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An Outline of the Philippine Claim to Sabah

Posted on August 28, 2013 by Atty. Me lin M. Magallona in !P "o um 1. " om the time it #as a$%ui ed by the Sultan of Sulu f om the Sultan of & unei up to 2' Ap il 1()2 #hen it #as fo mally $eded and t ansfe ed to the *epubli$ of the Philippines unde the title of so+e eignty, the Sultanate of Sulu had $ontinuously been the ightful so+e eign of the po tion ,o th &o neo -no#n as Sabah. 1.1. .n the $ou se of inte nal a med $onfli$t in the Sultanate of & unei efe ed by some histo ians as /$i+il #a ,0 lasting fo mo e than 10 yea s, the Sultan of & unei e%uested the assistan$e of the Sultan of Sulu, #ith the p omise that in the e+ent of +i$to y he #ould g ant him the te ito ies in ,o th &o neo unde his dominion. "ollo#ing the +i$to y of Sultan Muaddin of & unei, #ith the a med inte +ention of the Sultan of Sulu, a$$o dingly he $eded Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu in 110'. 1.2. &y the 2e$la ation of 2' Ap il 1()2 issued by the 3ei s of the Sultan of Sulu, the te ito y of Sabah as thus e%ui ed by $ession f om the Sultan of & unei #as $eded and t ansfe ed in so+e eignty to the *epubli$ of the Philippines. 4he 2e$la ation #as entitled /*e$ognition and Autho ity in "a+ou of the *epubli$ of the Philippines.0 1.2.1. &y this 2e$la ation, the Philippine $laim to so+e eignty and dominion o+e a po tion of ,o th &o neo be$ame a legal $laim. Afte the $ession f om the Sultanate, the Philippines a$%ui ed the ights o+e the te ito y of ,o th &o neo #hi$h it #as duty5bound as a so+e eign to p ote$t and p ese +e. 1.3. 4his 2e$la ation follo#ed the petition of 6 "eb ua y 1()2 of the 3ei s of the Sultan of Sulu add essed to the 2epa tment of "o eign Affai s. .n this Petition the 3ei s e7p essed thei intention to ha+e the po tion of ,o th &o neo in$luded in the national te ito y of the Philippines. 1.3.1. &y the .nst ument of 12 Septembe 1()2, the *epubli$ of the Philippines a$$epted the $ession of so+e eignty o+e Sabah p o$laimed by the Sultanate of Sabah. 1.3.2. On 2' Ap il 1()2, $ong ess adopted /*esolution u ging the P esident of the Philippines to ta-e the ne$essa y steps fo the e$o+e y of a $e tain po tion of the .sland of &o neo and ad8a$ent islands #hi$h belong to the Philippines. 1.3.3. On the basis of the 2e$la ation of 2' Ap il 1()2 of the 3ei s of the Sultan of Sulu on the t ansfe of so+e eignty o+e Sabah, Cong ess ena$ted *epubli$ A$t ,o. 6'') amending the &aseline 9a# in *epubli$ A$t ,o. 30'), the amendment p o+iding that the /Philippines has a$%ui ed dominion and so+e eignty0 o+e Sabah situated in ,o th &o neo. 2. Malaysia:s $laim to so+e eignty o+e Sabah #as based on its in$lusion in the fo mation of the "ede ation of Malaysia. .t is a $laim of de i+ati+e title, based on; <a= #hate+e inte ests the & itish >o+e nment had in Sabah, #hi$h #e e de i+ed f om <b= #hate+e inte ests the & itish ,o th &o neo Company <&,&C= had in Sabah, #hi$h #e e de i+ed f om #hate+e inte ests O+e be$- and 2ent de i+ed f om thei 1818 ag eement #ith the Sultan of Sulu. 2.1. Suffi$ient e+iden$e has been sho#n on the side of the Sultan of Sulu that the 2eed of 22 ?anua y 1818 e7e$uted by Sultan Mohammed ?amadul Alam #ith >usta+us &a on de O+e be$- and Alf ed 2ent #as an ag eement of lease. /.n $onside ation of this <te ito ial= lease@AtheyB p omise to pay 3is 3ighness@and to his hei s and su$$esso s the sum of fi+e thousand dolla s annually to be paid ea$h and e+e y yea .0 2.1.1. C itten in A abi$, the ag eement had been autho itati+ely t anslated by an Ame i$an and by a 2ut$h s$hola as /lease.0 .n the

Spanish t anslation, the ag eement has been des$ ibed as an /a endamento0 #hi$h means /lease.0 2.1.2. .n a spee$h befo e the 3ouse of Commons, the & itish P ime Ministe himself, Cilliam >ladstone, made efe en$e to the 2eed of 1818 as a $ont a$t of lease; /Ce do not see ho# this P ote$to ate Ag eement Aof 1888B, +ie#ed in the light of the 1818 $ont a$t, $an possibly di+est the Sultanate of Sulu of the latte :s so+e eignty o dominion. On the $ont a y, afte 1888, the & itish ,o th &o neo Company ente ed into a Confi mato y 2eed #ith the Sultan of Sulu, the eby $onfi ming and atifying #hat #as done in 1818. And #e hold the +ie# that fa f om epudiating the lease $ont a$t of 1818, the & itish ,o th &o neo Company, said to be unde & itish p ote$tion, $onfi med & itish p ote$tion, $onfi med and eite ated in 1(03 the e7isten$e of lease elationship.0 <Dmphasis added.= 2.1.3. O+e be$- and 2ent as p i+ate indi+iduals ha+e no legal status in inte national la# to assume the po#e of so+e eignty in+ol+ed in the $ession of te ito y. 2.1.'. O+e be$- and 2ent the efo e had nothing to t ansfe in te ms of title to so+e eignty o+e Sabah to the & itish ,o th &o neo Company <&,&C=. 2.1.6. &y P o$lamation of 26 ,o+embe 1(61, the Sultan of Sulu de$la ed /4he te mination of the said lease in fa+ou of >usta+us &a on de O+e be$- and Alf ed 2ent, thei hei s and assignees, effe$ti+e the 22nd day of ?anua y 1(68, and that f om and afte that date all the lands $o+e ed by the said lease shall be deemed estituted to the Sultanate of Sulu.0 2.2. Chen the & itish >o+e nment g anted a oyal $ha te to the &,&C, did it p o+ide autho ityfo the &,&C to a$%ui e te ito y by title of so+e eigntyE 2.2.1. 9o d Da l > an+ille, & itish fo eign ministe , in his lette of 1 ?anua y 1882 to & itish Ministe Mo ie ; /4he & itish Cha te the efo e diffe s essentially f om the p e+ious Cha te s g anted by the C o#n to the Dast .ndia Company, the 3udson:s &ay Company@, in the fa$t that the C o#n in the p esent $ase assumes no dominion o so+e eignty o+e the te ito ies o$$upied by the Company, no does it pu po t to g ant to the Company any po#e s of >o+e nment the eo+e F it me ely $onfe s upon the pe sons asso$iated the status and in$idents of a body $o po ate, and e$ogniGes the g ants of te ito y and the po#e s of go+e nment made and delegated by the Sultan to #hom the so+e eignty emains +ested. <Dmphasis added.= 2.2.2. .n esponse to the p otest of Spain and the ,ethe lands in ega d to the g ant of &,&C Cha te in ,o th &o neo, >lan+ille eplied; /4he te ito ies $eded to M . 2ent #ill be administe ed by the Company unde the suGe ainty of the Sultans of & unei and Sulu, to #hom they ha+e ag eed to pay a yea ly t ibute. 4he & itish go+e nment assumes no so+e eign ights #hate+e in &o neo. <Dmphasis added.= 2.2.3. .n ma-ing assu an$es to the 2ut$h Ministe Count de &ylant, >lan+ille st essed that &,&C #as pu ely a p i+ate $omme $ial ente p ise, de$la ing; /4he Ma8esty:s >o+e nment ha+e al eady e7plained to the >o+e nment of the ,ethe lands that the g ant of the Cha te did not in any #ay imply the assumption of so+e eign ights in ,o th &o neo. .t is the efo e unne$essa y to pu sue this dis$ussion fu the .0 2.2.'. *einfo $ing >lan+ille:s position, ?ulian Paun$efote, assistant pe manent unde se$ eta y of the & itish "o eign Offi$e, de$la ed; /Ce must be $a eful@to p ese +e the Sultan:s status as a So+e eign to the east $oast of &o neo.0 "u the he said; /4he so+e eignty of ,o th &o neo is +ested in the Sultan of Sulu0F any stipulation & itain might ma-e / espe$ting that te ito y must ha+e the p e+ious assent of the Sultan signified by him th ough the Company.0 <Dmphasis added.=

A t#o - by A been *. A$uHa, fi st appea ed in &ulatlat, Ma $h 11, 2013, http;IIbulatlat.$omImainI2013I03I11Isultan5stop5sabah5aint5 sp atlysI

3. 3o#e+e , in de ogation of the fo egoing $ommitment and de$la ations, on 2) ?une 1(') the & itish >o+e nment ente ed into an ag eement #ith the & itish ,o th &o neo Company <&,&C= #he eby /4he $ompany@t ansfe s and $edes the &o neo So+e eign *ights to the C o#n #ith effe$t f om the day of t ansfe , to the intent that the C o#n shall, as f om the day of the t ansfe , ha+e full so+e eign ights o+e , and title to, the te ito y of the State of ,o th &o neo and that the said te ito y shall the eupon be$ome pa t of 3is Ma8esty:s dominions.0 4he ag eement #as entitled /Ag eement fo the 4 ansfe of the &o neo So+e eign *ights and Assets f om the & itish ,o th &o neo Company to the C o#n, 2)th ?une 1(').0 3.1.4a-ing into a$$ount the said Ag eement of 2) ?une 1('), the & itish C o#n upon the ad+i$e of his P i+y Coun$il o de ed as follo#s; /1. 4his O de may be $ited as the ,o th &o neo Cession O de in Coun$il, 1('), and shall $ome into ope ation on the fifteenth of ?uly 1(').0 /2. As f om the fifteenth day of ?uly, 1('), the State of ,o th &o neo shall be anne7ed to and shall fo m pa t of 3is Ma8esty:s dominions and shall be $alled, togethe #ith the Settlement of 9abuan and its dependen$ies, the Colony of ,o th &o neo.0 3.2. 4he $oloniGation of ,o th &o neo by the & itish C o#n by means of Cession O de of 1(') appea s to $ede and t ansfe all /the ights, po#e s and inte ests0 of &,&C in ,o th &o neo #hi$h the & itish >o+e nment itself openly a$-no#ledged as e7$luding the po#e of so+e eignty and that te ito ial so+e eignty emained #ith the Sultan of Sulu. 3.3. 3en$e, the legality of & itish anne7ation of ,o th &o neo, in$luding Sabah, pe sists as a fundamental issue in the Philippine $laim to Sabah. 3.3.1. "o me Ame i$an >o+e no 5>ene al in the Philippines, " an$is &u ton 3a ison, des$ ibed the anne7ation as /politi$al agg ession0 and u ged the Philippine >o+e nment to ta-e a$tion. '. Chen Sabah #as in$o po ated into the fo mation of the "ede ation of Malaysia, the illegality of anne7ing Sabah as a C o#n Colony emains in Malaysia:s su$$ession5in5inte est f om > eat & itain. '.1. 4h ough the >o+e nment of Malaya, the & itish >o+e nment announ$ed that its te ito ies in ,o th &o neo, in$luding Sabah, #ould fo m pa t of a ne# "ede ation of Malaysia. '.2. 4he Philippines p otested the & itish de$ision and $alled & itain:s attention to the so+e eign ights of the Philippines o+e Sabah. Afte p ot a$ted negotiations, the & itish >o+e nment ag eed to meet Philippine ep esentati+es to dis$uss the p oblem of ,o th &o neo. 3eld in 9ondon in 1()3, the negotiations p o+ed to be in$on$lusi+e. .n the meantime, the founding date of the ne# "ede ation #as announ$ed. 6. On the initiati+e of P esident 2iosdado Ma$apagal, a Summit $onfe en$e #as $on+ened in Manila f om ?uly 30 to August 6, 1()3. .n this $onfe en$e, on 31 ?uly 1()3, P esident Soe-a no of .ndonesia, P esident 2iosdado Ma$apagal and P ime Ministe 4un-u Abdul *ahman of the "ede ation of Malaysia /app o+ed and a$$epted the Manila A$$o d, pa ag aph 12 of #hi$h stipulates as follo#s; /4he Philippines made it $lea that its position on the in$lusion of ,o th &o neo in the "ede ation of Malaysia is sub8e$t to the final out$ome of the Philippine $laim to &o neo. 4he Ministe s too- note of the Philippine $laim and the ight of the Philippines to $ontinue to pu sue it in a$$o dan$e #ith inte national la# and the p in$iple of the pa$ifi$ settlement of disputes. 4hey ag eed that the in$lusion of ,o th &o neo in the "ede ation of Malaysia #ould not p e8udi$e eithe the $laim o any ight the eunde . Mo eo+e , in the $onte7t of thei $lose asso$iation, the th ee $ount ies ag eed to e7e t the best endea+o s to b ing the $laim to a 8ust and e7peditious solution by pea$eful means@of the pa ties: o#n $hoi$e, in $onfo mity #ith the Cha te of the !nited ,ations and the &andung 2e$la ation.0 <Dmphasis added.= 6.1 .n the same Summit Confe en$e, the th ee 3eads of >o+e nment signed a ?oint Statement on 6 August 1()3,

pa ag aph 8 of #hi$h eads; /.n a$$o dan$e #ith pa ag aph 12 of the Manila A$$o d, the th ee 3eads of >o+e nment de$ided to e%uest the & itish >o+e nment to ag ee to see- a 8ust and e7peditious solution to the dispute bet#een the & itish >o+e nment and the Philippine >o+e nment $on$e ning Sabah <,o th &o neo=@4he th ee 3eads of >o+e nment ta-e $ogniGan$e of the position ega ding the Philippine $laim to Sabah <,o th &o neo= afte the establishment of the "ede ation of Malaysia as p o+ided unde pa ag aph 12 of the Manila A$$o d, that is, that the in$lusion of Sabah <,o th &o neo= in the "ede ation of Malaysia does not p e8udi$e the $laim o any ight the eunde .0 <Dmphasis added.=

). Malaysia had epeatedly a$-no#ledged the Philippine $laim to Sabah and that it is a $laim that should be settled as soon as possible, in$luding the p ospe$t of settlement in the .nte national Cou t of ?usti$e. On its pa t, the Philippines pe sistently offe ed the settlement of dispute a ising f om its $laim to Sabah. ).1. .n "eb ua y 1()', the Malaysian P ime Ministe had the unde standing #ith the Philippine P esident to dis$uss /as soon as possible the best #ay of settling the dispute, not p e$luding efe en$e to the .nte national Cou t of ?usti$e.0 ).2. .n August 1()', the t#o go+e nments ag eed in an e7$hange of aides memoi to a meeting of thei ep esentati+es in &ang-ofo the pu pose of $la ifying the Philippine $laim and of dis$ussing the means of settling the dispute. ).3. .n "eb ua y 1()), in esponse to Malaysia:s diplomati$ note eite ating its assu an$e to $omply #ith the Manila A$$o d and the $on$omitant ?oint Statement, the Philippines p oposed that /both >o+e nments ag ee as soon as possible on a mode of settlement that is mutually a$$eptable to both pa ties.0 ).'. .n ?une 1()), the t#o >o+e nments, in a 8oint $ommuni%uJ, ag eed on$e again to abide by the Manila A$$o d and the ?oint StatementF they eite ated thei $ommon pu pose to $la ify the Philippine $laim and the means of settling it. ).6. .n ?uly 1()8, the Philippine delegation p esented the Malaysian delegation #ith a # itten %uestion, /Cill you dis$uss #ith the modes of settlement of ou $laim at the $onfe en$e in &ang-o-, i espe$ti+e of you o#n unilate al assessment of the suffi$ien$y of the $la ifi$ation gi+enE0 Malaysia:s ans#e #as un%ualifiedly in the affi mati+e. ).). .n August 1()8, again in a 8oint $ommuni%uJ, the t#o >o+e nments ag eed that tal-s on an offi$ial le+el #ould be held as soon as possible ega ding the Philippine $laim to Sabah. ).1. 4he fo egoing unde ta-ings assume signifi$an$e fo the eason that they a e not unilate al a$ts of the PhilippinesF they a e $ommitments 8ointly made by Malaysia and the Philippines. 4hey epeatedly affi m Malaysia:s e$ognition of the e7isten$e of the Philippine $laim to Sabah and its #illingness to settle the dispute a ising f om this $laim. ).1.1. .n $omplete dis ega d of its $ommitments, Malaysia has been in full et eat. .t is no# in denial of the e7isten$e of the Philippine $laim to Sabah. .n $onse%uen$e, it ests its $ase on the illegality of the $oloniGation of Sabah by the & itish C o#n.

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