The Sulu Sultanate expressed its hope yesterday that the Marcos administration will do more in asserting the country’s territorial claim over Sabah.
Malacañang said a position on the Sabah dispute with Malaysia is being firmed up.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the recent French arbitral award of $14.92 billion to the Sulu heirs “is not an issue of sovereignty or territory at the moment.”
Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said a review of the territorial issue is ongoing.
A member of the Sulu Sultanate said government officials have, thus far, made “motherhood statements” which has not helped resolved the Sulu Sultanate’s issues with Malaysia.
“Their reactions are, of course, positive but more concrete statements are required,” the Sultanate source told Daily Tribune.
“A strong position is needed considering the seriousness and humongous importance of the Sabah claim resolution,” the member of the royal family said.
“Mere motherhood statements will not cut it,” the source said.
Experts also stressed the need for a strong government position on Sabah is inevitable.
International law expert Harry Roque pointed out the Philippines has never given up its claim over the territory.
“I advise our President to clarify whether the country would actively pursue the claim or allow the Sultanate heirs to deal with the Malaysian government in private.”
He added the victory of the Sultanate’s descendants should be as a victory for the nation.
“According to the arbitral court, the Sultanate of Sulu is the owner of Sabah. Thus, we can say that Sabah is part of the Philippine territory,” he added.
Former Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas justified his position for the need to resume the payment of the yearly lease to Sabah in 2019 as a legal duty of the country to the Sultanate’s heirs.
Tomas, in an online television interview, in Malaysia, said he has consulted politicians and legal experts and concluded that Malaysia has no legal ground to refuse payment to the heirs of the Sultanate and offered resumption of payment in exchange for the discontinuation of the commercial arbitration process.
Tomas offered the payment after the London-based lawyer of the Sultanate sent the Malaysian government a demand letter to resume the payment.
Thomas also believed that the arbitration does not put Malaysian national sovereignty at stake.
And the case should have been ignored by the Madrid and Paris arbitration courts, he added.
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