Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday reaffirmed the government’s position that Sabah belongs to the Philippines.
“It’s ours and we want it,” Locsin told senators during a hearing on the proposed 2021 budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Locsin said while the issue was put in the backburner during the previous administration, he is making clear the country’s position on Sabah, which is also being claimed by Malaysia.
“That incident is just a casual mention of what’s our claim, I think I slapped them back hard enough for them to realize to be careful. People will start taking on a realistic view that we are not a country to be ignored,” he said.
In July, Locsin called the attention of the United States embassy in Manila over its tweet saying Sabah is part of Malaysia.
“Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines,” Locsin said in a Twitter post.
Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was quick to retaliate, also on Twitter, calling Locsin’s tweet “irresponsible.”
Malaysia fired off a note verbale rejecting the territorial claims of the Philippines over Sabah.
The note verbale said Malaysia “has never recognized the Republic of the Philippines’ claim to the Malaysian state of Sabah, formerly known as North Borneo.”