President Benigno Aquino answers questions during a news conference at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila February 26, 2013. Aquino appealed on Tuesday to the former Sultan of Sulu Jamalu Kiram III to convince his followers to return home and end the two-weeks standoff but at the same time warned the government may take legal action against him. Around 200 armed men who said they are followers of the Sultan of Sulu , remained at a coastal village on the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah as Philippines and Malaysian authorities work out a peaceful means to resolve the two-weeks standoff that threatens the two countries diplomatic relations.  REUTERS/Malacanang Presidential Palace/Handout (PHILIPPINES - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR  EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Does the Philippines have too much respect for Malaysia?

Former Senator Richard "Dick" Gordon thinks so, which he claims could get President Benigno "Noynoy"Aquino III into real trouble.Gordon says the president is courting an impeachment for violating a law that recognizes Sabah as part of Philippine territory.

"Our president needs to explain this to the sultan of Sulu: Why did he disrespect that law we created defining the territories of our country," Gordon told reporters in Cagayan De Oro City.

Gordon was referring to Republic Act No. 5446, which defines the baselines of the territorial seas of the Philippines.

He argued the law's Section 2 described the country's territorial seas extend to Sabah. 

"The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea of the Philippine archipelago as provided for in this Act is without prejudice to the delineation of the baseslines of the territorial sea around the territory of Sabah," Gordon said.

"This is situated in North Borneo, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty," he insisted.

The sultan of Brunei asked for help from the sultan of Sulu to quell a rebellion in 1704.

Out of gratitude, historians say the Bruneian leader gave North Borneo to Sulu.

Then, in 1962, Sulu Sultan Mohammad Esmail Kiram and his wife ceded all its territory to President Diosdado Macapagal.

While the Philippine constitution is mum about acquired historical right to territories like Sabah, Republic Act No. 5446 states that Sabah is part of the Philippines after acquiring dominion and sovereignty over it from the sultanate of Brunei.

"This is still in effect and it has not been amended. So the question is why has the president failed to do this?" he asked.

"It was given to us by the sultan of Sulu and it is contained in our laws. You have to ask the president: are you still in favor of getting Sabah?" he added.

"It's betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution if they abandon it. It's an impeachable offense. It can bring a case for it," he concluded.

Last week, President Aquino came out on national television and admonished Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III and his followers for going to Sabah to claim territory, which he described as a "hopeless cause."

"We give too much respect to Malaysia. He (President Aquino) should stop talking and send DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) there (in Sabah)," Gordon said.

Zambales Rep. Maria Milagros "Mitos" Magsaysay, for her part, questioned President Aquino's commitment to protect the country's interest.

"If Aquino said Sabah is a hopeless cause, then it means he is not fighting for our sovereignty despite the fact that we have a legitimate claim on Sabah," Magsaysay said.
She noted that based on this pronouncement alone, the chief executive has committed a betrayal of public trust for siding with the Malaysian government in dealing with the Sabah stand off.

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