Atty. Mel Sta. Maria rebutted the opinion of Manuel Buencamino that the Philippines’ historic rights to Sabah cannot take precedence over the will of the Sabahans. Atty. Sta. Maria asserts that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has not yet ruled on the conflicting claims of the Philippines and Malaysia re Sabah. He explains that its alleged decision/opinion/ruling that the Philippines’ assertion of historic title over Sabah should not prevail over the doctrine of self-determination as per the alleged results of the referendum conducted on the residents of Sabah, was merely an obiter dictum of a judge in a territorial dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia, where the Philippines sought to intervene:
“As in all decisions of any court, the Judges who participated were allowed to express their own separate views on the issue of intervention. When judges express their separate opinions, these are views which do not form any part of the dispositive portions of the actual ruling and are not integral parts of the ratio decidendi, meaning the real reasons, of the judgment. These are called obiter dicta which advance certain legal arguments but do not have a binding effect on the final resolution. The facts and legal positions stated in their opinions will not even be binding to any party in any future litigation. It will not even be controlling to the community of nations as precedents. If at all, they may have persuasive points but, still, without any international binding force.”
But when Sultan Esmail Kiram authorized the Philippines in 1962 to “pursue sovereignty” over Sabah, the said authority came with a condition: in case the government fails or refuses to protect the claims, the Sultanate shall act in “whatever manner necessary”.
Aside from the recent expedition to Sabah by the followers of Sultan Jamanlul Kiram III, there have been reports of the various attempts of the other heirs of the Sultan of Sulu to negotiate with the Malaysian government for the increase of the “padjak” (please see previous posts here and here). Are these the “whatever manner necessary” referred to in the agreement between Sultan Esmail Kiram and the Philippines, i.e. have his heirs revoked his assignment of Sabah in favor of the Philippines?