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Our right to decolonization

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“The capture of the Spanish fortress by General Alvarez throws new light into why the Americans were forced to proceed to and stay in Sulu although the specific order issued by American General Elwell S. Otis was for the troops to occupy Zamboanga. It was important to the American colonial interest to have firm control of it because the Spanish governor-general Diego de los Rios had established in Zamboanga the de jure sovereignty of Spain over the Philippines; and the capture of Governor-General de los Rios by Gen. Alvarez brought about the transfer of Spanish sovereignty to Filipino hands.” –                         

Esteban B. De Ocampo, Chairman, NATIONAL HISTORICAL INSTITUTE, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ermita, Manila, 1979.

I will not argue with anyone if they say that Mindanao and Sulu were not colonial possessions of the Spanish Crown by virtue of conquest or discovery. Highly respected and world-recognized text book authors on Philippine history confirmed this historical fact. I will not also argue with anyone who asserts that Mindanao and Sulu were not parts of the Philippine Islands, the colonial possession of the Spanish Crown, which was sold and ceded to the United States under Article III of the December 10, 1898 because the Spanish Commissioners vehemently refused to turn over this territory to the Americans as a spoil of the 1898 Spanish-American war on the argument that there was no real war that took place, but only a “Mock War” on August 13, 1898 for the capitulation of the City of Manila. I will not also disagree with anyone who asserts that Mindanao and Sulu were not parts of the Revolutionary Movement of the Filipinos in Luzon which broke out on August 26, 1896 when the Katipuneros tore their cedulas  personales to mark their independence from the Crown of Spain at Pugad Lawin. I will not also contradict anyone who will articulate his viewpoint that Mindanao and Sulu were not parts of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo’s First Philippine Republic which he declared at Cavite Viejo on June 12, 1898. And I will not also contradict the assertion that Mindanao and Sulu were established as distinct, separate, independent, and sovereign Sultanates hundreds of years ahead of the Federal Government of the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. Finally, I will not also contradict anyone who asserts that Mindanao and Sulu should have not been occupied militarily by the United States starting May 19, 1899 because they were not colonial possessions of the Spanish Crown and therefore, not included in the declaration of war issued by the United States Congress against Spain; neither were they components of the Philippine Republic of General Aguinaldo, and therefore, not also part of the Filipino-American war declared on February 4, 1899.

Nonetheless, I will exert the best academic effort I could muster to defend my conviction that the only de facto and de jure Republic that was organized in Mindanao and Sulu and even throughout the Philippine Archipelago, was the Zamboanga Republic. The Zamboanga Republic was organized with Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez as its first President immediately after the capture of the biggest Spanish fortress in Mindanao by the Revolutionary Army composed of the “voluntarious” and” deportados” with the support of the natives most notably by those made available by the highlyl-respected Muslim leader of Taluksangay, Hadji Abdulla Nuño. It was on the historic day of May 18, 1899, when the last Spanish Governor General of the Philippine Islands, Diego de los Rios surrendered at Fort Pilar to Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez according to a highly-respected and nationally recognized historian, Dr. Rony Bautista. This great historical military event marked the factual and genuine turning over of Spanish sovereignty over Mindanao and Sulu and even over the entire colonial government of the Philippine Islands, not to Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo, not to the Americans, but to Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez, the first President of the Zamboanga Republic and the Commanding General of the Zamboanga Revolutionary Army responsible for the successful siege and capture of Fort Pilar. 

Based on this not well-disseminated and probably intentionally hidden but documented military event narrating that the last Spanish Governor General of the Colonial Government of the Philippine Islands, Diego de los Rios, veritably and honorably according to the ethics and laws of war, surrendered to Gen. Vicente Solis Alvarez following the successful siege of Fort Pilar by the Zamboanga Revoltionary Army, it is logical to conclude that our true and authentic independence from the Crown of Spain took place not in Cavite Viejo on June 12, 1898, not anywhere else in the Philippines or on any other date, but at Fort Pilar, Zamboanga, on May 18, 1899.

So, do we have the right to decolonization?   

By Clem M. Bascar




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