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Why petition for decolonization?

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“A sovereign dispossessed of his territories by a usurper (an unjust aggressor) or by revolutionaries, remains the legitimate ruler of the territories concerned. He possesses the right to recover such territories and is entitled to the recognition of his claim by other legitimate sovereigns. He is also entitled to assistance, if only in terms of moral support, in recovering his territories. Recapture by force however, is no longer considered appropriate or recommended, and in some cases, it is considered to be unlawful and illegal”-Stephen Baca Y Kerr, The Entitlement to Rule: Legal, Non-territorial Sovereignty in International Law, Chapter I, Vol. I.

I am taking this academic initiative to enlightent   freedom and peace-loving citizens  with respect to the series of historical events which culminated in the fraudulent sale and cession of  two ancient de jure and de facto Sultanates by Spain to the United States which in my honest opinion is the primary historical root-cause of the continuing armed struggle of various liberation fronts for self-determination or  political autonomy in Mindanao and Sulu. For obvious motive in perpetuating colonial interest and control, this historcal root-cause  has always been deliberately avoided, taken for granted, and brushed aside by the powers- that- be since the inception of the peace process with secessionit and liberalist groups to the resolve the Mindanao Conflict which logically accounts for its failure and incapacity to take off from square one despite the billions and billions of taxpayers’ monies already spent for conducting peace talks mostly in foreign countries.

The fundamental aim of the series of articles that I have been writing about the colonial history of Mindanao and Sulu, is not to fan the fire of revolution but to appeal to these belligerent groups and other anti-government forces to lay down their arms and take the non-violent mode, strategy, and roadmap  of attaining their political aspiration using the facts and documents of history through the UN General Assembly’s Committee on Decolonization or C-24 and pursuant to its Resolution on Decolonization 1415 (XV) of December 14, 1960. There is no need for war to achieve freedom or self-goverment, only solidarity and unity among  the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu plus a team of legal experts in international law who are imbued with patriotism and humanitarian spirit  to handle the decolonization case.

Having seriously studied and analyzed the different historical accounts, treaty documents, and applicable laws  relative to Mindanao and Sulu, I have come to the conclusion that the best solution, option, or politcal treatment to this almost half a century of  armed struggle of the various liberation fronts  for self-determination, is the grant of full freedom  or independence by the United Nations through the judicial process of decolonization, to these two ancient, distinct, separate, and sovereign states for the following premises and justifcations:

1. Mindanao and Sulu according to world-renowned authors and historians were not colonial possessions of Spain by virtue of conquest despite her numerous attempts over a span of more than three hundred years;

2. Granting for the sake of argument that Spain, in truth Mindanao and Sulu were conquered or   incorporated to the Crown of Spain by virtue of a treaty, this was deemed terminated or lapsed by the simple fact that the warriors of Sulu and Mindanao never stopped fighting and resisting the Spanish colonial forces  until they were (Spanish forces)  routed, garrisons and forts surrendered to the Sultans,  datus, and other native warriors; beleagured;  and withdrawn from Mindanao and Sulu in January of 1899 as ordered by higher authorities in Madrid for the defense of Spanish sovereignty against the Aguinaldo Revolutionary Army and the United States who declared war on April 25, 1898 . The withdrawal  of all Spanish forces from Mindanao and Sulu from the standpoint of the Law of Conquest, marked the full recovery of all the territories or areas occupied by the Spaniards and the total restoration of the de jure and de facto statehood of Mindanao and Sulu as two distinct and separate Sultanates before the surprise arrival of the American forces on May  19, 1899.

3. The capture of the biggest Spanish fortress in Mindanao by the Zamboanga Revolutionary Army and the surrender of the last Spanish Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, Diego de los Rios to Gen. Vicente S. Alvarez on  May 18, 1899 from the viewoint of the law of war, veritably marked the complete political emancipation of Mindnao and Sulu if not also the Philippine Islands from the Crown of Spain and not June 12, 1898 as decalred by General Emilio F. Aguinaldo at Cavite Viejo II (now Cawit, Cavite). This spectacular military victory achieved by General Alvarez and his ragtag army composed of the Los Deporatados, Los Voluntarios, Muslims, Christians, and other native warriors against the Spanish Colonial Forces and the establishment of the genuine de facto  Zamboanga Republic umistakably point to the fact that it was to  General Alvarez that the sovereignty of Spain over Mindanao, Sulu, (granting Spain had any) and all parts of the Philippine Islands not yet taken by the Americans, were surrendered, and not to the American Forces nor to the Dictatorial Republic of  General Emilio F.  Aguinaldo as what has always been traditionally thought or believed;

4. While it is true that the City of Manila was capitulated on August 14, 1898 by the Spanish Governor -General Fermin Jaudenes, it was only accomplished through the conduct of a “Mock War” facilitated by a Belgian Consul, Edouard Andre and carried out  on August 13, in gross violation of the Peace Protocol signed between the United States and Spain in Washinton, D. C. on August 12, 1898 , a day before because the information about the cessation of hostilities was not immediately made available to the American and Spanish forces in the Philippines  attributed to the fact  that the only cable which linked the White House and Manila was cut off by Admiral Dewey so that it was recieved only on August 16;

The  “Mock War” of August 13, 1898  and the capitulation of Manila the following day, led to the series of peace negotiations in Paris for the turning over of the sovereignty of Spain over the Philippine Islands as the victor of the 1898 Spanish-American war; and

5. Cleverly, the “Mock War” was used by the Peace Commissioners of Spain to argue that because what happened was not a real war, the Philippine Islands could not truly be considered as its spoil and no territorial sovereignty turnover would come to pass without a price. So, the United States had to offer 20-Million Dollars for the cession and sale of the Philippine Islands which was explicitly stipulated in Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris and was accepted by Spain. The turning over of the Philippine Islands by Spain to the United States was more of a  commercial transaction than a spoil of war. In fact, with the exception of Manila, the rest of the Philippine Islands was still either under the control of the Spanish colonial forces or the revolutionary forces of General Aguinaldo at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898 . Making the turnover of the Philippine Islands more irregular and scandalous was the furtive inclusion of Mindanao and Sulu in the territorial limits of the sold and ceded colony only by way of coordinates;

Proving  that the Philippine Islands was still  largely under the Crown of  Spain at the time the December 10, 1898 was concluded, was the appointment of two more Spanish Governor-Generals  to succeed General Jaudenes, namely; Francisco Rizzo and Diego de los Rios, respectively . Virtually, the cession of the Philippine Islands was consummated even while fighting was still going on  between the Aguinaldo -led forces and the Spaniards in Luzon and Visayas, and between the Spanish Colonial Forces and the warriors of the  two Sultanates until the Spanish colonial forces were withdrawn from Mindanao and Sulu in January of 1899 as ordered by the higher authorities in Madrid marking the full recovery of the Sultanates of their respective territorial domains before the sneak arrival of the American forces on May 19, 1899 by operation of the Law of Conquest;

6. Despite the fact, that Mindanao and Sulu were not covered by the United States declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898 for they were not colonies of Spain like ther Philippine Islands and not also revolutionary ally of the Aguinaldo Republic which declared war with the United States on February 4, 1899, these two Sultanates were occupied by the American forces starting May 19, 1899, a day after the last Spanish Governor -General of the Philipine Islands surrendered to General Vicente Alvarez which marked the factual turnover of the Spanish Sovereignty over Mindanao and Sulu if not also the entire Philipine Islands;

7. To legitimize the military invasion of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindnao, the Sultan of Sulu was first asked to acknowledge the sovereignty of the United States obviously under duress by signing the Bates Treaty of August 20, 1899 and about 15 years after the Carpenter Memorandum on March 22, 1915 stripping the Sultan of his political powers under coersive circumstances which reduced the monarch purely to that of a religious leader;

8. On February 12, 1935, the Philippines Assemby of the Commonwealth Government under the Presidency of Manuel L. Querzon, passed the Quirion- Recto  Colonization Act virtually transforming Mindanao and Sulu as colonies of the Philippines; and

9. Finally, under the 1935 Philippine Constitution, Mindanao and Sulu were incorporated or annexed to the national territory of the nascent Republic of the Philippines with the inapplicable and dubious December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris as the sole legal basis used by the framers of the Constitution despite overwhelming oppositions expressed by the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu through written petitions and declaration of rights and purposes sent to the American President and Congress.

The foregoing, to my honest opinion, aside from many others which have been included in the draft petition for decolonization, constitute the major historical, military, and political justifications why Mindanao and Sulu should be considered at present as still non-self-governing territories and therefore, should be decolonized by the United Nations Committee on Decolonization or C-24.  (By Clem M. Bascar)




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