'Congress should determine whether PH should revive Sabah claim'


Posted at Feb 13 2018 01:07 PM

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MANILA - Congress should decide whether or not the Philippines should revive its dormant claim over Sabah before discussing if it should be included as a state in the proposed federal set-up, a lawyer said Tuesday.

Lawyer Jose Lorena, a member of the group that drafted a proposed law for the Bangsamoro, said it was the legislative body that passed a resolution in 1962 urging then President Diosdado Macapagal to file a claim over Sabah.

"There should first be a decision on whether we will pursue or not to pursue the claim so there would clarity; it will be foolhardy to include if it will not be part of the country," Lorena told ANC's Early Edition.

"Usually, shifting a governance structure, whether it is autonomy or federalism must first be confined to our territorial limits because there is a certainty for that," he said.

Lorena said the present set-up provides a more conducive environment for discussion of issues such as this, which is among possible triggers of conflict, because of good relations between the Philippines and Malaysia.

The countries have maintained close ties despite testy diplomatic relations over Sabah, which voted to join the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

Relations deteriorated in the 60s when Manila insisted that the dispute be settled before the International Court of Justice.

Under the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, Kuala Lumpur helped broker peace talks between Manila and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front aimed at ending a decades-long insurgency in the south.