THE NORTH BORNEO QUESTION
By Congressman Jovito R. Salonga, LP, Rizal
Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Philippines Free Press -May, 1962.
There is ample justification, I believe, for the statement that emotionalism hasbeclouded and confused the North Borneo question. There are Filipinos who summarilyadopt the my-country-right-or-wrong attitude; in specific terms, they tell us, "Let us haveNorth Borneo by all means," little realizing that by such a hasty, imprudent posture theyrender no little disservice to the very cause they propose to champion.At the other end of the line are the faint-hearted souls who cherish a host ofvague, nameless fears, and who have not stopped imagining the catastrophic, nuclearwars into which the Philippines would be drawn should it so much as attempt to press theclaim to North Borneo, regardless of the merit or validity of such a claim. Responsiblequarters confess to no little measure of amusement over the unrestrained enthusiasm, onthe one hand, of home-grown nationalists in supporting claims — without adequate studyof their validity — of sister countries in Asia over territories held by Western powers, andtheir unconcealed dread, on the other hand, in espousing a claim — without the slightestinquiry into its possible merit — over a portion of the globe's surface which may belong asa matter of law and equity to Filipinos.A good number of friends have asked me to deliver what they call an "impassionedspeech" on the question, but I had felt that the time was not ripe and that the whole issueshould be studied in an atmosphere of dispassion and restraint. I felt and still feel that therestoration of prudence and sobriety in the conduct of our foreign policy is a matter ofcardinal importance. In the language of one world statesman, foreign policy is not onlywhat we do, but how we do it.If the Philippine claim to North Borneo is valid, we should — despite our standingas a young, physically weak nation — institute and press the claim in accordance with theaccepted peaceful modes of settlement prescribed by international law and procedure. If,despite the assumed knowledge of the validity and justice of the Philippine claim, we foldour arms in mortal fear, we should lose not merely the respect of all law-abiding nations(the United Kingdom and the Asian countries in particular), but also a considerablemeasure of self-respect — which, to my mind, is more important — and, by our owninaction and timidity, lose our faith in the ultimate validity of that which is right and just. If,on the other hand, we come to the conclusion that the Philippine claim is without basis,then we should say so and let the British Government know our stand. Such candor andprobity will undoubtedly inspire the respect of the entire free world.It is partly because of the well known regard of the British Government for the ruleof law, and partly because of our deep-seated respect for the British institutions of law andorder, that I have requested the Department of Foreign Affairs to make a careful,thoroughgoing study of the question and, if morally convinced of the merit of the Philippine