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Scandals in history: Inputs for peace process (Part 6)


Previously I made a definitive and conclusive statement that Spain never acquired sovereignty and territorial possession of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao by virtue of conquest and to further corroborate this political and military reality, let me quote the following account by two highly respected authorities in Philippine history, to wit:

With the arrival of the Spaniards in the second half of the 16th Century and the subsequent conquest of Luzon led the Muslims to retreat to the south where they maintained their independence from foreign power to the end of the Spanish regime.”- Teodora A. Agoncillo and Milagros G. Guerrero, co-authors, History of the Filipino People, p. 22.

On the basis of this irrefutable historical fact, we have over and over again impartially argued and strongly emphasized that any diplomatic initiative, political negotiation or territorial claim of ownership over the Moroland setting aside the concept and principle of royal sovereignty, is without validity, legitimacy, and relevance for it does not have any historical foundation or legal applicability to the ancient statehood of the Sultanates of Sulu and Mindanao which had never been conquered lawfully by any foreign power. It is even more absurd or illogical to place these two historic monarchies under the ambit and jurisdiction of the Philippine Constitution by the very simple reason that these sovereign and independent states had existed more than four hundred years before the birth of the Philippine Republic. This historical truth must be first and foremost in the minds of those who are involved in the new round of peace talks.

Final Surrender of Spanish Sovereignty

The withdrawal and evacuation of the Spanish colonial forces from Cotabato in January 1899 as ordered by Gen. Diego delos Rios, could be construed as the unmistakable reversion or recovery of the territories formerly under the  sway of the Spaniards back into the hands of the  Sultanate of Maguindano.  With the collapse of the Spanish colonial forces in Cotabato, Sulu, and other parts of Mindanao, the last option left for Gen. Diego delos Rios who was appointed Governor-General of the Philippine Islands by the Spanish Junta replacing Gov. Fermin Jaudenes who surrendered and capitulated Manila to the Americans following that highly dishonorable Mock War of August 13, 1898, was to transfer the seat of the Spanish Government to Iloilo, Panay in the Visayas. This was a clear indication that the Spaniards did not yet turn over the Philippine Islands to the Americans and were still determined to maintain de jure sovereignty in the Philippines. W.C. Forbes confirmed this in a written statement quoted by George A. Malcolm in his book, The Government of the Philippine Islands, Manila, 1916, pp.75-76 as follows:

“With the fall of Manila in August of 1898, the Spanish government of the archipelago was transferred to Iloilo in Panay, where Gen. Diego de los Rios, formerly governor of Mindanao, assumed charge as Spanish Military Governor and Acting Captain-General of the Philippine Islands. Until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in December , the de jure sovereignty of Spain continued for a short time afterwards, the Spaniards, in accord with prior agreements, attempted to maintain de facto government on those islands not actually taken by the Americans or the Filipino revolutionaries.”

However when Gen. Diego de los Rios arrived in Iloilo, he was surprised that the Ilongos who were once loyal to the Crown of Spain had already organized revolutionary forces with some pledging allegiance to the Malolos Republic. Alarmed by the fact that all the towns and provinces of the Bisayas had fallen into the hands of the rebel forces, except for Iloilo, and after assessing that the remaining Spanish forces no longer had a fighting chance against the consolidated revolutionary contingents of Generals Delgado, Diokno, and Fullon,he hurriedly made preparations to evacuate his entire military personnel to Fort Pilar, in Zamboanga. He left Iloilo by nightfall of December 24, 1898.

Another authoritative and reliable published testimony regarding the evacuation of General de los Rios and all the remaining colonial forces from Iloilo to Fort Pilar, Zamboanga, is cited to wit:

“ General Diego de los Rios, who had been appointed by the Spanish Government, Governor and Captain General of Bisayas and Mindanao, found in October 1898, that all was not well with the territory of his command, where he discovered secret plots even among native soldiers he considered loyal, and he therefore, decided to order the concentration of his troops in Iloilo and cebu. Later, in December, he withdrew from these points, and retired to the distant outpost of Zamboanga, where he managed for some months to maintain a semblance of Spanish Rule.”- J.M. Leyba to Emilio Aquinaldo, September 27, 1898,In El Heraldo, October 20, 1898 as quoted by George A. Malcolm in his book, The Government of the Philippine Islands, Manila, 1916.

By Clem M. Bascar

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