Greater Philippines

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Greater Philippines is an irredentist concept in the Philippines supporting the inclusion of eastern Sabah as a part of the country's territory. The term may also extend to various other proposed scenarios that include any or all of the following: Scarborough Shoal, the Macclesfield Bank, and the Spratly Islands (officially claimed by the government as the Kalayaan Islands).

Areas under the concept[edit]

A map of the Spanish East Indies, including what are today the Philippines, Palau, and the American dependencies of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Philippine Archipelago[edit]

The Philippine Archipelago is the core component of Greater Philippines. As described in Article 1 of the 1987 Constitution, the Philippine Archipelago is part of Philippine territory. This provision has appeared in the 1935 Philippine Constitution for the first time, as the 1899 Malolos Constitution has specified only the areas under Spanish control, including the rest of the Spanish East Indies.

Benham Plateau[edit]

Main article: Benham Plateau

The Benham Plateau, also known as the Benham Rise, is a seismically active undersea region and extinct volcanic ridge located in the Philippine Sea approximately 250 km (160 mi) east of the northern coastline of Dinapigue, Isabela. The UN officially approved the Philippines' territorial claim to the Benham Plateau in April 2012.[1]

Spratly/Kalayaan Islands[edit]

The Philippine claim for the Spratly Islands was based on the voyage and the annexation of Admiral Tomás Cloma, Sr., who relinquished all his rights to the Philippine government in the 1970s. The claim for the Kalayaan group was enshrined in the 1973 Philippine Constitution and in later versions.

Scarborough Shoal[edit]

The Philippine government also claims Scarborough Shoal, which it calls Bajo de Masinloc and Panatag Shoal, as part of its territory, citing its position within the country's Exclusive Economic Zone.[citation needed] The Philippines places the shoal under the jurisdiction of Masinloc, Zambales, which is on the Luzon mainland 124 nautical miles to the east.

Macclesfield Bank[edit]

Macclesfield Bank, located east of the Paracel Islands, distantly southwest of the Pratas Islands and north of the Spratly Islands, is claimed by China[2] and Taiwan (Republic of China).[3][4]

Some sources[4][5] state that the Philippines claims this underwater feature. Philippine Ambassador Jose Zaide, however wrote that the Philippines does not claim the Macclesfield Bank.[6]

North Borneo[edit]

Sultanate of Sulu[edit]

  The extent of Sultanate of Sulu in 1822.
  The territory of Sultanate of Sulu on North Borneo (Sabah), from Pandassan River on the north west coast to the Sibuco River in the south.[7]
Map of the British North Borneo with the yellow area covered the Philippine claim to eastern Sabah, presented by the Philippine Government to ICJ on 25 June 2001.[8]

The Sultanate of Sulu came under the control of the then American controlled Philippines in 1917. Sulu had then the control of eastern Sabah, which was leased to Great Britain.[citation needed] As the Sultan of Sulu relinquished all of his rights to eastern Sabah to the Philippines, the rental payment then was received by the Philippines as successor state of Sulu.[citation needed] In 1963, Great Britain included Sabah in the newly formed Federation of Malaysia. The Philippine government under the then President of the Philippines Diosdado Macapagal protested, and, filed claims to whole Sabah. This caused escalating tensions between the two countries that, the Philippines even planned to declare war[dubious ] and invade the whole Sabah ,[citation needed][clarification needed] but was only prevented by the new President Ferdinand Marcos. To avoid further tensions, the Malaysian government agreed to continue the lease to the Philippine government.[9][10]

Manila Accord[edit]

During the formation of Malaysia, the Federation of Malaya signed the Manila Accord along with the Malaysia Act 1963.[11] These acts solidified the position regarding claim of North Borneo by the Philippines following the establishment of Malaysia.[12]

Per international law, the Malaysian government,[12] as a predecessor state to Malaysia, agreed to abide by the wishes of the peoples of North Borneo and Sarawak within the context of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV), Principle 9 of the Annex, which was created to complete compliance with the principle of self-determination.[13][14] International law also took into account referendums in North Borneo and Sarawak that would be free and without coercion.[15]

Other irredentist concepts[edit]

It has been confirmed[by whom?] that, based on studies, the Philippines "may also" find claims to Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, which were also part of Philippine territory before 1898. These islands all formed part of the Spanish East Indies and the Captaincy General of the Philippines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ UN approves PH territorial claim to Benham Rise, April 28, 2012, Philippine Daily Inquirer.
  2. ^ "Vietnam Law on Contested Islands Draws China’s Ire". The New York Times. June 21, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Taiwan renews sovereignty claim over South China Sea islands". Focus Taiwan. May 5, 2012. Retrieved June 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Limits in the Seas - No. 127 Taiwan's Maritime Claims" (PDF). United States Department of State. November 15, 2005. Retrieved July 1, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Philippines protests China’s moving in on Macclesfield Bank". July 6, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  6. ^ Zaide, Jose (July 10, 2012). "Saan Siya?". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
  7. ^ "British North Borneo company charter (page 4)". 1878. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Mohamad, Kadir (2009). "Malaysia’s territorial disputes – two cases at the ICJ : Batu Puteh, Middle Rocks and South Ledge (Malaysia/Singapore), Ligitan and Sipadan [and the Sabah claim] (Malaysia/Indonesia/Philippines)" (PDF). Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Malaysia. p. 46. Retrieved 16 May 2014. Map of British North Borneo, highlighting in yellow colour the area covered by the Philippine claim, presented to the Court by the Philippines during the Oral Hearings at the ICJ on 25 June 2001 
  9. ^ "Why 'Sultan' is dreaming". 
  10. ^ "Misuari says he sympathizes with plight of Sulu Sultanate". 
  11. ^ Malaysia Act 1963
  12. ^ a b United Nations Press Release United Nations Member States
  13. ^ General Assembly 15th Session – The Trusteeship System and Non-Self-Governing Territories (pages:509–510)
  14. ^ General Assembly 18th Session – the Question of Malaysia (pages:41–44)
  15. ^ Noble, Lela Garner; Thames, John L. (1977). Philippine policy toward Sabah: a claim to independence. University of Arizona Press. p. 267. ISBN 978-0816505982.