Press Release
March 7, 2013

REVILLA: "We have to protect our people and not just watch them die."

"Halos isang buwan na nga ang Sabah Stand-off, at sa halip na humupa ito ay lalo pa itong lumalala. "Regardless of what Government does now, the issue and its effects will no longer go away. Thus, there is now a need for clear and concrete action from this present administration.

"While I understand that it is important to maintain our bilateral ties with Malaysia, I believe that it is equally if not more important for the government to protect the rights and interests of our citizens. Last I checked, the Sultanate and its supporters are Filipino citizens.

"It is high time for the administration to step up to their role which is to act on behalf of our citizens. Many lives of our kababayans have already been put at risk, and more are still are at stake.

"I understand that it would be a tough balancing act for the government. Nonetheless, it has to make a stand. While the administration keeps its peace-advocate-image to maintain our friendly ties with Malaysia, Malaysia on the other hand continues to deal force through those attacks against our countrymen in Sabah.

"We must protect our people against the excessive use of force which is violative of Human Rights Law. As International Law and Humanitarian Law expert Prof. Harry Roque said, "...the Philippine government, in addition to espousing the rights of its nationals, should also demand that the international community should ask Malaysia to cease and desist from further breaching human rights law. It should later be asked to pay compensation to the victims of its use of disproportionate use of force."

"I think we have already come to the point where government could no longer dilly-dally. We cannot sanction violence, but we have to act in the best interest of the nation and our people.

"We have to protect our people and not just watch them die. If we put premium to our ties with other countries over the lives of our people, then we seem to be betraying our own countrymen. As leaders of this country, we have to prioritize our territory and our own people more than the others.

"We can't blame the Kirams if they are determined to pursue their claim because we have to admit that it has plausible basis in history and in law.

"The territory was turned-over to the sultan of Sulu on 1704 after it helped a Bruneian leader to successfully quell a rebellion. As a gift of gratitude, the leader granted the North Borneo to the sultan of Sulu. It was then carried over to the Philippine territory when Sulu Sultan Mohammad Esmail Kiram and his wife presented it to President Diosdado Macapagal on 1962. No less than our constitution and our laws have since confirmed that Sabah is part of the Philippines."

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