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Scandals in history: Inputs for peace process (Part 4)


Mindanao and Sulu Were Not Conquered by Spain

The historical fact that Mindanao and Sulu as sovereign and independent Sultanates were not conquered by Spain must be given primary importance in the new round of peace negotiations between or among parties in interest. This should have been the fundamental issue that was given the highest degree of focus since the peace panels first sat down to negotiate. They would have avoided all the diplomatic blunders, the countless precious human lives lost, and the enormous amount of time, efforts, and fiscal resources spent for all the failed peace initiatives conducted on and off over a period of more than four decades.

Since these two Sultanates were not conquered, it is indisputable to assert that they were not colonial possessions of Spain. And because they were not colonial possessions of Spain, they could not be validly and legally sold and ceded to the United States under the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris for such diplomatic and mercantile transaction was contrary to the three universally recognized and observed principles under the Law of Treaties as codified in the 1969 Vienna Convention, namely: “Good Faith, Free Consent, and the Pacta Sunt Servanda rule.” This simply means that because the Sultans of Sulu and Mindanao were not parties to the treaty, they did not give their free consent, and they were not parties to said treaty, they could not be bound by it. {Kindly read the Law of Treaties to verify}

Proofs That Sulu and Mindanao Were Not Conquered by Spain

There are historical accounts, diplomatic documents, and military officials’ reports that attest to the fact that Mindanao and Sulu were not conquered by Spain and therefore, were not her colonial possessions. Let me cite major and authoritative ones:

“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, pirates, and producers, fishermen slave traders”- New Ecyclopedia Britanica, Vol. 11, Copyright 1989, p. 381.

“The situation, in so far as determined from our limited experience is as follows: Spain possesses the small walled town know as Jolo. The Governor has complete control within the walls. There are no civil courts, no civil officials, outside the walls the Sultan of Jolo and Borneo is the ruler.”-Capt. E.B. Pratt as quoted in the report of General Otis, HRWD, 1899 p. 133.

“ Most of Mindanao and Sulu were excluded from the Philippine Territory during the Spanish times. Spain claimed sovereignty over them, but only a few coastal areas were really under its control. The Filipino Muslims ( Moros) were not conquered.”-Gregorio F. Zaide, author, Philippine History and Government, Copyright 2004, p. 63.

“ The Spanish-American War of 1898 found the Muslims and the Spaniards stalemated in the jungles of Moroland. After 300 years of invasion, Spain had failed to conquer and Christianize the fierce Muslims the. C“- Gregorio F. Zaide, Philippine Political and Cultural History, p.320.

“The close of the unsuccessful conquest of Moroland marked the beginning of the end of one of the most remarkable resistance in the annals of military history. The Muslims had staged a bitter and uninterrupted warfare against the might of Spain for a period of 377 years.”- Vic Hurley, Swish of the Kris, p. 14.

“The Spaniards failed to incorporate the greater part of Mindanao and Sulu into the political system centuries, with which they united the central and northern regions. Consequently, for more than three centuries, the Moros developed culture and society somewhat cut off from the rest of the Phlippines”- Mednick, Malvin,”Sultan and Mayors, The Relation of a National to an Indigenous System.”

There are other numerous historical accounts and testimonies from various military, historical, and diplomatic sources confirming the fact that Mindanao and Sulu were not conquered by Spain and therefore, were not her colonial possessions. Some of these will be quoted in the succeeding academic expositions. (To be continued.)

By Clem M. Bascar

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