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Scandals in history: Inputs for peace process (Part 12)


As I contented, the first act of dissolving arbitrarily the Sultanate of Sulu as an Islamic monarchy was done by the American military officers and was joined with Mindanao without the consent of their respective legislatures ( Ruma Becharas) and the American Congress which was in violation of the previously cited specific provision of the 1787 U. S. Constitution. These two Sultanates with the inclusion of Palawan were organized as a military district on October 30, 1899 and initially called the Military District of Mindanao, Jolo, and Palawan under the Command of Brig. Gen. John C. Bates.
Final Dissolution of the Sultanate of Sulu

According to historical accounts Salah Jubair, author, ‘BangsaMoro- A Nation under Endless Tyranny,’ p. 64.,  “ when Brig. Gen. William Kobbe took over on March 30, 1900, this military organization was elevated to the Department of Mindanao and Jolo. He was succeeded by Brig. Gen. George Davis on October 1, 1902 and after some adjustments made, was renamed Department of Mindanao.” Under this military organization, Jolo was stricken out and Sulu was placed back as one of the five administrative components of Department of Mindanao constituting the third military district. This event in effect, tragically marked the complete arbitrary dissolution of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo as an Islamic State which had antedated the constitutional existence of the United States as a federal government by 382 years and the Philippine Republic by 541 years.

While it was obvious that the top military officers avoided the immediate integration of the two Sultanates into the Philippine Islands, it could easily be deduced that they were making political decisions independently from either the American Congress or the Commander-in- Chief, President Mckinley, in the manner by which they unlawfully occupied and unilaterally joined these two monarchial states which to my mind, were purely collateral victims of the 1898 Spanish-American War. From the military viewpoint point, it was territorial aggression without the knowledge and authority of the U.S. Legislature. Thus, from 1899 to 1903 the Department of Mindanao was under martial rule which shifted hands from one Brig. General to another, each having his own style of administration. Not one of these American generals who took turns in governing Mindanao and Sulu directly under the laws of war adhered to the policy that President Mckinley expressed in his speech to the U.S. Congress in 1899 quoted as follows:

“ The Philippines are not ours to exploit, but to develop, to civilize, to educate, , to train in the science of government. This is the path we must follow or be recreant to a mighty trust committed to us.”

Based primarily on these series of administrative organizations established by the American Generals to place Mindanao and Sulu under their direct control, one gets the explanation and more or less the political rationale and expediency why Mindanao and Sulu had to be joined. What these American military officers perhaps failed to realize that the separate administration of Mindanao and Sulu from the Philippine Islands was actually another concrete proof that Mindanao and Sulu were not parts of the colonial territory known as the Philippine Islands which was explicitly ceded and sold by Spain to the United States under the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris.

The Organization of the Moro Province

Another evidence that supports the contention that Mindanao and Sulu were not parts of the colonial territory of Spain, was the organization of the Moro Province which marked the shift of approach of the Americans in the manner by which the Moros were to be governed separate from the Filipinos in Luzon and the Visayas. This actually ended the military government organized by the Americans immediately following their constitutionally unwarranted occupation of the Moroland on May 19, 1899. For me it is educationally expedient to stress over and over again the fact that the occupation of Mindanao and Sulu by the American forces was contrary to the 1787 U. S. Constitution because these two territories were not parts of the theater of the 1898 Spanish-American war as authorized by their respective legislatures.

The Moro Province created by the Philippine Commission Act No. 787, otherwise known as an “Act Providing for the Organization and Government of the Moro Province,” was passed on June 1, 1903 and took effect on June 15 of the same year. This piece of legislation in my opinion was contrary to Article IV, Section 3 of the American Constitution previously cited which tacitly prohibits the formation of a state by the “junction of two or more states, or parts of states without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as the Congress.”

To my mind, the creation of the Moro Province by the Philippine Commission was the first of the series of legislations breaching the U.S. Constitutional provision cited in the preceding paragraph which finally led to the complete dissolution of the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao as sovereign and independent monarchies not by virtue of conquest but by legislation. (To be continued…)

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