MANILA, Philippines — A legislator on Thursday urged the Philippine government to consider reviving its claim to Sabah amid a standoff between the Malaysian authorities and a group claiming to be members of the Sultan of Sulu.
But such a claim should be pursued through a “diplomatic and peaceful solution” said Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño.
“The recent actions of the heirs of the Sulu Sultanate have very strong historical and legal grounds,” he said, pointing out that the group was acting on the Philippines’ “continuing claim on Sabah.”
“Historical records show that the Philippines has the upper hand. Many accounts reveal that the Sultanate of Sulu predates all existing governments,” said the partylist lawmaker.
Casiño said that the government should begin talks with Malaysia “for a just, comprehensive and peaceful solution to the issue.”
House minority leader Danilo Suarez meanwhile said that “as far as the minority bloc is concerned, that is our land. If it weren’t, why would they pay rent?”
Casiño said that Malaysia continues to pay a token annual rent of about 5,300 ringgit (P77,000) to the Sultanate of Sulu as a “cession fee.”
“Up to now, they are paying the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu,” said Suarez.
“Maybe it’s time those claims are revived… It is in the interest of the nation that the Philippine government pursues the Sabah claim with the same intensity as it is asserting our sovereignty and territorial integrity in the West Philippine Sea,” said Casiño.