MANILA, Philippines – Amid armed conflict involving 400 Filipinos in Sabah Malaysia, the Philippines will not revisit the country’s claim to the disputed land, a government spokesman told Manila Channel on Monday.
In behalf of President Benigno Aquino III, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that, “From what I understand, the claim is there and it hasn’t moved for quite some time. I also remember that the President did mention that it’s been dormant. Let’s leave it at that for the moment.”
It can be recalled that fifty years ago, the Philippine government claimed over Sabah based on historical and legal data, but later suspended its claim and instead forged close cooperation with its neighbor Malaysian.
During Monday’s press briefing, Valte said the administration is more concerned about the safety of those involved in the standoff, in which many of them unarmed.
“The main concern really is the safety of the people who are there. So ‘yun po muna ‘yung pinag-uusapan at ‘yung sinesentruhan natin,” Valte said.
“[We want] to make sure that these people are alright; that there would be a peaceful ending to the incident. So siguro po itong mga isyu na ‘to, isantabi po muna natin at hindi pa ho ‘yan kasama doon sa sphere ng pinag-uusapan,” Valte added.
Valte disclosed that “At this point we can’t really talk about the specifics yet. The matter is very sensitive. The incident is very sensitive and as such, we are withholding comment and deferring to the DFA just to apprise the public on any developments that they may deem appropriate.”