JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima could not say yet when she will be submitting to President Benigno Aquino III her legal study on the territorial claim of the Sultanate of Sulu on Malaysia-controlled Sabah.
"I don't want to rush into things. I don't want to reveal it just yet since there are also other agencies conducting their own studies," she told reporters on Wednesday.
Her report, she said, is already 90 percent complete even as the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is also looking into the claim prior to the deadly armed clashes between the Malaysian security forces and the followers of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III.
Kiram's group has since refused to abandon the territory while calling on President Benigno Aquino III and the Malaysian government to finally settle the issue before the International Court of Justice.
"We can discuss the Sabah claim as soon as this crisis is over. Let's not do it simultaneously. We cannot force this to a sovereign state like Malaysia," said de Lima.
Kuala Lumpur is still paying the Sultanate some P70,000 each year for rent despite the claim of the British government, which annexed the area to Malaysia in 1963 that it was sold to an English company in 1878.
The Philippines' claim on Sabah has remained dormant for almost 50 years. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)