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Nene urges government to reassert Sabah claim

MANILA, Philippines – Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. has urged the government to assert its claim on the disputed territory of Sabah in North Borneo and to include this in the proposed amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

Although he doubts that the Senate would even consider the idea, the issue would still be a good subject, especially now that the country is gearing toward a federal system.

“All I’m saying is, don’t forget that Sabah is ours, so that at the appropriate moment we should assert our ownership of the island,” Pimentel told The STAR. 

He is among the original proponents of federalism and has earlier proposed 11 federal states comprised of four states each in Luzon and the Visayas and three in Mindanao.

If his suggestion would be followed, Luzon would be grouped into Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog and Bicol; the Visayas islands would be assembled as Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas and Minparom (Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental, Palawan, Romblon and Marinduque); while Mindanao would be comprised of Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and Bangsamoro.

Pimentel said the country could also file its claim before the United Nations as the Sultanate of Sulu possesses all legal documents showing that Sabah was part of the sultanate and was only rented to a British company before Malaysia was granted independence under British colonial rule.

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Aside from the Sabah issue, Pimentel would also reiterate his proposal to outlaw political dynasties to prevent the federal system from being reduced into fiefdoms of warlords and dynasties.

“In revising the Constitution to adopt federalism, we will create and recognize one Armed Forces that will be used to crush warlords whenever they raise their ugly heads,” the former senator said. 

Political dynasties, he added, can be considered illegal as provided in the Constitution.

He would also propose the retention of national government agencies that have proven their worth, power for federal states to establish their own free trade zones, one income tax system for individuals and localized taxation for businesses.

Pimentel, chairman emeritus of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), has prepared a 400-page primer that outlines the proposed shift in the country’s form of government during the administration of President Duterte.

He said federalism would address the secessionist problems in Mindanao and bring government closer to the grassroots.

The former senator added that the country could use as models the federal states of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, New Delhi in India, Canberra in Australia and Washington if Manila is to be converted as the country’s federal administrative center.

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