Palace stands firm over Sabah claim, but says issue must not affect "healthy" ties
Malacañang said on Thursday that it recognizes the "conflicting claim" over Sabah between the Philippines and Malaysia.
In a virtual press briefing in Quezon City, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said the issue should not affect the "healthy" relationship of the two neighboring countries.
"The Constitution provides what are the territories of our country and from the start, we acknowledge that there is a conflicting claim territory over Sabah," he said.
Arguments regarding the Sabah ownership have been revived after Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., in a recent tweet, called out the United States Embassy in the Philippines, saying Sabah is not part of Malaysia.
The US Embassy on its social media post said that US Agency for International Development had provided assistance for returning Filipino repatriates "from Sabah, Malaysia."
Locsin also said that "Sabah is not in Malaysia," prompting Kuala Lumpur to summon Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Charles Jose for the supposed "irresponsible" remark that "affects bilateral ties."
Roque said the Palace stands firm over the Philippine claim on Sabah.
"We stand firm that Sabah was given to the Sultanate of Sulu by our brothers from Brunei and this was assigned to the Republic of the Philippines," he said.
But he insisted that the issue should not affect the Philippine relations with Malaysia.
"We recognize that this matter should not affect our ongoing bilateral ties with Malaysia. It has not affected it in the recent years and we will continue to have healthy bilateral relations with Malaysia despite the issue of Sabah," Roque stressed. Celerina Monte/DMS