Akbayan on the Sabah Standoff

Akbayan Party-list expresses its deep regret and sadness regarding the deterioration of the Sabah standoff into violence. The fighting which killed several of Rajah Muda Agbimuddin Kiram’s followers and Malaysian security personnel could have been prevented if both sides exercised maximum restraint. To this end we urge both parties to halt any actions that might precipitate further retaliation from either side.

Moreover, we call on the senior officials of the Philippine government to refrain from issuing statements that might only further escalate the tension between both parties. We call on them to temper their pronouncements and focus on the task of aiding in efforts to defuse the standoff by arriving at a win-win solution together with the Malaysian government and the Sultanate of Sulu.

We also call on the Aquino government to review our historical and legal claims to Sabah with the end view of developing a comprehensive strategy to engage the Malaysian government. This must be immediately undertaken after the just resolution of the crisis. We urge the government to consult and forge partnership with all the stakeholders to seek a determined, yet, peaceful and diplomatic course to assert our rightful claim.

Likewise, we call on the Malaysian government to secure the safety of thousands of Filipinos working in Sabah. We hope the crisis will not be used to fan the flames of ethnic resentment, sexism and misguided nationalist sentiment that will further complicate the matter and distract focus from the more crucial and urgent task of coming to a just and peaceful resolution.

Lastly, we call on the people, both in the Philippines and Malaysia, to exercise vigilance against groups that would want to exploit the crisis to derail the current peace effort in Mindanao and drive a wedge between Malaysia and the Philippines. The circumstances on the ground are already tense as it is. We call on the public to exercise prudence and allow the political, diplomatic and legal mechanisms to fully function to end the crisis as soon as possible. ###

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