Palace: No giving up territorial claims under draft Constitution
None of the country’s territorial claims will be renounced under a revised Constitution, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Duterte administration had no plans of changing the definition of national territory under a new charter.
“The Palace has not made any pronouncement that the Charter should be redrafted that would give up any Philippine territory,” Roque said in a media briefing.
He said the current Constitution and the 1973 and 1935 Constitutions all had a definition of national territory.
“That’s not one of the parts of the Constitution that the Palace seeks to amend or revise,” he said.
Roque made the statement after former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. proposed that Sabah be made the country’s 13th federal state should the Philippines adopt a federal form of government.
“Eventually, once we have asserted our sovereignty and rights over Sabah, we should include Sabah. Not only Sabah, but also Scarborough, Benham Rise and the Spratlys,” said Pimentel, a member of President Duterte’s consultative committee on Charter change.
However, the Malaysian government opposed Pimentel’s proposal to list Sabah as one of the country’s proposed federal states.
“The government of Malaysia reiterates its position that Malaysia does not recognize and will not entertain any claims by any party on Sabah,” said Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.
Asked for comment, Roque said: “My answer is there is a definition of Philippine territory in all our Constitutions. It includes territory by reason of historic title.”
The Philippines claims ownership over Sabah based on the land title of the sultan of Sulu, who once ruled Sabah and leased it to the British North Borneo Co. In 1963, the British turned over the area to then newly formed Malaysia. —Philip C. Tubeza
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