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Sabah standoff, libre sakay

Justice secretary Leila de Lima is ready to run extra miles in the name of public service. She entertains; she spices her legal genius as she dishes out the criminal charges awaiting Sultan Jamilul Kiram III and his 200-strong Royal Army that landed in Sabah, Malaysia.
The Royal Army, former guerillas of the Moro National Liberation Front, landed on Semporna, Sabah and held their ground as they announced their intent to take  the north Bornean state of Malaysia back to the Sultanate of Sulu.
On surface, she condemns Kiram and his Royal Army. On second look though, De Lima merely reaffirms Kiram’s claim that Sabah belongs to the Sultanate, hence, a Philippine territory. The British, former colonial rulers of Malaysia, leased Sabah from the Sultanate in the 18th century.
If we were to go for De Lima, Kiram and his armed followers are criminally liable for rebellion, inciting to war, illegal possession of firearms, illegal assembly and violation of the Comelec-imposed gun ban.
As bar topnotcher and former law professor, De Lima knows whereof she speaks and all her rants against the Sultan and his followers are calculated to lead us to conclude in unison: Sabah indeed is a territory of the Philippines.
All the above acts that De Lima says constitute crimes are done outside Philippine jurisdiction, in Sabah – 200 armed men massing up there and announcing the severance of Sabah from Malaysia and its annexation to Sulu. Those acts and their consequences are crimes against Malaysia.
De Lima and her boss P-Noy are no spokesmen for Malaysia contrary to a joke spun by the Sabah standoff. They are not joking either when they reaffirm the Philippine Constitution that renounces war as national policy. They mean it when they conclude that Kiram incites war against Malaysia.
There is no inciting to war by any Filipino citizen, as there was no declaration at all. If the Royal Army indeed declared one, it is Malaysia’s headache, not ours. It must be so taxing on De Lima’s creativity that she skirts the principle of “territoriality” in construing crimes.
The armed assembly, the “annexation” of Sabah, and exchanging automatic shots with Malaysian police are all committed in Sabah. The violation of the Comelec ban on guns is also committed in Sabah. De Lima is just too gracious to act as de facto legal counsel for Malaysia.
Should she make good her threat to slap criminal charges on Kiram and followers, that gives our very own, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patric Mabilog, company in the art of legal witchcraft.
Mabilog’s traffic czar, Joe Tengco a month ago nabbed a jeepney driver for “unfair labor practice.” The hapless bread winner earlier thought he was lucky because his unit was chartered by businessman Rommel Ynion for one day to give free rides to students, senior citizens and disabled. He was given gasoline and rice on top of the charter fee.
However, the sight of his jeepney flashing the tarpaulin printed with “Libre Sakay” (free ride) with the name and smiling, chubby face of his rival, displeased Mabilog who ordered the Traffic Management and Transport Regulatory Office (TMTRO) to arrest drivers of jeepneys contracted for the day and have them booked for “unfair labor practice,” incidentally, a labor violation.

Only one driver was nabbed but it created a bad name for Mabilog.


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