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'PALACE SHOULD ISSUE OFFICIAL STATEMENT'

Bongbong: Guarantee PHL won't drop Sabah claim should be in BBL


(Updated 6:51 p.m.) Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday said he will push for the inclusion of a provision in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) stating that the Philippines will not drop its claim on Sabah as a consequence of Malaysia's role in the Mindanao peace talks.
 
Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on local government that tackles the proposed BBL, said Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs should also issue statements that the government will not give up the country's Sabah claim in exchange for Malaysia's help in the peace process.
 
“Ilagay na natin sa batas at makakuha na tayo ng statement sa Palasyo na tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang ating claim sa Sabah para maging maliwanag,” the senator said in an interview with radio dzBB.
 
Marcos said the Philippine government should not relax its position on Sabah just because Malaysia, acting as a third-party facilitator, helped the government broker a peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
 
Last week, Marcos submitted a new version of the BBL called the proposed Basic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (BLBAR).
 
He said he is eyeing the possible inclusion of a provision in the measure stating that Malaysia's participation in the peace process “does not detract from [the Philippines'] continuing claim of North Borneo (Sabah).”
 
In his sponsorship speech for Senate Bill No. 2894 or the proposed BLBAR, Marcos said the “secret meetings in hotel rooms held in faraway places” at the onset of the peace negotiations is proof that the measure, as originally submitted by Malacañang to Congress, was not inclusive.
 
 
While Marcos stressed he's not picking a fight with Malaysia by questioning its role in the peace process, he said it can be considered, in legal parlance, a “party in interest” because of its competing claim with the Philippines on Sabah.

Malaysia has been the third-party facilitator in peace talks with the MILF since 2001. In March 2014, chief government peace negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer pointed out that Malaysia does stand to gain from a peace deal in Mindanao.

"This is also good news for Malaysia. There’s a lot of shared interest in having a peaceful Mindanao in the region as you know, and to that extent, the Malaysian government and the Malaysian people are very much in tune with the progress in these negotiations," she said.

Marcos said Sunday that he does not want to antagonize Malaysia.
 
“Sinasabi ko lang yun para maunawaan ng mga tao kung ano ang naging sitwasyon sa pagsusulat ng draft BBL. At may influence nga doon ang Malaysia na may sariling agenda,” he said.

The draft BBL was written by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which has 15 members appointed by President Benigno Aquino III. All of the members of the BTC are Filipino.

The draft BBL was also reviewed by Malacañang — with input from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Solicitor General and other government offices — before it was submitted to Congress.
 
Last March, a report said the Philippines is offering to drops its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia's support to its arbitration case against China on the West Philippine Sea.
 
The Department of Foreign Affairs denied the report and maintained that the government will never give up its claim on Sabah. —ALG/JDS, GMA News
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