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Scandals in history: Inputs for peace process (Part 10)


Before I open a new area of discussion, let me just wrapped up my contention that there was completely no military necessity nor constitutional justification for the American forces to occupy Mindanao and Sulu for these states were not parts of the Philippine Islands, they were not colonial possessions of Spain, their respective Sultans were not parties to the Treaty of Paris, they were not allies nor organic components of the President Emilio F. Aguinaldo’s First Republic, they not did commit any act of hostility, harassment, and provocation against the American forces, and above all they were not at war with the United States. In fact, Robert A Fulton, who wrote the book, “The American Military Occupation of Morland- May 1899 to August 1903” narrated that “for their part, throughout the Philippine-American War the Moros avoided any alignment with or support to their Christian cousins in the North.” This account totally disproves the speculation or suspicion of General Otis that the Moros had initiated tactical alliance with the forces of Aguinaldo to fight against the Americans which was the only flimsy basis he used to order the military occupation of Mindanao and Sulu. To support my contention that the suspicion of General Otis of a possible tactical alliance between the forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and the revolutionary forces of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo to put up a united front against the colonial forces against the United States, was baseless and therefore, purely speculative,  let me cite the following authoritative sources:

“The Sultan gave no response to these appeals-possibly because neither he nor his advisers could see any real gain in allying themselves with their traditional enemies.”-( Peter Gordon Gowing, ‘ The Christian Filipinos,’ Mandate In Moroland, p. 26.)

Another historical account found in the same cited reference confirming the fact that the Moros did not want to be aligned with the Revolutionary Movement of the General Aguinaldo was when the Moros led by Datus Ali and Djimbangan killed Ramon Vilo and some of his henchman who raised the Katipunan flag and attempted to install himself as the Filipino Governor of Cotabato. 

Former Education Secretary, Onofre D. Coruz, author of the book, Saga and Triumph of the Filipino Revolution Against Spain, also attested to the fact that the forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and Maguindanao were not allied with Aguinaldo’s revolutionary struggle when he wrote the following narration:

“ The Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu were not part of the revolution against Spain. Indeed, the Muslims had been engaged in war, not rebellion against the Spanish regime since the latter years of the sixteen century. President Aguinaldo’s view of a federal Filipino republic embracing the entire archipelago was introduced in Iloilo, Panay, but there was not enough time, or contacts, to get the Muslims into the structure of a fraternal all-archipelago union.” 

Finally the remark of Datu Mandi found on page 25 of Peter Gordon Gowing’s book, Mandate in the Moroland, to further prove that General Otis’ speculation about the possible alliance between the Moros and General Aguinaldo’s insurrectos was unfounded and baseless, is hereby quoted:
“It was a time of bloodshed and terror. There was no justice. Because of this, the Moros were opposed to the Filipinos.”

Junction of Mindanao and Sulu
Today people wonder why Sulu is no longer a separate territory from Mindanao when it was the first Sultanate that was established and recognized even by the most powerful empires of the world in the early 15th Century such as Holland, France, Great Britain, Spain, and the United States. Proofs of this historical fact were the treaties that it entered into with these empires many of which had something to do with trade and commerce for Sulu was already a bustling and flourishing Kingdom of the orient. Cesar A. Majul, a highly respected and internationally recognized Muslim historian confirmed this de jure status of the Sultanate of Sulu in his article entitled, “Sulu Power Game”, pages 1332-1336 of the book, Filipino Heritage (The Making of a Nation, Vol. 5), quoted as follows:

“The Sulu embassy in Batavia in 1719 made a strong request for firearms and ammunitions. It is very possible that it was at this time or not long after that Datu Lagasan went to study in a Madrash (Quranic School) in the environs of Batavia.”

Eric S. Casino in the same book cited, also made the following narration with respect to the trade and diplomatic relations between Sulu and China even as early as the T’ang and Sung dynasties, to wit:

“According to the China Annals, in 1726, during the reign of the Manchu Emperor Yong Cheng, the Sulu Sultan Muhammad Badar ud-Din, sent a memorial to the emperor with tribute. The same sultan again sent tribute the next year. It consisted of pearls, tortoise, shells, weapons, mats, cloth, monkeys, bird’s nests, etc.”

However, the most undeniable diplomatic document that confirmed Sulu’s political status as a truly independent and sovereign state is the Sulu- U. S. Treaty of 1842. Under this treaty Sulu guaranteed full protection to “ all vessels of the United States, and their commanders and crews visiting the islands under the jurisdiction of the Sultan of Sulu.”

With respect to commerce and trade, Dr. Najeeb M. Saleeby in his book, ‘History of Sulu,’ wrote the following observation:

“With the exception of Bruney, Jolo had no rival in Northwest Malaysia prior to the 17th Century. While Manila and Cebu were still small and insignificant settlements, Jolo had reached the proportions of a city and was without exception, the richest and foremost settlement.”

How in the world and for what reason was the Sultanate of Sulu joined with Mindanao and was reduced to a mere province under present political system of the Republic of the Philippines, a state which only came into full statehood on July 4, 1946 while the Sultanate of Sulu was already a well-established and internationally recognized de jure and de facto Islamic monarchy as early as November 17, 1405 according to the latest  officially acknowledged and accepted historical reference of date reckoning which is now the basis for the annual celebration of the foundation of the Sultanate of Sulu by the Sulu provincial government. (To be continued…)

By Clem M. Bascar

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