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Bogus war of August 13

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“The battle was considered “mock” because it was already pre-planned from the time the first gun would be fired as well as to what time the guns would stop. The surrender of the Spanish forces to the Americans was theatrical as the raising of the white flag was already expected.” References: Philippine News Agency and the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippine Journal, Vol. 3, No. 8, August, 1923.(Posted online under August History  on August 12, 2011.)

From my academic perspective, what is so detestable and shockingly outrageous about this Spanish-American Mock War of August 13, 1898 is the irrefutable fact that this bogus military encounter triggered the series of events leading to the deceptive inclusion of Mindanao and Sulu which were not colonial possessions of Spain by conquest in the sale and cession of the Philippine Islands to the United States in Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris for 20-million dollars which seems to have always been impregnably hidden and tightly-guarded military anomaly. What is more ridiculous about this mega military scandal, is the fact that it was even proudly dubbed and widely circulated as a “splendid little war.”

Briefly, here is the theatrical script of the Mock War:

“As carefully crafted with the help of the Belgium Consul, Edouard Andre, in its final draft, the  choreographed sequence of events called for the initial shelling of the fort of Malate, which would promptly be abandoned by its defenders. As the Americans then began their ground advance, Admiral Dewey would bring his ships before the city and hoist the signal flags demanding surrender. Upon seeing these, General Jaudenes would order the white flag raised, and the Americans would enter. As has been the case in Cuba, the word ‘surrender’ was avoided to be replaced by the term ‘capitulation.’” Source: The Mock War of Manila, August 13, 1898 by C. Douglas Sterner, Copyright 1999-2002 posted on-line by HomeHeroes.com.Inc.

To assert that the present generation of Mindanaoans, Suluans, and Filipinos,  generally do not have any idea as  to why  the contending land forces of  American General Wesley Merrit and Spanish Governor-General Fermin Jaudenes conspired to hold a “mock war” instead of a real war for the capitulation of the City of Manila on August 13, 1898, is a certainty on account of the great length of time that has elapsed since then.

According to same article posted by HomeOFHeroes.com. Inc. authored by C. Douglas Sterner, Copyright 1999-2002, two major reasons were given: (1) to save Spanish honor and (2) to deny victory to Aguinaldo and his guerrillas. These were also the conditions demanded by General Jaudenes to be considered before he agreed to engage the American forces in a mock war instead of just outrightly and voluntarily  surrendering Manila more than two months after the US Oceanic Squadron destroyed the Spanish Pacific fleet in the first Spanish-American naval battle at Manila Bay on May 1, 1898 which virtually “catapulted the status of the United States to a world  power overnight.”

In the cited article above, the author stated that General Jaudenes personally believed that it would be disgraceful for the Spanish commander to give up the city without a fight. Moreover, as narrated by the same source, General Jaudenes feared that such act would be received with derision and probably court martial upon his return to his homeland. He also was quite fearful of the consequences if the city fell to Aguinaldo and his band of Filipino insurgents.

I shall no longer take the burden of explaining whether the Mock War between the armies of Spain and the United States on August 13, 1898 for the capitulation of the City of Manila was in conformity or adherence to the Ethics and Law of War  or the Leiber’s Code  of 1898 for I  don’t have the legal competence to do that being a non-lawyer. Whether it was immoral, unethical, or unlawful from the military standpoint, the determination of such judgment  rightfully belongs to the legal experts of such subject matter especially  based on the  Articles of War, specifically Article 83 regarding “conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentlemen” which still governs the armies of the United States since it was enacted into law on April 10, 1806.

What I would like to underscore about this Mock War  is the fact that this was the land battle that took place between the Spaniards and Americans  in the Philippine Islands during the war of 1898 and only for the capitulation of the City of Manila. And this Mock War was held  on August 13, 1898 a day after Spain and the United States signed the Peace Protocol ending all hostilities between these two warring countries on August 12. The Mock War was conclusively without the knowledge and approval of the higher authorities in Madrid and Washington D.C. making it purely a decision made by the top military officers of the two contending armies in Manila. In fact,  as documented, it was  Admiral  Dewey who intentionally cut the only cable that linked Manila to the outside world which was the reason why the news about the Peace Protocol was received only on August 16, 1898. Here’s a portion of the written account of C. Douglas Sterner confirming that the Spanish-American military encounter for the capitulation of Manila was a genuine Mock War and not a Real War:

“There were no Medals of Honor awarded for heroism in the last of the Spanish-American war...the battle had been a staged event, a sham to save face for the Spanish and deny victory to Aguinaldo and his guerillas. The day-long drama cost 6 American soldiers their lives, and resulted in 92 wounded. The Spanish suffered 49 killed in action and 100 wounded.” ...

and they called it “ a splendid little war”. Was it? Tell it to the Marines.

Again let me emphasize the historical fact that it was this “Mock War” of August 13, 1898 which triggered the series of diplomatic, military, and political acts finally culminating in the clandestine inclusion of two monarchial states which were not colonial possessions of Spain by conquest, the  Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao, (Mindanao) in the sale and cession of the Spanish colony, Philippine Islands to the United States by way of coordinates for 20-million dollars.This to me, is the root-cause of the more than four decades of  armed struggle for self-determination originally launched by the MNLF, then the MILF, and now the BIFF aside from the pacific and silent decolonization movement initiated by the heirs and raayats of these two dispossessed Islamic states.   (By Clem M. Bascar)




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