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GRP Peace Panel, use the Treaty of Paris


In my straightforward personal analysis, one of the major reasons why the peace process in Mindanao and Sulu has been derailed, miscarried, aborted, suspended, scuttled, and frustrated many times over, is the fact that the principal culprits in the unilateral and anomalous sale and cession of Mindanao and Sulu to the United States by Spain barely more than four months after Manila was capitulated following the conduct of that unethical and abhorrent Mock War of August 13, 1898 as choreographed and scripted by a Belgian Consul Eduoard  Andre, are not actively involved. I have expressed this opinion boldly, over and over again without any reservation and I will keep expressing this personal perspective until the concerned foreign invaders and colonial countries in history are involved in the peace process. Conclusively, and undeniably, the GRP has been beating around the bush for several decades now when Article III of the December 10, 1898 has been lying there in its dust- stained and time-corroded archival repository anxiously waiting to be utilized as the potential panacea for the Mindanao Cancer.

Another principal cause why in my opinion, this peace process has been going on in circles and virtually  pacing back and forth like an electronically-controlled and programmed robot, is the sad reality that those who claim to be the legal and historical heirs to the ancient political institutions are not prominently and officially represented in the peace negotiations. I am referring to the royal descendants of the Sultanate of Sulu and the Sultanate of Maguindanao. In fact, it is my honest conviction, that if only these royal heirs were principally involved actively in the peace process since its inception, the Mindanao Conflict would have been settled long time ago without firing a single shot in the field of combat and without sacrificing one sacred human life. Armed uprising and military confrontations would have been avoided. There would have been no unnecessary loss of precious human lives and logistical resources of staggering amounts in the process, not to mention the immeasurable destruction this Mindanao Conflict has caused to our patrimony and environment.

Again, let me state categorically and honestly for the nth time my assertion that the root-cause of the this seemingly insolvable, endless, and horribly destructive Mindanao Conflict, or the Liberation Front- GRP pendulum-like confrontation, is Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris under which Mindanao and Sulu were ceded by Spain to the United States without the knowledge and consent of their respective reigning Sultans, their respective Ruma Becharas and adherents. This is the casus belli or the root- of these decades-old bloody confrontations between the two major Liberation Fronts and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Unfortunately, this essential historical fact has been deliberately avoided and regarded as without any political and diplomatic value and importance.

Why was the sale and cession of Mindanao and Sulu to the United States irregular, anomalous, and fraudulent from the standpoint of the Law of Conquest?  Because, even top American military and civil officials themselves, available diplomatic documents, and nationally and internationally recognized authorities in history confirmed that Mindanao and Sulu were not conquered by Spain and therefore, were not integral political components of the Spanish colonial government of the Philippines. If Sulu and Mindanao were not colonial possessions of Spain by virtue of conquest, therefore, their sale and cession by Spain to the United State under Article III of the December 10, 1898, was patently anomalous and unlawful. Politically and rightfully at present, these two ancient states should still be considered sovereign and independent and not parts of the Republic of the Philippines. 

Any expert in international law is free to refute this assertion of mine and provide us even just a morally or diplomatically acceptable explanation for the sale and cession Mindanao and Sulu by Spain to the United States. And please do it fast for the sake of peace and sustainable prosperity in Mindanao and Sulu. If nobody comes up with credible expert legal opinion on this matter, the Mindanao Conflict will go on like an endless vicious cycle. Just yesterday, another bloody confrontation occurred in Basilan again causing needlessly the lives of combatants from both sides who are racial brothers.

The real key to the final resolution of the Mindanao Conflict to me is ARTICLE III OF THE DECEMBER 10 1898 TREATY OF PARIS. Outside this diplomatic provision no meaningful and complete solution is possible, unless by their own freewill and humanitarianism the parties interest, will shift their sphere of confrontation from the battlefields to the International Court of Justice or any other peaceful mode or venue for resolving conflict involving issues of political autonomy, self-determination, statehood, and sovereignty under the sponsorship and guidance of the United Nations.

By Clem M. Bascar

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