DFA: Sabah issue needs 'whole of government' approach

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
DFA: Sabah issue needs 'whole of government' approach
Amb. Ma. Teresita Daza, DFA spokesperson, gives a briefing to the media on A7gust 8, 2022.
Philstar.com / Kaycee Valmonte

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday highlighted that it is not the only government agency that deals with the Sabah issue and that solving the long-running dispute will require effort from other offuces.

Amb. Ma. Teresita Daza, DFA spokesperson, noted that Sen. Robinhood Padilla’s comments over the issue highlighted that it is a sensitive topic and that the heirs of the last sultanate of Sulu are trying to assert a claim "distinct" from the country’s, which involves sovereignty.

"We want to underscore that it’s just not one agency that handles or deals with the issue of Sabah," Daza said in a press briefing on Thursday.

"A whole-of-government is needed to actually study and figure out what needs to be done in the light of this recent development."

Padilla, in a privilege speech on Tuesday, called on the government to assist the heirs in asserting their commercial rights over Sabah.

He also noted that the heirs already won a case filed with the Madrid High Court in May 2020 and that the Malaysian government was recently ordered by a French arbitral court to pay the heirs $14.9 billion in relation to a lease agreement made in 1878.

Aside form the DFA, the Office of the Solicitor General is also studying how the arbitral ruling would affect the Philippines. 

"I’m also aware that the OSG has already mentioned that there is a need to study implications in any of this recent development in terms of our claim and I’m sure that different agencies involved with the issue of Sabah will actively be consulted for their inputs relative to the issue," Daza said.

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said on Tuesday also said the Senate can invite a DFA representative and one of the heirs to discuss the issue and ask the department to lay down the assistance needed with the issue.

He also said that the two countries can also settle the issue with the help of the United Nations.


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