The Commission of Appointments (CA) has confirmed the Cabinet nominations of Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman on Wednesday.
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Chairman of the Commission on Appointments’ Committee on Foreign Affairs, presided over the continuation of the hybrid meeting to deliberate on the ad interim appointment of Manalo, along with the nominations of 23 officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
In the same hearing, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, during the CA’s deliberation, asked Manalo’s view on the country’s prevailing territorial issues given the President’s statement that the Philippines would “not give up even an inch of its territory.”
Manalo, in turn, assured they would challenge any claim by any foreign country on the country’s territory.
Hontiveros also asked Manalo if he thinks treaties, such as the Mutual Defense Treaty, should be updated.
Manalo replied in the affirmative, explaining that treaties should be continuously updated given the changes in geopolitical conditions, technology, changing environment and approaches such as responses to disasters or humanitarian assistance.
“I believe you can count on the support of us legislators and those rightful challenges based on international law and based on our own Constitution,” Hontiveros said, referring to the territorial and sovereignty.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, during the same deliberations, proposed to the agency to form a group that will handle international and commercial arbitrations to focus on Philippines’s claim to Sabah.
Tolentino made the suggestion, citing the victory of the heirs of Sultanate of Sulu in their Sabah claim against the Malaysian government.
“The DFA should now seize the opportunity, we won, and whether that was initiated by a private group is irrelevant, the implication is, we own Sabah. Around 750,000 Filipinos live there, stateless, without social security and health benefits, and not allowed to vote,” Tolentino pointed out.
In response, Manalo said he would convene the DFA’s sub-committee group under the Cabinet cluster, which is composed of the DFA, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense and other agencies concerned to study the legal implication of the country’s sovereignty claim over Sabah.