Sabah, DFA’s call not OSG’s

The Department of Foreign Affairs which initiated talks with its Malaysian counterpart on the original $25 billion claim of the Sulu Sultanate before it reached the international arbitral court and not the Office of the Solicitor General would be the proper agency to handle the Sabah case.

A Sultanate official who requested anonymity told the Daily Tribune that during the initial meeting of former DFA secretary Delia Albert and former Malaysian minister of foreign affairs Sayed Albae in March 2004, the return and compensation issues were raised.

Datu Alludin Kiram, vice chairman of the Sultanate, said during the meeting, that he demanded the return and payment of $26 billion compensation for the exploitation of natural resources of the disputed territory.

The $26 billion was the original amount filed before the French arbitration court but reduced to $ 14.9 billion in the final court decision.

Albert pressed Sabah desk

Albert, at that time, has ordered the revival of the Sabah desk (Office of Sulu and North Borneo) in March 2004 to research legal and historical aspects of the Sabah claim.

“A day after the meeting a fire broke out at the Sabah affairs office and that was the last time that the Sabah issue was discussed by Malaysia and the Philippines,” the source said.

The source said the activation of the Office of Sulu and North Borneo at the Department of Foreign Affairs was supposed to be the first salvo of the Philippines government to pursue the historic and proprietary rights of the Sultanate over the disputed territory.

The officials said that the ruling of the French arbitral court can be used as a basis for the revival of talks with Malaysia.

Government cannot just be a passive observer in the ongoing legal skirmishes with the Malaysian government.

According to the Sultanate official, the issue of the proprietary right of the Sultanate and the government’s territorial claim to the Philippine government are two separate cases that can be tackled during the talks.

“As private claimants, the Sultanate can pursue the enforcement of a 14.9billion dollar compensation award while the government can also pursue its territory’s claim over Sabah,” the official said.

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