Philippines senator wants Sabah inclusion in peace deal

Senate chair tackling Bangsamoro Basic Law wants inclusion guaranteeing Malaysia's role in peace process does not detract from Philippines claim for territory

Philippines senator wants Sabah inclusion in peace deal

By Roy Ramos


A powerful senator is seeking to include a provision in his draft of a law that seals peace in the country's Muslim south that guarantees that the Philippines would pursue a claim for Malaysia's resource-rich island of Sabah.

Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.  told Radio dzBB on Sunday that he is eyeing the possible inclusion of a provision in Bangsamoro Basic Law stating that Malaysia's participation in the peace process “does not detract from [the Philippines'] continuing claim of North Borneo [Sabah].”

"Let us include it in the proposal, and also let us get statements from Malacanang Palace assuring that we will continue the Sabah claim to make it clear," Marcos was quoted as saying.

Marcos - the son of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for 21 years - rejected the original law in June, saying it was unconstitutional, and on Wednesday offered a new version - to be debated before the senate Aug. 17 - with about 80 percent of the original amended.

BBL legalizes the creation of a new region to replace the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, under the terms of a 2014 peace deal.

The deal, inked between the government and one time rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in March 2014, is aimed at bringing an end to 17 years of negotiations and a decades old armed conflict, while granting Muslims greater political autonomy.

On Sunday, Marcos - chair of the Senate committee on local government that tackles the proposed law - stressed he's not picking a fight with Malaysia by questioning its role in the peace process, but added that it can be considered a “party in interest” because of its competing claim with the Philippines for the island.

In 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam Kiram leased North Borneo to the Hong Kong-based British North Borneo Co of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent for “5,000 Malaysian dollars” a year.

Sabah subsequently became Philippines territory on the Sultan's donation, Manila claims. 

In mid February 2013, a group of armed men, claiming to be the royal soldiers of the Sulu Sultanate encroached into Sabah via Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu, causing a standoff for months.

A total of 10 Malaysian security enforcers were killed before the operation to rid the “royal soldiers,” codenamed Op Daulat, finally ended June 29 the same year.

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