Marcos “legalized” Philippine claim to Sabah

Below is a 1968 report from New York Times about the new Philippine law declaring Sabah as part of the Philippines. Has that law been repealed?


sabah 1968 manila-asserts-rights-to-sabah 2Manila Asserts Rights to Sabah

New Law Declares State is Part of Philippines

Special to The New York Times

MANILA, Sept 18 – President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed into law today a controversial measure declaring Malaysian Sabah to be within the territory of the Philippines.

He stressed in a statement, however, that the Philippines would pursue her territorial claim by peaceful means. The statement called attention to the constitutional provision that renounces war as an instrument of national policy.

President Marcos signed the measure after the bipartisan Foreign Policy Council endorsed it in a meeting at the Presidential Palace this morning.

“In signing the measure,” the presidential statement said, “I have ascertained that the text and intent of the statute do not contemplate the physical incorporation of Sabah into the national territory. Section 2 of the bill simply restates the Philippines’ long-held position that she acquired dominion over Sabah by virtue of a series of documents and agreements.

The key part of the new law states: “The definition of the baselines of the territorial sea is without prejudice to the delineation of the baselines of the territorial sea around Sabah, over which the Republic of the Philippines has acquired dominion and sovereignty.”


Foreign Secretary Narciso Ramos, who leaves tomorrow for New York as head of the Philippine delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, was instructed to carry copies of the new law for filing with the United Nations.

The world body has asked the Philippine Government earlier to define its territorial limits.

In compliance with the United Nations request, the Philippine Senate last month passed a bill setting forth the traditional territorial limits of the country.

When the Philippine-Malaysia talks in Bangkok, Thailand collapsed in July, Congressman Carmelo Berbero inserted the provision including Sabah into the bill, which was then under consideration in the House. The amended version was passed.

The North Borneo state of Sabah has an area of little more than 29,000 square miles, somewhat smaller than South Carolina.

The sultans of Brunei and Sulu ceded it to a British syndicate in 1878. In 1946 it was transferred to the British crown and in 1963 became a state in the new Federation of Malaysia.

The Philippines, which includes the remainder of the old Sulu sultanate, laid claim to Sabah after it joined the federation.”



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