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THE NORTH BORNEO QUESTION

By Congressman Jovito R. Salonga, LP, Rizal


Manila Times, Manila Chronicle, Philippines Free Press -May, 1962.

There is ample justification, I believe, for the statement that emotionalism has
beclouded and confused the North Borneo question. There are Filipinos who summarily
adopt the my-country-right-or-wrong attitude; in specific terms, they tell us, "Let us have
North Borneo by all means," little realizing that by such a hasty, imprudent posture they
render no little disservice to the very cause they propose to champion.
At the other end of the line are the faint-hearted souls who cherish a host of
vague, nameless fears, and who have not stopped imagining the catastrophic, nuclear
wars into which the Philippines would be drawn should it so much as attempt to press the
claim to North Borneo, regardless of the merit or validity of such a claim. Responsible
quarters confess to no little measure of amusement over the unrestrained enthusiasm, on
the one hand, of home-grown nationalists in supporting claims — without adequate study
of their validity — of sister countries in Asia over territories held by Western powers, and
their unconcealed dread, on the other hand, in espousing a claim — without the slightest
inquiry into its possible merit — over a portion of the globe's surface which may belong as
a matter of law and equity to Filipinos.
A good number of friends have asked me to deliver what they call an "impassioned
speech" on the question, but I had felt that the time was not ripe and that the whole issue
should be studied in an atmosphere of dispassion and restraint. I felt and still feel that the
restoration of prudence and sobriety in the conduct of our foreign policy is a matter of
cardinal importance. In the language of one world statesman, foreign policy is not only
what we do, but how we do it.
If the Philippine claim to North Borneo is valid, we should — despite our standing
as a young, physically weak nation — institute and press the claim in accordance with the
accepted peaceful modes of settlement prescribed by international law and procedure. If,
despite the assumed knowledge of the validity and justice of the Philippine claim, we fold
our arms in mortal fear, we should lose not merely the respect of all law-abiding nations
(the United Kingdom and the Asian countries in particular), but also a considerable
measure of self-respect — which, to my mind, is more important — and, by our own
inaction and timidity, lose our faith in the ultimate validity of that which is right and just. If,
on the other hand, we come to the conclusion that the Philippine claim is without basis,
then we should say so and let the British Government know our stand. Such candor and
probity will undoubtedly inspire the respect of the entire free world.
It is partly because of the well known regard of the British Government for the rule
of law, and partly because of our deep-seated respect for the British institutions of law and
order, that I have requested the Department of Foreign Affairs to make a careful,
thoroughgoing study of the question and, if morally convinced of the merit of the Philippine
claim, to institute and prosecute this claim through all peaceful processes, including
diplomatic negotiations, good offices, commission of inquiry, arbitration, or resort to the
International Court of Justice. There need be no fear of breach of amicable relations
between the United Kingdom and the Philippines. Both are members in good standing of
the United Nations; both are committed to the rule of law and to the necessity of
maintaining a society of free men. On the other hand, the peaceful solution of the North
Borneo question may well be a distinct Anglo-Philippine contribution, so sorely needed at a
time such as this, where instead of a precarious equilibrium of terror as a temporary
stabilizing factor in international relations, there should emerge more instances of healthy
respect for law and for more voluntary arrangements among nations so that the moral
force of right may be made to prevail over the right of might.
Friendly countries will therefore understand why the Filipinos view with deep
concern any move on the part of the United Kingdom, in advance of the institution of such
a claim, to render academic the North Borneo question through extra-legal means. For
instance, a dispatch from Kuala Lumpur. Malaya, published in the New York Times issue
of February 7, 1962. states and I quote:
"KUALA LUMPUR, Malaya, Feb. 6. — A political merger under a strong central
government has been recommended by the Malaysian Solidarity Committee.
''The five-state merger would create a federation of Malaya, Singapore Island —
which is linked to Malaya by a three-quarter mile causeway — and the Northern Borneo
territories of Sarawak, Brunei and British North Borneo.
"A British and Malayan commission, headed by Lord Cobbold, former Governor of
the Bank of England, is due to arrive in Borneo soon to inquire into public opinion in
Sarawak and British North Borneo concerning the merger. Both are crown colonies. Brunei
is a British protectorate, and its Government will deal directly with the Federation of
Malaya and with London."
One may well inquire: — why this plan of a merger at a time such as this? At any
rate, and without considering such a development, let us consider the facts.
1 . There is no controversy regarding one historical fact: namely, that in 1850, the
Sultan of Brunei, in gratitude for the aid he received during war from the Sultan of Sulu,
ceded North Borneo to the latter.
II. In January, 1878, the Sultan of Sulu entered into an agreement with two
representatives of a private British company, namely, Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and
Alfred Dent. It is at this point where controversy arises.
There are, to be sure, several versions of the agreement and quite a number of
translations of said agreement. One group of heirs of the Sultan of Sulu submitted a
certified translation of a Spanish text of the agreement, dated January 4, 1878, which in
turn is a translation of the original in Arabic. Under this document, the Sultan of Sulu
merely concluded a contract of lease with Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, and
granted to Mr. Overbeck the title of "Datto Padajara Rajah de Sandakan" as long as he
might live, with the right to levy taxes on the said land, exploit its ores, forest products and
animals, administer justice and collect dues and taxes from the traders of said towns.
There are also in the files of the Department of Foreign Affairs several English
translations (Conklin translation; Saleeby translation on the "History of Sulu" pp. 225-233;
Decision of High Court of Borneo citing translation in "Treaties and Engagements affecting
the Malay States," by Maxwell and Gibson), which invariably use the terms "lease,' "cede"
and "grant."
On the other hand, a document purporting to be the British text of the agreement,
kept in the files of the British North Borneo Company in London, would seem to show that
the Sultan of Sulu ceded and granted to Overbeck and Dent on January 22, 1878,
"all the rights and powers belonging to me over all the territories and lands being
tributary to us on the mainland on the Island of Borneo"
in consideration of a yearly compensation of 5,000 dollars, together "with all other
powers and rights usually exercised by and belonging to Sovereign Rulers, and which we
hereby delegate to him of our own free and sovereign will."
III. On November 1, 1881, the British Government granted a Charter to the British
North Borneo Company which, after a recital of the terms of agreement between the
Sultan of Sulu and the two representatives of the Company, empowered the Company to
acquire full benefit of the said "grant" and "benefits." Accordingly, Baron de Overbeck and
Alfred Dent turned over their rights to the British North Borneo Company, which continued
paying the stipulated 5,000 Malayan dollars.
IV. In 1915, Governor Frank Carpenter, head of the Mindanao and Sulu division of
the Philippine Government, defined the stand of the United States vis-a-vis the Sultan's
temporal and ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the territories of the Sultanate beyond
American jurisdiction, particularly those in North Borneo. He stated and I quote:
"It is necessary, however, that there be clearly of official record the fact that the
termination of the temporal sovereignty of the Sultanate of Sulu within the American
territory is understood to be wholly without prejudice or effect as to the temporal
sovereignty and ecclesiastical authority of the Sultanate beyond the territorial jurisdiction of
the U.S. Government, especially with reference to that portion of the Island of Borneo
which as a dependency of the Sultanate of Sulu is understood to be held under lease by
the chartered company (known) as the British North Borneo Company."
V. In 1939. a group of heirs of the Sultan filed suit in the court of North Borneo
against the Government of North Borneo and the British North Borneo Company for the
recovery of the stipulated annual payments. Both defendants admitted their obligation to
pay, the only issue being — in view of reported dispute among the heirs — to whom
payment was to be made. The High Court of the State of North Borneo, through Chief
Justice Macaskie, rendered judgment in favor of the heirs on December 18, 1939.
Crucial Question:
VI. On July 10, 1946, six days after the Philippines became independent, the
British Government, by virtue of an alleged agreement between the Secretary of State for
the colonies and the British North Borneo Company dated June 6, 1946 — whereby the
Company "have transferred and ceded all the said rights, powers and interests to the
Crown with effect from the 15th day of July, 1946, to the intent that the Crown should, as
from that day, have full sovereign rights over, and title to, the territory of the State of North
Borneo, and that the said territory, should thereupon become part of His Majesty's
dominions" — announced, by what is now known as the "North Borneo Cession Order,"
that from the 15th day of July, 1946, "the State of North Borneo shall be annexed to and
shall form part of His Majesty's dominions and shall be called, together with the Settlement
of Labuan and its dependencies, the Colony of North Borneo."
VII. On February 26, 1947, former Governor General Francis Burton Harrison (as
Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Philippine Government), in a special report to the
President of the Philippines, considered this an act of political aggression, "which should
be promptly repudiated by the Government," since it was done by the British Government
"unilaterally and without special notice to the Sultanate of Sulu nor consideration of their
legal rights." He added:
"The proposal to lay the case before the United Nations should bring the whole
matter before the bar of public opinion.
"Never in history has there been given any people such an opportunity to secure
justice by an appeal to the enlightened conscience of mankind."
VIII. In 1957, the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu issued a proclamation declaring the
termination of the lease contract over the territory in question effective January 22, 1958.
This declaration was served on the British Government. Since then, the heirs have made
claims upon the British Government for the return of the territory, but their claims have
been disregarded.
The crucial question, then, is one of ownership: Is ownership vested in the United
Kingdom? Does the Philippines have any right to claim North Borneo?
In discussing this, I have taken careful note of the statements of the highest British
officials and considered the views of English authorities on international law. In this way,
we avoid pointless controversy since the British Government cannot possibly dispute,
under the principle of estoppel, its own official stand. There may be a lot of wrangling over
what is the authentic version of the agreement of 1878, but there can be no debate on the
official British stand on that agreement.
At the time the agreement was entered into in 1878, the British North Borneo
Company had no legal personality whatever. It was incorporated by Royal Charter only on
November 1, 1881. It is important to note this, since admittedly in 1878, North Borneo was
not under the territorial supremacy of any member of the Family of Nations.
Overbeck and Dent, therefore, acquired rights over North Borneo merely as
private individuals and no more. Their purported acquisition of territory and "sovereignty"
was therefore beyond the pale of International Law. Did the incorporation by Royal Charter
of the British North Borneo Company in 1881 create a trading company with sovereign
rights — even from the English viewpoint — over North Borneo? This was the very bone of
contention between the Spanish and Dutch Governments, on the one hand, and the British
Government, on the other, soon after the Royal Charter was granted the British North
Borneo Co. It is a matter of record that the British Government had declared that it did not
intend to acquire sovereign rights in North Borneo. But the Spanish and Dutch
Governments protested that such a declaration was inconsistent with the grant of a Royal
Charter to the British North Borneo Company, "invested with sovereign rights by the Native
Chiefs of North Borneo, and subject, as regards the exercise of these rights, to the
Supreme authority of Her Britannic Majesty's Government." The British Foreign Minister,
Lord Earl Granville, in a correspondence to the British Minister at Madrid, Mr. Morier (No.
197), dated January 7, 1882, recapitulated "the circumstances under which Her Majesty's
Government acceded to the application of the Company for Incorporation by Royal
Charter," drew attention "to the special character of that Charter," and explained "its legal
effect." Lord Granville said the British North Borneo Company was in fact established
under three Charters: (1) the Charter and territorial concession from the Sultan of Sulu; (2)
the Charter and territorial concession from the Sultan of Brunei; and (3) the British Charter
of incorporation. Note the following significant passages from Lord Granville's
correspondence:
"The first two Charters, from the Sultans of Sulu and Brunei, are those under
which the Company derive their title to the possession of the territories in question, and
their authority to administer the government of those territories by delegation from the
Sultans.
"The third Charter is the British Charter under which the Company have obtained
incorporation and a recognition of her Majesty's Government of their title to the territories
granted. In return for incorporation by Royal Charter, and for the recognition of the
Concessions, the Company have surrendered to Her Majesty's Government various
powers of control over their proceedings which, though of a negative character only, are
sufficient for the prevention by Her Majesty's Government of any abuse in the exercise of
the authority conferred by the Sultans. It is important to bear in mind that no such control
would have been reserved to the Crown had the Company taker, incorporation in the
usual manner by registration under the Companies Acts, and elected to follow their own
course independently of Government support.
"The British Charter therefore differs essentially from the previous Charters
granted to the East India Company, the New Zealand Company, and other Associations of
that character, in the fact that the Crown in the present case assumes no dominion or
sovereignty over the territories occupied by the Company, nor does it purport to grant to
the Company any powers of Government thereover; it merely confers upon the persons
associated the status and incidents of a body corporate, and recognizes the grants of
territory and the powers of government made and delegated by the Sultans in whom the
sovereignty remains vested. It differs also from previous Charters, in that it prohibits
instead of granting a general monopoly of trade."
In thus differentiating the status of the British North Borneo Company, Lord
Granville stated that "after very careful consideration of all the circumstances of the case
Her Majesty's Government decided that the Charter should be granted, and you will
perceive from an examination of its provisions that its effect is to restrict and curtail the
powers of the Company and not to create or enlarge them."
In similarly repudiating the Dutch contention, Lord Granville stated that the
territories "will be administered by the Company under the sovereignly of the Sultans of
Brunei and Sulu, to whom they have agreed to pay a yearly tribute," and that "the British
Government assumes no sovereign rights whatever in Borneo."
Much the same disclaimer was sounded by the famous Prime Minister, William
Ewart Gladstone. Speaking in the House of Commons, he acknowledged that the
"remarkable powers" obtained by the British North Borneo Company involved the "essence
of sovereignty" but they were "covered by the Suzereignty of the Native Chief." He
declared that no greater obligation rested upon the Government to protect the Company
than "to protect any other subject who might be in pursuit of objects not unlawful."
These authoritative statements show, in brief:
1 . that Overbeck and Dent were not authorized by the British Government to
acquire and administer North Borneo; they merely acted in their private individual capacity.
2. that the British North Borneo Company was not invested by the British
Government with the public power of acquisition and administration of North Borneo,
unlike the different trading companies chartered at the time.
3. that the British Government assumed no rights of sovereignty whatever in North
Borneo; and
4. that the British Government explicitly acknowledged the sovereignty and title of
the Sultan of Sulu over North Borneo.
Significance:
The classic British text on International Law, a Treatise on International Law by
Oppenheim (7th edition, edited by Lauterpacht, 1948), gives us the significance in
International Law of the above facts. Oppenheim states that where an individual or a
corporation acquires land in countries which are not under the territorial supremacy of a
member of the Family of Nations, such acquisition of territory and sovereignty thereon
"takes place outside the dominion of the Law of Nations, and the rules of this law,
therefore, cannot be applied," unless the "corporation in question is invested by its State
with public power of acquisition and administration." (Volume I, sec. 209 (2), p. 496). He
adds:
"If the individual or corporation which has made the acquisition requires protection
by the Law of Nations, he or it must either declare a new State to be in existence and ask
for its recognition by the Powers, as in the case of the former Congo Free State, or must
ask a member of the Family of Nations to acknowledge the acquisition as having been
made on its behalf." (Id., at 496, 497.)
It is obvious that the British North Borneo Company, as the successor in interest of
Overbeck and Dent, has not declared a new State to be in existence in North Borneo; and
it is equally obvious that the British Government has refused to acknowledge, at least until
1946, the acquisition by Overbeck and Dent, and latterly, the British North Borneo
Company, as having been made in its behalf.
What, then, is the significance in International Law, of the British Cession Order of
July 15, 1946, which states in part:
"And whereas by an Agreement dated the twenty-sixth day of June, 1946, and
made between His Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies on behalf of His Majesty
(therein and hereinafter referred to as 'the Crown') of the one part and the Company of the
other part the Company (amongst other things) have transferred and ceded all the said
rights, powers, and interests to the Crown with effect from the fifteenth day of July, 1946,
to the intent that the Crown should, as from that day, have full sovereign rights over, and
title to, the territory of the State of North Borneo, and that the said territory should
thereupon become part of His Majesty's dominions;
"Now, therefore, His Majesty is pleased, by and with the advice of His Privy
Council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, as follows:
"1. This Order may be cited as the North Borneo Cession Order in Council, 1946,
and shall come into operation on the fifteenth of July, 1946;
"2. As from the fifteenth day of July, 1946, the State of North Borneo shall be
annexed to and shall form part of His Majesty's dominion and shall be called, together with
the Settlement of Labuan and its dependencies, the Colony of North Borneo;
"3. All persons who on the fifteenth day of July, 1946, are citizens of the State of
North Borneo by virtue of the provisions of the North Borneo Naturalization Ordinance,
1931, shall, on that day, become British subjects;
"4. His Majesty hereby reserves to Himself, His Heirs and Successors, power to
revoke, alter and to amend this Order."
Note that the Cession Order is convenient in its vagueness as to the exact nature
and scope of the rights and interests of the British North Borneo Company. How could it be
otherwise in the light of the categorical disclaimers made by Lord Granville and Prime
Minister William Gladstone?
Could the British North Borneo Company purport to transfer sovereignty over
North Borneo to the Crown? Certainly not. The British Government had made it crystal
clear that the Company did not have that power, and that sovereignty remained with the
Sultan of Sulu. All that was transferred, in the very carefully worded Cession Order, was
the mass of "interests, powers and rights" previously acquired by the British North Borneo
Company.
In other words, the assertion of sovereignty over North Borneo by the Crown,
effective July, 1946, under its own Cession Order, repudiated and set aside all the solemn
Government declarations made by its highest officials; more than that, it threw overboard
the sovereignty and title of the Sultan of Sulu which it had acknowledged in the past and
completely disregarded the proprietary rights of the heirs of the Sultan over North Borneo.
It was, to borrow the language of former Governor General Francis Burton Harrison, "an
act of political aggression which should be promptly repudiated by the Government."
I shall not, at this juncture, belabor the point so ably expounded by the Philippines
Free Press writer, Mr. Napoleon Rama, namely, that the agreement of 1878 was just a
contract of lease, not a contract of cession. The statements of Lord Granville and Prime
Minister Gladstone three years after the contract was concluded, the contemporaneous
official communications to and from the Minister of State in Madrid, the yearly tribute of
5,000 dollars to the Sultan of Sulu, and the terms of the "Cession Order of 1946" amply
show that no cession was contemplated or ever perfected. A lease arrangement which,
according to language scholars, is the English translation of the Malayan word, "padjak,"
would seem to be the only other explanation. At any rate in International Law, individuals
do not and cannot enter into treaties of cession (whereby sovereignty is acquired) with
native tribal chiefs: these are outside the realm of the Law of Nations.
Modes:
It is probable that the British Government, to justify its new stand, will fall back on
one of two modes of territorial acquisition in International Law; namely, occupation and
prescription.
Occupation is an original mode of territorial acquisition, and is effected through
possession and administration of the territory by or in behalf of the acquiring State. The
prime object of settlement by occupation is the incorporation of unappropriated territory
into the national domain of the acquiring State. Only such territory as is not within the
dominion of any State may be the object of occupation. In other words, the territory must
be res nullius or terra nullius. The term res nullius, as has been interpreted, does not
require that the territory be uninhabited, but that it be not already occupied by a people or
State whose political organization is such as to cause its prior rights of occupancy to be
recognized.
We must concede that in the past European powers did not recognize the title of
settled peoples whose civilization was allegedly below the European standard. The
emergence of non-European powers, and the growing importance of new nations in the
Afro-Asian bloc, have eroded away this concept. At any rate, insofar as the British
Government is concerned, it is precluded from claiming that the Sultan of Sulu had a title
or a political organization below the European standard. All we need to do is to refer back
to the text, of Lord Granville's correspondence. Note the last paragraph in his letter to
Morier, the British minister at Madrid, portions of which were quoted earlier:
"As regards the general features of the undertaking, it is to be observed that the
territories granted to the Company have been for generations under the government of the
Sultans of Sulu and Brunei, with whom Great Britain has had treaties of Peace and
Commerce. . ."
It would be passing strange now for the British Government to contend that the
Sultan of Sulu did not possess either a perfect title or a political organization below
European standards, at least insofar as North Borneo is concerned. In the Law of Nations,
states the British authority, Oppenheim, the conclusion of a bilateral treaty, such as a
treaty of commerce and navigation, implies recognition (Op. cit., Section 75 (cl) p. 143).
THE NORTH BORNEO QUESTION
But this is not all. The important thing is that the Cession Order of 1946, annexing
as it does the Territory of North Borneo and incorporating it as part of His Majesty's
dominions, ran counter to and violated:
(1 ) the official declarations of the British Government as to the legal nature and
effect of the Agreement of 1878;
(2) the Treaty of Peace and Commerce entered into between Great Britain and the
Sultan of Sulu;
(3) the title and rights of dominion which the Sultan of Sulu, on the strength of
British admissions, had over North Borneo.
Oppenheim is authority for the proposition that while it is true that States may
acquire new territorial or other rights by unilateral acts, such an annexation, without
recognition on the part of third States being required for their validity, yet the position is
different when "the act alleged to be creative of a new right is in violation of ... conventional
International Law. In such cases the act in question is tainted with invalidity and incapable
of producing legal rights beneficial to the wrongdoer in the form of a new title or
otherwise." (Op. cit., Sec. 75 (b), at p. 136).
Prescription. — Prescription has been defined as the acquisition of territory by an
adverse holding continued through a long term of years. The generally accepted concept
of prescription in International Law apparently requires the existence of two essential facts,
namely: continuous and undisturbed possession, and lapse of a period of time. Hugo
Grotius, the father of International Law, laid down the rule that the adverse holding should
go "beyond the memory of man. Vattel maintained that possession may ripen into title only
after the lapse of a "considerable number of years " Insofar as the present question is
concerned, there may not be sufficient warrant for saying that the British possession was
adverse, considering the yearly tributes they have paid to the Sultan of Sulu and his heirs.
Their possession from 1946 up to this date, in the light of the continuous protests of the
heirs and the termination of the lease, has not been uninterrupted and cannot possibly
ripen into a title.
I have heard it said that the Philippine claim may not prosper because of Article 1
of the Philippine Constitution defining the National Territory. Article I provides:
"Section 1. The Philippines comprise all the territory ceded to the United States by
the Treaty of Paris concluded between the United States and Spain on the tenth day of
December, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, the limits of which are set forth in Article III
of said Treaty, together with all the islands embraced in the treaty concluded at
Washington, between the United States and Spain on the seventh day of November,
nineteen hundred, and in the treaty concluded between the United States and Great
Britain on the second day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty, and all territory over
which the present Government of the Philippine Islands exercises jurisdiction."
I feel that those who argue along this line confuse the concept of national domain
with proprietary rights of Filipino citizens over a portion of the earth's surface. The
Philippine Government is now called upon to defend and vindicate those rights, and if, as I
know, appropriate arrangements have been made by the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu, with
the Philippine Government, there should be no apprehension whatever that this claim will
provide undue incentives for mere speculators. In other words, Article I has no applicability
whatever to this kind of a claim. In the remote possibility that Article I is made to apply,
there is ample room for protection in the saving clause found in said article, in the light of
authoritative pronouncements of British officials. We need not even consider the thesis
that in 1935, when the Philippine Constitution was adopted by the Filipino people, the
Philippines was not an independent State but a mere dependency, and that therefore the
restrictive provisions of Article I could not possibly tie the hands of the Republic as soon as
independence became a reality.
There is something pathetic in the fact that it took an American official, the former
Governor General Francis Burton Harrison, to assess the full import of the Cession Order
of 1946. In a special report he submitted on September 26, 1946 in his capacity as Special
Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the Philippine Government, he called the Cession Order by
its proper name — "an act of political aggression."
It would seem equally pathetic that some home-grown nationalists have counseled
the Government to pursue a policy of fear and inaction.
In 1946, the voice of Harrison sounded like a cry in the wilderness. In 1962, that
voice has gained volume and is no longer alone. Just a few days ago, the House of
Representatives unanimously passed a resolution requesting the President to take all the
necessary steps consistent with international law and procedure for the recovery of North
Borneo.
Before the bar of world opinion, the Philippines can invoke the ringing declarations
of responsible leaders all over the world — including those of the United Kingdom — who
have vowed to end the practice of colonialism in all its manifestations. In recent years, the
United Nations has been seriously concerned with the problem of colonialism and has now
asked for its speedy liquidation. The North Borneo question should furnish an excellent
instance for the British Government to translate a preachment into a cold reality. When in
1946, the British Government saw fit to make North Borneo a colony, in disregard of its
previous disclaimers, her policy-makers must have foreseen the inevitable consequences
of such an inopportune move, considering the temper of subject peoples all over the world.
For the Filipinos, the North Borneo situation is not merely a problem of liquidation of
colonialism; it is a question of the return to them of what, in law and equity, properly
belongs to them, and which they can rightly call their own.
As I said in the beginning, there should be no apprehension of any rupture in the
friendly relations between the United Kingdom and the Philippines. Friends can and should
at times disagree. The important thing is that they should not become disagreeable. And
like two good friends, the Philippines and the United Kingdom can differ on this point
without being difficult. It is merely in keeping with the highest traditions of civility and a
mutual respect for the rule of law that the Philippine Government should now, in the light of
all relevant evidence, institute the claim and initiate the necessary steps toward the
peaceful settlement of the North Borneo question.

N.b. The North Borneo Question remains an issue between the Sultan of Sulu, the
British Government and the Federation of Malaysia. All historical and legal data contained
herein remain valid and viable. The claims of the Sultan of Sulu remain intact except that
the Republic of the Philippines has opted to remain passive to this day. - Editor, Steve
Salonga. All rights reserved.