• Malaysian prime minister confirmed the country will host the 8th JCM
  • Marcos Jr. acknowledged Malaysia's role in helping with peace talks in Mindanao
  • Anwar is in the Philippines for a two-day state visit

The Philippines and Malaysia have agreed to resume the Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) between the foreign ministers after the 8th convention did not push through in 2013, following a standoff between a Philippine clan and local police in the Malaysian state of Sabah.

"We agreed to resume the 8th Joint Commission Meeting to be led by both foreign ministers this year at a mutually convenient date. It's our turn to host this meeting and I have advised the colleagues in the Foreign Ministry to facilitate and accelerate this process," Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said during his meeting with his Filipino counterpart, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., as per a joint statement released by the Philippine Presidential Communications Office (PCO) late Wednesday.

The countries have not set a date for the JCM, but said it will take place "this year at a mutually convenient date."

"As immediate neighbors, the Philippines and Malaysia recognize the importance of maintain peace and security in our region. As such, we agreed to continue our cooperation on political and security matters, rekindling the Joint Commission Meetings and joint initiatives to combat transnational crime and terrorism," Marcos Jr. said for his part in the discussion.

Marcos Jr. also said his government recognizes the "great contribution" of Malaysia in the peace process in southern Philippines, alluding to the role the neighbor country played in mediating during conflicts between the government and rebelling Filipinos from Mindanao.

The conflict between the Philippines and a Muslim armed group--Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF--from the island of Mindanao began in the late 1960s when the latter started to advocate for a Moro homeland. Many on the island called themselves "Moro," which the Spanish government had used to refer to Muslims, to emphasize their sense of independence. Their discontent arose from economic deprivation as well as a rise in the number of Christian settlers.

The clashes have led to the deaths of at least 120,000 people, while several have been displaced.

Malaysia started playing the role of mediator between the rebelling side and the Philippine government in 2011, when the first round of talks about the situation took place in Libya, as per a report from the Australian Institute of International Affairs.

The 7th JCM was held in mid-April 2011. At the time, foreign ministers from the two nations discussed many areas of interest including security, politics, trade and investment, tourism, health, culture and communication, education, and other related topics, according to a press release from the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry had then said Malaysia was scheduled to host the 8th JCM in 2013. However, the said meeting did not push through and has since not been rekindled.

In the same year, a standoff occurred between members of a Muslim royal clan from the Philippines occupied Lahad Datu in Sabah.

The Lahad Datu occupants, who called themselves the Royal Army of Sulu, demanded recognition as the rightful owners of Sabah province, due to a 1878 land agreement between Sultan Jamal Al Alam, the British North Borneo Company's Alfred Dent and Baron de Overbeck.

Around 200 armed Filipinos invaded Sabah on Feb. 11, 2013, and a standoff lasted for about a month. At least 52 members of the Filipino group were killed, as well as eight local police officers, according to the think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Speaking on the deaths that resulted from the standoff, then Malaysian PM Najib Razak said he was "very sad" because the country wanted to prevent "bloodshed."

An ongoing legal fight in European courts between the Malaysian government and the heirs of the sultanate of Sulu has also rekindled tensions between the countries, as the Malaysian minister of law recently pledged to fight against the claimants.

The long-running dispute stems from Malaysia's alleged violation of annual RM5,300 (approximately $1,264) payments in cession money to the heirs of the Sulu sultanate, which the country had reportedly honored till 2013.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a news conference to announce his cabinet at Putrajaya
PM Anwar confirmed that the 8th JCM will take place this year. Reuters