DFA to seek advice of former secretaries on PH's Sabah claim

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique A. Manalo accepted the advice of a senator that the DFA should seek the advice of former DFA secretaries on how to deal with a French Arbitral Court ruling awarding $14.92 billion to heirs of the Sulu Sultanate on their territorial claim over Sabah, a federated state of Malaysia.

‘’Ir is good approach.. to get their ideas,’’ Manalo said on the suggestion of Senator Francis ‘’Tol’’ Tolentino that he sit down with former DFA secretaries who are Albert del Rosario and Teodoro Locsin Jr. on the issue.

Tolentino made the suggestion during today’s public hearing by the foreign affairs committee of the Commission on Appointments (CA) chaired by Senator Jose ‘’Jinggoy’’ Ejercito Estrada where the appointments of Manalo and 23 DFA diplomats were later confirmed.

The ruling, according to Tolentino, is ‘’final.’’

Last February, the French Arbitral Court awarded $14.92 billion to the heirs of he Sulu Sultanate on their legal claim over Sabah.

Senator Robinhood C. Padilla has been pressing the national government to help the Sulu heirs get their multi-billion-dollar award from Malaysia.

Tolentino said Malaysia doesn’t know how to deal with the court ruling because ‘’it can no longer be reversed.’’

Manalo said a cluster committee would reconvene to study its implications.

The legal private award has implications on the Philippine sovereignty claim, he added.

He revealed that the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is studying it and the DFA is waiting for its recommendations..

Manalo this requires a ‘’whole of government’’ approach is needed to analyse the implications or the ruling.

Tolentino told Manalo to ‘’seize the opportunity’’ because there are 750,000 Filipinos on Sabah who are considered ‘’stateless’’ and who criss-cross Sabah and Tawi-Tawi.