Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday engaged the Malaysian government in a “tit-for-tat” and said he will summon the Malaysian Ambassador to Manila to explain Kuala Lumpur’s side on the Sabah issue.
Locsin took to Twitter his response to Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein who earlier directed his ministry to summon the Philippine Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur on Monday for what he described as an “irresponsible” statement made by the DFA Secretary regarding Sabah.
The current Philippine envoy to Malaysia is Ambassador Charles Jose.
Locsin, however, stood his ground, insisting that the Philippines, just like any other country, is free to say what it wants.
“No country can tell another what it can and cannot say about what the latter regards as rightfully its own. I don’t insist China say only what we want to hear about the Arbitral Award. It is free to say what it wants while we say and do what needs doing. That holds for Sabah,” Locsin tweeted.
In a succeeding tweet, he said, “I am summoning the Malaysian ambassador.”
The spat started on Monday when Locsin asked the United States Embassy in Manila to edit their tweet concerning the handing out of hygiene kits to Filipino repatriates from “Sabah, Malaysia.”
“Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines,” Locsin told the US Embassy in his tweet.
Apparently, this was not the first time that Locsin has caught the ire of the Malaysian government in the span of just one week.
Locsin admitted that the Philippine envoy in Kuala Lumpur has already been summoned for a “historically factual statement” he earlier made.
“You summoned our ambassador for a historically factual statement I made: that Malaysia tried to derail the Arbitral Award. This was reported to us by our diplomats on the scene and our German lawyer. None may share our Hague victory who worked against it,” the DFA chief said.
Locsin was referring to his July 22, 2020 reaction to a Manila Bulletin Twitter post concerning the suggestion of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to bring the Arbitral ruling to the United Nations and make China pay for the crimes it committed in the South China Sea.
“Put it to a vote? China has all the votes in UN (United Nations). This suggestion is to bring the arbitral ruling to the UN proves conclusively that we have a serious drug problem in the Philippines. Even ASEAN rejected in when we won. Malaysia tried to sabotage it. We were alone. US (United States) ignored it,” Locsin said in his tweet.
The Philippines has a historic claim over Sabah through the Sultanate of Sulu that used to rule the southern part of the Philippines, including what was formerly known as North Borneo.