President Aquino must not commit treason

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If he did agree with Prime Minister Najib Razak to drop the Philippine claim to Sabah—and the first stage is to open a consular office in that part of Borneo, President Aquino would be committing treason.

Sabah is part of the Philippines. Enough documented historical evidence proves that fact.

Sabah is part of North Borneo. It was given, ceded, in 1704 to the Sultan of Sulu by the Sultan of Brunei because the Sultan of Sulu militarily helped the Sultan of Brunei quell rebels about to remove him.

Since that time up to April 24, 1962, the Sultans of the Sultanate of Sulu have uninterruptedly exercised rightful and legitimate sovereignty over that part of Borneo known as Sabah.


In April 1962, the then Sultan of Sulu and the equivalent of his cabinet formally ceded and transferred to our Republic their sovereignty over Sabah. The transfer is the subject of a Declaration issued by the Sultanate titled “Recognition and Authority in Favor of the Republic of the Philippines.”

The Declaration followed a petition sent by the Sultanate to our Republic’s Foreign Affairs Department expressing the intention to have Sabah incorporated in the national territory of the Philippines. On September 12, 1962 the Philippine Government formally accepted the cession of sovereignty over Sabah proclaimed by the Sultanate of Sulu.

Earlier, in the Deed of January 22, 1878, the then Sultan of Sulu leased Sabah to the private businessmen Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent for five thousand dollars annual rent.

Whenever there were attempts of the British to consider the lease a deed of cession to Britain, Spain protested, and British officials themselves proclaimed that the British Crown had no sovereign rights over Sabah because the deed was a lease and the amendment to the deed made by the British North Borneo Company and the then Sultan of Sulu just confirmed the lease agreement.

Speaking before the House of Commons, then British Prime Minister William Gladstone himself called the Deed of 1878 a contract of lease. Britain had entered into a protectorate agreement with the British North Borneo Company to which Overbeek and Dent had transferred the lease.

Gladstone said to those in the parliament who were against more British imperialism: “We do not see how this Protectorate Agreement [of 1888], viewed in the light of the 1878 contract, can possibly divest the Sultanate of Sulu of the latter’s sovereignty or dominion. On the contrary, after 1888, the British North Borneo Company entered into a Confirmatory Deed with the Sultan of Sulu, thereby confirming and ratifying what was done in 1878. And we hold the view that far from repudiating the lease contract of 1878, the British North Borneo Company, said to be under British protection, confirmed British protection, confirmed and reiterated in 1903 the existence of lease relationship.”

This position of the British Government has been in effect since Gladstone’s time up to 1946.

On June 26, 1946 the British Government made an agreement with the British North Borneo Company by which the company transferred and ceded what it did not have to the British Crown—sovereign rights over the “state of North Borneo.” It created the lie that Sabah was part of the UK monarch’s dominions.

British colonization—annexation—of North Borneo

What the British did was an act of colonization–annexation!

The Philippine claim on Sabah rests heavily on this illegal act by Britain. The UK could not have given Sabah to the leaders of Malaya, who were forming the Federation of Malaysia. For Britain had no legitimate and legal rights of sovereignty over Sabah, which was in 1946 owned by the Sultanate of Sulu.

When the British annexed North Borneo in 1946, former US Governor-General of the Philippines Francis Burton Harrison urged the Philippine Government to protest and take legal action against Britain’s “political aggression.”

Now, the Sultan of Sulu suspects President Aquino of having secretly agreed with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that he would drop our legal and legitimate claim to Sabah.

In fairness to the President he told Filipino reporters that he did not want to discuss Sabah when he was in Malaysia last week. But, he said, it was PM Razak who brought up the matter of setting up a hotline between Philippine and Malaysian security authorities to prevent the re-occurrence of the entry last year into Sabah of an armed group lead by the Sultan of Sulu’s brother.

Nevertheless, we must remind the President that, as the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo’s “wazir,” former governor of Tawi-Tawi Almarim Centi Tillah, said, “It would be a betrayal of Philippine national interest as well as of the Muslim Filipinos and the Sultanate under Sultan Esmail Kiram 2nd if the Philippines opened a consular office in Sabah.”

That would be tantamount to admitting that Sabah belongs to Malaysia and not to the Philippines.

If the Aquino administration plans to open a consular office in Sabah, the President and his men should drop those plans. Otherwise they would be committing treason.

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3 Comments

  1. So PNoy plans to set up a Philippine consular office in Sabah, our own land? He must be out of his mind! How many Pilipino will think Malaysia’s facilitating of Bangsamoro peace agreement is a kind deed to our nation ? No way, jose! A part of Malaysia has its own agenda: not only it wants Sabah to become (or already did) Malaysia territory, but it has established an autonomous region in Mindanao that will protect Malaysia national interest in the future.

  2. Anima A. Agrava on

    Thank you, Manila Times, for reminding your readers of this important issue. Sabah is a part of the sovereign territory of the Republilc of the Philippines/ That is why up to now the Malasian government gives a check to the Sultanate of Sulu for their rental of North Borneo as stipulated in the Lease Deed of 1878 between the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo and Overbeek and Dents.
    Malaysia’s claim ovr Sabah proceeds from the illegal, colonialist and imperialist act of the UK in 1946 to unilaterally abrogate all the documents and commitments of the British Government, stated in the British Parliament by their primme ministers and relevant ministers tasked with monitoring British possessions overseas that “the Sultan of Sulu has sovereignty over North Borneo.”
    When Maaysia as a Federation was created, and it illegally included Sabah, President Macapagal protessted and had several Summits with his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts. After each of these summits, documents were signed in which the Malaysian government stated that it recognizes that the Philippines has an outstanding claim on Sabah which is to be solved peacefully and legally.
    And, as I stated above, Malaysia has continued to pay rent to the Sultanate of Sulu which has legally and formally handed over its sovereign title to Sabah to the Philippine government and state.
    Fellow Filipinos, please realize that if Sabah physically returns to the Philippines Sabah’s energy reserves (including oil) would become Philippine property and can help solve the miserable state of poverty of one-half of our population.
    Indeed this is a case of grave imperialist injustice committed by the United Kingdom against the Muslim Filipinos of the Sultanate of Sulu and to the entire Filipino people in general.
    By the way, please also relize that when our great patriot and national hero was being so stressed by Spanish oppression, one of the things he wished he could do was be allowed by the Spanish governor-general of the Philippines to form a community in Sabah with his relatives and friends from Laguna. This shows by implication that North Borneo, while on lease to the British, was part of the Philippine imperial colony of Spain because it’s (Sabah’s) owner was/is the Sultanate of Sulu (part of the Philippine colony).

    God forbid that President Aquino, his Foreign Affairs secretary, the Philippine military and police (if not the AFP and PNP heads) and the other members of the Cabinet will surrender Sabah to the heirs of imperialist Great Britain in Malaysia.

    Anima A. Agrava

  3. I agree that President Aquino would be committing a very reckless act by establishing a Philippine consulate in Malaysia. He should take advise from his predecessor, specifically President Fidel Ramos, on how to approach the Sabah issue from the foreign policy standpoint. HOWEVER, I think it would have been better if the writer of this editorial first checked his law before writing. The definition of treason is basic that even a first year law student knows that what Aquino is doing NOT “treason.” It is stupid, but it is not treason.