As leader, Bongbong ‘duty-bound’ over Sabah

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as head of state is duty-bound to protect the country’s historical claim over Sabah after an international tribunal ruled that Malaysia has to pay $14.9 billion in compensation to the descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu, a lawyer of one of the direct heirs said yesterday.

“Ignoring Sabah as part of Philippine territory will be a huge disservice to the Bangsamoro people because, by history, Sabah formed part of the territory of the Sultanate of Sulu,” lawyer Rexie Efren Bugaring told the Daily Tribune.

“President Marcos, by all means, should protect the country’s historical claim over Sabah, which in turn would also safeguard the economic benefits that could be derived from the territory’s rich oil deposits. These benefits were deprived from not only the heirs of the Sulu Sultanate but the Philippines as a whole,” he said.

Bugaring said although his client is not among the eight claimants who filed complaints in the international arbitration tribunal by bloodline, his clan is the direct descendant of the Sultanate of Sulu.

Eight members of the Sulu Sultanate were recognized by the British High Court in Sandakan, North Borneo in a 1939 ruling called the Macaskie decision, as the legitimate beneficiaries of the yearly remittance of 5,300 Malaysian ringgit which the Philippine government and the Sultanate consider as lease while Malaysia and Great Britain consider it as cession money.

The ruling, in effect, recognized descendants’ proprietary claim over North Borneo or Sabah.

“Heirs, however, include, not necessarily, only those cited claimants in the arbitration. They include all direct bloodlines of the Sultanate of Sulu who were not specifically mentioned in the action,” he said.

Enforceable in Phl

Bugaring said under Republic Act 9285, otherwise known as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004, the $14.9-billion award granted by a French court can be enforced by any Regional Trial Court of the country.

He said Republic Act 9285 of 2004 provided the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards covered by the New York Convention.

“The recognition and enforcement of the foreign arbitral award shall be considered an award, not judgment,” he said.

Section 43 of the Arbitration law provides recognition of foreign awards even those not covered by the New York Convention

“Foreign arbitral award when confirmed by the regional trial court shall be enforced in the same manner as a final and executory decision of a court of law of the Philippines,” he said.

A French arbitration court in February ordered Malaysia to pay a $14.9 billion sum to the descendants of the last Sultan of Sulu to settle a dispute over a pre-colonial deal for the lease of Sabah.

Malaysia said the Paris Court of Appeals had stayed the ruling after arguing that the enforcement of the award could infringe on the country’s sovereignty.

London-based lawyers of the Sultanate however said that the stay order only applies in France and that the award can be enforced in 169 countries that are signatories to the New York Convention of 1958,

With exception of such diplomatic premises, any Malaysian government-owned asset within the party to the UN convention is eligible for enforcing the award.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *