Sunday, April 5, 2015


FIRST, a disclosure: I am one of the trustees and writers of VERA Files, a group of veteran journalists who put out articles that take a deeper look at current issues.

Last Monday, VERA Files released a story, “PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China.”

The article said: “The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian defense minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. “The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam 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, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the U.N. Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it effectively declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory…

“In last week’s note verbale, however, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is ‘reviewing’ its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

“The first request is for Malaysia to ‘confirm’ that its claim of an extended continental shelf is ‘entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.’

“The DFA also requested Malaysia to confirm that it ‘does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.’”

In reaction to the VERA Files’ report, DFA spokesman Charles Jose released this statement:

“The Philippines has excellent relations with Malaysia. In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea.

“The Note Verbale that was written about was part of this process. The Note is about the features in the South China Sea and their implications on ECS claims. Sabah is not in any way part of the Note.”

Yesterday, VERA Files issued this statement:

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is misleading the public when it says ‘Sabah is not in any way part of the note” verbale the Philippine government sent recently to Malaysia in denying VERA Files’s story ‘PH offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China.’

“Note Verbale No. 15-1979 sent to Malaysia, the basis of VERA Files’ story, stated that it is reviewing the Aug. 4, 2009 protest (No. 000819) it filed with the United Nations. The Philippines’ August 2009 protest, contained in two pages, singles out North Borneo or the old name of Sabah.

“The Philippines took issue with an earlier joint submission by Indonesia and Malaysia for the extended continental shelf because it “lays claims on areas that are disputed not only because they overlap with that of the Philippines, but also because of the controversy arising from the territorial claims on some of the islands in the area including North Borneo.”

“Contrary to what DFA’s comment that putting out the story was a disservice to the country, VERA Files released the story in the interest of the public to help it fully understand the issues involved.”

Together with the March 15, 2015 Note Verbale, VERA Files released to media outfits the Philippine government’s August 2009 protest so the public would have concrete basis in evaluating the statements from government officials.

The documents can be viewed in and
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