On arbitral case for Sabah
SEN. Robinhood “Robin” C. Padilla is ready to reach out to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu in pursuing their arbitral victory involving Sabah.
Padilla stressed the Philippine government – particularly the economy – has much to gain from this because of the potential income taxes it can collect – which may amount to billions of pesos.
“Ako na siguro ang kakausap sa Sultanate of Sulu para makipagusap sa inyo. Dahil sayang ito. Napakalaking bagay po ito, malaking maitutulong nito sa ating ekonomiya,” Padilla said at the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee for the budget of the Department of Justice for 2023.
He added it is clear that such efforts for “partnership rights” with the Sultanate of Sulu are separate from the issue of sovereignty.
For his part, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said they have yet to be approached by a single party to pursue concerns on the arbitral award.
Despite this, he said his office is ready to look into whether the issue is a private matter or if it is connected with Philippine sovereignty.
Guevarra added they are studying information that the Sultanate of Sulu may have transferred sovereignty over Sabah to the Republic of the Philippines. Padilla noted such a transfer took place during the administration of then President Diosdado Macapagal.
Also, Guevarra said the OSG is now studying if the French arbitral award that is now under appeal will have implications on the Philippines’ “longstanding claim” over Sabah.
Guevarra said he has formed a team to study the historical basis of the Philippines’ claim over Sabah; and another group to study the state of the arbitration involving the Sultanate of Sulu.
“Our intention is to eventually connect the French arbitral award and possible implications on our sovereign claim on Sabah. As of now, the study is ongoing,” Guevarra said.