MANILA – President Aquino on Thursday said Malacañang is now studying the claim of the sultanate of Sulu over Sabah, adding that sending armed men is not the solution.
Aquino said all the details about the historical claim over Sabah should be put to light, including a treaty agreement in 1878 and succeeding amendments in different languages. The President said he wants to know the basis for such an agreement.
The Sabah territory was once controlled by the Sultanate of Sulu, which was given as a gift by the Sultanate of Brunei for Sulu's role in quelling a rebellion.
In 1878, the Sulu sultanate leased Sabah to the British North Borneo Company, which then transferred the territory to Malaysia in 1963.
The Philippine government in 1962, then under President Diosdado Macapagal, was given the legal authority by the sultanate to handle negotiations on the claims.
From then on, Kuala Lumpur has been paying an annual rent of 5,300 ringgit ($1,600) to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu.
The President said he is looking for a peaceful solution to the standoff, noting that the Philippines and Malaysia have a good relationship.
The Department of Justice, meanwhile, said it is reviewing policies of previous administrations about the ownership of Sabah in a bid to peaceably resolve the standoff involving an army sent by Sultan Jamalul Kiram.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she is working on a legal opinion to determine the validity of the sultanate’s claim.
“We are looking at the validity or legal basis of the claim as well as an assessment of its strength or weakness, as the case may be,” she told reporters.
She said the President gave the same order to his legal team and the Department of Foreign Affairs. -- With a report by Regi Adosto, ABS-CBN News