By Dr Bayani Katigbak
Philippine nationalism is back – courtesy of the Sabah debacle. Pinoy pride is once again in the steering wheel as Filipinos who used to look at Moros as second class citizens now want a piece of the action. Suddenly it has become fashionable and “Filipino” to support the call for claiming Sabah as part of Philippine territory.
I don’t begrudge the Sultan for taking matters into his own hands. Under the feudal order of the medieval ages, his actions today will be very much legit. Clearly, the Sultan and his followers still live in that world. It was a world rich in tradition, chivalry, honor – and all the good stuff that had young men giving up their lives and taking lives in crusades for their respective lords.
However, the feudal world order has for the most part been dismantled – and replaced with the principles of self-determination and the money-based market economy. For instance, during the French revolution of 1789, the National Constituent Assembly abolished feudalism, sweeping away both the seigneurial/manorial rights of the Second Estate (the nobility) and the tithes gathered by the First Estate (the Roman Catholic clergy).
Manorialism was characterized by the vesting of legal and economic power in a Lord of the Manor, supported economically from his own direct landholding in a manor (sometimes called a fief), and from the obligatory contributions of a legally subject part of the peasant population under the jurisdiction of himself and his manorial court. The last feudal dues in France were abolished at the French Revolution. In parts of eastern Germany, the Rittergut manors of Junkers remained until World War II. In Asia, it appears that manorialism has survived, particularly, with reference to Sabah.
In abolishing feudalism – colonized peoples all over the world have exercised their right to self-determination and have subsequently shaken off the yoke of feudal lords – with exceptions in the Arab states which are still governed by Kings, Emirs, Sultans and what have you.
As “proud Pinoys” ride on the bandwagon of reclaiming Sabah, and sweep the exercise of self-determination undertaken by the Sabahans under the rug, the following questions came to the fore:
If you were a Sabahan – would you want to be under Philippine Sovereignty?
If you are a Filipino would you agree that Sabahans should compel the Philippines to have a referendum on whether the Moros would like to be part of the Philippines or not?
What if China presented a historical claim that Luzon paid tribute to China before the Spaniards colonized the Philippines – and therefore China had sovereignty on Luzon – and now wants Luzon back? If you are from Luzon, what would you do?
What if China decided to do a Kiram on the Spratleys? Should we begrudge the Chinese if they set up shop in the Spratleys – much like what what the Filipinos are doing in Sabah today? Better yet – since China IS already in the Spratleys (and we begrudge China for doing so) – Philippines should also do a China in Sabah?
Will “proud Pinoys” say it’s okay for Kiram to do so, but not China?
What part of this ICJ ruling gives the notion that Malaysia is not submitting to ICJ because it will lose – as being claimed by Pinoys?
Case Concerning Sovereignty over
Pulau Ligitan and Pulau Sipadan
(Indonesia v. Malaysia)
Application by the Philippines
for Permission to Intervene
Judgment of 23 October 2001
“The point of law is quite simple, but ultimately basic to the international rule of law. It is this: historic title, no matter how persuasively claimed on the basis of old legal instruments and exercises of authority, cannot – except in the most extraordinary circumstances – prevail in law over the rights of non-self-governing people to claim independence and establish their sovereignty through the exercise of bona fide self-determination.”
“15. Accordingly, in light of the clear exercise by the people of North Borneo of their right to self-determination, it cannot matter whether this Court, in any interpretation it might give to any historic instrument or efficacy, sustains or not the Philippines claim to historic title. Modern international law does not recognize the survival of a right of sovereignty based solely on historic title; not, in any event, after an exercise of self-determination conducted in accordance with the requisites of international law, the bona fides of which has received international recognition by the political organs of the United Nations. Against this, historic claims and feudal pre-colonial titles are mere relics of another international legal era, one that ended with the setting of the sun on the age of colonial imperium.
16. The lands and people claimed by the Philippines formerly constituted most of an integral British dependency. In accordance with the law pertaining to decolonization, its population exercised their right of self-determination. What remains is no mere boundary dispute. It is an attempt to keep alive a right to reverse the free and fair decision taken almost 40 years ago by the people of North Borneo in the exercise of their legal right to self-determination. The Court cannot be a witting party to that.”
Is Malaysia not submitting the Sabah issue to ICJ because it knows it will lose?
Or is the Philippines not submitting because it knows it will lose?
Historical records show that Luzon paid tribute to China in 1412 and 1471.
What if on the basis of these historical records, China will lay claim to Luzon?
I will bet the Pinoys will use the self-determination principle as recognized by modern international law, specifically on the UN declaration of decolonization in 1960.</