After President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that the Philippines can’t stand a chance against China over the West Philippine Sea dispute, Department of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr, however, asserted the Philippines’ claim over Sabah challenging Malaysia’s sovereignty over the territory in a series of tweets.

Locsin made the remark in response to another tweet by the United States Embassy in the Philippines that highlighted the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) donation to Filipino repatriates from “Sabah, Malaysia.”

Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein responded to Locsin’s tweet and said that Malaysia will summon the Philippine ambassador.

The Malaysian Foreign Minister also tagged Locsin’s tweet as “irresponsible.”

“This is an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties. [The Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs] will summon the Philippines Ambassador on Monday to explain,” Hussein said.

“Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia,” he added.

Sabah is a territory claimed by the Philippines but located inside Malaysian territory.

In January 2018, Malaysia had already trashed the proposal making Sabah as the Philippines’ 13th federal state under a new Philippine Constitution.

Locsin, on the other hand, countered the invitation and said that he will summon the Malaysian ambassador to the Philippines.

““No country can tell another what it can and cannot say about what the latter regards as rightfully its own,” Locsin tweeted.

Meanwhile, Senate President Tito Sotto backed Locsin’s claims over Sabah by posting about it on his personal Twitter account.

“As far as I know, even until recently, the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu had been receiving rental payments for the occupancy of Sabah. Sulu is PH! DFA has details,” Sotto posted. (RJ Espartinez)