Unbeknownst to majority of the Filipinos, the Philippine government offered to downgrade the claim on Sabah if Malaysia will support the Philippines case against China over the disputed Spratly Islands.
The said offer was contained in a note verbale (unsigned document) handed by the Department of Foreign Affairs to a Malaysian representative, a week after the Malaysian Defense Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein visited Manila way back in March 10-11, 2015.
The note verbale said that the Philippines is willing to withdraw its 2009 protest only if Kuala Lumpur respond favorably to the Philippines request:
First, the Malaysian government must confirm that its continental shelf must begin from its mainland coast of the country and not from Spratly Island.
Second, the Malaysian government has to confirm that its not claiming their maritime areas beyond portions of the Spratly it already claims.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs denied that Sabah was discussed in the note submitted to the Malaysian embassy.
As a backgrounder, sometime in May of 2009, Malaysia and Vietnam made a joint submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah.
The Philippines under the Arroyo government quickly responded to the joint submission of both countries in protest of their claims.
Fast forward to March 2015, the Pnoy government allegedly offered to withdraw the protest made by the Arroyo government in response to the 2009 joint submission of Malaysia and Vietnam to Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations
According to an article posted on Vera Files, a DFA official who requested anonymity said the Philippines claim to Sabah will not be affected even if the Philippines withdraw its protest to the 2009 joint submission of Malaysia and Vietnam.
But Former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr believes otherwise. He said, “Even if we are not formally dropping the Sabah claim, it (the withdrawal of the protest) can be used as evidence against our claim.”
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Source: VERA FILES