One factor that is essential in the comprehension of the Sabah problem is to understand that Sabah was only officially colonised by the British Crown in 1946 which means that UNTIL THEN, North Borneo (Sabah) WAS PART of the Sultanate of Sulu although leased.
Note that before that year, North Borneo (Sabah) was managed by the British North Borneo Company under a lease signed between the representatives of the company, Messrs Overbeck and Dent in 1878. The British Crown had not during that time officially colonised North Borneo (Sabah.)
Despite British Crown's colonisation of Sabah from 1946 until 1963, it is my opinion that Sabah's sovereignty, although compromised by the British colonisation, still legally belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu. However, we all know that the Sultanate of Sulu ceded full sovereignty of Sabah to the Philippine Republic on 12 Septemeber 1962 while it was still a colony of Britain.
On 31st August 1963, Britain granted Sabah (whose sovereignty rights had been ceded the year before to the Republic of the Phlippines) its independence
Sixteen days after Britain granted Sabah its independence in 1963, and despite PH protests, it was annexed to a new federation in the making called MALAYSIA instead of returning it either to the Sultanate of Sulu or to the Republic of the Philippines which had already inherited sovereignty rights over Sabah from the Sultanate by virtue of the transfer on 12 September 1962.
In 1968, while Malaysia had taken de facto control of Sabah, the Republic of the Philippines enacted a series of laws related to our baselines and one of these laws is the Republic Act 5446 which acknowledges title and dominion over Sabah, thus by PH law, Sabah is Philippine territory. RA 5446 is still in vigour.
As Law Professor Isagani Cruz says:
"President Noynoy faces an insoluble dilemma. If he believes that Sabah is part of the Philippines, he has to defend Sabah because Malaysia is attacking it. If he does not believe that Sabah is part of the Philippines, he opens himself up to impeachment, because Philippine law says that Sabah is part of the Philippines and he is sworn to uphold Philippine law. Talking of a conspiracy does not solve the problem; in fact, it is irrelevant if there is or there is no conspiracy. The dilemma has to do simply with his stand on Sabah itself."To my mind, the Sultanate of Sulu, and by extension the royal heirs, is irrelevant in the PH claim because Sabah is already PH territory by PH law. The Philippine Republic, however, has contractual obligations which it signed when it accepted from the Sultanate of Sulu the full transfer of sovereignty rights in 1962 and one of these contractual obligations is to prosecute the claim and in so doing, help the Sultante of Sulu's proprietary rights to be recognised. So we cannot actually take it against the Sultanate for feeling doubly rebuffed. It is the Philippine Republic's contractual obligation to do it and the Government has been remiss in its obligations.
NB: The relevant point in the Sabah question is THE NINE SULTANATE HEIRS and not whoever the sultan is. The Philippine Government must not use the Kirams' intra-family bickering as an excuse NOT to perform the Republic's contractual obligation.
Nota Bene: OTHER VERY IMPORTANT NOTE THAT EVERYONE MUST KNOW: When the Sabah lease was signed 134 years ago -- on the 22nd of January 1878, between the Sultanate of Sulu & Sabah and two foreign businessmen, the Sultanate ensured that their rights to Sabah ownership were protected with this all encompassing moral and legal clause clearly spelled out in the lease contract, to wit (Restrictive clause):
"...but the rights and powers hereby leased shall not be transferred to any nation, or a company of other nationality, without the consent of Their Majesties Government."Related post: Moral and legal clause spelled out in the Sabah lease of 1878
~~ By Anne de Bretagne
For the Defenders of the Philippine Sabah Claim
05 March 2013