DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to pursue the Philippine claim to Sabah.
“I’ll stick to our claim,” he said when asked for his stand on Sabah.
Pressed if he would recognize the claim of the Sultanate of Sulu, Duterte replied: “Yes. What has been the policy will always be the policy of the government, especially those for the interest of the country. We have to stake our claim.”
The Sultanate of Sulu ruled Sabah until it came under the administration of British North Borneo Co. in the late 19th century.
In 1963, the British government made Sabah, then a colony of Britain, part of the newly created Federation of Malaysia.
The Philippines claims that Sabah was only leased, not ceded, to the British North Borneo Co., the administrator of the territory before Britain annexed it.
The heirs of the sultan of Sulu continue to receive lease payments for Sabah.
Malaysia, however, maintains that the international community has been recognizing Sabah as part of its territory since the formation of the federation in 1963.
The dispute over Sabah made headlines again in 2013 after followers of Sultan of Sulu Jamalul Kiram entered Lahad Datu in Sabah to assert their rights over the territory.
A series of armed encounters ensued after Kiram’s followers refused to leave despite warnings given by Malaysian government forces.
Dozens of Malaysian security personnel and sultanate followers died during the clashes, which spilled over to other parts of Sabah.
Former President Aquino has clarified to Malaysia that the Philippine government did not sanction the actions of Kiram’s followers.
Source: The Philippine Star