MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang hopes for a “peaceful ending” to the group of Filipinos’ situation in Sabah.
The palace declares that they have no urgent plan to revive the country’s claim over Sabah.
According to deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte the government is leaves the issue resting for now but admits that the country has a standing ownership claim.
Valte added, “From what I understand, the claim is there and it hasn’t moved for quite some time. I also remember that the President did make mention of it – that it’s been dormant. Let’s leave it at that for the moment.”
The formal claim was made during the term of former President Diosdado Macapagal, but was never pushed by the governments that followed, Valte stated.
“At least for this particular administration, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) will really be in a better position to explain to you how the claim has come to be and what the status is at the moment,” she said.
Valte explains that calls are made by some groups asking President Benigno Aquino III to push the country’s claim over Sabah given that there is a standoff between Malaysian forces and a group of armed Filipinos at present.
The group of armed Filipinos, reportedly heirs of Sultan of Sulu, aims to press their claim on the island but will be deported back to the Philippines resulting from the negotiations to end the standoff.
Valte refutes reports that the president supposedly had to meet with the acknowledged leader of the Sultante of Sulu, Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, with regards to the ownership dispute.
The sultanate has been reportedly displeased that Aquino ignored the Sabah claim in the forging of the peace accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) that was brokered by Malaysia.
Valte stated, “There is no such meeting today,” as she read through the President’s itinerary for Monday.
“We’re not aware of anybody being sent to set up such a meeting but from our end, you’ve seen the schedule of the President, it’s pretty full and as we’ve said, there is no such meeting,” Valte said.
Finally she stressed that the government’s main priority for now is the safety of the Filipinos in Sabah.