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GRP: Involve Spain, US, and the Royals!


Unless both the GRP and the MILF use the pertinent and relevant facts about the political history of Mindanao and Sulu, it is my firm conviction that the Peace Process will just go on in circles like a vicious cycle. Unless the United States, Spain, and the Royals of the Sultanates of Sulu and North Borneo and Maguindanao will be principally involved in the peace talks and negotiations, the Mindanao conflict will have no end. Why? It’s because Spain and the United States were the two colonial powers who occupied Mindanao and Sulu by colonization and conquest. Spain attempted to conquer and colonize the Sultanates of Mindanao and Sulu for more than three hundred years, but failed according to historians. The Americans occupied Sultanates of Mindanao and Sulu starting May l9. 1899 disregarding the fact that Mindanao and Sulu were not territorial possessions of Spain on the ground that Spain did not acquire total de facto sovereignty over these two Islamic monarchies either by virtue of colonization or conquest again, according to historians.

What are the other relevant facts of history that should be used as the fundamental bases of the on-going Peace Talks between parties in interest? To the best of my knowledge as gleaned from my readings and based on historical sources, authorities, and references, the following should be given paramount attention and consideration:

1.    Mindanao and Sulu were two distinct sovereign and independent Sultanates established more than two centuries before the arrival of the Spaniards in Mindanao and Sulu .The Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo was first founded on November 17, 1405 according to the latest historical document, (an old kitab booklet) written in Arabic characters, with Sayeed Abu bak’r  as first Sultan under the regnal name of Sultan Shari-ul Hashim.   

2.    The second Sultanate, Maguindanao (Mindanao) according to E.P.Patanñe was established toward the end of the 15th Century in Cotabato by Shjarif Muhammad Kabungsuan, an Arab-Malay missionary .

3.    Mindanao and Sulu were not on the whole conquered, colonized, and Christianized by the Spaniards, therefore, were not de facto colonial possessions of Spain because experts in international law say, that there is no such thing as partial sovereignty

4.    Mindanao and Sulu were first occupied by the 23 Infantry Battalion of the American Forces under the Command of  Capt E.B. Pratt  when they landed in Jolo on May 19, 1899 to accept the surrender of the last Spanish garrison which should have been rightfully turned over to the Sultan of Sulu as what was done to the Siasi Spanish garrison  because Sulu was still an independent and sovereign Sultanate and therefore, was not a part of the theater of war between Spain and the United States. Sulu was not at war with the United States.

5.    Although Mindanao and Sulu were not colonial possessions of Spain (as the Americans themselves officially confirmed) these two Sultanates were surreptitiously included in the lines and coordinates delineating the technical boundary limits of the Philippine Islands, the colonial possession of Spain which was explicitly ceded and sold to the United States for $20-Million under Article 111 of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris. The worst part about this commercial and diplomatic transaction was the fact, that Sultans of these two states were not notified nor informed beforehand that their territories were included in the sale and cession of the Philippines Islands which made such treaty inapplicable under the PACTA SUNT SERVANDA rule.

6.     The President of the United States, William Mckinley, Gen. John C. Bates, and Gov. Frank Carpenter by virtue of their signatures and approval of the Bates Treaty of August 20 1899 and the Carpenter Memorandum of March 22, 1915, respectively, virtually confirmed officially and documentarily that the Sultanate of Sulu and Mindanao were not included in the sale and cession of the territory called the Philippine Islands under Article 111 of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris.

7.    The occupation of Mindanao and Sulu starting May 18, 1899, was without Congressional Authority and therefore, could be considered an unlawful act of conquest which is prohibited explicitly under the Law of Nations and the 1787 Constitution of the United States from my own personal point of view.

8.    Because the conquest of Mindanao and Sulu by the Americans from the standpoint of their own Constitution was grossly unlawful, the incorporation of Mindanao and Sulu to the body politic of the Philippine Islands was also unlawful.

9.    From the standpoints of the Constitution of the United States, Law of Nations, and the International Customary Law of Treaties as codified by the 1969 Geneva Convention, the occupation of Mindanao and Sulu, their cession and sale under the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris, and their unilateral; and arbitrary incorporation to the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946, strictly from my own personal perspective, were all unlawful.

10.    Therefore, the Royalties, are still the de jure owners of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao and not the Republic of the Philippines, based on the doctrine enunciated by Emerich de Vatell, The Law of Nations,Book II, chapter XII, no. 196 which states that:” THE KING DOES NOT FORFEIT THE CHARACTER OF ROYALTY MERELY BY THE LOSS OF HIS KINGDOM . IF HE IS UNJUSTLY DESPOILED OF IT BY AN USURPER, OR BY REBELS, HE STILL PRESERVES HIS RIGHT.” 

Because I am not a lawyer nor an academically certified historian, the above historical accounts and events I cited, may be refuted and declared totally false by a more credible, authoritative, and accredited expert in international law, constitutional law, or historian.  That’s perfectly all right with me. However, my being an ordinary citizen still entitles me to an opinion on any issue at hand. So, just feel free to demolish all my assertions any which way you want. Anyway, my most fervent dream is: GUENUINE PEACE, PROSPERITY AND HARMONIUS CO-EXISTENCE AMONG ALL INHABITANTS OFMINDANAO AND SULU.  What about you, what’s your dream?

By Clem M. Bascar

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