Philippines says it is reviving Sabah claim bureau

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr says Manila has ‘not forgotten’ its claim on Sabah. (AP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Philippines confirmed yesterday it is reactivating its North Borneo Bureau “after realising that the rest of the world has forgotten (about) our Sabah claim”.

Inquirer.net reported that Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr made the announcement during the hearing of the house committee on appropriations on the proposed budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

It quoted Locsin as saying “we have not forgotten” and that “our honour is involved here”.

“While we fiercely guard our waters, we are not forgetting our terrestrial domain. In pursuit of securing what is ours, I have decided to reactivate the North Borneo Bureau after realising that the rest of the world has forgotten (about) our Sabah claim, casually designating it as another country’s territory. Well, we have not forgotten,” Locsin was quoted as saying.

“This is one of several international disagreements we can afford to conduct in our best interest without any risk of loss of any kind for our country. Our honour is involved here.

“Now we are going to revive that bureau and make sure that no one is allowed to question that claim without a challenge from us.”

Malaysia has said it does not recognise and will never entertain any claim by any party on Sabah.

Locsin had revived the controversy by saying in July that Sabah “is not in Malaysia”.

Then on Aug 31, he tweeted that he would revive the North Borneo Bureau in the DFA dedicated to efforts to reclaim Sabah.

Inquirer.net said that during yesterday’s hearing, Locsin was also asked about the status of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area set up in 1994 to spur development in remote and less developed areas in the four Asean members.

“It’s been dormant for a while, but now we agreed to revive it pretty much, like, I guess, even some of our special concerns like Sabah. That too was put on the back burner which I never agreed to,” he was quoted as saying.