PH offers Sabah to win KL support

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Malaysian backing sought on UN case vs China
The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations.

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The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, shortly after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah. The Philippines, in an August 4, 2009 note to the UN Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory.

The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah, which is at present occupied by Malaysia, based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who ceded proprietary rights over the 76,115-square-kilometer land to the Philippines in 1962.

In last week’s note verbale, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is “reviewing” its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) conflicting territorial claims.

The first request is for Malaysia to “confirm” that its claim to an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.”

The DFA requested Malaysia to confirm that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), a state is entitled to 12-nautical-mile territorial sea over which it exercises sovereignty.

Malaysia, like the Philippines, claims parts of the Spratly islands, which are being claimed almost wholly by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Brunei Darussalam is another claimant to some parts of the Spratlys.

There are some parts in the Spratlys where the 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of the Philippines and Malaysia overlap.

The DFA did not issue any statement when VERA Files sought its comment on the note verbale and its implications.

Former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr. said the Philippine claim to Sabah will be “prejudiced” if Malaysia accedes to the DFA’s request.

“We are in effect withdrawing our objection to Malaysia’s claim of ownership to Sabah,” he noted.

A DFA official who requested anonymity, said, however that the Philippine claim to Sabah will remain intact even if Manila withdraws its 2009 objection to Malaysia’s submission to the UN.

Baja countered, “Even if we are not formally dropping the Sabah claim, it [the withdrawal of the protest]can be used as evidence against our claim.”

A DFA source said officials involved in the case against China before the UN Arbitral Court said if Malaysia confirms it does not claim beyond 12 nautical miles from any maritime features in the Spratlys islands it claims, the Philippine case will be strengthened because one of Manila’s demands for relief from the UN court is to declare that certain features, such as rocks, do not generate maritime entitlement beyond 12 nautical miles.

This would clarify that the 12 nautical miles surrounding among others, the Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc (Chinese name: Huangyan Island), are part of the Philippines 200-nautical-mile EEZ.

The Philippine suit, which primarily sought to nullify China’s all-encompassing nine-dash line map invalid, also wants the UN court to rule that submerged features within and beyond 200 nautical miles of the Philippines are not part of China’s continental shelf. This would make China’s occupation of these features a violation of Unclos.

A diplomatic source said Malaysia may find the Philippine request “too hard to handle” because it has adopted the policy of “playing it safe”–expressing concern on China’s aggressiveness in the disputed waters while maintaining good relations with the economic superpower.

“A maritime entitlement of only 12 nautical miles for their reefs, as the essence of the Philippines request, will not be in the interest of Malaysia. Besides, Malaysia will not risk its close economic ties with China, its biggest trading partner,” the source added.

The source said China also protested the 2009 Malaysia-Vietnam submission to the UN. So even if the Philippines withdrew its objection, the Chinese protest would stand, the source said.

The CLCS would not proceed on the Philippines’withdrawal of its protest unless and until the Chinese 9-dash line claim is rendered invalid.

Baja said the Philippine position on Sabah is much stronger than its Spratly islands claim.

Economically, the timber and mineral-rich Sabah is much more valuable than Spratlys, he added.

There are more than 600,000 Filipinos in Sabah, most of them considered by Malaysia as illegal residents and are often subject to harassment.

Sabah (North Borneo) originally belonged to the Sultan of Brunei, who gave it to Sultan of Sulu Salah ud-Din Karamat Bakhtiar in 1658 as a reward for helping quell a rebellion. In 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam Kiram leased North Borneo to the Hong Kong-based British North Borneo Co. of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent for 5,000 Malaysian dollars a year.

In 1946, Overbeck and Dent, without permission from the Sultan, transferred the territory to the British government when the company ceased operations.

On September 11, 1962, Sultan of Sulu Mohammad Esmail Kiram ceded to the Philippine government full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory. President Diosdado Macapagal filed the Philippines’ claim to Sabah with the United Nations.

In 1963, the British government, again without permission from the Sultan of Sulu, transferred Sabah to the newly formed Federation of Malaysia.

Malaysia is currently the broker in peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of a Bangsamoro, an autonomous political entity in the southern part of the Philippines.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTS BY ELLEN TORDESILLAS

VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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26 Comments

  1. this is a show of cowardice and ineptness of the current administration when it comes to foreign policy.

  2. Benigno Kuha-Ko, Akin-Na on

    Malaysia wants Mindanao. Magkano kaya kinita ng pee-Noy government.

  3. commande0 San juan on

    Philippines do not need any help from any foreign power in regards to matters of sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines.

    We do not need the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, ASEAN, in pursuing our rights sovereignty in the United Nations.

    The apprentice President Aquino is an enemy of our Nation.
    Likewise his mother, the late Cory Aquino.

    You may not believe this, but it is fact, both of them are COMMUNISTS.
    Cory Aquino released the Head of the CPP without conditions, remember?

    Aquino, on the other hand, wants that more than 250,000 Filipinos who offered and laid down their lives in fighting the MOROS, be forgotten and dismissed while pursuing his own agenda of “PEACE Plan” with MILF.

    2016 Elections in the Philippines must revert back to MANUAL (transparent & verifiable) from those programmable electronic machines used in the last presidential elections which elected a “drone”, a monkey under the influence of the “ELITE”.

  4. This government is really STUPID and, our government lawyers dont know nothing about international rules and our foreign policy or nagbingi bingihan at nagtanga tangahan lang sila?????They cannot depend our territories thru legal battles at the international tribunal..why??
    Talagang hindi na inisip ng gobyernong ito ang kapakanan ng mamayang filipino para sa bansa..Anong klaseng gobyerno ito na magmamakaawa pa sa Malaysia na kumampi sa atin against China??? Bakit, hindi ba tayo mabubuhay kung wala ang Malaysia…We dont need nobody esp, from our neighboring country.. Kaya nating tumayo sa sarili nating paa…Ampaw ang Presidenteng ito. Very weak leadership.. Kaya ginagago tayo ng Malaysia at china..We need a president who has a strong leadership to our nation.. not like him..

  5. Good grief…! I was one willing to let Pnoy finish his term of only a few more months, but now I am convinced, he can do so much damage in ONE day…!

    We need the NPA now. this time to save the country…from Pnoy!

  6. No to Malaysia and China. These two should be expelled from the Philippines. They have no place here.

  7. Any action taken by the government regarding Sabah is very important. Who decides on matters like this? Only the president and the foreign affairs secretary without any consutation from other interested sources like the Sultan of Sulu? I think any decision taken by the government regarding Sabah should not be made by this gullible president without the consent of all affected parties specially the Sultan of Sulu.

  8. Maliwanag na treason yan, wala na bang matino sa pamunuan ni Noynoy? Puro kapalpakan na ang pinag gagawa ngayon unti unti ng ipinamimigay ang mahal natin bansang Pilipinas. Ung mga NPA / AFP na makabayan hahayaan ba natin ipamigay na lang ng pekeng pangulo ang bansa natin!

    • apolonio reyes on

      Pnoy, Deles, Ferrer does not want both Sabah or Spartley, virgo888. That is the reason the three are forcing Congress to pass BBL undiluted by June, 2015 and MILF threatening Congress that they will only accept BBL UNDILUTED OR WAR followed by Pnoy’s ” Peace or MORE BODY BAGS “. Ano ba itong BBL, BLACKMAIL?
      Let Pnoy, Deles, Ferrer, Ochoa, De Lima, Lacierda, Coloma and Valte do the counting , Di ba virgo888?

  9. Aquino does not follow any rule or law. He thinks the constitution is just a piece of paper. He believes he can do what he wants. He is certainly not doing the duty of a president. He acts like a dictator but he does not have the abilities to be a dictator or a president.

  10. Bert O. Romero on

    The withdrawal of Philippine claim to Sabah refers to the proprietary rights of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu who alone – not even the Philippine government – can solely do the withdrawal. Were the heirs consulted on this act of proprietary claims withdrawal? It will be recalled that the sovereign claim over Sabah was shelved by the Marcos administration years back to gain Malaysian support for the Philippine efforts in reaching peace agreements with the then dominant MNLF. Despite the withdrawal of the Philippine sovereign claim , the support by Malaysia to the Philippines – MNLF peace process was lackluster at best. It was Indonesia, which did not seek any concession from the Philippine government, which took the lead in serving as mediator leading to the signing of the 1996 peace agreement with the MNLF.
    President Aquino and his foreign secretary del Rosario seem enamored with Malaysia as a disinterested mediator in the peace process involving the MILF. Giving away the proprietary claim of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu has been rewarded with the controversial BBL . It remains to be seen whether Malaysia will abandon its compelling interests on China to support Philippine claims on South China Sea. Just like in the abandonment of its sovereign claim on Sabah , Philippine abandonment of its proprietary claim are no assurance that Malaysia will be on Philippine side.

  11. Mutalib Rahman on

    “In 1963, the British government, again without permission from the Sultan of Sulu, transferred Sabah to the newly formed Federation of Malaysia”

    When does Filipinos will act on fact instead of imagination story? Does anyone in the Philippines read the International Court of Justice judgement in denying Philippines request to get involved in the disputes between Indonesia and Malaysia – which a clear evidence that Philippines don’t have shreds of evidence to back up their claims besides Bedtime folklore story of the imaginative of Sulu Sultanate. Even the Brunei Sultanate vehemently denied ever handover Sabah to Sulu Sultanate.

    The United Nation already endorsed Sabah independent in 31 August 1963. Malaysia never annex Sabah as everyone in Philippines believed. Instead four independent and sovereign Country consist of Malaya Federation, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak jointly formed The Federation of Malaysia in 16 September 1963.

    Special Presidential Council was formed in 2013 to evaluate Sabah claim status which Philippines top lawyer was involved. What was the findings? Could not claim? Why keep it top secret?

  12. This is purely treason!! If they can give a portion of the Philippines. what will prevent them from giving up the whole Philippines!!

  13. That is really a treason. And it’s not acceptable both China and Malaysia should return what belong to the Philippines . And no leader must decide to exchange any sovereign part of our archipelago.

  14. Lamebrains !!! Malaysia illegally occupied Sabah. Now we become generous and offer more. Better be friend of China, the country’s 3rd biggest trading partner. We can prosper without Malaysia. Let us become a puppet of Malaysia, if we wish.

  15. This is another grievous blunder and stupid acts of ABnoy in Malacanang. He should not compromise any single part of PH territory just so he can secure the alleged support of Malaysia for our Spratly’s claim. The Malaysian request to downgrade PH claim to Sabah (formerly North Borneo) is just a ploy. To hell with the Malaysian alleged support. Right thinking Filipino politicians should block anyone to prostitute our legal claims over Sabah. Our claim to South China Sea should be treated different from our SABAH claim, and should be taken up one after the other.

  16. Aquino allows China to annex huge sea territory, now offers Sabah to Malaysia. Will there be anything left after Aquino is finished dismanteling our nation? Aquino is worse to Philippines than war.

  17. Samuel Santos on

    Next time around, the present administration will sell it’s soul to the devil!

  18. Phylliss Quinn on

    Ambassador Baja is right. Even this offer of the DFA to Malaysia can already be used by Malaysia to buttress its claim to Sabah.

  19. Diko makita ang logic ng DFA ang laki at yaman ng Sabah tapos bibitawan para lang himukin ang Malaysia sa pagkampi para ipaglaban ang maliliit na isla sa Spratly. Hindi ba nila naisip na pwedeng kumampi ang Malaysia ng isa o 2 taon tapos iiwanan din tayo dahil sa pressure ng China. Ngayon paano mo pa mababawi ang Sabah? Marami talagang hudas sa Pinas at ang mabigat pa ay sila pa ang mga namumuno.

  20. Nakakalungkot po ang mga kaganapan na ito. Why should the government make bargain that would weaken Sabah Claim against Malaysia. It belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu. Why should Sultanate of Sulu be sacrificed? Ganun po ba kadali like sacrificing the life of SAF commandos? Imbes tulungan ang Sultanate of Sulu, bargaining ang naisip na paraan?

  21. I think no politician inPh government has any power to give a part or parcel of the
    Ph to anybody. What is or parts of the PH should be owned by filipinos not by any
    other country.Ownership of Sabah should be pursued by the Ph at all cost.
    The writer is not a muslim. I am a christian.

  22. This act of the Philippines to give away Sabah to win Malaysia’s support in our South Sea claims against China is another stupid, shocking move by the BS Aquino’s government. While the area within our 200-mile limit provided us by the UN’s Law of the Sea belongs to us and no strong military force to protect our area, our claim has a dim prospect of winning against superpower China.

    But Sabah is a different case. It clearly belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu and therefore, belongs to the Philippines. We should press our claim on Sabah – no matter what.

  23. Lo and behold! This is how our mad man in Malacanang is selling us out to Malaysia. Let us call for our legal experts to prepare treason charges and other crminal charges against the Abnoy when the right time comes.