This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Thus said eminent statesman Jovito Salonga 50 years ago, in his speech as then congressman and chairman of the Legal Committtee of the Philippine Delegation to the Anglo-Philippine Talks held in London. The speech, delivered on radio and television on March 30, 1963, was a point-by-point reply to the report of then Senator Lorenzo Sumulong on the Philippine claim to Sabah (also known as North Borneo). Context At the time, the Federation of Malaysia was scheduled to be formally created on August 31, 1963 from the states of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo. The plan was for the four states to have co-equal standing in the federation. Singapore would become an independent state on August 9, 1965. The speech was made to assert the Philippine claim during this time, and revive the claim after Britain claimed sovereign rights over Sabah shortly after Philippines' independence from the United States. Salonga headed the team that went to London to pore over the documents related to the Philippines' Sabah claim. Salonga would later become Senate President in the post-EDSA People Power Revolt and preside at the historic 1991 Senate vote that ended nearly a century of US bases presence in the Philippines. In 1963, he cited the following proofs and arguments that Sabah remained under the dominion and sovereignty of the Sultan of Sulu: 1. In 1881, when the Spanish and Dutch governments protested the award of the Royal C harter to the British North Borneo Company, the British clarified that "sovereignty remains with the Sultan of Sulu" and that the company was merely an administrative authority. Salonga recalled that Baron de Overbeck, the Austrian
company - as well as the heirs of Overbeck and Dent - is not a sovereign entity and therefore could not acquire "dominion and sovereignty" over the island. He cited "authoritative British and Spanish documents" showing so. The company's "rights were as those indicated in the basic contract... that of lessee and a mere delegate," he said. 3. North Borneo was never part of British territory and its people were never British subjects until July 10, 1946, or six days after Philippines independence, when Britain unlawfully "asserted full sovereign rights over" the island. But "in accordance with established precedents in International Law, the assertion of sovereign rights by the British Crown in 1946, in complete disregard of the contract of 1878 and their solemn commitments did not and cannot produce legal results in the force of a new title," according to Salonga. This even prompted former American Governor-General F.B. Harrison, then Special Adviser to the Philippine Government on Foreign Affairs, "to denounce the cession order as a unilateral set in violation of legal right." Four years after, in 1950, then C ongressman Diosdado
Macapagal, along with Congressmen Arsenio Lacson and Arturo Tolentino, sponsored a resolution urging the formal institution of the claim to Sabah. 4. Sabah thus cannot be part of the Federation of Malaysia as "conceived, inspired, and sponsored" by the British. At that time in 1962, then President Diosdado Macapagal filed a claim island. 5. However, Salonga also noted that the Sultan of Sulu or his heirs cannot make a claim over Sabah before the International Court of Justice because "only States may be parties in cases before the Court," as per Chapter 2, Article 34, paragraph 1 of the Statute of ICJ, in relation C hapter 14 of the UN Charter. Salonga's arguments concluded thus: "The claim for North Borneo is not of the President, the Liberal Party, nor of his Administration, but a claim of the entire Republic, based on respect for the rule of law, the sacredness of facts, and the relentless logic of our situation in this part of the world." On March 25, 1963, Senator Lorenzo Sumulong delivered a privileged speech berating the Philippines claim to North Borneo (Sabah), which had been filed by President Diosdado Macapagal over Sabah after the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution urging him to recover the
"adventurer" who persuaded the Sultan of Sulu in 1878 to lease Sabah to him for an annual rent of 5,000 Malaysian dollars, sold his rights to Alfred Dent, the English merchant who started the British North Borneo C o. Dent thus assumed all the rights and obligations under the 1878 contract. 2. In 1946, the company "transferred all its rights and obligations to the British Crown." To this, Salonga said the
fully-documented defense of the Philippine stand. 1962. consistently derogatory of the Philippine claim. in advance of his privilege speech. so aptly expressed elsewhere. as an implied admission of the weakness of the Philippine stand. 2013 issue in a bid to shed light on the Sabah conflict. they have or used to have similar customs and traditions. in consideration of . my reaction was dictated by the belief. to ventilate his views berating the merit and validity of the Republic’s claim. an adequate. Senator Lorenzo Sumulong spoke on the floor of the Senate to air his views on the Philippines claim to North Borneo. not the fault of the Senator that the British. has had access to the confidential records and documents of the Department of Foreign Affairs. that the best way to answer a bad argument is to let it go on and that silence is the “unbearable repartee. Over the years.on June 22. they have the same color. My first reaction was to keep my peace and observe this shocking spectacle in silence.” But silence could be tortured out of context and construed by others. as “shadowy”. including Britain. we come pretty close to the area of danger.” which on the basis of the press releases issued by his office. The good Senator tells us that in view of the “importance and magnitude” of the subject. formerly known as Sabah. that in the world press. We leave it to our readers to judge the merits of the case as presented by the senators 50 years ago. if we take him literally. must have been quite massive. was originally ruled by the Sultan of Brunei. April 1-2. he attended closed-door hearings of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and National Defense. Here. Five days later. what is now known as the Philippines and what is known today as Borneo used to constitute a single historical. In 1878. a keen Austrian adventurer. in defense of our position. may be said to be somewhat helpless in making. Thousands of years ago. right in our own country. A few days ago. considering that our claim is still pending and each side is feeling out the other’s legal position. not familiar with the facts. Authoritative Western scientists have traced the land bridges that connected these two places. confidential nature of the records and documents bearing on the Philippine claim. But before I take up the Senator’s arguments in detail. particularly in the light of the request of the British panel during the London Conference that the documents and the records of the proceedings be considered confidential. by virtue of the British request. I trust our British friends. where crucial matters of national survival and security were taken up. Spain and the Netherlands acknowledged the Sultan of Sulu as the sovereign ruler of North Borneo. having known that the Sultan of Sulu was facing a life-and-death struggle with the Spanish forces in the Sulu Archipelago. Salonga delivered a point-by-point rebuttal to Sumulong’s speech. economic unit. 1963. 1963. North Borneo. the Sultan of Brunei ceded North Borneo to the Sulu Sultan. of course. The morning papers last Monday (March 25) quoted the Senator as having bewailed. “dubious” and “flimsy. Borneo is only 18 miles away from us today. in an admirable show of unity. cultural. whose patriotism I do not propose to impugn.” It may interest the good Senator to know that his statements. I decided to make this reply. The inhabitants of the Philippines and Borneo come from the same racial stock. Senator Jovito R. And so. that he had made his own “studies and researches.” (meaning the Philippine side) seemingly unaware. Here is the full text of Senator Salonga’s rebuttal speech delivered on March 30. as if to show to the Philippine panel how wellinformed the Senator was. here and across the seas. the various European countries. will understand if. It is. Senator Sumulong has now found it proper and imperative. in gratitude for help extended to him by the Sultan of Sulu in suppressing a revolt. just as the Senator dismisses it now with apparent contempt. particularly on the eve of the talks in London. The good Senator. accusing his own Government of gross ignorance and holding in unbelievable disdain the Philippine position on the British-sponsored Malaysia plan. He has chosen to assault the Philippine position at a time when his own Government. In part. He knows the classified. only the British side has been given the benefit of full and favorable publicity and that the Philippine side has been summarily dismissed. In 1704. By his own admission. none but our British friends and their successors may well profit. fully aware that in an exchange such as this. which was broadcast over radio and television and published in The Manila Times on March 31. he decided to wait “until all the relevant facts and information” were in. Excerpts from the speech of Salonga are also reprinted in the Philippine Daily Inquirer in its March 5. were seized upon by the English press with great delight. They entered into various treaty arrangements with him. took advantage of the situation and persuaded the Sultan of Sulu to lease to him. Below are the full text of Sumulong’s speech and Salonga’s reply. that “only one side of the problem has been presented so far. despite the depth and range of his studies. it may be well to set our frame of reference by restating the position of the Philippine Government on the North Borneo claim. went to Sulu. enjoyed and were immensely fascinated by his press releases and statements. our claim really begins. by the name of Baron de Overbeck. until they could be declassified in the normal course of diplomatic procedure.
through the President. the assertion of sovereign rights by the British Crown in 1946. Muniang and all the other territories and states to the southward thereof bordering on Darvel Bay and as far as the Sibuco River with all the islands within 3 marine leagues of the coast. on July 10. did not and could not acquire dominion and sovereignty over North Borneo. (1) If the Senator believes that the claim of sovereignty was so “tardily presented”. Labuk. the British North Borneo C ompany. as of that date. Sugut. known as the British North Borneo Company. having proclaimed knowledge of all the relevant facts.600). The good Senator could have informed the people. the British North Borneo Company transferred all its rights and obligations to the British Crown. the good Senator reassures everyone that “I am and have been in favor of our government giving every possible support to the proprietary claims of the heirs of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram. 1946 — just six days after Philippine independence — asserted full sovereign rights over North Borneo. Bangaya. filed the claim to North Borneo. the Bandung Conference Declaration and the 1960 decolonization resolution of the General Assembly are matters of record and there is no quarrel about them. he asks: “Why was the Philippine claim of sovereignty to North Borneo so tardily presented in the United Nations?” Yet. in complete disregard of the contract of 1878 and their solemn commitments. Sandakan. that their rights were as those indicated in the basic contract. Britain in accordance with the obligations imposed by the Charter has declared herself to be the colonial power administering North Borneo as a British colony”. Congressman Macapagal — along with Congressmen Arsenio Lacson and Arturo Tolentino — sponsored a resolution urging the formal institution of the claim to North Borneo. with the air of a magistrate delivering a stinging rebuke. In 1946. did not and cannot produce legal results in the form of a new tide. Acting on this unanimous resolution and having acquired all the rights and interests of the Sultanate of Sulu.a yearly rental of Malayan $ 5. which assumed all the rights and obligations under the 1878 contract. that the British Crown never considered North Borneo as British territory. how could the proprietary claim of dominion or ownership — which is the main element of sovereignty — regardless of whether it is the Philippine Government or not that institutes the claim — be considered still seasonable and appropriate? (2) If the Senator suggests now that the proprietary claim is not yet tardy and that the Government should merely support. Then. the Republic of the Philippines. that on the basis of authoritative British and Spanish documents. Our commitments under the United Nations Charter. the British Government clarified its position and stated in unmistakable language that “sovereignty remains with the Sultan of Sulu” and that the Company was merely an administering authority. in the next breath. Let us deal now with Senator Sumulong’s analysis of the “relevant facts”.” Now. There is something misleading in this naked assertion. the territory now in question. “the heirs of the Sultan” in this aspect of the claim. how can he turn around and say that it is late if it is the Government that is . denounced the Cession Order as a unilateral act in violation of legal rights. “Why July 10. nor the North Borneans as British subjects. 1946 — six days after the Philippines became independent. thus: “…all the territories and lands being tributary to us on the mainland of the island of Borneo commencing from the Pandassan River on the NW coast and extending along the whole east coast as far as the Sibuco River in the South and comprising among others the States of Peitan. The contract of lease — and I call it so on the basis of British documents and records that cannot be disputed here or abroad — contains a technical description of the territory in terms of natural boundaries. Prolonged studies were in the meanwhile undertaken and in 1962 the House of Representatives. Our claim is mainly based on the following propositions: that Overbeck and Dent. in rare unanimity. Shortly thereafter former American Governor General Harrison.” Overbeck later sold out all his rights under the contract to Alfred Dent. namely. In 1950. passed a resolution urging the President of the Philippines to recover North Borneo consistent with international law and procedure. a private trading concern to whom Dent transferred his rights. an English merchant. not being sovereign entities nor representing sovereign entities. I shall not. This Company was awarded a Royal Charter in 1881. for the moment. The Crown. 1946?” and thereafter report to the Senate and to the people he loves so well the results of his new inquiry. take issue with the Senator as to his statement of the problem sought to be solved either through the Malaysia plan or the Greater Malayan Confederation. who established a provisional association and later a Company. then Special Adviser to the Philippine Government on Foreign Affairs. that in accordance with established precedents in International Law. that of a lessee and a mere delegate.000 (roughly equivalent to a meager US $ 1. could not and did not acquire dominion and sovereignty over North Borneo. until July 10. of He the begins United by saying in that “since the organization Nations 1945. Kinabatangan. A protest against the grant of the charter was lodged by the Spanish and the Dutch Governments and in reply. He may well have asked himself. let us examine these interesting assertions a little more closely.
to refrain from accusing our own Government of ignorance. International law. such as rivers. Let me quote from Tregonning himself: “This meager rental (of Malayan $ 15. North Borneo. The lease contract of 1878 tells us in specific terms the natural boundaries and I do not think Senator Sumulong can improve on it. . for example. we might conclude that America. even in its proprietary aspects? He has been a member of that distinguished body for more than 12 years — when. Then. who wrote a book on the subject. presumably to the International Court of Justice. of course.” His conclusion is not supported by the authority he cites. Country Survey Series. 1956). so that if the said heirs lose their case. forests and the like. the good Senator tells us that “contrary to the impression created in the minds of our people. He tells his colleagues in the Senate and the Filipino people that “the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu” should have gone to the United Nations. rigid definition of a territory by metes and bounds. if we consider as correct the conclusions of reputable writers abroad that the dividing boundary lines between the Borneo territories are neither fully-surveyed nor well-defined (See. it may be well to remind our good Senator. August 1.000. does not require exact. (even through a proposed amendment so as to fit his thinking) did he give that support? The cold. deserts. Brunei and Sarawak.1929). are still quarreling about their boundaries. Article 34. as that term is understood in law. (3) But what arouses my curiosity is the bald statement of the Senator that he is and has always been in favor of supporting the proprietary claims of the “heirs of the Sultan of Sulu. the yearly payment to the former being Malayan $ 15. ancient nations. the conclusion is wrong. on such a delicate matter as this. the claim of sovereignty put forward by our Government as transferee of the Sultan of Sulu does not cover the entire area of North Borneo but only a portion thereof. They do not constitute a State. he must have known that “the heirs of the Sultan” could not possibly litigate before the International Court of Justice for the simple reason that they have no international legal personality. for example the decision of the German-Polish Mixed Arbitral Tribunal. Incidentally. how and in what form. Undoubtedly. since he has invited and provoked the inquiry. France. The Sultan received Malayan $ 15. But certainly he must have heard of the Macapagal-Lacson-Tolentino resolution of 1950. lost quite a number of cases before international bodies and tribunals. “Under Chartered Company Rule” to support his own — not Tregonning’s — conclusion that Overbeck and Dent — the two adventurers whose exploits the good Senator carefully avoided mentioning — “evaluated the rights acquired from the Sultan of Brunei to be 3 times greater than the rights acquired from the Sultan of Sulu. However. In other words.” I would commend to the good Senator a closer reading of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The distinguished Senator makes a most interesting suggestion.” (p. “there would be no loss of honor or prestige for the Republic of the Philippines.” (See. “rigidly fixed boundaries are not indispensable and boundaries of a territory may be indicated by natural signs. the good Senator cites Professor Tregonning of the University of Singapore. that must have been quite a long time! The Senator cannot therefore blame us. Up to now. But no matter.000 and to the latter Malayan $ 5. the scope of our claim is clear: we are claiming these portions of North Borneo which were leased. lifeless records of Congress yield no evidence of what he now eloquently professes. if we now file a bill of particulars. 14). partly out of simple discretion and partly because the real difference between most of us is that we are ignorant on different subjects — it may be the best thing indeed not to talk about each other’s ignorance. through his own statements. The territory had long ceased to be under Brunei control and failed to bring in any revenue. But the good Senator would like to know what are the “exact metes and bounds” and gloats over the seeming inability of the people in the Foreign Affairs Department to tell him what are the exact boundaries. But. paragraph 1 of the Statute clearly provides: “Only States may be parties in cases before the Court.000 for nothing and he was well pleased.” Well. It may be well for us. or whether the Senator has had a hand in it. Did he give it in the Senate active and real support. For respect for the rule of law has never meant and should never mean loss of honor and prestige. in relation to Chapter 14 of the United Nations Charter. Nor can the British. New Haven.instituting the claim? Be it noted that the Philippine claim includes sovereignty and dominion over North Borneo. mountains. as clearly defined and described in the contract of 1878 and which are still under the de facto control and administration of the British Crown. the Netherlands and other countries have no more prestige and honor to keep since they have.” I do not know who created this impression. as a matter of cold fact. And were we to follow the logic of the good Senator. Senator Sumulong is exacting of his own government more than what International Law requires of us. Did he really support the proprietary aspect of the claim since he first became a member of the House of Representatives and assumed the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs? Probably he did not give much thought to it then. such as India and China. Chapter 2. Britain. In the language of international law authorities of the highest repute.000 paid to the Sultan of Brunei) reflects the state of affairs.” The same thing may well be said of his suggestion that the heirs file a reservation or a petition before the United Nations.
the good Senator insists that “we would appear as attempting to colonize North Borneo without any lawful or just cause. that the British Colonial Office objected strenuously to the grant of the Royal Charter to the British North Borneo Company. 36). How can a Federation — so conceived and designed — endure. including a sector of the British press. I thought he had all the relevant facts. or of a common heritage. 20) and that the highest British officials were reassuring one another that the Royal Charter awarded to the British North Borneo Company did not vest the sovereignty of the territory in the British Government (at pp. what does the good Senator intend to do? Isn’t it rather ironic that whereas in some responsible British quarters. we are committed to the idea of letting the North Borneans determine what their eventual fate would be? It is like asking a man what is the use of working if after all he would eventually fade away — and leave his properties to his kin. 27-29). the good Senator should be so certain about its success? The respected Senator tells us that he cannot say whether the Greater Confederation plan is a better substitute. based on historic and legal considerations. Since the Tungku succeeded in fighting Communism in his home base. even if we recover it. particularly in North Borneo. “considering that no private company should exercise sovereign rights” (p.” How can Senator Sumulong damn his own country as a colonizer when it is precisely submitting its claim. One of the rosiest chapters in our entire history as a people was written when we dispatched our young men to Korea to fight for the cause of freedom in that part of the world.000 to the Sultan of Sulu as “annual rental” (p. And if the Malaysia Federation should fail and become instead the focal center of C ommunist infection. when the usefulness of fixed bases — such as Singapore — has been rendered obsolete by new developments in nuclear warfare and when England.” But anyone who has studied logic must surely see that that is a mighty. that they are under the economic. the good Senator avoided telling the people that the history professor he cited characterized the yearly payment of Malayan $ 5. big jump. This must be a new brand of logic! For one thing. are not quite prepared for self-government.Likewise. much less bring stability to a region where the countries immediately involved — the Philippines and Indonesia — have not even been consulted? The British may well be wrong here. And if he did not have all the relevant facts. cultural and political domination of the C hinese and that according to the British-prepared Report (Cobbold) there exists in North Borneo “fertile material on which Communist infiltration could work in the same way as it is already working in Sarawak. without any claim at all and virtually a stranger in the region. when Britain no longer requires a military outpost in this area as an essential link in her claim of defense. in reading Tregonning. must of necessity launch a program of progressive withdrawal from Southeast Asia? The good Senator did not care to tell our people that the whole concept of Malaysia was designed to sterilize Singapore. For another. that the natives are backward. that the whole plan was intended to redress Chinese dominance in Singapore and Malaya and that the Federation was not conceived out of a sense of oneness. Senator Sumulong is all praise for the success and the leadership of the Tungku of Malaya and from these coupled with “British military and economic aid”. on the other hand. Brunei and North Borneo. have not prepared the Borneans for self-government. he jumps to the conclusion that “the enlarged Federation of Malaysia under the same leadership and with continued British military and economic aid will be able to meet and overcome any communist attempt to capture Singapore.” (p. “cannot be excluded for the future. may it not have been the better part of prudence to give . And how can the distinguished Senator be so sure about “continued British military and economic aid”. 14). that years of political isolation and hostile propaganda have created a gap between our two peoples. that the North Borneans come from the same racial stock. beset by economic problems and stymied by many commitments. or of racial or ethnic unity. Assuming that we fail to recover North Borneo. have nothing but praise for Malaya which. I don’t remember Senator Sumulong having raised the question. the Borneo peoples. there has arisen a lurking doubt as to the feasibility of the Malaysia plan. by their own admission. just as they were proved wrong in their evaluation of Singapore on the eve of the Second World War (remember how the British thought it could “stand a long siege” and yet this “key base” fell in less than a week’s time?) and just as they are now being proved wrong in Africa where the Britishinspired Central African Federation is about ready to collapse. that despite the proud assertion that British interests have administered North Borneo for many years. there is the simple matter of geography. but out of mutual fear and distrust. if after all. the Senator is certain he will also succeed elsewhere even if the conditions are quite different.” The Communist danger. Sarawak. Senator Sumulong asks us: What is the gain of involving ourselves in North Borneo. the Cobbold Report states. “What’s the use of it all?” The good Senator seems to forget that what happens in North Borneo affects us with greater immediacy and impact because of its proximity to us. desires to take over — thanks to British support — the Bornean territories? Like the isolationists of old. in accordance with the peaceful procedures indicated in the United Nations C harter? How can he. The Tungku Government is a thousand miles away from the jungles of Borneo. the British.
that we are voluntarily relinquishing whatever claims of sovereignty we may have to any portion of North Borneo in order to accelerate the changing of its status from a non-selfgoverning territory to that of a self-governing or independent State and that we favor holding a plebiscite under UN auspices to give the people of North Borneo the opportunity to freely express their will and wishes…” In short. D. composed of professors and scholars in the University of the Philippines. let Malaya take over North Borneo under the so-called Malaysia Federation.P. according to the Cobbold Report. is a proposal so naive it does not do justice to the reputation of the distinguished Senator or to the depth and range of his studies. The Philippines is here in Southeast Asia to stay. the good Senator cannot fully escape the burden of responsibility. a sophisticated study of the results of a plebiscite under the circumstances set forth by the distinguished Senator (and having in mind the plebiscites that have already been held. there was no attempt at all to consult with us on matters that affect the very survival and security of this country. In area British Borneo is about the same as Malaya. In the second place. For so long the North Borneans have been under British tutelage. after a careful reading of the studies that have been completed. “Even in North Borneo and Sarawak the indigenous peoples are not happy about a federation. And yet until we filed our claim to North Borneo and talks were conducted thereafter in London culminating in an official cognizance of our claim. desires a virtual annexation of the Bornean territories to sterilize and quarantine Singapore.. In any case. I quote him: “…the better course to follow is for our government to inform the United Nations in due time. a distant stranger to the region. but its 1400 mile long coast line is longer than the Federation’s.1963. . We have told the British that we agree that their interests in the region should be respected and that we welcome any practical arrangements to this end. he does not expect his Government to spell out the Confederation Plan to the last detail at this time. He knows or should know that incisive studies have been made and completed since last year on the Greater Confederation Plan by an Ad Hoc Committee. writing in the India Quarterly. Assuming that the Greater Confederation Plan does not convince the good Senator. Defense. Imperial Defence.e. the Malaysia plan is British-conceived.” Now. Communist Challenge and the Great Design). The good Senator realizes. which are separated by South China sea from Malaya by varying distances. to my mind. saddled with various commitments. where there was indeed no choice but to say “yes” to what the British and Malayans wanted) forecloses the kind of result that will be achieved.the higher officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs all the chance to explain the outlines of the plan? But as I said earlier. Britain. whose loyalties are not beneath suspicion. I must state in all candor that for all my respect for him and even assuming the nobility of his motives. “It is also unclear how the central (Tungku) government located in Kuala Lumpur would be able to exercise effective control over those territories. then ask for a referendum in North Borneo to ascertain what the North Borneans want. have a low level of education and political consciousness and who were ready to agree to the Malaysia proposals “although they were not fully understood. having in mind his massive research and studies on the subject? Our distinguished Senator has but one suggestion. But this should not take the form of colonialism in a different guise which. If between now and August 31. the good Senator had access to the Government’s C onfidential Report. It is only now that Britain and Malaya have become increasingly appreciative of our stand and their willingness not to prejudice our claim despite Malaysia is certainly a great credit to the Administration. which is predominantly Chinese and. Borneo territories are extremely jealous of their imminent independence which they are reluctant to submerge in a federation. probably desires to play a lesser role in Southeast Asia and make a graceful exit. makes a thorough analysis of the Malaysia Plan and sees great difficulties ahead. that if North Borneo should fall into hostile hands. Jesselton is nearer to Saigon or to Manila than to Kuala Lumpur. before an agreement in principle is reached among the proposed members. Malaya is raring to take over a territory whose native inhabitants. can he not possibly render service to the Republic by suggesting positive. Their own racial problems are much simpler and their economic prosperity does not require any political integration with Malaya. Surely. it is the Philippines that will be immediately affected. from Malaya would be difficult…” (Singhal. i. A professor in an Australian University. the “key base”. these countries should stiffen in their attitude towards our claim. Malaya. the good Senator would have us tell the world we are abandoning our claim. what kind of free elections does the Senator expect to witness in North Borneo? In fine. from about 500 miles to well over a thousand. in the event of a crisis. This. the scheduled date of birth of the Malaysia Federation. In the first place. the Senator would have the Republic launch a program of defeat — born of fear and doubt and timidity. when the Federation of Malaysia Plan is submitted for consideration in the United Nations.. a Federation plan need not be approved by the United Nations. British-inspired and British-sponsored. meaningful alternatives. I cannot agree to such a plan of action. instead of being a factor of stability becomes the source of endless provocation. of course.
I had made my own studies and researches. It was only in February of last year (1962) that the said heirs informed our Department of Foreign Affairs that they were claiming sovereignty to North Borneo and they offered to turn over such claim of sovereignty to the Republic of the Philippines. In so doing. It was only in December of last year (1962) that the Philippine delegation. Belated claim Why was the Philippine claim of sovereignty to North Borneo so tardily presented in the United Nations? The answer is that North Borneo is not a part of the national territory of the Philippines as defined and delimited in our Constitution. it is the duty of the colonial power to submit to the United Nations every year a report of its administration of the territory. 1963 I have refrained from discussing on the floor of the Senate the Malaysia plan or the alternative plan of a Greater Malayan Confederation proposed by President Macapagal in connection with the Philippine claim of sovereignty to a portion of North Borneo. And I do hope that others will do likewise. nor of his Administration. I want to make clear the responsibility for the facts and considerations I am about to present is my own. Our commitments Under the United Nations Charter. in September of last year (1962) out of the several surviving heirs of Sultan Jamalul Kiram who died in 1936. The duty of the administering power to prepare the non-selfgoverning territory for self-government or independence is provided for in Chapter XI. but I thought that there might be new facts and considerations which our defense and foreign affairs officials might bring to our attention during the briefing. reserving however to themselves their proprietary claims. the sacredness of facts and the relentless logic of our situation in this part of the world. nor has the Philippines registered any reservation or protest to the report submitted by Britain to the United Nations every year as the administering power over North Borneo. I believe it is already proper. while the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations and National Defense and Security were holding joint closed-door hearings in Camp Murphy. If the said heirs had any claims to sovereignty over North Borneo — as distinguished from their proprietary claims — they could have filed a petition or a reservation to the United Nations protesting against British rule and administration over North Borneo. made a reservation contesting for the first time the right of the British to rule and administer North Borneo.” No RP Protest Since the organization of the United Nations in 1945.I am no apologist for the President of the Philippines. As your C hairman of the C ommittee on Foreign Relations. I want to make clear that I am always subject to correction. to take due account of the political aspirations of the (non-self-governing) peoples and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions. based on respect for the rule of law. Britain in accordance with the obligations imposed by the Charter has declared herself to be the colonial power administering Sarawak as British colony and has been submitting to the United Nations every year a report of her administration of these three nonself-governing territories. during the consideration of the yearly report of the British administration over North Borneo in the Trusteeship Committee. A mistake . it is the duty of every colonial power administering non-self-government or independence and until that people has been made self-governing or independent. During all that time. This offer was accepted by President Macapagal and to give semblance of legality to the transfer of sovereignty from the said heirs to the Republic of the Philippines. the claimants to North Borneo was not the Philippines but the heirs of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram who died in 1936. but a claim of the entire Republic. Privilege Speech of Senator Lorenzo Sumulong on the Sabah Claim Philippine Senate. I would be ready to admit and correct my mistakes. When the United Nations was organized in 1945. Esmail Kiram was proclaimed the new Sultan of Sulu claiming to possess all the attributes and prerogatives of a sovereign ruler and as such he executed a deed of cession of his alleged claim of sovereignty to North Borneo in favor of the Republic of the Philippines. nor of the Liberal Party. If my facts and considerations are wrong. I believe it is my duty to submit for the consideration of the entire Senate and of our people the facts and considerations which I believe are material and necessary to the formation and crystallization of an intelligent opinion about the two plans. bitterness and endless quibbling should stop at the water’s edge and that the claim to North Borneo is not the claim of the President. the Philippines as a member of the United Nations has not put forward any claim of sovereignty over North Borneo. not even on the North Borneo question and will disagree with him whenever I think that his action is not well-advised. the sanctity of contractual obligations. Article 73 b of the United Nations Charter which makes it the duty of the administering power “to develop self-government. But I believe that on such a fundamental question as this. it may be well for us to remember that political considerations. but they did not file any such petition or reservation. Now that the briefing is over and the administration experts have submitted to the two Committees all the facts within their knowledge and possession. March 25. nay.
the rivers Kimanis and Benowi. the territory ceded to Overbeck and Dent was from the Pandassan River on the west coast to the Sibuco River on the east. If the said heirs lose their case before the United Nations.I am and have always been in favor of our government giving every possible support to the proprietary claims of the heirs of the late Sultan Jamalul Kiram. was in the hands of the Sultan of Sulu who claimed to have received it from the Sultan of Brunei in 1704 in return for the help in suppressing a rebellion and it was for this reason that they negotiated the contract with the Sultan of Sulu on January 12. for a total yearly payment of Malayan $ 5. Since the transferee acquires no better rights than the transferor. From this it appears that the territory claimed and ceded by the Sultan of Sulu on January 12. 11. When a man sues in court to recover title and possession to a piece of land. This was admitted by the Philippine panel during the London talks. contrary to our vehement denunciations of colonialism and our loud demands that the grant of self-government or independence to subject peoples be accelerated. I asked the members of the Philippine panel present if they could tell us the exact metes and bounds and the exact area of this portion of North Borneo claimed by our government but none could give us a positive answer. A look at the map of North Borneo will show that Gaya Bay is farther to the west than Pandassan River. in three grants of territory from Gaya Bay on the west coast to the Sibuco River on the east. which comprised a large portion of the territory ceded by the Sultan of Brunei. So the territory ceded under the four contracts with the Sultan of Brunei was more extensive and embraced the territory ceded under the contract with the Sultan of Sulu. As it is now. This was amazing in the extreme. Even if the United Nations should sustain the belated Philippine claim of sovereignty to North Borneo. this weakens the present claim of the Republic of the Philippines. and the Pengeran Tumongong (heir to the Sultan of Brunei) in a grant of his west coast possessions. 1878 was likewise claimed and had been previously ceded by the Sultan of Brunei on December 29. for which the Sultan of Sulu was to receive a yearly payment of Malayan $ 5. if the belated claim of sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines to a portion of North Borneo does not prosper in the United Nations. But I have always believed as I still believe that it was a mistake for President Macapagal to have agreed to such transfer of the claim of sovereignty from the said heirs to the Republic of the Philippines for the following reasons: (1) The said heirs had never filed a petition or reservation before the United Nations claiming sovereignty to North Borneo and protesting British rule and administration thereof. pp. I found that before Overbeck and Dent entered into the contract of January 12. Why did Overbeck and Dent still contracted with the Sultan of Sulu for territory already ceded to them under the four contracts with the Sultan of Brunei? According to Professor Tregonning in his aforecited book. we stand to gain nothing because we are committed to speedily end our rule and administration there. G. they learned later that the northeast coast. And yet.000.14-15). cit.” (op. instead of agreeing to a transfer of such claim of sovereignty to the Republic of the Philippines. the yearly payment to the . “The Sultan (of Brunei).1877 and that Overbeck and Dent evaluated the rights acquired from the Sultan of Brunei to be three times greater than the rights acquired from the Sultan of Sulu. after Overbeck and Dent had negotiated the four contracts with the Sultan of Brunei.cit. ceded to Overbeck and Dent. P-14) In the later contract with the Sultan of Sulu. they had previously obtained from the Sultan of Brunei four other similar contracts on December 29. the claim of sovereignty put forward by our government as transferee of the Sultan of Sulu does not cover the entire area of North Borneo. there would be no loss of honor of prestige for the Republic of the Philippines. But here is the administration of President Macapagal involving the honor and prestige of our government in a claim of sovereignty to a portion of North Borneo. but only a portion thereof. with all the powers of sovereignty. the first thing he has to prove in court is the identity of the land. (3) C ontrary to the impression created in the minds of our people. Tregonning in his book entitled Under Chartered Company Rule and borne out by the descriptions contained in the four contracts of the Sultan of Brunei. We would appear as attempting to colonize North Borneo without any lawful or just cause. our government should have advised them to file a petition or reservation to that effect before the United Nations. embracing 900 miles of North Bornean coastline. some 28. As narrated by K. the damage to our national honor and prestige would be incalculable.000 square miles of territory.000. (2) Even if the said heirs had a strong claim of sovereignty to North Borneo. grant its people self-government or independence and respect their will and wishes as to whether they will join the Federation of Malaysia or the Greater Malayan Confederation proposed by President Macapagal. but the administration of President Macapagal has kept mum and has not brought this important fact to the attention of our people. During our joint committee meetings in Camp Murphy. without being able to tell us the identity of that portion.1878 (op. From the compilation of documents submitted to us by Minister Benito Bautista of the Department of Foreign Affairs. administration stalwarts have been daring the British to have the case tried and decided by the International Court of Justice.1878 with the Sultan of Sulu.1877.
Common concern It should be the common concern of the Philippines and of all countries whose peoples believe in the free and democratic way of life. South Vietnam is facing a life and death struggle with the Viet Congs. Malaya under the leadership of Tungku Abdul Rahman was able to break the communist backbone in that country. we do not believe in being neutralist or nonaligned. The forces of freedom must combine and cooperate militarily and economically in order to balance the military and economic power of the forces of communism. Brunei and North Borneo as new members and as thus enlarged it will be renamed Federation of Malaysia. Sarawak. for which they needed British aid and cooperation. Thus. Also. In the fight between the forces of freedom and the forces of communism. The present mutual defense pact between Britain and the Federation of Malaya will then be extended to this enlarged Federation of Malaysia. the peace and security of the free world countries in Asia including the Philippines would be gravely imperilled. no nation can resist and fight them alone and unaided. in the same way that through similar economic and military measures. to see to it that Sarawak. should be lost to the free world by their turning communist or neutralist. Through these economic and military measures.former being Malayan $ 15. but also adequately safeguarded against the danger of communist infiltration and subversion once they become self-governing or independent. Brunei and North Borneo. the present Federation of Malaya will be enlarged by bringing in Singapore. We are a religious people and we cannot accept a godless ideology. We in the Philippines are firmly and uncompromisingly against communism. British plan The Federation of Malaysia is the British plan of giving selfgovernment to Sarawak. The ruler of Cambodia has decided to align himself on the side of Red China. Under the plan. 1957. It is small wonder that the administration of President Macapagal is at a loss to identify the portion of North Borneo subject of their claim of sovereignty. North Borneo and Singapore. Whether under the former Nacionalista administration or under the present Liberal administration. but we do not want to achieve progress through dictatorship and violence. the Chinese is the second biggest in number. Brunei. If Sarawak. the leaders of Malaya evolved a five-year development plan to improve the livelihood of the people so that they will not be enticed by communist propaganda harping on the poverty of the masses and promising a classless society where there will be no poor and no rich. there was a British grant of Malayan $ 114 million for the establishment of the federal armed forces of Malaya and for the first three years a yearly grant of Malayan $ 25 million to help Malaya deal with the terrorist problem. For a hundred years. receive such military and economic aid to enable her to fight communist infiltration and subversion successfully. we want to achieve progress through freedom and peaceful reform.000. is in a very precarious and critical posture today.000. When she became independent in 1957. Let us recall the history of Malaya. we have entered into defensive alliances like the mutual defense pact with the US and the SEATO pact. Malaya was under British rule before she won her independence on August 31. In population. This five-year development plan involved an expenditure of Malayan $ 1. The plan is to follow the same pattern by which Malaya was given independence on August 31.000 and the British government agreed to give extensive financial help to it and the plan was so well implemented that Malaya has achieved an economic progress next only to Japan in the whole Far East as shown by her per capita income which is second only to Japan. Brunei and North Borneo and at the same time safeguard them against communist infiltration and subversion. are not only speedily decolonized and granted self-government or independence. We want progress. that has been our consistent policy. This danger had to be met realistically and the leaders of Malaya realized that it had to be fought not only with military but also with economic weapons. 1957 and by means of a mutual defense pact with the former mother country (Britain). two of which were formerly British colonies and the remaining nine were formerly protectorates.358. Malaya was faced with a grave internal problem of communist infiltration and subversion. Malaya is a Federation of 11 states. We want to stand up and be counted on the side of the forces of freedom. Under her constitution. these 11 states upon becoming independent agreed to form a Federation with a federal parliament composed of two houses in which each of the 11 states was given representation. so that the danger of Chinese communist infiltration and subversion was real and acute. India’s borders have been invaded by Red C hina. Magsaysay was able to break the communist . Laos has turned neutralist. And because the military power of the forces of communism is great due to their tremendous human and material resources. In other words. The balance of power in Asia between the forces of freedom on the one hand and the forces of communism on the other. next only to the Malays. So.000 and to the latter Malayan $ 5. Britain will relinquish sovereignty over Sarawak and North Borneo and withdraw protection over Brunei and then these three newly independent states will join the 11 states now composing the Federation of Malaya and Singapore in forming the Federation of Malaysia.
the Bandung Conference declaration and the 1960 decolonization resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. All that we are told is that the proposed members of are Malaya. It is only Britain which can be expected to extend military and economic aid to these countries once they become independent because Britain is their former mother country and because of the close trade and economic ties that will have to continue even after the severance of political ties between’ them. For my part. Sarawak. North Borneo and the Philippines. (3) Even if the Philippines win its case. Brunei and North Borneo against communist infiltration and subversion. I submit to the Senate and to our people the following conclusions: (1) If the administration of President Macapagal seriously believes that the Philippine claim of sovereignty to a portion of North Borneo should be prosecuted to the bitter end. We would appear as having attempted to colonize a portion of North Borneo without any lawful or just cause. Brunei and North Borneo safe and secure against communist infiltration and subversion once these countries become selfgoverning or independent? According to President Macapagal. Alternative plan Let me now turn to the Greater Confederation of Malay States proposed by President Macapagal. Brunei and North Borneo are outside the SEATO area so that they cannot rely on the SEATO for protection against communism. It is pertinent to point out that Singapore. before they can expect any Filipino to rally to its support and before they can expect the proposed memberstates of such Confederation to be convinced that it is a better and more effective instrument than the Malaysia plan to combat and overcome the communist menace in their respective territories. Conclusions From the foregoing facts and considerations.backbone here in our country. I regret to report that in the joint committee hearings of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense and Security. Because of the success of the Federation of Malaya under the leadership of Abdul Rahman and with the British military and economic aid to fight communist infiltration and subversion. the damage to the honor and prestige of our Republic would be incalculable. (2) If the Philippines lose its case. it must be prepared to establish the identity of that portion whether the case is brought before the International Court of Justice or before the United Nations. Is this a better substitute to the Malaysia plan as an instrumentality to make Sarawak. it is a better substitute. Brunei. I have asked before and I now again ask: Is it the plan that this Greater Malayan C onfederation will not seek any outside military or economic aid either from Britain or from the US and that each member state will just rely on her own military and economic resources to fight communist infiltration and subversion? Is the Philippines ready to extend military and economic aid to North Borneo. material and pertinent and must be answered by President Macapagal and the proponent of the Greater Malayan Confederation. how much is the present administration willing to appropriate for this purpose? What joint and common measures will the member states take in order to help each other in fighting communist infiltration and subversion? Will there be a common armed force? Will there be a common economic program? Or will this be a purely social club? These questions are relevant. all that he could say was that the proposed members will retain their separate sovereignties. Sarawak. we stand to gain nothing because under the United Nations charter. According to President Macapagal in a recent interview with a correspondent of Agence de France. grant its people self-government or independence and respect their will and wishes as to whether they will join the Federation of Malaysia or the Greater Malayan Confederation or . none of the defense and foreign officials present could give any answer to these questions and they confessed to our amazement and surprise that the detailed plans and objectives of this projected Greater Malayan Confederation have not been spelled out. for the simple reason that its proponents cannot give us any information as to what concretely and specifically are the plans and the ways and means by which this Greater Malayan Confederation is expected to help protect Sarawak. Neither can they rely on US military or economic aid. so that the names of Abdul Rahman and Magsaysay rank high in the roster of successful communist fighters in Asia. I cannot say whether it is a better substitute or not. forgetting our colonialism and our loud demands for accelerating the grant of self-government or independence to subject peoples especially those in Asia. This means that the Philippine claim to a portion of North Borneo will be given so that North Borneo may become independent and sovereign and thus qualify to be a member of this Greater Malayan Confederation. Singapore. Brunei and North Borneo through infiltration and subversive activities. Sarawak. we have to give up our rule and administration to the portion of North Borneo we are claiming. since the present trend in American foreign policy as manifested in Senator Mansfield’s position is to cut down on American foreign aid by not giving to those countries to which the US has not heretofore given aid and to gradually reduce the amount as to those countries to which the US has been giving aid. it is also expected that the enlarged Federation of Malaysia under the same leadership of Abdul Rahman and with continued British military and economic aid will be able to meet and overcome any communist attempt to capture Singapore. Brunei and Sarawak and if so.
Brunei and Sarawak to fight and overcome successfully the forces of communism once they become self-governing or independent. the better course to follow is for our government to inform the United Nations in due time. we fold our arms in mortal fear. If. he can raise the question before the United Nations and ask that a plebiscite be held under the auspices of the world organization to determine whether the people of North Borneo really favor Malaysia or not. when the Federation of Malaysia plan is submitted for consideration in the United Nations that we are voluntarily relinquishing whatever claim of sovereignty we may have to any portion of North Borneo in order to accelerate the changing of its status from a non-self governing territory to that of a self-governing or independent state and that we favor holding a plebiscite under United Nations auspices to give the people of North Borneo the opportunity to freely express their will and wishes as to whether they want to join the Federation of Malaysia or the Greater Malayan Confederation or exist as a separate independent state. I felt and still feel that the restoration of prudence and sobriety in the conduct of our foreign policy is a matter of cardinal importance. At the other end of the line are the faint-hearted souls who cherish a host of vague. In the language of one world statesman. i. imprudent posture they render no little disservice to the very cause they propose to champion." little realizing that by such a hasty. which renders unnecessary resort to war or use of force and violence. remain on the side of the free would and not turn communist or neutralist. the ways and means. it is worthy of note that judging from press reports of Filipino newspapermen who had gone to North Borneo. (4) If President Macapagal honestly believes that the Federation of Malaysia plan is not according with the freely expressed will and wishes of the people of North Borneo. And if Indonesia insists that the peoples of Sarawak. they tell us. (7) Rather than prosecute the Philippine claim of sovereignty to a portion of North Borneo to the bitter end. despite the assumed knowledge of the validity and justice of the Philippine claim. Brunei and North Borneo are against Malaysia. we should lose not merely the respect of all lawabiding nations (the United Kingdom and the Asian countries inparticular). physically weak nation — institute and press the claim in accordance with the accepted peaceful modes of settlement prescribed by international law and procedure. but also a considerable measure of self-respect — . Responsible quarters confess to no little measure of amusement over the unrestrained enthusiasm. in espousing a claim — without the slightest inquiry into its possible merit — over a portion of the globe's surface which may belong as a matter of law and equity to Filipinos. then he must abandon talking in platitudes and generalities and at once spell out concretely and specifically. the military and economic aid if any by which the Greater Malayan Confederation expects to help the people of North Borneo. for the statement that emotionalism has beclouded and confused the North Borneo question. once they become self-governing or independent. (5) If President Macapagal honestly believes that his proposed Greater Malayan C onfederation is a better substitute to the Malaysia plan to defend and protect ourselves and the other Malayan peoples of Asia against the danger of communist infiltration and subversion. we should point out to her that there is available UN machinery and there is the peaceful remedy of asking for a plebiscite under the auspices of the United Nations. I for one believe in all sincerity that under the present circumstances. the popular reaction there to our claim of sovereignty is one of surprise and resentment rather than sympathy and support. If the Philippine claim to North Borneo is valid. I believe. despite the information recently given by the Mayor of Jesselton while here as an ECAFE delegate that 96 out of 111 representatives elected to the legislative council of North Borneo last December favor Malaysia. but how we do it. of home-grown nationalists in supporting claims — without adequate study of their validity — of sister countries in Asia over territories held by Western powers. and who have not stopped imagining the catastrophic. foreign policy is not only what we do. in specific terms. A good number of friends have asked me to deliver what they call an "impassioned speech" on the question. "Let us have North Borneo by all means. (6) Our people must be told and made to realize that if we are to be consistent with our avowed policy of opposing communism firmly and uncompromisingly.. In this connection. on the one hand. we should — despite our standing as a young. There are Filipinos who summarily adopt the mycountry-right-or-wrong attitude. but I had felt that the time was not ripe and that the whole issue should be studied in an atmosphere of dispassion and restraint. THE NORTH BORNEO QUESTION There is ample justification. we must see to it that North Borneo.exist as a separate independent state. and their unconcealed dread. nuclear wars into which the Philippines would be drawn should it so much as attempt to press the claim to North Borneo. on the other hand.e. then for the peace and security not only of ourselves but of our free world allies in Asia. nameless fears. The Philippine Claim to North Borneo: A Statement of Facts. regardless of the merit or validity of such a claim. Brunei and Sarawak.
If. a document purporting to be the British text of the agreement. Both are members in good standing of the United Nations. good offices. is more important — and. 1 . Singapore Island — which is linked to Malaya by a three-quarter mile causeway — and the Northern Borneo territories of Sarawak. 1878. dated January 4. There need be no fear of breach of amicable relations between the United Kingdom and the Philippines. the Sultan of Brunei. Overbeck the title of "Datto Padajara Rajah de Sandakan" as long as he might live.' "cede" and "grant. Friendly countries will therefore understand why the Filipinos view with deep concern any move on the part of the United Kingdom. Brunei is a British protectorate. to my mind. namely. For instance. kept in the files of the British North Borneo Company in London. we come to the conclusion that the Philippine claim is without basis." One may well inquire: — why this plan of a merger at a time such as this? At any rate. several versions of the agreement and quite a number of translations of said agreement. to be sure. Brunei and British North Borneo. It is at this point where controversy arises. 6. headed by Lord Cobbold. that in 1850. which invariably use the terms "lease. One group of heirs of the Sultan of Sulu submitted a certified translation of a Spanish text of the agreement. in advance of the institution of such a claim. ''The five-state merger would create a federation of Malaya. former Governor of the Bank of England. with the right to levy taxes on the said land. the peaceful solution of the North Borneo question may well be a distinct Anglo-Philippine contribution. 1878. forest products and animals. the Sultan of Sulu merely concluded a contract of lease with Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent. let us consider the facts. Feb. Malaya. and its Government will deal directly with the Federation of Malaya and with London. to institute and prosecute this claim through all peaceful processes. would seem to show that the Sultan of Sulu ceded and granted to Overbeck and Dent on January 22.lose our faith in the ultimate validity of that which is right and just. ceded North Borneo to the latter. and without considering such a development. "all the rights and powers belonging to me over all the territories and lands being tributary to us on the mainland on the Island of Borneo" . There are. commission of inquiry. Malaya. states and I quote: "KUALA LUMPUR. to render academic the North Borneo question through extra-legal means." On the other hand. and partly because of our deepseated respect for the British institutions of law and order. or resort to the International Court of Justice." by Maxwell and Gibson). There are also in the files of the Department of Foreign Affairs several English translations (Conklin translation. which in turn is a translation of the original in Arabic. both are committed to the rule of law and to the necessity of maintaining a society of free men. II. Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent. 1878. 225-233. so sorely needed at a time such as this. Under this document. where instead of a precarious equilibrium of terror as a temporary stabilizing factor in international relations. 1962. There is no controversy regarding one historical fact: namely. that I have requested the Department of Foreign Affairs to make a careful. is due to arrive in Borneo soon to inquire into public opinion in Sarawak and British North Borneo concerning the merger.which. — A political merger under a strong central government has been recommended by the Malaysian Solidarity Committee. administer justice and collect dues and taxes from the traders of said towns. thoroughgoing study of the question and. by our own inaction and timidity. It is partly because of the well known regard of the British Government for the rule of law. then we should say so and let the British Government know our stand. including diplomatic negotiations. arbitration. On the other hand. Decision of High Court of Borneo citingtranslation in "Treaties and Engagements affecting the Malay States. In January. there should emerge more instances of healthy respect for law and for more voluntary arrangements among nations so that the moral force of right may be made to prevail over the right of might. exploit its ores. Saleeby translation on the "History of Sulu" pp. Such candor and probity will undoubtedly inspire the respect of the entire free world. published in the New York Times issue of February 7. the Sultan of Sulu entered into an agreement with two representatives of a private British company. in gratitude for the aid he received during war from the Sultan of Sulu. if morally convinced of the merit of the Philippine claim. a dispatch from Kuala Lumpur.on the other hand. "A British and Malayan commission. and granted to Mr. Both are crown colonies.
He stated and I quote: "It is necessary." V. In 1915." III. to the intent that the Crown should. a group of heirs of the Sultan filed suit in the court of North Borneo against the Government of North Borneo and the British North Borneo Company for the recovery of the stipulated annual payments. then." He added: "The proposal to lay the case before the United Nations should bring the whole matter before the bar of public opinion. . powers and interests to the Crown with effect from the 15th day of July. 1947." VIII. however. by what is now known as the "North Borneo Cession Order. 1881. Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent turned over their rights to the British North Borneo C ompany. together with the Settlement of Labuan and its dependencies.in consideration of a yearly compensation of 5. Crucial Question: VI. the territory of the State of North Borneo. the British Government. 1946. the only issue being — in view of reported dispute among the heirs — to whom payment was to be made. Both defendants admitted their obligation to pay. 1958. empowered the Company to acquire full benefit of the said "grant" and "benefits. 1939. and that the said territory." that from the 15th day of July. defined the stand of the United States vis-a-vis the Sultan's temporal and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the territories of the Sultanate beyond American jurisdiction." since it was done by the British Government "unilaterally and without special notice to the Sultanate of Sulu nor consideration of their legal rights.000 Malayan dollars. "which should be promptly repudiated by the Government. 1946. the heirs have made claims upon the British Government for the return of the territory. is one of ownership: Is ownership vested in the United Kingdom? Does the Philippines have any right to claim North Borneo? In discussing this. The crucial question. rendered judgment in favor of the heirs on December 18. This declaration was served on the British Government. as from that day. together "with all other powers and rights usually exercised by and belonging to Sovereign Rulers. Since then. through Chief Justice Macaskie. the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu issued a proclamation declaring the termination of the lease contract over the territory in question effective January 22. under the principle of estoppel. but their claims have been disregarded. that there be clearly of official record the fact that the termination of the temporal sovereignty of the Sultanate of Sulu within the American territory is understood to be wholly without prejudice or effect as to the temporal sovereignty and ecclesiastical authority of the Sultanate beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the U. On February 26.000 dollars. and which we hereby delegate to him of our own free and sovereign will. On July 10. "the State of North Borneo shall be annexed to and shall form part of His Majesty's dominions and shall be called. The High Court of the State of North Borneo. 1946 — whereby the Company "have transferred and ceded all the said those in North rights. its own official stand. which continued paying the stipulated 5. by virtue of an alleged agreement between the Secretary of State for the colonies and the British North Borneo C ompany dated June 6. in a special report to the President of the Philippines. we avoid pointless controversy since the British Government cannot possibly dispute. after a recital of the terms of agreement between the Sultan of Sulu and the two representatives of the Company. the Colony of North Borneo." VII. have full sovereign rights over. In 1939. 1946. should thereupon become part of His Majesty's dominions" — announced. IV. especially with reference to that portion of the Island of Borneo which as a dependency of the Sultanate of Sulu is understood to be held under lease by the chartered company (known) as the British North Borneo Company. considered this an act of political aggression. but there can be no debate on the official British stand on that agreement. There may be a lot of wrangling over what is the authentic version of the agreement of 1878. six days after the Philippines became independent. Government. former Governor General Francis Burton Harrison (as Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Philippine Government).S. particularly Borneo. Governor Frank Carpenter. On November 1. head of the Mindanao and Sulu division of the Philippine Government. In 1957." Accordingly. the British Government granted a Charter to the British North Borneo Company which. In this way. and title to. "Never in history has there been given any people such an opportunity to secure justice by an appeal to the enlightened conscience of mankind. I have taken careful note of the statements of the highest British officials and considered the views of English authorities on international law.
and recognizes the grants of territory and the powers of government made and delegated by the Sultans in whom the sovereignty remains vested. though of a negative character only. 197). to the Supreme authority of Her Britannic Majesty's Government. North Borneo was not under the territorial supremacy of any member of the Family of Nations." and that "the British Government assumes no sovereign rights whatever in Borneo. in the fact that the Crown in the present case assumes no dominion or sovereignty over the territories occupied by the Company. Lord Granville stated that the territories "will be administered by the Company under the sovereignly of the Sultans of Brunei and Sulu. since admittedly in 1878. usual manner and by registration under the Companies elected to follow their own course independently of Government support. on the other. and for the recognition of the Concessions. Lord Earl Granville. nor does it purport to grant to the Company any powers of Government thereover. Did the incorporation by Royal C harter of the British North Borneo Company in 1881 create a trading company with sovereign rights — even from the English viewpoint — over North Borneo? This was the very bone of contention between the Spanish and Dutch Governments. Mr. Speaking in the House of Commons. the New Zealand Company. It differs also from previous Charters." In thus differentiating the status of the British North Borneo Company. the Company have surrendered to Her Majesty's Government various powers of control over their proceedings which. It is a matter of record that the British Government had declared that it did not intend to acquire sovereign rights in North Borneo. and the British Government. Morier (No. (2) the Charter and territorial concession from the Sultan of Brunei. and their authority to administer the government of those territories by delegation from the Sultans. soon after the Royal Charter was granted the British North Borneo Co. in that it prohibits instead of granting a general monopoly of trade. and subject. incorporation in the Acts. it merely confers upon the persons associated the status and incidents of a body corporate. It is important to bear in mind that no such control would have been reserved to the Crown had theCompany taker. acquired rights over North Borneo merely as private individuals and no more. Their purported acquisition of territory and "sovereignty" was therefore beyond the pale of International Law. dated January 7." He declared that no greater obligation rested upon the Government to protect the C ompany than "to protect any other subject who might be in pursuit of objects not unlawful. as regards the exercise of these rights." The British Foreign Minister. William Ewart Gladstone. are sufficient for the prevention by Her Majesty's Government of any abuse in the exercise of the authority conferred by the Sultans. in a correspondence to the British Minister at Madrid. "invested with sovereign rights by the Native C hiefs of North Borneo. from the Sultans of Sulu and Brunei. But the Spanish and Dutch Governments protested that such a declaration was inconsistent with the grant of a Royal Charter to the British North Borneo Company." drew attention "to the special character of that Charter. are those under which the Company derive their title to the possession of the territories in question. 1881. Note the following significant passages from Lord Granville's correspondence: "The first two C harters. "The British Charter therefore differs essentially from the previous Charters granted to the East India Company." Much the same disclaimer was sounded by the famous Prime Minister. on the one hand. "The third Charter is the British Charter under which the Company have obtained incorporation and a recognition of her Majesty's Government of their title to the territories granted. therefore. Lord Granville stated that "after very careful consideration of all the circumstances of the case Her Majesty's Government decided that the C harter should be granted. recapitulated "the circumstances under which Her Majesty's Government acceded to the application of the Company for Incorporation by Royal Charter." Lord Granville said the British North Borneo Company was in fact established under three C harters: (1) the C harter and territorial concession from the Sultan of Sulu. It was incorporated by Royal Charter only on November 1. It is important to note this." . to whom they have agreed to pay a yearly tribute. and (3) the British C harter of incorporation. In return for incorporation by Royal Charter." In similarly repudiating the Dutch contention.At the time the agreement was entered into in 1878. Overbeck and Dent. 1882. the British North Borneo Company had no legal personality whatever. he acknowledged that the "remarkable powers" obtained by the British North Borneo Company involved the "essence of sovereignty" but they were "covered by the Suzereignty of the Native Chief. and you will perceive from an examination of its provisions that its effect is to restrict and curtail the powers of the Company and not to create or enlarge them. and other Associations of that character." and explained "its legal effect.
. and made between His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies on behalf of His Majesty (therein and hereinafter referred to as 'the Crown') of the one part and the Company of the other part the Company (amongst other things) have transferred and ceded all the said rights. and that the said territory should thereupon become part of His Majesty's dominions." (Id. as from that day. What. Oppenheim states that where an individual or a corporation acquires land in countries which are not under the territorial supremacy of a member of the Family of Nations. His Majesty is pleased. in the very carefully worded Cession Order. powers. powers and rights" previously Company. 497.) Note that the Cession Order is convenient in its vagueness as to the exact nature and scope of the rights and interests of the British North Borneo Company. and latterly. His Heirs and Successors. His Majesty hereby reserves to Himself. All that was transferred. 1946. therefore. or must ask a member of the Family of Nations to acknowledge the acquisition as having been made on its behalf. and title to. a Treatise on International Law by Oppenheim (7th edition. edited by in Council. shall. "3. 209 (2). 1946. 1946. He adds: "If the individual or corporation which has made the acquisition requires protection by the Law of Nations. the assertion of sovereignty over North Borneo by the Crown. the Colony of North Borneo. In other words. as follows: "1. unlike the different trading companies chartered at the time. and the rules of this law. cannot be applied. that the British Government explicitly acknowledged the sovereignty and title of the Sultan of Sulu over North Borneo. sec. 1946. 1946. and interests to the Crown with effect from the fifteenth day of July. "Now. of the British Cession Order of July 15. "4. the British North Borneo Company. "2. and that sovereignty remained with the Sultan of Sulu. such acquisition of territory and sovereignty thereon "takes place outside the dominion of the Law of Nations. that the British North Borneo Company was not invested by the British Government with the public power of acquisition and administration of North Borneo. 2. How could it be otherwise in the light of the categorical disclaimers made by Lord Granville and Prime Minister William Gladstone? Could the British North Borneo Company purport to transfer It is obvious that the British North Borneo Company. they merely acted in their private individual capacity. gives us the significance in International Law of the above facts. as in the case of the former Congo Free State." Lauterpacht. p. and shall come into operation on the fifteenth of July. sovereignty whatever in North Borneo. and 4. which states in part: sovereignty over North Borneo to the Crown? Certainly not. the territory of the State of North Borneo.These authoritative statements show. the State of North Borneo shall be annexed to and shall form part of His Majesty's dominion and shall be called. then. on that day. to order. is the significance in International Law. and it is hereby ordered. and it is equally obvious that the BritishGovernment has refused to acknowledge. The British Government had made it crystal clear that the C ompany did not have that power. to the intent that the Crown should. have full sovereign rights over. that Overbeck and Dent were not authorized by the British Government to acquire and administer North Borneo. that the British Government assumed no rights of "And whereas by an Agreement dated the twenty-sixth day of June. 1946. become British subjects. All persons who on the fifteenth day of July. has not declared a new State to be in existence in North Borneo. together with the Settlement of Labuan and its dependencies. This Order may be cited as the North Borneo Cession Order Significance: The classic British text on International Law. are citizens of the State of North Borneo by virtue of the provisions of the North Borneo Naturalization Ordinance." unless the "corporation in question is invested by its State with public power of acquisition and administration. the acquisition by Overbeck and Dent. As from the fifteenth day of July. by and with the advice of His Privy Council. 496). 1946. as the successor in interest of Overbeck and Dent. at 496. power to revoke." (Volume I. therefore. under its own Cession acquired by the British North Borneo . alter and to amend this Order. was the mass of "interests. as having been made in its behalf. he or it must either declare a new State to be in existence and ask for its recognition by the Powers. in brief: 1 . at least until 1946. 1948). 3. 1931. effective July. 1946.
implies recognition (Op. belabor the point so ably expounded by the Philippines Free Press writer." It would be passing strange now for the British Government to contend that the Sultan of Sulu did not possess either a perfect title or a political organization below European standards. such an annexation. In the Law of Nations. individuals do not and cannot enter into treaties of cession (whereby sovereignty is acquired) with native tribal chiefs: these are outside the realm of the Law of Nations. In other words. as has been interpreted. Mr. had over North Borneo. on the strength of British admissions. and the terms of the "Cession Order of 1946" amply show that no cession was contemplated or ever perfected. "padjak. is the English translation of the Malayan word.. does not require that the territory be uninhabited. cit.000 dollars to the Sultan of Sulu. with whom Great Britain has had treaties of Peace and Commerce. to borrow the language of former Governor General Francis Burton Harrison. insofar as the British Government is concerned. not a contract of cession. conventional International Law. (2) the Treaty of Peace and Commerce entered into between Great Britain and the Sultan of Sulu. of Lord Granville's correspondence. ran counter to and violated: (1 ) the official declarations of the British Government as to the legal nature and effect of the Agreement of 1878. yet the position is different when "the act alleged to be creative of a new right is in violation of . The emergence of nonEuropean powers. the conclusion of a bilateral treaty. The prime object of settlement by occupation is the incorporation of unappropriated territory into the national domain of the acquiring State.. without recognition on the part of third States being required for their validity. the British minister at Madrid. according to language scholars. it threw overboard the sovereignty and title of the Sultan of Sulu which it had acknowledged in the past and completely disregarded the proprietary rights of the heirs of the Sultan over North Borneo. At any rate. . The term res nullius. Oppenheim is authority for the proposition that while it is true that States may acquire new territorial or other rights by unilateral acts. states the British authority. Napoleon Rama. at this juncture. At any rate in International Law. more than that. A lease arrangement which. the territory must be res nullius or terra nullius. THE NORTH BORNEO QUESTION But this is not all. .Order. Only such territory as is not within the dominion of any State may be the object of occupation." I shall not. and is effected through possession and administration of the territory by or in behalf of the acquiring State. occupation and be promptly repudiated by the allegedly below the European standard. Note the last paragraph in his letter to Morier. that the agreement of 1878 was just a contract of lease. Occupation is an original mode of territorial acquisition. The statements of Lord Granville and Prime Minister Gladstone three years after the contract was concluded. the contemporaneous official communications to and from the Minister of State in Madrid. namely. Oppenheim. Section 75 (cl) p. All we need to do is to refer back to the text. it is to be observed that the territories granted to the Company have been for generations under the government of the Sultans of Sulu and Brunei. The important thing is that the Cession Order of 1946. Modes: It is probable that the British Government. and the growing importance of new nations in the Afro-Asian bloc. at least insofar as North Borneo is concerned. to justify its new stand." would seem to be the only other explanation. It was. but that it be not already occupied by a people or State whose political organization is such as to cause its prior rights of occupancy to be recognized. have eroded away this concept. (3) the title and rights of dominion which the Sultan of Sulu. portions of which were quoted earlier: "As regards the general features of the undertaking. We must concede that in the past European powers did not recognize the title of settled peoples whose civilization was in International Law. annexing as it does the Territory of North Borneo and incorporating it as part of His Majesty's dominions. it is precluded from claiming that the Sultan of Sulu had a title or a political organization below the European standard. will fall back on one of two modes of territorial acquisition prescription. namely.. 143). "an act of political aggression which should Government. In such cases the act in question is tainted with invalidity and incapable of producing legal rights beneficial to the wrongdoer . repudiated and set aside all the solemn Government declarations made by its highest officials. the yearly tribute of 5. such as a treaty of commerce and navigation.
Their possession from 1946 up to this date. Prescription. In the remote possibility that Article I is made to apply. Before the bar of world opinion. the voice of Harrison sounded like a cry in the I have heard it said that the Philippine claim may not prosper because of Article 1 of the Philippine Constitution defining the National Territory. laid down the rule that the adverse holding should go "beyond the memory of man. namely: continuous and undisturbed possession. and which they can rightly call their own. Just a few days ago. when the Philippine Constitution was adopted by the Filipino people. nineteen hundred and thirty. The generally accepted concept of prescription in International Law apparently requires the existence of two essential facts. her policy-makers must have foreseen the inevitable consequences of such an inopportune move. and all territory over which the present Government of the Philippine Islands exercises jurisdiction. the limits of which are set forth in Article III of said Treaty. Sec.in the form of a new title or otherwise." I feel that those who argue along this line confuse the concept of national domain with proprietary rights of Filipino citizens over a portion of the earth's surface. There is something pathetic in the fact that it took an American official. Hugo Grotius. cit. the former Governor General Francis Burton Harrison. considering the temper of subject peoples all over the world. that voice has gained volume and is no longer alone. In recent years. in the light of the continuous protests of the heirs and the termination of the lease. The Philippines comprise all the territory ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris concluded between the United States and Spain on the tenth day of December. there may not be sufficient warrant for saying that the British possession was adverse. article. he called the Cession Order by its proper name — "an act of political aggression. Vattel maintained that possession may ripen into title only after the lapse of a "considerable number of years " Insofar as the present question is concerned. Article I has no applicability whatever to this kind of a claim. 136). 1946 in his capacity as Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Philippine Government. The North Borneo question should furnish an excellent instance for the British Government to translate a preachment into a cold reality. and in the treaty concluded between the United States and Great Britain on the second day of January. between the United States and Spain on the seventh day of November. has not been uninterrupted and cannot possibly ripen into a title. in disregard of its previous disclaimers. the Philippines was not an independent State but a mere dependency. We need not even consider the thesis that in 1935. nineteen hundred. and if. and lapse of a period of time. considering the yearly tributes they have paid to the Sultan of Sulu and his heirs. there should be no apprehension whatever that this claim will provide undue incentives for mere speculators. the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution requesting the President to take all the necessary steps consistent with international law and procedure for the recovery of North Borneo. In a special report he submitted on September 26. eighteen hundred and ninety-eight. Friends can and should at times . and that therefore the restrictive provisions of Article I could not possibly tie the hands of the Republic as soon as independence became a reality. the United Nations has been seriously concerned with the problem of colonialism and has now asked for its speedy liquidation. properly belongs to them. there should be no apprehension of any rupture in the friendly relations between the United Kingdom and the Philippines." (Op. the North Borneo situation is not merely a problem of liquidation of colonialism. as I know. in law and equity. the British Government saw fit to make North Borneo a colony.. The Philippine Government is now called upon to defend and vindicate those rights. As I said in the beginning. For the Filipinos. In 1946. the Philippines can invoke the ringing declarations of responsible leaders all over the world — including those of the United Kingdom — who have vowed to end the practice of colonialism in all its manifestations. Article I provides: "Section 1. 75 (b). there is ample room for protection in the saving clause found in said wilderness. In 1962. In other words. — Prescription has been defined as the acquisition of territory by an adverse holding continued through a long term of years. appropriate arrangements have been made by the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu. it is a question of the return to them of what." It would seem equally pathetic that some home-grown nationalists have counseled the Government to pursue a policy of fear and inaction. with the Philippine Government. the father of International Law. at p. to assess the full import of the Cession Order of 1946. together with all the islands embraced in the treaty concluded at Washington. When in 1946. in the light of authoritative pronouncements of British officials.
May. institute the claim and initiate the necessary steps toward the peaceful settlement of the North Borneo question. And like two good friends. in the light of all relevant evidence. . Philippines Free Press . The important thing is that they should not become disagreeable. the Philippines and the United Kingdom can differ on this point without being difficult. Manila Times. 1962. Manila Chronicle. It is merely in keeping with the highest traditions of civility and a mutual respect for the rule of law that the Philippine Government should now.disagree.
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