On Corruption and Patronage Politics: 

Scrapping the Pork Barrel Is Only the Beginning 

Calls to scrap the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or popularly known as the ‘pork barrel’ are mounting as more details are revealed in the latest scandal of its misuse—ten billion pesos in a span of ten years (2002-2012), involving past and present legislators (administration and opposition) as well as the executive pork barrel (this was during the time of then-President-now-Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal Arroyo).

            Even President Aquino, wanting to temper the mounting public outrage recently came out and told the public that, with the help of Congress (‘porky’ legislators and all)

The prevalent consciousness and the patronage relations in our society stems from the stunted, backward character of the semi-feudal economy – the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few on one hand and the widespread backwardness, small scale and individualized production that doesn’t allow the advancement of the majority on the other hand. This system breeds the personal dependence on patrons of those without wealth and cultivates the patrons to institute domination through patronage relations.

The politics of a semifeudal setup is characterized by the entrenchment in power of the big bourgeoisie (big merchantile or trading and finance bourgeoisie) to operationalize their class rule. Such dominance extends to the politicians the capacity to control the dispensation of privileges (position, benefits) and the national coffers. From this position, the politicians can sustain and strengthen their political base that hinges on patronage relations.

Scandals and corruption are the immediate outcomes. The phenomenon of arbitrary dispensation of positions in the government to the most favored personnel (15/30 or “tilapia appointments”, ghost employees, consultancy, board membership in different agencies, granting of appointments (in the case of teachers) and contracts, dispensation of privileges in relation to social services (i.e. scholarships) are employed to strengthen the dependence of those without wealth, power and capacity for personal advancement on political families. On top of these is the accumulation of wealth by stealing the public fund to finance political patronage. It is the stolen public fund that sustains and strengthens the political base of a political family.  The public fund stolen with ease which is used as private wealth make possible the procurement of private arms, the employment of thugs  and hitmen, bribery of government officials and employees, financing of expensive electoral campaigns and vote buying.

The issue of the pork barrel confronts the Pnoy administration with its much touted “matuwid na  daan). It did not come out in the open  because of Pnoy’s “success” in his anti-corruption drive. It hugged the newspapers headlines  because of conflicts between racketeers.  

As the plot of the story on pork barrel thickens,   it exposes the fact that Pnoy has also its own barrel.     Pagcor documents showed that the President got P2.028 billion in pork barrel funds last year. The amount is pegged at P2.25 billion this year and is projected to increase to P2.5 billion in 2014.

Amidst the mounting anger of the people on the pork barrel and the spontaneous resolve of the people to join Occupy Luneta dubbed as “Million People March to Luneta), Pnoy is exposed as becoming one of the best defenders of the pork barrel.  He found his scapegoat on Napoles and ordered the  Department of Justice (DoJ) to immediately file criminal charges against Napoles.  Napoles was only the conduit.  The corruption started with the legislators dispensing their pork barrel.  Expectedly, both houses opted not to pursue their investigation on the pork barrel, citing they cannot investigate their own colleagues.  Last Friday, Pnoy issued the order of putting into place new mechanism for the PDAF in time for the passage of the 2014 General Appropriation Act. As one legistator said, it is still “an itemized pork”.  Others added “that the supposed reform in the budget system would still lead to patronage politics."

Moreover, former government official has labeled  Pnoy’s move as being “selective  abolition of the pork barrel, exempting the President's share of the funds from being axed.” It is still a public fund that will be favorably “dispensed to allies and withheld from political opponents.”

The pork barrel will obviously be reincarnated. It has already its name in the past and increased through the years.  All these are happening while several barangays and its puroks don’t have a source of clean drinking water, no electricity, no schools in far flung areas, no day care centers, no rural health units, and where patients compete for beds in the public hospitals. The systemic corruption or the stealing of public funds is added burden and destruction that victimizes the ordinary people. This has become a dreaded disease that denies assistance to the people in providing  them the basic needs.

Let us continue to work for the scrapping of the pork barrel. More importantly, let us continue to struggle to change the system that has perpetuated and institutionalized  corruption in all facets of its life. 


August 26, 2013

Philippine Independence was declared by Filipino revolutionary forces on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, asserting sovereignty and independence of the Philippines islands from the colonial rule of Spain. But this was not recognized by United States Of America (USA) and ironically a line in the declaration of independence states the country as “under the protection of a mighty and humane North American nation”.  

This declaration was not also recognized by Spain. Later, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States in the 1898 Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish-American War.

Our ancestors persisted in struggle for freedom and independence. The Philippine-American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence, broke-out and lasted from 1899 until1902. The superior and nascent imperialist power USA won the war. It is estimated that some 34,000 Filipino soldiers lost their lives and that as many as 200,000 civilians may have died directly or indirectly as a result of the war, most due to a major cholera epidemic that broke out near its end.

 The Philippines became a US neo-colony from 1902 until presently. Americans directly ruled the Philippines until 1941. There was a three-year interregnum when the Philippines was under Japanese occupation (1942-1945).  On July 4, 1946, as provided for by the Tydings-McDuffie Act, the US granted “independence” to the Philippines after it signed a Treaty of General Relations. Under the treaty, the US relinquished its sovereignty over the whole archipelago to the Republic of the Philippines except over the US military bases and military reservations.  This was a bogus independence. There were other conditions that undermined national sovereignty and patrimony concretely expressed in the constitutional amendment granting  Americans “parity or equal rights” as the Filipinos in the exploitation of land, water and mineral resources of the Philippines.

Corollary to this, all those elected into positions of power from President Manuel Roxas to President Benigno “ Noynoy “ Aquino are chief political representatives of the ruling class and guardians of the decadent and oppressive social system. 

They are entrusted with the duty to ensure the smooth operation of a type of system tailored to suit the needs of the US, to the detriment of the Filipino people – a neo-colonial, semi-feudal borne out of a long history of colonization.

The current neo-liberal paradigm merely exacerbates the inherent problems of a neo-colonial, semi-feudal system in the country. This time around, the subjugation is total and mendicancy is institutionalized.


A Development Model that Reduces the People as Paupers

Pnoy has declared that “transparency and good governance” are vital in creating the a good investment climate, this in turn would be ‘decisive’ in uplifting the quality of life of the people.

Correspondingly, the Aquino government has anchored the improvement of people’s lives on big private investments, now renamed as public-private partnership (PPP). The relation between private and the government is also known as Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT), Build-Lease Transfer, and Build Transfer. This will create jobs and raise incomes.

From electric cooperatives and water districts, to government institutions rendering social services like state educational institutions, public hospitals and medical institutions are set to be privatized.   As a result, utility public companies rendering vital basic social services will be sold and transferred to the private sector and consequently, will be highly commercialized.

Meanwhile, crude prices rise and fall at the whim of the oil cartels; and commodity prices continue to rise. Local food producers go bankrupt (including our hog, poultry, and fish production and vegetable farms) due to the deluge of imported cheap food stuffs.  

Though the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reached 7.8%, the highest growth rate in the Aquino administration, the current neo-liberal paradigm has led to the “ever increasing misery” of Filipinos in their own homeland.

Latest figures from the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) show that poverty incidence remain largely unchanged since 2006-- from 10.8 percent in 2006, 10.0 percent in 2009 and 10.0 percent in 2012. A Filipino family of five needs P5, 458 to meet basic food needs every month. Families earning such amount are considered to be living in “extreme poverty” and these amounts to ten percent of total? Filipino families.

A New Type of Base

Harping on the slogan of defending the Philippine territories, PNoy has accommodated the US track of gradually transforming the whole nation into a base through the Joint Special Operations Task Force – Philippines (JSOTF-P),  the “Cooperative Security Locations” (CSLs), the continuing deployment of US troops in the country in the guise of “training” or other exercises, regular arrival of US military warships and their temporary but regular stationing in various ports all over the country (51 ports of call in 2010, 55 in 2011, 70 in 2012 and as frequent as one visit per week in 2013), and full access to the country’s air, and water bodies.

Worse, US troops in Mindanao have been already involved in killing and maiming scores of civilians especially in the island provinces of Western Mindanao since 2002.

The Wall Street Journal cited that the US is indeed negotiating for basing rights in the Philippines and this would possibly be settled by the end of the year.


Learn Lessons from History

With 43 years of direct American rule and 67 years of indirect rule,   a substantial section of the Filipino people are being made to believe a big lie: that US interests mirror our own national interests, that the Philippines is helpless without US aid and that the world is a safer place if American warships and nuclear weapons are allowed free reign.

The 110 years under American rule and influence was a relationship between a master and a slave - the Philippines playing as a surrogate and a pawn to US global designs and wars of aggression.  

At this particular juncture of our country’s history, we as a people need to stoke the fires of our nationalist fervor by revisiting the revolutionary legacy of our forefathers and reaffirm a few truths of our own—that a fully and truly free people living in a sovereign nation is possible and love of country means standing up against the US as an international sucker and a global bully.

Let us struggle for a future without the claws of American eagle piercing our nation’s life and bleeding us to death. ####


               Ang BGH ay nag-iisang pampublikong ospital ng Baguio City para sa 318,676 populasyon nito na mabilis na lumaki. Ang lohikal dapat na hakbang ay magdagdag ng ospital sa halip na ipasa ito sa pribadong korporasyon. Subalit, gugulatin tayo ng balitang isasapribado ito kasama ng 25 pang ospital sa buong bansa. Mas, maaga pa naisapribado na ang mga National hospitals gaya ng Lung Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Philippine Children's Medical Center. Ibinukas na rin sa bidders ang Philippine Orthopedic Center noong Enero nitong taon. Sa mga naunang pribatisasyon ng National hospitals, lubusang naitsapwera ang mga walang pera!

               Ang BGH ay nag-oopereyt na simula pa 1902. Limitado man ang kapasidad, sa pagdaan ng panahon, ito ang naging takbuhan ng mga mahihirap na mamamayan na walang pambayad sa pribadong ospital.

              Target din ng pribatisasyon o "Corporatization" sa ilalim ng iba't-ibang iskema ng Public-Private Partnership (PPP) o Private Sector Participation (PSP) ang Baguio City  Market, ang ating mga parke (Burnham Park, Wright Park, Bayan Park, Botanical/Centennial Park, Dominican Heritage Hill Development), at ang Asin Mini Hydro Power Plant. Nakapaloob din dito ng pagpapaganda daw ng mahahalagang landmarks ng lungsod gaya ng Convention Center, Athletic Bowl at Maharlika. Ang mga proyektong ito ay nakapaloob sa naaprubahang Annual Investment Plan (AIP) ng lungsod nito lamang Abril 22,2013.


                     Ang mga gubyerno ng mahihirap na bansa o "papaunlad daw na bansa" ay iniengganyo ng gubyerno ng malalaking bansa at mga dambuhalang lending institutions na isagawa ang PPP upang hikayatin ang paglahok ng pribadong sektor sa "pagpapaunlad" daw ng mga larangang magiging mahalaga sa pagtuntun sa "economic development" ng mahirap na bansa. Halimbawa nito ay ang Water System, power generation and distribution, sanitation and waste management, ospital, eskwelahan, railway at kalsada, at mass housing. Sa nakaraan, ang larangang ito ay sulong hawak o pinangangasiwaan ng gubyerno sapagkat ito ay mahahalagang serbisyo na dapat tinitiyak ng gubyerno na tatamasa ng kanyang mamamayan.

                  Kapos daw sa pondo at rekurso ang gubyerno at walang kasanayan para tiyakin ang epektibo at efficient na paggana ng mga ito, kung kayat ibinubukas sa pribadong sektor. Pero kadalasan, sa PPP o partnership na ito, ang "public sektor" o gubyerno ang namumuhunan o nagbibigay ng panimulang pinansya o kapital. Ang "private sector" naman ang nagbibigay ng expertise, nagdadala ng makabagong teknolohiya, at nangangasiwa sa mga larangang dapat sana ay direktang pinangangasiwaan ng gubyerno. Sa iilang pagkakataon, pumapasok din ang private sector sa pagbibigay ng kapital.

                Ang sumusunod ang ilan sa mga tampok na iskema ng PPP: "build-operate-transfer," gaya ng iskemang papasukin sa ating mga parke at major landmarks at "design-build-lease," gaya naman ng iskema sa Baguio City Market. Matagalan ang mga partnership na ito. Halimbawa, ang "design-build-lease" na pinanalunan na ng Uniwide sa public market ng lungsod ay aabot hanggang 30 taon at walang depenidong panahon para sa pagbabalik nito sa pagmamay-ari natin o ng mamamayan ng Baguio.

               Anumang pagtatambol natin sa tuwid na daan ni Pnoy, tiyak na sa baku-bakong daan at sa bangin tayo dadalhin ng iskemang public-private partnership!

               Ang PPP ay nakabalangkas sa mga pandaigdigang mga patakaran (o neoliberal policies) na ipinatutupad ng mga bansa ng mga dambuhalang monopolyo o super-higanteng mga korporasyon. Ang PPP ay nakapaloob sa patakarang SAP o Structural Adjustment Programs. Iniuutos ng SAP sa mga "umuunlad na bansa" o mahihirap na bansa na: una, magtipid  ng gastos, at ikalawa, taasan ang kolekson ng buwis. Kailangang iwasan ng gubyerno ang "deficit" para matiyak nito ang pagbabayad ng utang at mapaganda ang credit rating para muling makautang. Huwag kalimutan, tayong mamamayan ang nagbabayad ng utang!   

                Sobrang tindi ng pandaigdigang krisis ng sistemang kapital-sandamakmak na produksiyon ng kung anu-anong produkto pero wala namang bumibili dahil laspag ang mamamayan at walang kapasidad bumili. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kailangang buksan sa kapitalista pati mga larangang dapat na hawak ng gubyerno- gaya  ng basic utilities and basic services (edukasyon, kalusugan, pabahay,  kalsada, etc.)

                 Ito ang dahilan kung bakit tanggal nang tanggal ng subsidyo sa edukasyon at batayang serbisyo, habang bayad naman tayo ng bayad ng buwis at panay ang pag-iimbento ng kung anu-anong buwis na hindi naman natin mapakinabangan. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit kailangang isapribado ang pampublikong edukasyon at mga ospital, ang kuryente, ang kalsada at mga parke, at lahat na ng pag-aari ng gubyerno at mamamayan.

              Hindi maganda ang resulta ng lahat ng isinapribado na ng gubyerno. Ang unang negatibong karanasan ng mamamayan dito ay mula sa pagsasapribado ng MWSS ( dating NAWASA) noong Agosto 1997. Hindi umunlad ang serbisyo ng patubig. Hindi kinakabitan ng linya ng tubig ang mahihirap na komunidad. Hindi rin kayang ma-access ng mahihirap na mamamayan ang pribado nang serbisyo at mga gamot ng Philippines Children Medical, ng National Kidney and Transplant Institute at lalo na ng Philippine Heart Center. Kada minuto ang pagtaas ng presyo ng langis simula ng isapribado ang petron. Inuunti-unti ang iskema ng pribatisasyon ng mga state Colleges and Universities gaya ng UP Baguio at Benguet State University sa pamamagitan ng pagdodoble o pagtitriple ng matrikula nito. Kaya nga may Kristel Tejada at maraming iba pa na nawalan ng karapatang mag-aral. 

                Wala tayong mapapala sa pribatisasyon gaano man pagandahin ang iskema at pagpapakete nito. Ang tumatakbong kaisipan sa pribadong sektor ay tubo at sandamakmak na tubo. Hindi serbisyo. Anumang bahagi ng batayang pampublikong serbisyo na ipapasa natin sa pribadong sektor ay ibabalangkas sa kung paano ito pagkakakitaan para sa tubo. Maaaring sa ilang pagkakataon ay magiging efficient ang serbisyo, pero kaya ba nating bayaran ito?

                  Ang anumang impak din ng pribatisasyon, lalo na sa mga government institution ay ang pagkakatanggal sa trabaho ng mga manggagawa at empleyado nito. Dagdag sa sanlaksa na nating walang trabaho. Pero higit dito ay ang pagkakait sa mamamayan ng mga batayang serbisyo. Sa bawat sentimo na kinukuha sa atin para sa buwis, dapat tiyakin ang balik serbisyo nito sa mamamayan. Ang karapatang magbuwis ng gubyerno ay nakatuntong sa kanyang responsibilidad na ibigay ang batayang serbisyo sa kanyang nasasakupan.

                Ang ultimong responsibilidad ng anumang gubyerno ay sa kanyang mamamayan at hindi sa sinumang kapitalista. Ang tungkulin ng gubyerno ay tiyaking tinatamasa ng kanyang mga mamamayan ang mga batayang karapatan nila - sa edukasyon, kalusugan, pabahay; hindi ang pagtiyak sa pagkakamal ng tubo ng  kapitalista.


                Nitong nakaraang eleksiyon, ginawa nating panukat ang tindig ng mga kandidato sa mga nakaumang na plano ng pribatisasyon sa BGH, sa palengke at sa mga parke ng Baguio. Ngayon, mapatutunayan kung sino ang sinserong kakampi natin sa pagtutol sa pribatisasyon at sino ang sumasakay lamang para makakuha ng buto.

                 Ipaabot natin sa mga bagong halal na opisyal ang ating kampanya sa pagtutol sa pribatisasyon. Itambol natin ang epekto nito lalo na sa mga maralitang mamamayan. Kailangan nating tiyakin sa bagong City Council na mananaig ang nauna nang City Council Resolution na humaharang sa pribatisasyon ng BGHMC. I-lobby natin sa ating bagong Congressman na dalhin ang laban na ito hanggang sa Konggreso upang hindi makalusot sa anumang titulo at pagkakapakete ang laman ang House Bill 6069 at Senate Bill 3130 noong 15th Congress na nagtutulak sa pribatisasyon o Corporatization ng BGHMC at 25 iba pang public hospital sa bansa.

                Ipaabot natin hanggang kay Pangulong Pinoy ang kapahamakang inaabot at aabutin ng mamamayan sa kanyang iskemang Public-Private Partnership o Private Sector Participation.

               Tutulan ang pribatisasyon! Unahin ang kapakanan ng mamamayan, hindi ng kapitalista at mga korporasyon! Ipagtanggol ang karapatan ng mamamayan sa mga batayang serbisyo at sa buhay!
                                                                                                                                                                     Kilusan (KPD) North Luzon
                                                                                                                                                                                  May 06,2013


After 45 years, the contentious sovereignty and proprietary claim over Sabah is again splattered with
blood. This time the bloodshed is within Sabah unlike the March 18, 1968 Jabidah Massacre in the island
of Corregidor.

By official estimate around 28- 60 young Tausug and Sama men of the unit called Jabidah, recruited for
the secret mission called Operation Merdeka, were machine-gunned by their military handlers when
they attempted mutiny after finding out the real objective of the operation. The young men were from
Tawi-Tawi and Sulu provinces.

The young Muslims believed they were legitimate military recruits for a special unit of the Armed Forces
of the Philippines. They underwent training in the island of Simunul, Tawi-Tawi from August- December
1967. They were transferred later to Corregidor Island for “special training”.

Operation Merdeka, hatched by the former president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos, was an infiltration
mission to sow chaos in Sabah which at that time was barely 5 years since joining the Federation of
Malaysia. Malaysia was unstable at that time after Singapore seceded in 1965. The Philippines, which
was then stronger than Malaysia, would take advantage of the situation to force its claim over Sabah.

The scenario: the Philippines could then come in and take Sabah by force, to “protect” the
thousands of Tausugs who lived there or incite them to secede and join the Philippines.1

The young recruits could not bear the thought of killing their own Muslim brothers, kindred and friends
living in Sabah. They became restive. But Operation Merdeka must be kept secret; the young recruits
had to be silenced forever. But one was able to escape the carnage2 in the night of March 18. Jibin Arula
was able to reach the sea and found a wooden plank to cling on until he was found by fishermen from
nearby Cavite in the morning. He told the story to media people and to the late Sen. Benigno Aquino II.

Fast forward 45 years: A band of around 200 fighters of the “Royal Security Force (RSF)” of the
“Sultanate of Sulu and Sabah” under the command of “Raja Mudah” Agbimuddin Kiram, brother of self-
proclaimed Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, sailed from Simunul, Tawi-tawi and landed in Lahad Datu, Sabah
to “reclaim” their land from Malaysia. The tense stand-off between Malaysian security forces and the
“Royal Army” from February 10 erupted into gun battle on March 1, 2013.

The “Royal Army” fighters are now being hunted by Malaysian forces. Until March 13 Malaysian
authorities reported that 67 have been killed, including 9 Malaysian policemen and soldier and 58
Filipinos, while 97 suspected “Royal Security Force” fighters have been arrested.

Malaysian authorities found an excuse to further harass Filipino residents and migrants in Sabah.
Thousands of Filipinos have fled back to Tawi-Tawi and Sulu. They bring with them harrowing news
of violations of human rights of Filipino migrants and also of Sabahans, including alleged killings of
unarmed and hapless Filipino men by Malaysian policemen.

The P-Noy government has condemned the reported violations of human rights of Filipinos by Malaysian
authorities and demanded an explanation. Earlier UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has issued an
appeal for cessation of hostilities. Lately, Malaysia denied the alleged human rights violations.

Context of Conflicts over the Sabah Claim

Filipino and Malaysian bloods are now being shed in the conflict that is rooted on likewise conflicting
historical and legal claims of sovereignty, jurisdiction and ownership over a territory with an area of
73,711 square kilometers (7,371,100 hectares).

Sabah, part of the territory of Malaysia from 1963, is a land rich in oil. It has oil and gas reserves as big
as Kuwait’s. It produces 70% of the total Malaysian oil production and contributes US$100 billion to the
country’s GDP. It also has huge deposits of other minerals such as coal, gold, and copper.

The Sabah question and the issues of sovereign and proprietary rights of the “Sultanate of Sulu” over it
should be viewed in the context of the formation of Malaysia and the Philippines as nation-states. Both
countries were former colonies of Western powers.

The states that form Malaysia now were former colonial possessions of the British Empire from the late
18th century until 1957 and 1963. The former Federation of Malaya, consisting of the states in the Malay
Peninsula, was granted independence by Britain in 1957. The Federation of Malaysia or Malaysia was
formed upon the inclusion of newly “independent” former British Crown Colonies of Sabah, Sarawak
and Singapore on September 16, 1963. (Singapore seceded in 1965.)

For over 300 years (1565-1898) the Philippines was a colony of Spain and later of the imperialist United
States of America (1898-1946). The Philippines, including the Sulu archipelago, was turned over by Spain
to the US for a sum of $20M as provided by the 1898 Treaty of Paris.

Another treaty (Cession Treaty) was signed between Spain and the US in 1900. The purpose was for
Spain to relinquish in favor of the US, “any title or claim of title to any and all islands belonging to the
Philippine Archipelago, lying outside the lines described in Article III of that Treaty (1898 Treaty of Paris)
and particularly to the islands of Cagayan de Sulu (presently the island municipality of Mapun3, Tawi-
Tawi) and Sibutu and their dependencies. Spain was paid an additional $100,000 for the said cession.

Then in November 1930 the US and Great Britain signed the Boundaries Treaty delimiting or delineating
the boundaries between North Borneo, which was then a British Protectorate being administered by
the British North Borneo Company and the Philippines, then a US territory. The agreement defined theislands belonging to the US, which was the sovereign power over the Philippines and those belonging to
British Protectorate North Borneo. Particular matters of concern were Turtle and Mangsee Islands.

The Philippines was granted “independence” by the US on July 4, 1946. The Philippine Territory, as
defined by the 1935 Constitution, comprised the areas covered by the aforementioned treaties.

But there were also events in 1946 that highlighted the Sabah question.

In 1946, the British North Borneo Company transferred all its rights and obligations to the British
Crown. The Crown, on July 10, 1946 — just six days after Philippine independence — asserted
full sovereign rights over North Borneo, as of that date. Shortly thereafter former American
Governor General Harrison, then Special Adviser to the Philippine Government on Foreign Affairs,
denounced the Cession Order as a unilateral act in violation of legal rights.4

The first time the Philippine government officially asserted its claim over Sabah was on June 22, 1962
when, then President Diosdado Macapagal filed it to the United Nations. The claims were of sovereignty,
jurisdiction and proprietary ownership over North Borneo.

Following this, then Sultan Muhammad Esmail Kiram I “officially transferred the sultanate’s authority
and sovereignty to the Philippines on September 12, 1962 through a written instrument signed by
himself and Foreign Affairs Secretary Emmanuel Pelaez. The transfer was authorized by a resolution
passed by the Ruma Bichara (ruling council). He thus gave up the Sulu sultanate’s sovereign rights to
Sabah to the government, but retained proprietary rights over the same.” 5 (Said authorization has either
lapsed or was withdrawn in 1989.)

The 1962 formal claim was not given due consideration as recent historical facts show. On September
16, 1963, Sabah (along with Sarawak and Singapore) was officially incorporated as part of the Federation
of Malaysia after an “alleged referendum showing that the residents did not want to be part of the
Philippines or of the Sultanate of Sulu”6.

Philippine-Malaysian relations have been intermittently marred by the dispute over Sabah. The
Philippines (and Indonesia) deferred recognition of the Federation of Malaysia. Philippine-Malaysian
diplomatic relations were established on May 18, 1964 by the creation of a consulate in Kuala Lumpur.

Following the Operation Merdeka exposé, talks between Malaysia and the Philippines on the issue of
Sabah broke down. Malaysia rejected the Philippine claim over Sabah on July 16, 1968 stating it is “non-
issue” as the actual people of Sabah do not desire to be part of the Philippines or the Sultanate of Sulu.
In response the Philippines broke diplomatic relations with Malaysia on July 20, 1968.

The year 1968 was the most critical in Philippine-Malaysian relations. They were almost in the brink of
war after the Philippine Congress approved, on August 28, 1968, Senate Bill No. 954 and was signed
into law-- RA 5446 -- on September 18 by Ferdinand Marcos. RA 5446 delineates the baselines of the
Philippines and provides that “the territory of Sabah, situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic
of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty.”

Stakeholders, principally Britain and the United States both frustrated the Philippines’ claim over Sabah.
On the day the Senate Bill was passed, Admiral Michael Carver, Commander-in-Chief of the British forces
in the Far East said his troops, ships and planes “stand squarely behind Malaysia in the growing crises
with the Philippines over Northern Sabah.”

When RA 5546 was signed, US State Department Press Officer Robert J. McCloskey said, the U.S.
recognized the ownership of Malaysia over Sabah.8

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Malaysia were restored in December 1969.

Historical and legal records about the Sulu Sultanate and the Sabah issue

Historically, it was the Sultanate of Sulu which had sovereign and ownership rights over Sabah. But the
circumstances of the times— colonialism by western powers over the greater part of Southeast Asia 9--
muddled and shrouded the Sulu Sultanate’s sovereign and proprietary rights over Sabah.

The Sultanate of Sulu was founded in 1457. At its peak, its territory included the Sulu archipelago
(covering the provinces of Sulu and Tawi-tawi), North Borneo or the present Sabah, Basilan, southern
Palawan and Sambangan, roughly equivalent to the present territory of Zamboanga City, the western
portions of the Zamboanga peninsula, and the Spratly islands.

In 1658, (1704 in other accounts) Brunei Sultan Abdul Hakkul Mubin awarded the northeast coast of
Borneo (Sabah), including Palawan, to Sulu Sultan Salah ud-Din Karamat Bakhtiar for helping settle a civil
war dispute against Pengiran Bongsu Muhyuddinin10.

Brunei Sultan Bongsu Muhyuddin, upon ascending to the throne in 1673, confirms the Sultan of Sulu as
sovereign landowner of the territories of North Borneo/Sabah and the island of Palawan. 11

These happened in the historical circumstance when the concepts of democracy, self-determination and
nation-state were still far from human thoughts and practice, especially in Asia. The Western Colonial
powers at that time—Spain and Portugal and the emerging Great Britain and Netherlands were in either
absolute or constitutional monarchies.

“In 1763 (1761) Sultan Azimuddin signed a treaty allowing the British East Indies Co. to use Sabah and
other territories. Tensions later developed between the sultan and the company, which prevented the
effective implementation of the treaty. More than a hundred years later on January 22, 1878, Baron
Gustavos von Overbeck of the British East India Trading Co. entered into a lease agreement or padjak
with Sultan Jamalul Alam. This company was later absorbed by the British North Borneo Co.” 12

The Sabah conflict on ownership arose from the interpretation of the word padjak or pajak in the
January 1878 contract signed between Sultan Mohammed Jamalul Alam, representing the Sultanate,
as “owner and sovereign” and Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent, representing the British
East India Company as the “lessee” of North Borneo. The lease would be paid on annual basis in 5,000
Mexican dollars.

In the same occasion the Sultan “appointed” Baron von Overbeck as Datu Bandahara (Bandjava) and
Rajah of Sandakan.

The interpretation of the word pajak or padjak is the bone of contention with regards the
proprietary ownership of North Borneo. The British version of the contract is translated as “ …
hereby grant and cede… all the territories and lands being tributary to us on the mainland of the
island of Borneo…”

On the other hand, the Sulu Sultanate’s version states: “…do hereby lease of our own freewill…
forever and until the end of time, all rights and powers which we possess over all territories and
lands tributary to us on the mainland of the Island of Borneo…”

The best evidence of that time attesting the deed was a contract of lease and not of grant and
cede, is the Spanish translation done on July 13, 1878 which states: Contrato de Arrendo (or
Arrendamiento) which translates as “contract of lease”.

In a letter of Sultan Jamalul Alam to the Spanish Governor Captain-General dated July 4, 1878,
he denied what appeared in Singapore newspapers that, “I have ceded Sandakan to Overbeck…
is not true”. In the same letter the Sultan stated: “As for his title of Datto Bandjava, it did not
come from me; it was he who claimed the title, because, he said, that as Sandakan had been
granted to him he was the Datto of it; it was he who arranged about his title, and he had the
contract written; therefore, nothing of what they have stated since is true, nor have I ceded it
to him without payment of rent; 5,000 dollars a year would be given. We consented for two
reasons: (1) because he reported to us that the Captain-General would destroy everything; and
(2) because the people of Borneo would take possession of Sandakan, and we should not be able
to prevent it, on account of the Captain-General coming.”13

Long afterwards on April 22, 1903, Sultan Jamalul Kiram II signed with the Government of British North
Borneo a Confirmatory Deed whereby the islands of North Borneo, which were not identified in the
January 22, 1878 contract with Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent, had in fact been always
understood to be included therein. A bracketed clause in the deed state: Cession money, 300 dollars a
year. Arrears for past occupation 3,200 dollars14.

This confirmatory deed is one of the arguments against the Sulu Sultanate’s sovereign and proprietary
rights over Sabah.

The other source of legal conflict is the Treaty of Peace and Capitulation signed by the Sultan of Sulu and
Spain on July 22, 1878. In this agreement the Sultan of Sulu “relinquished” to Spain “his sovereign rights
over all his possessions”. The contention is whether “all his possessions” include North Borneo.

After the 1878 contract was signed with the Sultan, Alfred Dent organized the British North Borneo
Company (BNBC) and bought out Overbeck and transferred his right to BNBC. BNBC also applied
for Royal Charter which was granted by Britain in 1881. Spain and Netherlands (the colonizer then
of Indonesia) protested. In response Britain, through a letter by Foreign Minister Lord Earl Graville,
disclaimed any intention to assume dominion or sovereignty over North Borneo. He categorically stated
that, “the sovereignty remains vested in the Sultan”.15

Then on the March 7, 1885 the Madrid Protocol was signed by Spain, Britain and Germany. Article III of
the protocol states:

The Spanish government renounces, as far as regards the British Government, all claims
of sovereignty over the territories of the continent of Borneo, which belong, or which have
belonged in the past to the Sultan of Sulu (Jolo), and which comprise the neighboring islands
of Balambangan, Banguey, and Malawali, as well as those comprised within a zone of three
leagues from the coast, and which form part of the territories administered by the Company
styled the “British North Borneo Company.”16

The 1885 Madrid Protocol implied that sovereignty over North Borneo remains with the Sultan
of Sulu.

While civil war was ongoing in Sulu, on May 12, 1888, the “State of North Borneo” was made a British
Protectorate. An agreement between the British North Borneo Company and Great Britain; British
Government admits the North Borneo Company derived its rights and powers to govern the territory. 17
(The North Borneo Company is a chartered company.)

The 1878 Treaty of Peace and Capitulation was the last treaty that the Sulu Sultanate entered into under
Spanish Colonial rule. The treaty allowed Spain to set up a fort in Jolo. Outside the garrison the real
power was the Sultan. But there were flaws in the translation of the Treaty of Peace that would have
implications in the turn-over of the Philippines to the US in 1898. “The Spanish version states that Spain
had sovereignty over Sulu, whereas the Tausug version describes a protectorate relationship rather than
a dependency of Spain”18.

In 1898, a new world power, the United States of America, took over the Philippines while the Filipino
people were waging a revolutionary war of independence from Spain. The Filipino-American War broke-
out in February 1899 and because US troops were tied-down in Luzon it was only in May 1899 when
American soldiers were sent to Sulu to take over the former Spanish fort in Jolo. 19

Final years of the Sultanate of Sulu

Under direct American rule, the Sultan of Sulu was steadily divested of sovereign power. When the
American soldiers, under the command of Gen. John Bates arrived in Sulu, they told Sultan Jamalul
Kiram II that the US has taken over the affairs of Spain and asked him to recognize the US in place of
Spain and respect the Peace and Capitulation Treaty the Sultanate signed with Spain. The sultan refusedsince the US was a different entity. The US should enter into a different treaty with the Sultanate. 20

The new treaty was the Bates- Sultan Kiram II Agreement signed on August 20, 1899. For several
months, Sultan Kiram II resisted but could not get unanimous support from his ruma bichara that was
wracked by internal dissension. Finally he was prevailed upon by his prime minister and chief adviser
Hadji Butu and two top-ranking datus-- Datu Joakanain and Datu Kalbi.21

Just like the early agreements that the Sultanate entered, article I of Bates-Kiram II Treaty is muddled
in varied versions. The American version states-- The sovereignty of the United States over the whole
Archipelago of Jolo, and its dependencies, is declared and acknowledged. The Tausug version says-- "The
support, aid, and protection of the Jolo Island and Archipelago are in the American nation."

Mistranslated or not, the wordings of the treaty provided the justification for the U.S. decision to
incorporate the Sulu Archipelago into the Philippine state in 1946. 22 The treaty was unilaterally
abrogated by the US in March 1904, almost two years after the formal end of the Filipino-American
War23. But the lasting effect of the treaty is the divestment of the sultan of his sovereign powers.

Finally, the Carpenter-Kiram II Agreement was signed at the height of the Moro Pacification Campaign of
the US and after the massacre of more than 2,000 Moros by American soldiers under the command of
Gen. John Pershing in Bud Bagsak from June 11-13, 1913.

The agreement, a memorandum of understanding, was signed and issued on March 22, 1915. Following
the abrogation in 1904 of the Kiram II-Bates Treaty, the Carpenter-Kiram II agreement is a re-affirmation
of US sovereignty over the Philippines, including the Sulu Archipelago, and it’s recognition by the Sultan.
On the other hand, the US recognizes the Sultan as the titular spiritual head of the Islamic Church 24 in
the Sulu Archipelago. This agreement effectively dissolved the Sultanate of Sulu.

Oddly, on March 3, 2013, newspapers reported that Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is considering seeking US
intercession in the Sabah dispute by invoking the Carpenter-Kiram II Agreement. Whether his memory
is failing him or he is referring to an unknown version (perhaps his version), the agreement has served
its purpose and nowhere in it can be found what Kiram III said as “full protection to the sultan of Sulu
should the question of Sabah arise in the future between the sultanate and any foreign authority” (sic).

What the pretender to the title of sultan is referring to is Article XIII of Kiram II- Bates Treaty of 1899
which was abrogated in 1904. Nevertheless, it neither mentioned Sabah nor North Borneo.

Royal House of Sulu: A divided house

The Macaskie dictum of 1939

Sultan Jamalul Kiram II, who was childless, died in 1936. The heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram filed a suit
in the court of Borneo in 1939 for the purpose of collecting the money due to them under the 1878
Deed of Lease (or Grant). The issue before the court was the identity of the heirs of the sultan whowere entitled to receive payments after his death. Through their attorney, they had the only English
translation by Maxwell and Gibson (that translated the Contract of 1878 as “cession” instead of lease).
At the time the lawyer of the heirs filed the case, he had no original copy of the contract. The said
translation was the one used, quoted, and paraphrased in the complaint filed by the attorney for the
heirs. In the judgment, the Contract of 1878 was viewed as a permanent cession or sale, and that the
money that is to be paid to the heirs is “cession money.”25

The 1939 decision by Chief Justice C.F.C. Macaskie of the High Court of North Borneo, as per the petition
of the heirs of Sultan Kiram II, recognized the heirs and their corresponding share of the money. Dayang-
Dayang (Princess) Hadji Piandao Kiram was acknowledged as the major share-holder with 3/8 share.
Princess Tarhata Kiram and Princess Sakinur-In Kiram were to each have a 3/16 share. The six other heirs
who went to Macaskie’s court were awarded 1/24 share apiece: Mora Napsa, Sultan Esmail Kiram, Datu
Punjungan, Sitti Mariam, Sitti Jahara and Sitti Rada.26

All the principal heirs are now dead. Presently there are probably a thousand heirs of the principal heirs.
Dayang-dayang Hadji Piandao Kiram, the niece of Kiram II whom he adopted, is childless. Her cousins,
nieces and nephews would divide among themselves her 3/8 share.27

The Royal Protocols of Sulu (described as the “bedrock on which the edifice of royalty is built”) stipulates
that there are three families of heirs, the Kirams, the Sharikaullahs and Adindas. But even within each
family, agreeing on the legitimate sultan has become very elusive. The sultanate’s leadership has been
wracked by internal power struggles. “Sultan” Mohammad Fuad A. Kiram has time and again accused his
other cousins and relatives, including Jamalul Kiram III, (the most recent self-proclaimed sultan) as being
simply impostors and pretenders.

Since 1936, the “Sulu Sultanate”, which is presently properly referred to as the Royal House of Sulu, has
the most number of charlatan sultans in the world (with a current 60 claimants to the title).

A significant matter regarding the Sabah stand-off is the PNoy government’s admission that the
Philippine claim on Sabah “remains dormant”. It so and has been since the “Operation Merdeka”

The Philippines does not maintain consular offices in Sabah for if there would be in Kota Kinabalu or
Sadakan could mean the country has abandoned its claim over the territory of Malaysia. But this has
been the subject of several talks between Philippine and Malaysian officials. The latest was when the
Malaysian House Speaker Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia brought this up during his courtesy call to President
Noynoy Aquino in April 2012.

Reviving the Sabah claim or falling into the pit of Malaysian politics?

The long historical context of the Sabah issue provides a backdrop in understanding the present events
in Sabah and in the house of Jamalul Kiram III.

Whether the armed adventure of the “Royal Army” of “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram III and his “raja mudha”
brother is a product of a “conspiracy” timed to coincide with the completion of the Transition
Commission for the Bangsamoro entity and the Philippine and Malaysian elections, is worth scrutiny.Nevertheless, it revived the issue of Sabah claim though more on the negative than positive light. The
claim is made illegitimate by the action taken by the “RSF” and “Sultan” Jamalul Kiram and his “raja
mudha” brother and further gave moral basis for Malaysia to demand that the Philippines renounce its
claim forever.

Malaysia has moral grounds as far as settling territorial dispute. It should be recalled that in 2002,
Malaysia got a favorable decision from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on sovereignty dispute
with Indonesia over the islands of Sipadan and Ligitan.

Malaysia has at least 50 years advantage over Sabah. Whether the referendum in 1963 is truthful or
not it is a continuing fact that the people of Sabah are continuously affirming their status as Malaysian
citizens, participating in political exercises as in electing their federal state government and other
political, economic and cultural activities in accordance with the constitution and laws of Malaysia.

But we would fall into wild speculations if we overreach our studies and imaginations beyond the
present realities. Nonetheless it is possible and probable that the action by the band of “RSF” of Jamalul
Kiram III is not totally their own. There could possibly be other interested parties that could have
supported and facilitated this adventurist move.

It is even possible that Jamalul Kiram III and his “RSF” are victims of Malaysian politics. There were
rumors circulating inside and outside Malaysia which also came out in certain news reports linking
oppositionist Anwar Ibrahim and his political party or coalition (Pakatan Rakyat) to the “intruders”.

On the other hand the opposition is blaming the ruling UMNO/BN (United Malays National
Organization/Barisan Nasional), which has held power in Malaysia for over 5028 years now, for the
alleged Project IC (Identity Cards) which is among the factors that led followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram
III to “invade” Sabah.29

Allegedly, Project IC is the systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners in the past 20 years was
crafted under former PM Mahathir. It was alleged that Mahathir, who headed Malaysia from 1981 to
2003, devised the scheme to alter the demographic pattern of Sabah to make it more favorable to the
ruling government and certain political parties. The former PM has denied the “phantom project” ever
existed. However, he admitted that Filipino immigrants were granted citizenship in Sabah, but insisted
that everything was done legally.

On Jan 14, or just two weeks prior to the “sultanate army’s” incursion of Sabah, the Royal Commission of
Inquiry (RCI) began its hearings on Project IC.

The same news article said; “Majority, if not all, of the 800,000 Filipinos based in Sabah may be sent
back to the Philippines on the premise that they had acquired their Malaysian citizenship illegally over
the past 20 years under a controversial systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners dubbed Project IC
(identity cards).”30

According to some observers, the skirmishes between Malaysian security forces and followers of
Kiram may result in two possible scenarios: it could hamper the ongoing RCI investigation and save
hundreds of thousands of “illegal” identity card holders from early deportation; or it may speed up the
process, especially since Sabah-based Filipinos are now returning to Tawi-Tawi and Sulu provinces by the
hundreds daily.Malaysian news reports quoted former Dewan Rakyat senator and state assemblyman Chong Eng Leong
as saying that in 2012, there were 700,000 “Project IC citizens” and that 200,000 of them are on the
state electoral list.

The Malaysian opposition leaders, as verified by their statements, are confident they will defeat UMNO/
BN in the coming June elections in Malaysia. After all, the alleged “ethnic cleansing” in Sabah, suspected
by certain Sulu datus reacting to the exodus of Filipinos from Sabah, is actually “voters list cleansing”.

In another news report, the notorious Nur Misuari claimed, he heard in Jolo that “Raja Mudah”
Agbimuddin Kiram and his group crossed the sea because they were allegedly promised to be settled in
Sabah by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Addul Razak.31

Possible US involvement

It is no secret that the US is considering the option of an independent Sabah and Sulu should its
objectives and interests in the Bangsamoro Entity and the earlier BJE (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity) are
frustrated. It is not remote to suspect that US has, at least, indirect hand in the armed incursion in Sabah
by Jamalul Kiram III’s “RSF”.

It is also not far-fetched to suspect that the US is somehow involved in the quest of the Malaysian
opposition to wrest power from UMNO/BN, especially in Sabah, in the coming Malaysian elections. (The
US is well at ease and confident with the PNoy government.)

UMNO/BN, particularly one of its leaders, Mahathir Mohammad, the acknowledged prime minister who
brought Malaysia to progress, was a staunch opponent and critic of US led IMF-WB’s neo-liberal design.
Under UMNO/BN, Malaysia rejected a US proposal for a sort of military access and basing arrangement.

It is public knowledge that the real reason behind Anwar Ibrahim’s ouster as Malaysia’s deputy prime
minister in 1998 was his sponsorship of neo-liberal policies. After 10-year ban from running for any
government post, Anwar Ibrahim made his comeback into Malaysian politics by winning a seat in Dewan
Rakyat32 in the Permatang Pauh by-election33 in August 2008. The sodomy charge against him was
dismissed in 2012.

The Wall Street is “overtly supporting
Malaysia’s opposition”. Many suspect Anwar Ibrahim’s
opposition party is at least partly responsible for instigating the incursion. Anwar has spent a lifetime
in the service of Western interests. He was chairman of the Development Committee of the World Bank
and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1998, held lecturing positions at the School of Advanced
International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, was a consultant to the World Bank, and a panelist at
the National Endowment for Democracy.

A meeting took place between Anwar and former MNLF leaders several months ago. Wikileaks’ exposé
of 2007, “Corridors of Power”, described Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim as an old friend
of Misuari. Manila Times Mindanao correspondent Al Jacinto states that “the intrusion occurred just as
former Malaysian leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, also de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat, proposed
that Sabah be granted autonomy.”

The same Wikileaks exposé stated that Misuari was a strong advocate for the recovery of Sabah from
Malaysia. Misuari once commented to former Major General Benjamin Dolorfino that, “when the timing


Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie belongs to a prominent and notorious clan in Sulu. Instead of succumbing to the workings of the clan to gain political advancement, he chose to serve the poor. Cocoy simply wants to create space for ordinary people to regain their dignity and self-respect amidst the endless recurring clan wars and the military’s impunity to violate human rights of the individual Tausug and their communities.

Immediately after his studies in Manila, Cocoy Tulawie started organizing the local organization named “BAWBUG”, which means “Serve, Respect and Protect” to address the human rights violations during the military operations in the islands. Cocoy Tulawie was also an active member of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) from 2004-2008 and a council member of the Non-Violent Peace Force in the province of Sulu. He served as a municipal council of the capital town of Jolo from 2004-2007. During his term, he was one of the organizers of the Concerned Citizens of Sulu that fought for the democratization of local politics, transparency in governance and upholding the rights of the residents of Sulu.

After the release of the two International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) members, Gov. Sakur Tan of Sulu issued a state of emergency on March 31, 2009 resulting to the arrest of 42 persons including two or more policemen, vendors, and barangay captains. Among those arrested is the younger brother of the OIC mayor of Indanan, Sulu. Eight of them were brought to Zamboanga City for further interrogation but after ten days, all were released due to lack of evidence.

Consistent with his human rights advocacy, Cocoy Tulawie confronted the governor on his declaration of state of emergency and on the subsequent mass arrests. Later, on April 4, 2009, he sent a petition before the Supreme Court, questioning the legality of such declaration. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the declaration of state of emergency in Sulu was unconstitutional.

Cocoy organized fact-finding missions which exposed Gov. Sakur Tan’s culpability by virtue of omission in relation to the rise of cases of gang rapes and sexual violence against women in Sulu. Victims who were interviewed all pointed to the sons of political warlords and members of the Civilian Emergency Forces as perpetrators of the heinous crimes. But justice was not served because the perpetrators are people who have connections with or are working for Gov. Sakur Tan.

Cocoy Tulawie was subjected to a very systematic smear campaign. All those who have attempted to extend support to him have been harassed and ridiculed, as if he was a bearer of a curse. On May 13, 2009, a radio transceiver-controlled bomb placed in a motorcycle parked in the capital grounds exploded when the convoy of the governor was directly beside it. Tan was unscathed but nine people were injured. Two suspects were arrested and tortured for three days inside the compound of the governor. Based on the confessions of the two arrested suspects, Cocoy Tulawie was allegedly named as one of those behind the attempted assassination of Gov. Tan together with other named politicians. Expectedly, based on trummed-up charges, a warrant of arrest was issued against Cocoy Tulawie last October 5, 2009. Believing he has no chance of being tried fairly in Jolo, Cocoy transferred residence while waiting for the Supreme Court decision on his motion for transfer of venue of trial to Davao.

Cocoy was arrested in Davao City last January 13, 2012.

His accusers want him to be separated from his fellow Tausugs and human rights advocates. Cocoy Tulawie is not a murderer. He is not capable of doing such dastardly act. Throughout the years when the Tausugs were subjected to continuing human rights violations, he remained steadfast in his advocacy. He remained in the island to extend protection and assistance to these victims when others retreated to their comfort zones. He is constantly called to facilitate resolution of conflicts like banta or redo. He was instrumental in frustrating the implementation of an ID system as initiated by then Col. Ecarma of the Philippine Marines last January, 2008. He is held in high regard by the ulamas and gurus because of his resiliency in fighting against oppression.

The arrogance of Gov. Tan stems not solely from being a warlord, for he is not alone in wishing that Cocoy Tulawie is effectively neutralized. The Philippine military, under the notorious Task Force Comet also wants to silence Cocoy Tulawie.

The United States of America is also interested in getting rid of Cocoy Tulawie. Cocoy Tulawie has been at the forefront of an anti-imperialist movement in the island. When the US Troops were about to enter the island, the local anti-imperialist movement registered (in their thousands) their refusal to allow them. When the US troops manipulated their way into the island, Cocoy Tulawie Tulawie stood firm in demanding their immediate pull-out.

Let us not allow the conspiracy of the triumvirate – the US, the Philipine military, and the warlords in Sulu to triumph in rough-shoding Cocoy Tulawie’s rights and keeping him in jail.

We call on all human rights advocates, people’s movement, lawyers’ groups and associations, church individuals and institutions and progressive people in the academe to help in the Free Cocoy Tulawie Campaign. Together with our brother Tausugs, we will never submit to fear.

February 1, 2013

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USS Guardian stuck on Tubbataha Reef. Photo from AFP Western Command, originally posted at InterAksyon.com The online news portal of TV5 January 18, 2013 1:09pm

January 25, 2013

Reference: Atty. Virgie Lacsa- Suarez, Secretary General, 09209190267


             The USS Guardian’s running aground into the Tubbataha marine sanctuary, declared by UNESCO as one of the World’s Heritage Site, was simply dismissed by the US Navy as a navigational “accident”. Yet any sea vessel (commercial, private and military) charts its course leading to its destination before leaving its port of call. And the navigational courses are defined by established navigational lanes.

The accident was not a product of a faulty navigational map. The minesweeper deliberately veered away from the navigational lanes. Facts showed the US Guardian’s officers did not even coordinate with local authorities beforehand. They did not respond to the warnings and radio calls of the Park Rangers who introduced themselves as authorities in the area.

Past and present history shows that the US military forces are engaged in covert as well as overt operations in the country. Was the USS Guardian in a military mission to retrieve something from the reserved marine park?  What is it that is valuable for a US Navy minesweeper to take the risk of running aground into the corals?  Is there something highly confidential and must be secured that the US troops in the vessel did not allow the Philippine authorities to do the protocol inspection of the ship and instead took battle positions?

This action by the US troops against Philippine authorities exemplifies their utter disregard of the country’s sovereignty and signifies that they have something to keep secret.  This is yet another one of several incidents attesting to the fact that the US military is keeping secret facilities or moving highly sensitive equipments inside the Philippine territory. There are certain spots inside the former US Naval Base in Subic that remain restricted. There had been several reported incidents of US military personnel driving away indigenous Filipinos from a portion of Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon that hosts a US communication facility.

The main headquarters of the US Joint US Special Operation Task Force Philippines (US JOSTFP) inside the headquarters of Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga City is off limits even to ranking military officers of the AFP.The deafening silence both from the US embassy and Malacanang somehow “corroborates” the theory of a retrieval operation by the US Navy in the Tubbataha marine sanctuary. It took a week for the US Seventh Fleet to issue its first official statement on the incident.  Malacanan has never filed a diplomatic protest since the January 17 incident.  It never demands for an immediate investigation by an independent international body nor initiates a full  investigation.  The PNoy government even allowed the officers and crew of USS Guardian to be extracted and brought to undisclosed place.

This inaction by the Philippine government towards US military’s violations of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity is never comparable to its reactions with regards Chinese fishing vessels intruding into Philippine fishing grounds.

The incident involving the USS Guardian comes at the heels of the retrieval of a US military drone in the waters nearby Ticao Island, Masbate and the dumping of toxic wastes from US naval vessels in Subic Bay. Incidents of drone crashes were earlier reported in Jolo and in Central Mindanao. These series of high display of US military related disasters are direct affront to Philippine sovereignty.

The consistent inaction or dismissive moves and passive statements by the Philippine government confirm its willing subservience and servility to US designs.

As to the USS Guardian’s tragedy all that PNoy could put forward is the question: “With so much sophisticated navigation equipment, what happened?” The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs’ call for investigation in the intent of claiming payment for damages to the Tubbataha marine sanctuary is all the PNoy government could do, never to the extent of pursuing full investigation of the incident.  

For the latest US Navy-made disaster, the US has trivialized the nation’s sovereignty. It has put a price on it. The US has promised to pay   Php300,000 for the damages it caused on the marine sanctuary.

For the US, nothing is irregular in their activities. Their military activities are  “justified” under the US-Ph Mutual Defense Treaty as well as Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the erstwhile Mutual Logistics Support Agreement (MLSA).   Both agreements sanction their military ships to freely sail around and anchor anywhere in the Philippines. Correspondingly, US troops base and operate anywhere they want to.

Recently, the PNoy administration has allowed the increasing number of US troops in the country on the so-called rotational basis. It also gave the go-signal for US military operations in more areas inside the Philippines. With these developments the Filipino people could only expect more violations of their sovereignty and territory.

More than protecting the marine sanctuary as a World Heritage, let us expose and oppose the increasing deployment of US troops and war materiel in the country. Let us frustrate the escalating intervention and interference of US in our domestic affairs.

            Moreover, even as we condemn the brazen conduct of the US Navy before, during and after USS Guardian’s running aground in the marine sanctuary, let us not miss exposing more so reproaching the Philippine government’s mishandling of the issue.

The Filipino people by asserting their sovereign will would pursue the abrogation of the Mutual Defense Treaty and other laws and agreements that subject the nation to US schemes and designs.


Youth group: SUC budget hike is half-hearted and insincere propaganda

  QUEZON CITY, Philippines - In the day of President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address, the Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND), a mass organization of Filipino youth and students scored on the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) proposal to increase next year’s budget for state universities and colleges to Php 34.925 Billion, saying that the move primarily aims to cover up the State’s inutile and half-hearted efforts to improve the country’s dismal tertiary education system.

“For all its “good” intents and purposes, the recent move by the DBM is an effort to mislead the people, most especially the youth and students, and create an illusion that the current administration is sincere in addressing the perennial problems of the public tertiary institutions.” says Elmer Aresgado, national spokesperson for the YND.

He further commented that the total proposed budget is still lacking and way below the UNESCO standard. The UNESCO standard is to allocate the 6% of a country’s Gross National Product to the education budget. As of current the Philippines’ GNP allocation for the education budget is still between 2-4 percent, way below the UNESCO standard.

YND also slammed the said budget hike for its aims of rationalization which would streamline and align its academic programs according to an SUC’s geographical region’s main economic and productive activity, saying that it undermines democratization and accessibility of tertiary education for the underprivileged in far-flung areas, as well as clamping down on the freedom to choose a field of specialization according to one’s preferences, and further said that the budget increase is not to institute genuine educational reform but to provide the needs of big business for cheap labor.

Aresgado concludes that “The whole Filipino people and the youth and students of the country will not be dazzled by illusions and false promises of progress unless there is a genuine move from P’Noy’s government to address the root causes of the country’s public education system.  Until the policies and frameworks that he goes by remain, anything they attempt to do will be doomed to fail.”

YND joins the SONA mobilizations in Quezon City together with the Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KPD), Freedom from Debt Coalition and the broad youth alliance Youth Against Debt (YAD).


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