PH needs whole-of-gov’t approach to deal with Sabah dispute — DFA
MANILA, Philippines — A whole-of-government approach is needed to address the Sabah dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
Recently, Senator Robin Padilla called on the government to speak up on the country’s claim on Sabah after the French arbitration court ruled that Malaysia owes $14.92 billion to the heirs of Sulu’s last sultan.
“We want to underscore that it’s not just one agency that had to deal with the issue of Sabah,” DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a press conference.
“A whole-of-government is needed to actually study and figure out what needs to be done in the light of this recent development,” she added.
In 1685, the sultanate of Brunei gave a part of Sabah to Sulu’s sultan to express appreciation for the latter’s help in suppressing a rebellion in the foreign nation.
Efforts to strengthen West PH Sea claim backed
Meanwhile, Daza was likewise asked for the DFA’s reaction to Senator Francis Tolentino’s proposal to institutionalize the term “West Philippine Sea” to further strengthen the country’s claim on the maritime area.
“The West Philippine Sea was already actively defined in 2012 through Administrative Order 29,” she answered.
Daza stressed that the DFA will support any move that will boost the country’s territorial claims.
“Nevertheless, the department recognizes what the process of legislation can do in terms of clarity and institution building. We look forward to support in the process should we be invited to do so,” she said.
“Any effort, I think, that one, strengthens our claims to the West Philippine Sea pursuant to Unclos (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) [and] does not undermine our arbitral tribunal award, is something that we consider and support,” the spokesperson said.
The West Philippine Sea is a contested area as China claims it as their territory based on the nine-dash line rule which was invalidated by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
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