights. But the voting shows the deep division in the Tribunal. This is shown by the dissent of the magistrates appointed by President Aquino but one of her own presumed guardian who has always been a recalcitrant was not with the majority. That is why the result of the voting was 10-5. It could have been 11-4.

If Gloria’s majority can rule against the future of the poor people of this country in defense of the Constitution as such defense is always presumed to be the guiding light in every magistrate’s vote, we wonder how they will vote when the criminal cases of the patron comes before them for decision.

The cases of Gloria Arroyo that President Aquino pledged to prosecute with vigor may end up as a futile effort. The deep division in the Court case may also indicate the disappointment of senior magistrates over the appoint of Ms. Serreno.

Practical sense should have been considered in appointing an insider, not necessarily Mr. Carpio but one who is, say, two years away from retirement. Doing that would leave the senior justices hoping to be appointed even for a very short period.

The ruling of Gloria’s majority, as always, is in defense of the Constitution but the truth is it may well be in defense of the former leader. We are now beginning to see how Mrs. Arroyo so skillfully planned her “great escape” from the ire of the Court or the Constitution and the laws by appointing magistrates who will interpret the Charter in her favor.

It is unfortunate that the 53-year-old Chief Justice does not seem to have a semblance of influence over her peers. On the contrary, the Arroyo magistrates have openly despised her.

It has long been held that the Court is right even if it is wrong. The injustice here is there is no institution that will “right” the wrong of the Court. In this sense the Tribunal is more powerful than the President. That power was flagrantly displayed by the vote on the RH question.

Based solely on the RH TRO the conviction in the impeachment trial Chief Justice Renato C. Corona was a successful but unproductive exercise. He seems to have a looming presence for and on behalf of Gloria Arroyo. His person is not in the Court. But the justice he led while serving as Head Magistrate are intact and voting as one like they did when he as Chief.

The bottom line is, as shown by the refusal to cooperate with her and the mistake she made by making an en banc decision with only her signature, the new Chief Justice cannot lead the Court.

In this sense, President Aquino may not expect “cooperation” until the 11-man majority of GMA is cut down to seven by retirement. The President himself would have completed his term when that time comes.

email: amadomacasaet@yahoo.com

By Ellen Tordesillas
Malaya

Democracy martyr Evelio Javier

Democracy martyr Evelio Javier

Evelio B. Javier, former governor of Antique, died while performing a task for the restoration of democracy on Feb. 11, 1986.

He was assassinated while keeping watch over the canvassing of votes in the snap presidential election between the well-entrenched dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino, widow of the assassinated senator Benigno Aquino, Jr and mother of the current president, Benigno Aquino III.

Justice was not fully served with the acquittal of the suspected brains of the murder but it was a consolation for the Javier family that some of the accomplices in the crime were convicted.

One of those convicted was lawyer Avelino T. Javellana, who has applied for executive clemency. The sons of  Evelio B. Javier, are opposing the  executive clemency for Javellana. Following is the letter of the lawyer, Victorina Javier, sent to Board of  Pardons and Parole Wednesday, which is under the Department of Justice:

“We represent the sons of the late Evelio B. Javier, Francis Gideon L. Javier and David Ignatius L. Javier, and write to express their objection in the strongest possible terms to the application for executive clemency of Avelino T.   Javellana who was convicted for the murder of their father.  Mr. Javellana, a lawyer, was sentenced to a penalty of Reclusion Perpetua.  He was also convicted of frustrated murder and attempted murder for which separate penalties were handed down by the court.

“The late Mrs. Precious L. Javier and her children believed that Arturo F. Pacificador was the principal and mastermind in the cowardly murder of the late Evelio B.  Javier.  Mr. Pacificador was acquitted, however, for what the court believed to be a failure of the prosecution to prove his guilt “beyond reasonable doubt”.    The family continues to believe otherwise but what is done by a mere mortal is done and they leave the exaction of justice to Divine Mercy.

“One of the accused, Rodolfo Pacificador, has taken refuge in Canada.  He is the son of Arturo F. Pacificador.    We still believe that the law and justice will catch up with him.   Another co-accused and possibly the most dangerous, Eduardo Iran aka:  “Boy Muslim” remains at large.

“As a lawyer and an officer of the court, Mr. Javellana’s participation is most reprehensible.  He has sworn to uphold the law and the truth yet for gain and political patronage participated in the murder of our father and the suppression of cherished rights. The killing of Evelio B. Javier in broad daylight and in the presence of so many witnesses was done with impunity as  the perpetrators were so heavily armed  as to instill fear in anyone who would dare raise an outcry and attempt to help him as he attempted to flee while e gravely wounded.   Most of them were in fact officers of the law and the military.  Mr. Javellana was part of the conspiracy and among those convicted he was the person least expected to disregard the law or induce others to do so.  He deserves no clemency.  If the law prescribes a maximum period of service of sentence, let him serve it to the maximum.

“We also believe that Mr. Javellana is still in contact with Mr. Iran and Mr. Rodolfo Pacificador.  The Javier family is still actively pursuing their prosecution so their liaison will pose a real and grave danger to the two sons of Evelio B. Javier, as well as to other surviving victims. Francis Gideon L. Javier was abroad on business when he learned of the application for clemency.  He was unable to sign his letter of objection before continuing on to the United States where his brother resides.   They are in continuously in consultation with us and other  lawyers and reserve the right to submit a more extensive opposition even as they believe this comment sufficiently constitutes a strong objection to  any application for executive clemency of Mr. Javellana, including temporary liberty on parole which is undeserved and as dangerous to them us as full liberty.

“Mr. Javellana does not deserve to remain a lawyer and should thus be disbarred but that is another matter that will be addressed in due time.

“We do not have the exact date that your notice was received by Mr. Abelardo Sibugan, who is the caretaker of the San Jose, Antique residence of the Javier family, but we are certain that this was less than two weeks ago.

“All of the foregoing properly considered and in order to do justice to a genuine hero of the 1986 Revolution, the application for executive clemency of Mr. Avelino T. Javellana must be denied.”

The letter was signed by Victorino X. Fornier and Elsa R. Divinagracia, lawyers of  Gideon and David Javier.

President Aquino has been furnished this letter. So has Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

PRESS RELEASE

Ramon Magsaysay Jr. wants a long term solution to the problem of Mindanao. The former senator said this will be his priority once the Filipino electorate returns him to the Senate.

Looking beyond the aftermath of the Sulu Sultanate’s claim to Sabah, Magsaysay said the Muslim insurgency in Sulu, Basilan and other parts of Mindanao is deeply rooted in the prevailing poverty of the people in those areas.

“It isn’t just a law and order or separatist insurgency problem of our Muslim brothers in the South,” said Magsaysay. He traced the decades-long neglect of Mindanao since the American occupation and previous administrations as factors that contributed to the festering problem.

What he envisions for Mindanao, Magsaysay said, is more than just a pipe dream but a comprehensive agriculture-based economic program to alleviate their living condition.

“This will involve tremendous funding resources, but I intend to harness all my efforts to get the budget from government through the legislative process, said the senatorial candidate who’s running under the ruling Liberal Party of President Benigno Aquino III.

Exuding his can-do spirit, Magsaysay said his Mindanao agri- economic plan would include the following basic components: seed money or capital for farmers, fertilizers, irrigation, farm to market feeder roads, strengthening of rural banks and cooperatives, warehouses for storage of harvested and milled rice

It will be recalled that Jun Magsaysay, as chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture was the one who investigated the Php 728- million fertilizer scam during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The Magsaysay committee conclusive report found culpable former Agriculture Secretary Cite Lorenzo and his assistant Jock Joc Bolante. Their case is now with the Sandiganbayan.

Recalling his father, former President Ramon Magsaysay’s basic belief of “those who have less in life, must have more in law,” Jun is driven to help the poor earn a livelihood and he believes that the way is back to basics– agriculture.

While on a self-imposed leave from the Senate, Jun Magsaysay was a gentleman farmer who managed a dairy farm in Laguna. He has left the management of his successful dairy business to his son Pace, given the rigorous and demanding time on the political campaign trail.

Although his passion for agriculture is well known, Magsaysay, Jr. has an engineering degree from De La Salle and also studied business management in Harvard and New York. He pioneered the cable industry and e-commerce in the Philippines.

 

By Ali G. Macabalang
Manila Bulletin

OUT OF SABAH (AFP) - Filipino evacuees from Sandakan, Sabah, arrive by boat in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, on March 8, 2013 in this picture released yesterday by Agence France Presse.

OUT OF SABAH (AFP) – Filipino evacuees from Sandakan, Sabah, arrive by boat in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, on March 8, 2013 in this picture released yesterday by Agence France Presse.

MANILA, Philippines — The reported maltreatment of Filipinos in Malaysia following the outbreak of violence in Sabah is just the “tip of the iceberg,” an official of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) told the Manila Bulletin yesterday.

The source, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak in behalf of the ARMM, cited a litany of abuses that have been happening for years among many undocumented workers or migrants from the Philippines but never gained any attention from higher authorities.

“Finally, the sufferings of Filipinos in Sabah drew notice from Malacañang. We got similar, if not harsher, complaints directly from victims and made appropriate reports to higher authorities to no avail years ago,” the official said.

Local journalists have actually exposed some documented abuses but the reports seemed to have been suppressed in the mainstream media in deference to the Manila-Kuala Lumpur diplomacy that bloomed with Malaysia’s brokering of the Philippine government’s peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the official said.

“As if a blessing in disguise, the Sabah crisis brought to fore the cases of abuses on Filipinos in Malaysia, especially those undocumented ones,” the source said.

As early as 2011, the ARMM’s Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had been receiving direct reports from some Filipino victims of abuses ranging from alleged torture of males to sexual attacks on females in Malaysian detention centers in Sabah.

Some of the victims, whom Sabah authorities tagged as “halaw” (Malaysian term for rejected or unwanted” for lacking travel or working documents), had confirmed the cases of three Filipinas allegedly impregnated in jail, ARMM’s DSWD and DOLE officials told a meeting in 2011.

Over the weekend, Malacañang said the alleged human rights violations perpetrated by the Malaysian police and military on non-combatants caught in the crossfire recently in Sabah are “unacceptable.”

Tawi-Tawi, the nation’s southernmost province and a component of ARMM, has been swamped by refugees fleeing Sabah amid horror stories of Malaysian forces staging indiscriminate raids on houses suspected of harboring remnants of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III’s followers, reports said.

A national daily said even pregnant women and children who are long-time residents of Sabah have been affected by Malaysian mortar attacks and house-to-house searches of people supporting the Sulu Sultan’s royal army.

Refugees by the hundreds have reportedly fled on any boat available, including traditional wooden lepa, used by Badjaos in the Sabah town of Semporna.

Some of those who fled Sabah for Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, another ARMM province, said they were treated “like animals” by the Malaysian troops.

“They dragged all the men outside the houses, kicked and hit them,” 32-year-old Amira Taradji said on Friday, recounting her family’s ordeal in the hands of raiding policemen in Sandakan.

Taradji alleged that raiding Malaysian troops ordered Filipino men to run as fast as they could and then shot them. One of the fatalities was her brother, Jumali, she said.
Those Filipinos caught alive and detained were not being fed, she and other refugees told Sulu officials led by Jolo Mayor Hussin Amin.

Mayor Amin, who spoke to many refugees, said the situation was “alarming and disturbing” because the raiding troops no longer distinguish illegal immigrants from holders of MyKad, an identification card issued to Malaysian citizens and permanent residents.

The Bernama, Malaysia’s national news agency, had confirmed police detention of Filipinos including four women for allegedly “abetting” the Sulu sultan’s royal army.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Friday in a statement that while the “situation on the ground in the conflict zone in Sabah is still quite murky,” Malaysia “should provide clear and accurate information on what had occurred” and “allow humanitarian access for the provision of emergency assistance to those affected.”

On Sunday, the Malaysian police shot dead a teenage boy and injured a man, bringing the death toll to 62 as the Malaysian security forces continue to launch assaults to end the Filipino militant incursions in Malaysia’s Sabah state.

Police chief Ismail Omar said the teenager, aged between 12 and 15, was killed when police sensed movements behind a bush and fired shots at it as they were frisking five people in Sungai Bilis village.

The identity of the teenager has yet to be disclosed. A man in his 30’s were also injured in the shooting.

Two policemen were shot and injured by gunmen in overnight skirmishes as the Malaysian authorities said the militants showed no signs of backing down.

The Malaysian police on Sunday raised the number of people they arrested under suspicion of sympathizing with the militant to 85 from 79 last night.

Authorities said they are concentrating efforts to hunt down the militants holed up in Kampung Tanjung Batu and Kampung Tanduo by launching airstrikes and sifting them out house-to-house. Some of the militants were found to be posing as civilians, the police said.
The Malaysian forces and the Filipino militants have been fighting since last Friday in an intense standoff that left at least 62 people dead, including eight Malaysian policemen whom authorities said were brutally murdered.

Malaysia began an all-out raid codenamed “Sovereign Operation” on Tuesday that included airstrikes and ground assaults on several areas aiming to flush out the militants.

Analysts said Prime Minister Najib Razak is dealing with the incursion crisis carefully as it could reflect on the national polls that are due by June.

More than a thousand Filipino Muslims from Sabah have already arrived in Tawi-Tawi to escape from being caught in a crossfire or arrested and jailed by Malaysian authorities.

An old man named Amir Elias, who arrived here a few days ago, said Filipinos in Sabah have to flee to avoid being arrested, jailed, and maltreated by the Malaysian police.

“Our movement has become very difficult while we were there, because the Malaysian police are just arresting anybody at random and jailing them. Worse, the arrested Filipinos are being beaten by a rattan pole stick. You will surely pity them when you see them beaten by these policemen,” Elias said.

At least 400 Filipinos were forced to leave Sabah due to fear of getting caught in the crossfire between the Malaysian security forces and Sulu royal army, based on the latest data of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

There were 432 displaced individuals from Sabah, who have been processed by social workers from DSWD-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) since March 8, according to DSWD Secretary Corazon Soliman.

Among those displaced were 93 men, 66 women, and 93 children, while the breakdown for the 180 individuals was not available at press time.

Meanwhile, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas yesterday met the younger brother of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan Bantilan Esmail Kiram, and discussed the possibilities of “disengagement” of arms.

During the two-hour talk at the DILG’s office in Camp Crame, Quezon City, the two considered the possibilities and mechanisms of disengagement although Roxas admitted that their talks are only “exploratory.”

Relatedly, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) led by founding chairman Dante Jimenez yesterday urged the United States to make its voice heard on the Sabah standoff.

Jimenez noted that the United Nations has already called for the end of violence and to resort to dialogue, but Malaysia has not heeded the call

Jimenez also called on President Benigno S. Aquino III to start handling the standoff “hands on.”

He led the VACC Board of Trustees Monday in visiting Sultan Jamalul Kiram III at Astanah Kiram in Maharlika Village, Taguig City. (With reports from PNA/Xinhua, Nonoy E. Lacson, Ellalyn B. De Vera, Czarina Nicole O. Ong, and Edd K. Usman)

http://www.mb.com.ph/article.php?aid=3316&sid=1&subid=1#.UT9PkhkZxz8

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RELATED STORY:

Atrocity against Filipinos in Sabah

March 12, 2013 | Opinion, PerryScope

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz  

Malaysian military taking dead Filipino (Photo credit: AFP)

From the get-go of the Sabah incident, President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III appeared to be too accommodating to Malaysia.  Recently, a news account reported that P-Noy was bent on extraditing Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his Tausug followers to Malaysia despite the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries.  The news report attributed the story to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who bared plans by Malacañang to surrender Kiram to Malaysian authorities.   But what is strange is that the Malaysian government has yet to make a request for the extradition of Kiram! […]

Read the full story >> Atrocity against Filipinos in Sabah