The Paris Arbitration Court ordered the Malaysian government to pay $14.92 billion to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu as compensation for Kuala Lumpur’s alleged failure to pay the lease for Sabah for more than 700 years, Spanish media portal La Informacion reported.

This validates the Philippines’ claim on Sabah which contends that the country’s Sultan of Sulu only leased the territory to Malaysia

Gonzalo Stampa, a Spanish arbitrator, released the award through The Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris after the heirs of the Sultanate brought before the arbitration tribunal a violation to the commercial contract that dates back to July 1878.

Sultan Pujdalun Kiram II, one of the nine heirs claiming to be direct descendants of the Sultan Jamal Al Alam, said they were “very happy” when they learned about this award.
“Ang sa amin lang, lumabas ang katotohanan kung sino ang tunay na sultan of Sulu. Marami ang nagke-claim, pero as a result of arbitration, lumabas na kami ang totoong Kiram,” the 80-year-old leader said.

Reporters sought the reaction of the Department of Foreign Affairs at the news but the department has yet to take a stand on the issue in the absence of Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr. who is in meetings abroad. Locsin is known to be passionate on the Sabah claim.

The Philippines has been claiming Sabah as part of its territory, based on the contract drawn between the Sultanate of Sulu and British North Borneo Company.

Malaysia, which also claims Sabah and has been the controlling government over the disputed territory, “completely rejects” the award, saying it will not recognize both the arbitration proceedings and the subsequent award.

Kuala Lumpur has stopped paying the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu since 2013, as a result of the attempt of some of the Sultanate soldiers to assert a claim over Sabah with the siege of the Lahad Datu island.

According to La Informacion, the descendants of the Sultanate sought the services of Spanish law firm B. Cremades & Asociados to “recover” the unpaid rental dues by the Malaysian government, after their lawyers saw a clause stipulating that any disputes from the 1878 agreement may be resolved through arbitration.

The heirs of Sulu estimate they were owed $32 billion, which included the natural resources found on the island about 40 years ago, particularly its 1.5 billion barrels of oil and 11 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.

“The operative part of the award states that said contract is an international private lease, of a commercial nature,” the Spanish portal reported.