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Sabah Conflict

SC junks bid to compel DFA to raise Sabah issue before int'l court

April 12, 2013 3:32pm

The Supreme Court cannot compel the executive branch—through the Department of Foreign Affairs—to elevate the country's territorial claim over Sabah to the international court.

In an en banc session in Baguio City, the high tribunal junked the petition for mandamus filed by Louis "Barok" Biraogo asking the SC to intervene in the territorial issue and order the DFA to press the country's claim over the disputed territory before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or similar bodies authorized under international law.

"Biraogo petition regarding the Sabah claim was denied because it falls exclusively within foreign affairs and thus exclusively within the executive branch and not subject to mandamus," said SC Public Information Office chief Theodore Te.

The SC's 15 magistrates regular Tuesday en banc session was moved this week to Thursday due to the Araw ng Kagitingan, a non-working holiday observed last Tuesday.

In his petition, Biraogo said: “The territory that is North Borneo (or what Malaysia began to call as Sabah in September 1963) undoubtedly belongs to the Republic of the Philippines by historic right and legal title... Recorded history confirms this.”

The petitioner accused the British government of "wrongly assuming" that Sabah or North Borneo belonged to the United Kingdom, which later handed over the territory to Malaysia.

“Malaysia assumed sovereignty over North Borneo, renamed it Sabah, and refuses to relinquish possession thereof to the Republic of the Philippines,” Biraogo noted.

He criticized the Aquino administration for threatening supporters of claimant and Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III with criminal charges, instead of helping them when they sailed to Sabah to assert their historical claim over it.

It was not the first time in recent months that Biraogo failed to get the SC's nod in a case.

In October last year, he asked the high tribunal to order the Commission on Elections to bar members of influential political clans or "political dynasties" to participate in next month's elections. Last January, the SC junked Biraogo's petition for lack of merit. — Mark Merueñas/KBK, GMA News
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