'Time to define PH policy on Sabah'

Posted at 03/05/2013 8:17 PM | Updated as of 03/06/2013 6:47 AM

MANILA - The Philippine government should actively pursue the country's historical claim on Sabah, foreign affairs and defense analysts said Tuesday.

Lauro Baja, former Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations, said the Sultan of Sulu signed a cession document in 1962 that gave the right to the Philippine government to claim Sabah.

"May provision doon na kung hindi ipupu-pursue ng Philippine government ang sovereignty ng Sabah, malaya ang sultan to pursue the claim on his own. Not only the sovereign right by also the proprietary right," he told radio dzMM.

"May existing document diyan," he added.

He said the government pursued the claim but it was placed on the back burner starting during the Marcos era. "Hindi active ang pag-pursue at [this] continued sa successive administration," he added.

Baja said the Philippines "must once and for all to define its policy on Sabah."

"Ipupursue ba o hindi?" he asked, describing the Sabah claim as currently in limbo.

He said the Arroyo administration also placed the issue on the backburner. "We are more concerned with good relations with Malaysia."

Baja cited the Manila Accord of 1963, wherein Indonesia at Malaysia signed a policy statement agreeing to peacefully resolve the issue on North Borneo.

In August 5, 1963, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines issued a joint communiqué stating that the inclusion of North Borneo in the Federation of Malaysia "would not prejudice either the Philippine claim or any right thereunder."

PHILIPPINE INTEREST FIRST - CARLOS

Dr. Clarita Carlos, executive director of the Center for Political and Democratic Reforms, also told dzMM that the Philippine government should be more active in its Sabah claim.

"Bakit masyadong inaalala natin kung ano ang damdamin ng Malaysia? Unahin natin damdamin ng Pilipino," she said.

Carlos, former president of the National Defense College of the Philippines, said historical records and documents show the Philippines' right to Sabah.

"Unfortunately, nagtumbling-tumbling position natin diyan," she said.

"Noong time ni Cory Aquino, Pina-drop niya iyan through (former Senator Leticia) Shahani," she added.

Carlos insisted that Malaysia only rents and not owns Sabah.

"Kung ikaw ay nagbabayad, hindi sa iyo iyan. Bakit ka magbabayad every year? Kailangan pa bang imemorize iyan?" she asked.