PH to reactivate North Borneo Bureau as Sabah issue heats up — Locsin
By Neil Arwin Mercado
September 15, 2020 at 9:29 pm

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. announced Tuesday his decision to reactivate its North Borneo Bureau “after realizing that the rest of the world has forgotten our Sabah claim.”

Locsin made the announcement during the hearing of the House committee on appropriations on the proposed budget of the DFA.

“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 realizing that the rest of the world has forgotten our Sabah claim, casually designating it as another country’s territory. Well, we have not forgotten,” Locsin said.

“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 honor is involved here,” he added.

In the same hearing, the foreign affairs secretary was also asked about the status of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asian Growth Area

BIMP-EAGA is a cooperation initiative established in 1994 to spur development in remote and less developed areas in the four participating Southeast Asian countries.

“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,” Locsin said.

“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,” he added.

Earlier, a tweet from the US embassy stated that America donated hygiene kits to Filipinos from “Sabah, Malaysia”, drawing Locsin’s ire.

“Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines,” Locsin said in a tweet on July 27.

But Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disagreed with Locsin, calling the Filipino official’s remark “an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties.”

“[The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia] will summon the Philippines Ambassador on Monday to explain. Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia,” he said.

The Philippines has been staking its claim over Sabah based on the assertion that the Sultanate of Sulu rightfully owns the northern part of Sabah as several historians believe the former Sultan of Sulu was given the land in exchange for helping the Sultan of Brunei defeat his enemies. [ac]

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