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Congress, the BBL is not enough


“By the time treaty negotiators were parleying in Paris there was no longer any vestige of Spanish control, possession, or government in Filipinas (that is to say, the Christian part of the archipelago). And Spain never had control, government, nor possession of the Moro territory. It did not have any “suspended sovereignty” because its sovereignty had been terminated.” DR. ONOFRE D. CORPUZ, WORLD-RESPECTED AUTHOR, HISTORIAN AND FORMER MINISTER OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE.

This academic treatise is not in its entirety, a literary expression of opposition to the creation of Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) through the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) as a  replacement of the existing Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). It is  a free and honest exposition of my personal conviction that this proposed Congressional enactment  is not only a form of class  legislation but  also not comprehensive, just, holistic, commensurate, and equitable political solution to the decades old struggle for self-determination or autonomy launched by various liberation fronts in Mindanao and  Sulu who took  the path of war to recover their dispossessed homelands which were two sovereign and independent Sultanates, distinct and separate from each other, Maguindanao (Mindanao) and Sulu and North Borneo. The right political justice, to my mind, is for the seller and buyer countries or the present de facto owner state (Republic of the Philippines) to return in their fullest measures, these two entire states to their respective inhabitants, the Lumads (the different ethnologistic groups from where the Muslims and Christains came or to the royal heirs and adherents of the Sultanates) who the Spaniards collectively or generically called Moros. If these respondent countries refused,  the alternative peaceful judicial recourse is to petition the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization or C-24 to decolonize Mindanao and Sulu during the 3rd Decade (2011-2020) of Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) approved on December 14, 1960 granting independence or self-rule to colonized and  non-self-governing territories and peoples.

Here are my historical premises:

1. Mindanao and Sulu according to world-respected and eminent historians, authors, and researchers were two internationally recognized de facto and de jure  monarchies, the Sultanates of Sulu and North Boreneo and Maguindanao (Mindanao) established by Rajah Baguinda whose first Sultan was Sayyid Abu Bakr on Novemebr 17, 1405 and by Sharief Mohammad Kabungsuan in 1457, respectively, both founded on the Quoranic doctrine of statehood;

2. The adherents or raayats of these two Sultanates were the Lumads (a Visayan term for all the native or indigenous tribes in Mindanao and Sulu). Islam was first introduced in Mindanao in 1380, by an Arab religious missionary,  Kamirul  Mahkdum  while Christianity  was initially brought to the Visayas  in 1521 by a Portuguese explorer-navigator commissioned by Spain, popularly known in history as Ferdinand Magellan who unfortunately met his death in a battle against Lapu-Lapu, the Datu  of the Island of Mactan on April 27, 1521;

3. The introduction of Islam in Mindanao in 1380 which is about 141 years ahead of Christianity in the Visayas, historically and chronological explains why when the Spaniards first reached Zamboanga in 1578, they were surprised to see inhabitants who had striking similarieties with those ancient people in Mauritania, Nortn Africa which led them to assume that they were Moors   reponsible for the conquest of Spain and placed it under their control for eight hundred years until the successful reconquista. This is the explanation why all the native inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu were generically called “Moros” by the Spaniards.  This is confirmed by a reputable  and highly respected Muslim author, Salah Jubair on page 13 of his book entitled, “Bangsamoro, A Nation Under Endless Tyranny when he wrote:

“ All the monickers assigned to the natives, Indio, Moro, and Filipno  were given by the Spaniards. History should credit them for giving us all these names out of hatred, or by reasons of similarities, or by force of circumstances, or by all of the above.”

Another internationally distinguished author confirming that it was the Spaniards who gave the name Moros to all the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu, is Florence Horn, author of the book, “Orphans of the Pacific found on Chapter 8, as follows:

“The Spaniards called them Moros simply out of painful memory of the Mohammedan Moors they had fought in Spain.”

3. It is therefore, logical to infer that the first Lumads or natives to be converted to Christianity by the Spaniards took place when they established a small Catholic misssion in La Caldera now Recodo, about 15 kilometers away from Zamboanga City in the year in 1596 . Conclusively, because the natives of the place were either Sama, Subanen, or Tausog , the first Christian converts came  from these tribes or ethnic groups mistaken to be Moros by the Spaniards;

4. So inarguably and unoubtedly, the Muslims and Christians both came from the different indigenous tribes called Lumads belonging to the Malayan racial stock making them racial brothers and sisters who were also the adherents or raayats of the Sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu when these two kingdoms became full-fledged states;

5. By ancestry or anthropologically, Mindanao and Sulu belong to the Lumads or the different native or indigenous ethno-linguistic groups (Tuasog, Yakan, Sama, Subanen, Bilaan, Bukidnon, Maranao, Buranun, Tagaulo, Manobo, Higaonon, Mamawa, Mandaya, Mansaka, Sangire, Tagabawa, Tasaday, Tiboli, Maguindanao, Banwaon, Dibabawon, ect). From  some of these ethnic groups logically came either the first Muslims and Christians in this part of the globe. There is no ethnic or indigenous tribe called Moro because this is just a monicker given by the Spaniards as confirmed by the two reputable historians cited above; and

6. For more three centuries, the Spaniards were so determined  to colonize and Christianize the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu like what they did to the islands of Luzon and the Visayas, but unfortunately failed according to the following world-recognized and respected historians, authors,   researchers, and references:

(a.) Gregorio F. Zaide, author of the history textbook, “Philippine History and Government,” Copyright 2004, which states on page 63 that” most of Mindanao and Sulu were excluded from Philippine territory during the Spanish times. Spain claimed sovereignty over them, but only a few coastal areas were really under its control. The Moros were not conquered.”

(b)  The New Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 11, copyright 1989, p. 381 claims that “ The Spaniards never subdued the inhabitants who they called Moros; they were a fiercely independent people whose culture was the melting ground of sea traders, shell and coral producers, fishermen, pirates, and slave traders.”

(c) Peter Gordon Gowing, author of the book, Mandate In Moroland, The American Government of Muslim Filipinos, 1899-1920, page 12 wrote the following: “ The Moros fought for home and Country, for freedom to pursue their religion and way of life, and for liberty to rove the seas which so ever they would. For over three hundred years they made a shambles of Spain’s Moro policy.Expert guerilla fighters, the Muslims exacted heavy toll of casualties... they fought ferociously and their usual tactic was to wear their attackers obliging them gradually to withdrew.”

(d) George A. Malcolm, Author of the book entitled, “The Government of the Philippine Islands, Roschester, New York, Copyright 1916. This book contains the following account, “The Sulu Sultanate remained practically independent for four hundred and twenty-five years. Its decline was not caused by national retrogression, but the hostility and aggression of its adversary....The tenacity with which the Sulus resisted Spanish domination, their obdurate  opposition and their obstinate passive resistance in peace baffled all Spanish efforts to subvert their political organization or gain a simple point of advantage without paying so dearly.”

(e) “The Spanish colonial dream is crushed in our deep south. The Spaniards came to the Philippines to Christianize the inhabitants and transform them at the same time into subjects of the Spanish mononarch. By force or diplomatic skill, they were able to control most of the barangay in Luzon and the Bisayas whose inhabitants were mainly pagans but in the three Muslim principalities (Maguindanao, Buayan, and Sulu), they found their attempts at colonization and Christianization frustrated.” Contained in Article entitled, “The Moro Wars” written by a leading authority on the History of Muslim Filipinos, Cesar Adib Majul.

It is very essential that we first establish  the historical truth that the Spaniards failed to acquire sovereignty and territorial possession of the realms of the sultanates based on the written accounts of the distinguished and widely respected historians, authors, and researchers because the primary root-cause of the armed struggle for self-determination or independence of the liberation fronts in Mindanao and Sulu is solidly anchored or firmly predicated on the tricky inclusion of their homelands as part of the Spanish colony, Las Islas Filipinas of Philippine Islands when it was sold and ceded by Spain to the United States in Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris only by way of coordinates without the knowledge and consent of the reigning Sultants, their Councils of States, and their respective adherents making this commercial and diplomatic  transaction highly anomalous and of questionable validity.

The Encyclopedia of Philippines Arts, Volume II, confirms the irregularity of the inclusion of Mindanao and Sulu as part of the Spanish colony, Philippine Islands, to wit:

“The Muslims did not know that the Treaty of Paris which had ceded the Philippine Archipelago to the Americans, included their land as well.”

Another very distinguished and internationally-respected historian, author, and former Minister of Education and Culture of the Philippines, Dr. Onofre D. Corpuz described the peace negotiations in Paris this way:

“By the time treaty negotiators were parleying in Paris there was no longer any vestige of Spanish control, possession, or government in Filipinas ( that is to say, the Christian part of the archipelago.) And Spain never had control, government, or possession of the Moro territory. It did not have any “suspended authority” because its sovereignty had been terminated.”

So based of the written testimonies of the world-renowned authors, historians, and researchers I cited above, two Sultanates which did not fall under the sovereignty or possession of Spain by conquest or any other means of territorial acquisition, were clandestinely included in the technical description (by way of coordinates) of the Spanish Colony called Las Islas Filipinas or Philippine Islands which was sold and ceded to the United States for 20-million dollars in Article III of the Decmeber 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris without the knowledge and consent of the real owners, the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao (Mindanao) which in my personal opinion as an academician, violated three universally observed, accepted, recognized, and practised treaty principles at that time, namely; “free consent”, “good faith”, and “Pacta Sunt Servanda rule.”

And since the original act of territorial transfer of Mindanao and Sulu was anomalous, fraudulent, and irregular, it is logical to assert that all succeeding acts emanating from it are also anomalous, fraudulent, and irregular such as the military occupation of Mindanao and Sulu by the American forces starting May 19, 1899,  the Bates Treaty and Carpenter Memorandum forged between the United States and the Sultanate of Sulu on August 20, 1899 and March 22, 1915, respectively; the Quirino-Recto Colonization Act of 1935, and finally the incorporation of Mindanao and Sulu into the Republic of the Philippine when it was granted self-government by the mother colonial country, the United States of America on July 4, 1946 as they (Mindanao and Sulu) were made component parts of its national territory by the framers of the 1935 Philippine Constitution using the dubious and inapplicable December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris as the only historical and legal basis, against the overwhelming opposition of the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu expressed in three written petitions sent to the President of the United States and American Congress but were unceremoniously disregarded, taken for granted, and considered absolutely without any political value or merit.

These were: (1) The Petion of June 9, 1921 from Sultan Jamalul Kiram II and fifty-seven prominent Sulu leaders including a few foreigners, (2) The Dansalan Declaration of  March 18, 1935 signed by Hadji Abdulhamid Bongabong, a chief religious leader of Unayon and 189 Muslim leaders sent to the President of the United States through the Governor General of the Philippine Islands and (3) A Declaration of Rights and Purposes addressed to the Congress of the United States on February 1, 1924 signed in Zamboanga, P.I. with the following as among the signatories; (a) Sultan Mangigin of Maguindanao, (2) Hadji Panglima Nuno of Zamboanga (3.) Datu Sacaluran, (4.) Maharaja Habing, (5) Abdula Piang and (6) Datu Benito of Lanao.

All the foregoing authoritative sources and widely-archived diplomatic documents cited, commonly confirm the historical truth that Mindanao and Sulu comprising the territorial realms of the Sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu and North Borneo were anomalously sold and ceded to the United States by Spain in Article III as part of the latter’s colony called Las Islas Filipinas or Philippine Islands in Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris which is the primary root-cause of the armed struggle originally launched by MNLF, then MILF, and now BIFF for self-determination or independence, and not just for the return of a small portion of the two ancient sovereign states which until now remain de jure and not legal components of the Republic of the Philippines.


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