President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Thursday that resolving the Sabah standoff through the use of force is not the effective way to deal with the problem.
“Pag tinapatan mo ng armas siyempre ang kabilang panig iisa lang ang magiging puwedeng tugon sa mga hamon na yun. So hindi yun ang solusyon,” the President said in an interview in Iloilo on Thursday.
“We have been dealing with this. We have been talking to parties concerned including the family of the Sultan to ensure na may peaceful resolution.”
Resolving the standoff doesn’t rest entirely on the government’s hands, he said, adding that there has to be cooperation among all other entities to achieve a resolution on the current crisis and later on a long-term solution to the dispute.
The President also acknowledged the good relationship between the Philippines and Malaysia, having helped the country in forging a peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“They (the Malaysians) have been very, very friendly to us. And they have been very, very supportive to us. And we have to, as a brother nation in ASEAN, also have to respond.”
The government has been studying the Sabah issue and has compiled available data, the President said.
One of the information mentioned by the President includes the treaty or agreement that was signed in 1878, which contain so many amendments. It was also written in several languages—English, French and even Tausug, the chief executive said. He admitted that the existing documents aren’t easy to understand and has to be studied thoroughly.
Asked by reporters if the long-term solution is to keep the Philippine claim dormant or it must be revived, the President retorted that it must be studied and analyzed by the government’s legal team.
The government will also determine whether the Sultan of Sulu owns Sulu and whether he surrendered the sovereignty to the Americans when they colonized the Philippines.
Documents and agreements written in British and German must also be reviewed, the President stressed.
“I am not an expert. I have tasked the experts to study all of this and to find out precisely all of our standings. Where do we stand? And from where we stand where do we move forward?” he said.
The standoff in Sabah has entered a second week with the Malaysians saying the situation is under their control.
The armed Filipinos reportedly holed up in Sabah are currently surrounded by the Malaysian police, military and naval forces waiting either to escort them out of Sabah or assault them if they insisted on occupying the territory they claim as their homeland.