THE Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo reiterated its rejection of proposals made by Malaysians for the Philippine government to open a consular office in Sabah.
Apparently agitated by the reports that the Aquino administration has decided to open a consular office in Sabah, Sultan Esmail Kiram 2nd, the reigning Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, expressed serious concern.
The Sultan’s wazir, not quite his prime minister but his policy adviser, former Gov. Almarin Centi Tillah of Tawi-Tawi, relayed these concerns to The Manila Times’ Publisher-Editor Rene Bas.
“We have every reason to believe that the plan while being denied publicly by Aquino officials, was agreed upon in secret between President Aquino and Prime Minister Najib Razak,” Al Tillah said.
“This is a betrayal not only of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo but also of the Republic of the Philippines. It is against Philippine national interest to virtually abandon the claim to Sabah by opening a consular office there and thereby show the world that the Philippine government accepts Malaysian sovereignty over Sabah,” he added.
In a separate event also on Monday, the Sultanate’s spokesman, Abhraham Idjurani, told Manila Times reporter Ritchie Horario of the Sultanate’s rejection of the plans “of the government to establish a Philippine consular office in Sabah.
Idjurani said saying that this is tantamount to surrendering Philippine sovereignty over Sabah to Malaysia.
“The Sultanate of Sulu is vehemently opposing any move by Malacañang to put up a Consular Office in the disputed territory,” Idjirani said.
The establishment of a consular office in the disputed territory was raised during the recent visit of President Benigno Aquino 3rd in Malaysia.
In case the plan pushes through, Idjirani said, Aquino would be the first Philippine President to start with “a wrong policy to waste a national legacy and as part of the Muslim contribution to nation building.”
“He has forgotten that any effort to diminish this legacy is a betrayal to the Filipino Great Cause,” he added.
He added that Aquino must remind Malaysia that it should adhere to the rule of law embodied in the 1963 Manila Accord.
North Borneo is that part of Sabah that is the sovereign territory of the reigning Sultans of Sulu and North Borneo.
The present Sultan, Esmail Kiram II, as his predecessors did, gladly accepts the fact of his being a Filipino citizen. Therefore, any lands and seas in his realm is part of the Republic of the Philippines.
That Sabah is Philippine territory is affirmed by the transfer by the then reigning Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo, Muhammad Esmail Kiram I, “of full sovereignty, title and dominion” over Sabah to the Philippines on September 12, 1962. The President of the Philippines then was Diosdado Macapagal.
Legal documents show that Sabah was leased by the Sultan of Sulu and North Borneo to agents of the British North Borneo Company. The UK then handed over the lease to the leaders of Malaya when they, with British support, were forming the Federation of Malaysia.
The Malaysian government maintains that Sabah belongs to it and Sabah is a state of the federation. The Philippines disputes that claim.
During President Aquino’s visit to Malaysia last week, Malaysian media once again played up proposals that the Philippines open a consular office in Sabah.
Problems of Filipino “migrants” in Sabah—Filipino Muslims carrying Philippine passports—have been cited by Malaysians as the reason there should be a consulate.
The way the news reached the Philippines, it seemed as if President Aquino and his administration have agreed to these proposals.
That is not true. President Aquino himself has stated that he did not want the Sabah dispute to be discussed but that Prime Minister Najib Razak did.
The Malaysian PM suggested the establishment of a hotline over the Sabah dispute. The hotline would be between the Philippine and Malaysian security authorities. The Malaysian PM himself told journalists this detail.