The Manila Accord, July 31, 1963

The The Manila Accord of July 31, 1963 is yet another “agreement” in a series of polemics that the land-grabbing Pinoys love to cite in support of their position to claim Sabah as part of their territory from Malaysia. The full text of the Accord can be viewed here. Of specific interest are paras 10 – 13 which deals specifically with the Sabah Question.


10. The Ministers reaffirmed their countries’ adherence to the principle of self-determination for the peoples of non-self-governing territories. In this context, Indonesia and the Philippines stated that they would welcome the formation of Malaysia provided the support of the people of the Borneo territories is ascertained by an independent and impartial authority, the Secretary-General of the United Nations or his representative.

11. The Federation of Malaya expressed appreciation for this attitude of Indonesia and the Philippines and undertook to consult the British Government and the Governments of the Borneo territories with a view to inviting the Secretary-General of the United Nations or his representative to take the necessary steps in order to ascertain the wishes of the people of those territories,

12. The Philippines made it clear that its position on the inclusion of North Borneo in the Federation of Malaysia is subject to the final outcome of the Philippine claim to North Borneo. The Ministers took note of the Philippine claim and the right of the Philippines to continue to pursue it in accordance with international law and the principle of the pacific settlement of disputes. They agreed that the inclusion of North Borneo in the Federation of Malaysia would not prejudice either the claim or any right thereunder. Moreover, in the context of their close association, the three countries agreed to exert their best endeavours to bring the claim to a just and expeditious solution by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration, or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties’ own choice, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Bandung Declaration.

13. In particular, considering the close historical ties between the peoples of the Philippines and North Borneo as well as their geographical propinquity, the Ministers agreed that in the event of North Borneo joining the proposed Federation of Malaysia the Government of the latter and the Government of the Philippines should maintain and promote the harmony and the friendly relations subsisting in their region to ensure the security and stability of the area.

Of special interests are the remarks in bold. History has borne witness to the fact that both Sabah and Sarawak eventually agreed to join the Federation of Malaya via the Cobbold Commission (and with the full blessing of the UN) and the UN Mission to Borneo (participated by the then Secretary-General of the UN himself, U-Thant) to form the new entity, “Malaysia”. Since then, Sabahans have continuously participated in every general election and freely expressed their willingness to remain as part of Malaysia, and not the Philippines. This has been subsequently reaffirmed by the ICJ in their 2001 judgement concerning the sovereignty of Sipadan and Ligitan, both of which are part of Sabah.

In light of these facts, the PH government and especially the people of the Philippines should acquiesce to the fact that Sabah is now avowedly part of the Federation, as per the ICJ ruling, that:

16. The lands and people claimed by the Philippines formerly constituted most of an integral British dependency. In accordance with the law pertaining to decolonization, its population exercised their right of self-determination. What remains is no mere boundary dispute. It is an attempt to keep alive a right to reverse the free and fair decision taken almost 40 years ago by the people of North Borneo in the exercise of their legal right to self-determination. The Court cannot be a witting party to that.

As far as the writer is concerned, both the bolded parts of the Manila Accord has been fulfilled as per the events that followed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.