Defense Secretary Volts Gazmin is right, the continuing lease payments of Malaysia to the Sultan of Sulu is proof incontrovertible that Malaysia's claim on Sabah is that of tenant, the same one as the British claim preceding it: a lease of land and an admission against self-interest that it has no sovereignty.
Not Malaysia nor England before it can claim sovereingty over Sabah. We on the other hand do not make any lease payments to the Filipino Sulu Sultanate for his property on Sabah. Well, we are not occupying it so why pay?
The Sultan's plea for help to his Philippine government is an admission that the Sultan and his heirs are Filipinos and as such entitled to the protection of all its rights concerning its properties wherever they happen to be. The Sultanate's plea is somewhat like that of American companies asking the US govt to seek redress from foreign governments that have nationalized their businesses.
In short, the Sultanate is Filipino and Sabah is its property. But is the property Philippine territory? A rich filipino family's estate in Long Island, New York does not make the estate Philippine territory. It just makes it foreign property owned by a Filipino.
On the other hand, the continuing lease payments are unshakeable admissions that Sabah belongs to the Sulu Sultanate who happens to be a Filipino.
The only thing that seems clear is that the Sultanate owns it. That the Sultan and his heirs have been Philippine citizens adds nothing to our republic's claim that it is Philippine territory.
What if the Sultan renounced Philippine citizenship? Where would his property of Sabah go? Why, nowhere. It will remain where it is on Borneo leased by choice or British chicanery to Malaysia.
The original plan was to invade this place in conjunction with Indonesia. At the time, Britain was bankrupt and newly independent Malaysia was still consolidating a variety of Sultanates in the Malay peninsula into a federal constitutional monarchy of rotating kingships under an elected national goverment. What if Malaysia were to recognize the crown of the Sulu Sultanate and include him among its kings? I think our claim would be dead. I hope I am wrong because my father, along with Diosdado Macapagal and Ferdinand Marcos, was among the first and last to vigorously fight for the taking of Sabah as Philippine territory. Keep well.