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Dropped – move for Sabah as P'pine state
Published on: Saturday, July 21, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The Philippine Government's Consultative Committee (Con-Com) tasked to review its 1987 Constitution decided not to include a specific provision to include Sabah as part of its national territory in the draft federal constitution submitted to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently.

This was revealed by committee chairman Renato Puno (pic), the country's former Chief Justice.

Making the revelation during a live CNN Philippines interview, Puno said the members unanimously disagreed with proposal of fellow member cum former Senate President Aquilino (Nene) Pimentel who was in favour of the inclusion as part of the country's shift to a federal system of government.

Pimentel had said "once we have asserted our sovereignty and rights over Sabah, we should include Sabah.

Not only Sabah, but also Scarborough, Benham Rise, and Spartlys".

He also said Sabah could be the 13th state.

After a lengthy discussions and debates among the committee members, Puno said Pimentel agreed not to make the proposal and favour a draft federal constitution of the country's territory based on general principles.

"Sabah is mentioned in the draft constitution but only based on historic rights to include our claim over Sabah...it is no longer specific," the Consultative Committee Chairman stressed.

In the previous constitution of the 1987 Philippines, he said "there was no provision mentioning specific names where we have the rights of sovereignty like Sabah and West Philippine Seas".

"Under the draft federal constitution such provision is now mentioned but should be acceptable under the international laws," he added.

Last Monday (July 9), President Rodrigo Roa Duterte received the draft federal constitution that the Chief Executive is pushing to address poverty, rebellion, and unequal development in the country.

Puno handed over the copy of the proposed charter to Duterte during a simple ceremony in Malacañang.

The former Chief Justice said the 22-member committee proposes to establish a 'distinct federalism in our country - a bayanihan federalism"

The design of this bayanihan federalism, he said, to install a Federal Government strong enough to hold together the various federated regions and establishes federated regions that are socially, economically, and politically viable and sustainable. - Nikko Fabian

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