Sabah issue is President’s Holy Week agony

...Aquino expected to study legal brief on PH claim


President Benigno Aquino III. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III’s decision to stay home this Holy Week will give him ample time to agonize over the wisdom of reviving the country’s claim to Sabah.

The legal brief on the Sabah claim was submitted by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to the Office of the President last Friday, and is now awaiting the President’s comments.

Mr. Aquino intends to stay at his official residence by the Pasig River during the Lenten break instead of vacationing in Baguio City, watching religious films, including the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

But with the legal brief now on his desk, the President has to take a hard look at the recommendations of an interagency group he has ordered to “draw up a peaceful [solution] to Sabah claim.”

At a briefing in the Palace on Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda confirmed that the report has been placed on the President’s desk.

But he said there was “no decision yet whether to go to international courts” for action.

He could not tell reporters what recommendations the study group had, as he had not seen the paper.

De Lima said on Monday that she had firmed up a government position on the Philippine claim to Sabah and had submitted it to the President.

“It’s a confidential study and I need to get clearance from the President if that can be shared to the public,” De Lima told reporters.

She said the “main questions” were: “Is the claim strong or not and should it be pursued before an appropriate tribunal, and what are the options in light of the current situation?”

The President ordered De Lima, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. and the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office to study the legal and historical aspects of the Sabah claim.

He issued the directive following the incursion into Sabah by the sultan of Sulu’s followers last month, which led to a two-week standoff that eventually led to violence and the killings of dozens of Filipinos and about 10 Malaysians.

Besides the historical and legal grounds to validate the assertion of the Sulu sultanate that the Malaysian state of Sabah continues to be part of the territory of the Philippines, the report is expected to recommend the next course of action for the government such as whether to go up to an international court to settle the territorial dispute.

According to Lacierda, the Aquino administration still subscribes to a Palace memorandum that prohibits government officials from calling Sabah as part of Malaysia.

“[Memorandum Circular] 162 stands. That’s the document the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) currently uses,” he said.

“I don’t know why some government entities or individuals use or connect Sabah to Malaysia. Obviously, geographically, they are (connected). But we have never said Sabah, Malaysia. It’s always—we have always referred to Sabah as Sabah,” Lacierda said.

The DFA recently reminded all government agencies to stop referring to Sabah as part of Malaysia because of an existing memorandum order issued during the Arroyo regime.

The memorandum was signed on Aug. 20, 2008, by former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita “by authority of the President,” referring to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

It said that by virtue of Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution on national territory, the Philippines has historical and legal right over certain parts of North Borneo (Sabah).”

The memo said it was “in the national interest to safeguard the country’s historical and legal right in North Borneo (Sabah)” but stressed that the country would strive for a peaceful resolution of disputes with neighboring countries.

The memo directed that “no department, agency, or instrumentality of the Philippine Government shall make any act or statement expressing or implying, directly or indirectly, any recognition of a foreign state’s sovereignty over North Borneo (Sabah) or non-recognition of Philippine title or historical and legal rights to the same.”

It said that reference to Sabah in official documents “should not include its being part of a larger national/federal territory.”

These documents include Philippine passports, agreement, agreed minutes, joint communiqués, record of discussions, and similar documents.

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  • headhunter

    With 95 millions mouths to feed, GDP per capita one quarter of Malaysia, National reserves behind, military advancement lagging, 50 years old unclaimed, unrecognized Sultanate, tons of domestic problem, pending peace agreement with rebel; etc etc

    It isn’t a brainer.

    Your president is better off watching Jesus Christ Superstar video than wasting his time on Sabah.

    • iSay2

      The soul of a poor honest man goes to paradise when he dies. That’s guaranteed in Quran and in The Holy Bible.

      When a thief rich man dies his soul stays forever in Kuching, Sarawak where their lord Taib lives, and his soul will stay there forever.

      • headhunter

        Don’t associate us with Taib, we don’t like him too

      • antonioiban


  • Guest


    • tiriring

      Wrong grammar.

      • headhunter

        in their “perfect english” ..”.my kontri is beri por no jab dat why I kam to Malaysia…”

      • antonioiban

        ha ha ha

  • ApoLapullapu

    It is indeed an agony. How can the President abandon the Sabah claim without committing treason?

  • Htee

    Sana man lang mag take time si Pnoy na magbasa ng mga komento dito sa forum para malaman niya kung ano ang mga sinasabi ng mga hinayupaks na mga maloy tungkol sa bansa natin.
    Pero, tila yata malaysian citizen si Pnoy kaya hwag na lang, baka may idadagdag pa siya.

  • Benjamin Ismail

    possession in 9/10 of the law and coupled with control and all the developmental work that has been extended would reinforce ownership and sovereign rights. These principles has been proven in the ICJ during the Sipadan & Ligitan case. Sabah has never been under the control of of anyone else for the last 50 years or so and the referendum undertaken in 1963 prior to joining the Federation of Malaysia has further reinforce the sovereignty of Sabah, Malaysia. If you think you actually have an inkling of rights go file an action in ICJ or even the UN. Dont worry, if can be an ex-parte type of application (just in case you are thinking that you can use Malaysia’s denial of consent because for us there is never an issue so why the heck should we actually consent to such issue). That is the smart way to proceed, if u are smart enough to think. The reason why PH has never actually taken the issue forward, clearly reflect the leader’s understanding of the laws and as such his or her refusal to take a useless and hopeless venture, much to the dismay or idealistic dreamers or in this case the misguided fools of Kiram. Please be warned that if you should even try to realise these “wet dreams or fantasies” thru illegal means i.e act of terrorism, we will provide you with more than ample response befitting such folly.

    • headhunter

      very well said

    • Cabal

      Some dumb philipinoes probably couldn’t understand a word of what you said. They will behave like a spoiled brat screaming ” I don’t care ! I don’t care ! I want my sabah no matter what ! ” even if their parents the US, UN and world community won’t gives a crap.

    • antonioiban

      Its ok, Its their national Pride…go for ICJ…with all intent and might. And I love to hear what the pirates have to say…and if you can’t win it by that way…then there only one way…the Pirates way..RIGHT

    • randyaltarejos

      This guy is talking as if he has all the wisdom in the world to articulate on the Sabah issue. The way I understand it, you’re pre-emting what the United Nations will say on the political matter. You must remember that the complaint has not been filed yet. And nobody knows what the United Nations will say about it. Let the U.N. say or pen its decisions on the issue at hand. Not you!

      • headhunter

        He had stated his argument coincisely. You could disagree without the need for personal attack.

      • Benjamin Ismail

        heheheh its not preempting when i am merely stating what has been decided in 2002. so sorry to burst your bubble but as i had stated before go ahead, go to ICJ. when u fall flat on face juts remember i told ya!

      • Benjamin Ismail

        yo randy, why are u still waiting to file the complaint??? please let us know if need some assistance ok, eventhough we are right we need not be nasty to poor souls like u

  • Pork_Republik

    Peace in Mindanao should not be at the expense of the Filipinos patrimony.

  • randyaltarejos

    The Sabah issue shouldn’t be an agony for P-Noy if the Kirams will lose no time filing its complaint before the United Nations, rather than make publicity stunts. Then, it would be up to the U.N. on what to do with the issue at hand.

    • headhunter

      We will see, won’t we?

  • randyaltarejos

    Prof. Nur Misuari has expressed intentions to seek the help of the Organization for Islamic Conference (OIC) for reasons unknown to me. Why seek the intervention of the OIC, when the Kirams themselves can already file their complaint before the United Nations, through their lawyers. It’s just a waste of time to be dragging on this case. Once it is already filed with the U.N., it is now up to the world body to settle what is best solution to the problem on Sabah. Going to the OIC will be a circuitous process. Time is of the essence here.

    • headhunter

      How subtle, a man who had ordered his army to confront using arms, started the bloodshed, would finally be going to the United Nations for justice…

      Malaysia’s opening statement in the court would be quite interesting

  • nakatutok

    as usual, noynoying muna….kunyari pag-iisipan DAW!!…e nakalimutan na nga yang Sabah, timing yung pasabog ni Kris Aquino…mas pinag-usapan pa nga ng pilipino yun kesa sa Sabah na yan e..

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