POSTSCRIPT / March 4, 2014 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Tell the whole truth on Sabah, MILF deal

GULLIBLE?: Pardon our saying it, but based on insider reports and their body language, Philippine officials dealing with Malaysian leaders on the Bangsamoro and Sabah issues look either gullible or in cahoots with the other side.

Imagine Malaysian officials proposing during the recent Kuala Lumpur visit of President Noynoy Aquino the setting up of a security hotline between them to stop followers of the Sultan of Sulu from returning to their ancestral homes in Sabah.

Then there was that suggestion for the Philippines to open a consulate in Sabah kunwari to look after the welfare of Filipinos in that corner of Borneo that is being leased by Malaysia from the Sulu sultanate.

It is elementary that opening that consulate would mean official recognition that Sabah is foreign territory — not part of the Philippines but of Malaysia.

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HYPNOTIZED?: The proposed hotline would subsume the fact that even now Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters, supposed to be Filipinos, are already in North Borneo blocking followers of the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram II from going home to Sabah.

That security liaison is expected to be formalized if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is passed by the Aquino-controlled Congress, signed into law by the President and ratified by the inhabitants (only of the region, not by voters nationwide).

Seeing these things happening as if by design raises the question of where Malaysian hypnotists get their power to cast a spell over Philippine officials.

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PRICE TAG: Before we lose everything, including our national pride, a high-level independent investigation should be conducted on the reported slush fund allegedly at work to bury for good the Philippine claim on Sabah.

To give you an idea of the price tag being dangled, the late Sultan Jamalul II was offered more than $100 million just to talk about possibly settling property issues over Sabah. But he said his late father would not have allowed it.

The billions so dedicated are allegedly taken from the massive revenues from Sabah’s rich mineral and timber resources. It looks like the sultanate’s Sabah is being fried in its own fat.

While the investigation – please not by the Senate Yellow Ribbon committee — is ongoing, we might as well widen the inquiry to unmask the families and cronies who have businesses in Malaysia or in partnership with Malaysians.

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TRANSPARENCY: Taxpayers will find it interesting to know who paid for the recent two-day visit to Kuala Lumpur of President Aquino and his entourage.

What was the urgency? Was it necessary for a presidential entourage to journey to Kuala Lumpur right after the signing of the last of the four annexes to the Framework Agreement for the Bangsamoro?

Who was saying Thank You to whom, for what, and how was the Thank You delivered?

Such sensitive questions have to be asked, because no less than the sovereignty of the Republic is at stake in the bargaining for the Bangsamoro state to be carved out for the waiting MILF rebels.

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JOHOR CONNECTION: While at it, we might as well talk of related points raised earlier by knowledgeable sectors.

Is it true, for instance, that Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor stayed at the Aquino residence in Boston when the future sultan studied for some two years in Harvard? Ibrahim, now 55 years old to Noynoy’s 54, is also a car (and motorcycle) fancier.

Shortly before the assassination in August 1983 of Noynoy’s father, Ibrahim met Ninoy Aquino upon his arrival in Singapore and brought him to meet other Malaysian leaders across the causeway. In Johor, Ninoy met with Ibrahim’s father, Sultan Iskandar, a close family friend.

That Johor connection is key to the puzzle, because Ibrahim is a heavyweight power player close to Prime Minister Abdul Najib Razak.

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PATRIOTISM: These details are being brought out, because when questions were asked if Noynoy knew Ibrahim, Malacañang said No! But when photographs were published showing the duo together during the Aquino inaugural in 2010, the Palace fell silent.

Why hide it? Such antic is similar to Malacañang’s denial that the President had previously met, or actually knew, pork barrel scam suspect Janet Lim Napoles. If it was just an innocent or casual acquaintanceship, why deny it?

In the projected creation of a Bangsamoro federal-type state in the name of peace and progress in Mindanao, there should transparency and candor. And PATRIOTISM.

There are signs that once the Bangsamoro is launched to join the family of nations on the wings of facts and the force of international law, there is no way of undoing any fatal mistake that the Aquino administration may have committed.

The President and his runners should level with the people. Let it all out now, while early.

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PHONE PAL: It pains many who believed in the Sabah claim to sense that Malacañang was keener on consulting Malaysian allies than fellow Filipinos and stakeholders of Sabah and the Sulu sultanate.

The Palace could have pretended to ask solicitously about the medical condition of the then ailing Sultan Kiram II and kunwari consulted him on the historical, legal and family points of his assertion that Sabah belongs to the sultanate.

The Palace could have acted more decisively to protect the Filipinos cornered for two months since Feb. 13, 2013, by Malaysian forces in Lahar Datu, Sabah.

They were dismayed to learn that for a week from Feb. 14, while the sultan’s followers were being hunted down, a high official in Malacañang was busy consulting Malaysian friends by phone.

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NEWS BULLETIN: To save time, players joining the CLARK GOLF CUP on March 21 at the Mimosa Golf & Country Club may deposit their tournament fee (to include green fee, dinner, give-aways and raffle and other prizes) in the MetroBank account of the organizer, the Capampangan in Media Inc.

The Kapampangan Development Foundation, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Social Welfare and Development will give free mango processing training Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the multi-purpose center of the town hall in Sta Rita, Pampanga. Just bring baon and drinking water. Text Sylvia Muñoz Ordoñez at 09178403711 to confirm.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 4, 2014)

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