The 1977 Philippine Decision Concerning Sabah
The third and final case of our investigation, the single decision-making scenario in which the member-state leadership elected to pursue policies congruent with the interests of the regional economic organization, focuses on the 1977 Philippine decision to relinquish its claim over Sabah. Sabah had been a source of contention between the Philippines and its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) partner, Malaysia, for more than two decades. Whereas economic duress strongly influenced the decisions in the preceding cases, the Philippine decision, which enhanced regional economic cooperation, derived from its immediate need to avoid domestic political instability.
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos's stated reason for dropping the claim to Sabah was "to eliminate one of the burdens of ASEAN," and to make "a permanent contribution to the unity, the strength and prosperity of all of ASEAN" ( Marcos, 1977: 308-310). As will be demonstrated, this announcement resulted from the Philippines' immediate need to deal with the internal threat posed by Islamic insurgents in its southern islands. Philippine officials elected to give up the long-term territorial claim, because eliminating this issue of contention with Malaysia was seen as a way to assure its assistance in squelching the rebellion in the south. Of secondary importance was the Philippine belief that potential long-term benefits were forthcoming from ASEAN participation in the areas of regional security and economic development. A stronger ASEAN was perceived as a means to fill the power vacuum emerging in the wake of decreased British and US involvement in the region and to facilitate economic development.
It may be argued that Marcos' 1977 renunciation of the Sabah claim