HOUSE RESOLUTION FILED: Elevation of Sabah Claim to International Court of Justice



Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Quezon  City

FIFTEENTH CONGRESS Third Regular Session

HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 3043
Introduced by Reps.  TEDDY  A. CASIÑO and NERI JAVIER COLMENARES



RESOLUTION
EXPRESSING THE SENSE  OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES URGING PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III TO
IMMEDIATELY ELEVATE
THE PHILIPPINES’ CLAIM ON THE ISLAND OF SABAH
TO THE INTERNATIONAL COURT  OF JUSTICE

WHEREAS, the eruption of armed conflict in Sabah between Filipinos led by the Sultanate of Sulu and
the Malaysian government have brought to the fore the decades­long neglect if not abandonment of
the Philippine government on the legitimate claim of the Sultanate and the Philippines over the
island;

WHEREAS,  the Philippines has solid historical, political and legal grounds to revive its claim and
reassert its sovereignty over Sabah which was illegally annexed by Malaysia in 1963;

WHEREAS, since pre­colonial times, the Sulu sultanate had ruled and owned Sabah until it was
illegally taken by Malaysia. At the same time, every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines
issues a check in the amount of 5,300 ringgit (US$1710 or about 77,000 Philippine pesos) to the
heirs of the Sultan of Sulu.

WHEREAS, people of Mindanao comprise the biggest bloc, if not the majority, of the population in
Sabah. Next in size are the people of Chinese origin, comprising of 13 per cent of the population.
The indigenous people other than those of Mindanao ancestry are divided into smaller tribes.

WHEREAS,  the more than 800,000 Filipinos living in Sabah are being oppressed and treated as second
class citizens in their homeland. They are subjected to mass arrests, detention and deportation by
Malaysia;

WHEREAS,  on 16 July 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the Philippine claim over Sabah is retained
and may be pursued in the future.

WHEREAS,  the initiatives taken by the Sulu Sultanate to reclaim Sabah provides the Philippine
government the opportunity to revive its sovereign claim over Sabah;

WHEREAS,  Liberal Party stalwart and former Senate President Jovito Salonga in his March 30,
1963 speech said that the Philippine claim over Sabah is solid. As then congressman and chairperson
of the Legal Committee of the Philippine Delegation to the Anglo­Philippine Talks held in London,
Salonga stated five (5) major bases that back up the claim:


1.   In 1881, when the Spanish and Dutch governments protested the award of the Royal Charter to
the British North Borneo Company, the British then clarified that “sovereignty remains with the
Sultan of Sulu” and that the company was merely an administrative authority.  Salonga cited
historical accounts that Baron de Overbeck, the Austrian
‘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 Co. 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.” But the
said company, including the heirs of Overbeck and Dent, are not sovereign entities and therefore
could not acquire “dominion and sovereignty” over the island as stated in authoritative British and
Spanish documents. The company's “rights were as those indicated in the basic contract... that of
lessee and a mere delegate;”

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 in complete disregard of the contract of 1878 and their
solemn commitments. This action did not and cannot produce legal results in the force of a
new title.

Four years after, in 1950, then Congressman Diosdado Macapagal, along with Congressmen Arsenio
Lacson and Arturo Tolentino, sponsored a resolution urging the formal institution of the claim to
Sabah;

4. In 1962, then President Diosdado Macapagal filed a claim over Sabah after the House of
Representatives unanimously passed a resolution urging him to recover the island. Sabah cannot be
part of the Federation of Malaysia as “conceived, inspired, and sponsored” by the British;

5. the Sultan of Sulu or his heirs cannot make a claim over Sabah before the International Court of
Justice (ICJ) because “only States may be parties in cases before the Court,” as cited in Chapter
2, Article 34, paragraph 1 of the Statute of the ICJ, in relation to Chapter 14 of the United
Nations (UN) Charter;

WHEREAS,  Salonga then eminently stated that “the claim for Sabah 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;”

WHEREAS, even the United States in 1906 and in 1920 officially reminded Great Britain that
North Borneo did not belong to the Crown and was still part of the Sultanate of Sulu;

WHEREAS,  Sabah clearly belongs to the Sultanate of Sulu. The Sultanate of Sulu belongs to the
Republic of the Philippines. Our over 800,000 Muslim brothers  and sisters in Sabah – Filipino
citizens all – and the vast reserve of oil, mineral and other natural resources  are part
of the national interest and patrimony  and should never be abandoned by the Philippine government;

WHEREAS,  Article 51of the UN Charter obligates its members, including the Philippines and
Malaysia, to settle international disputes only by peaceful means: by negotiation, good offices,
enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement in the ICJ, resort to regional
agencies or arrangements, and other peaceful methods;

WHEREAS,  the ICJ acts as a world court and decides in accordance with international law disputes
of a legal nature that are submitted to it by States. Both the Philippine and Malaysian governments
are parties to the ICJ;

WHEREAS,  the Philippine Congress must call on President Benigno Aquino III to reverse his pro­
Malaysia and adversarial stand on the Sultanate’s acts reclaiming Sabah and for the interest of the
nation, press him to elevate the Philippine claim over Sabah to the ICJ;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Representatives urge President Benigno Aquino III to
immediately elevate the Philippines’ claim on the island of Sabah to the International Court of
Justice.

Adopted,







TEDDY  A. CASIÑO                                                  NERI JAVIER COLMENARES Bayan Muna
Party­list                                                           Bayan Muna Party­list

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