According to this interpretation, Spain acquired sovereignty over North Borneo in 1878 when it signed the protocol of March 7, 1885 with Germany and Great Britain. In that protocol of peace, Spain gave up all claims of sovereignty over North Borneo to Great Britain; hence, sovereignty over the territory was transferred to Great Britain.
The document signed by the sultan in 1878, recognizing Spanish sovereignty over “Jolo and its dependencies,” had no mention on the inclusion of the sultan’s territory in North Borneo. It is important to first clarify that Spain never acquired sovereignty over North Borneo. In the protocol signed, the term “pretension” to sovereignty over North Borneo was used; hence, there was no essence at all that Spain was transferring sovereignty to Great Britain (a sovereignty Spain never had; it was merely a pretension). Second, “Jolo and its dependencies” was a geo-political unit different and distinct from the North Borneo possession. To give a more vivid example for this argument, let us try to examine Spanish geo-political units in its Asian positions, known as “Espana Oceanica:”
1. The Philippine Archipelago proper;
2. The Island and archipelago of Jolo, conformably with existing treaties with the Sultan of Sulu;
3. The portion of Northeast cost of Borneo that forms part of the dominion of the Sultan;
4. The Marianas Islands; and
5. Other territories which now belong or which may belong in the future to Spain.
North Borneo was not considered a dependency of Jolo. As shown in the list of “Espana Oceanica,” North Borneo was a geo-political unit different and distinct from the Archipelago of Jolo. It is clear that the sultan did not include his territory and dominion in North Borneo in signing the treaty recognizing the Spanish sovereignty. Another thing to consider was the Spanish Geo-political division in “Espana Oceanica.” In the Spanish geo-political law, the regulations were clear about that.
Even if one would insist to assume that the signing of the sultan in 1885 recognizing Spanish sovereignty over “Jolo and its dependencies” resulted to transfer of sovereignty is still out of premise. Because in the protocol of peace in between Germany, Great Britain, and Spain, it was clearly stated that the Spanish claim of sovereignty was worded in the text as “pretension.” By this, it did not result in transfer of sovereignty from Spain to Great Britain. Therefore, the premise that Spain’s renunciation of sovereignty over its North Borneo territory in favor of Great Britain, that resulted in transfer of sovereignty from the Sulu Sultanate to Great Britain, was impossible.