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Treason and punishment

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When the news about the GRP Peace Panel giving P5-Million to a major belligerent organization exploded figuratively like a megaton bomb, it really did not come as a surprise to me. This kind of diplomatic tactic involving money had been employed in history by Spain and the United States in several instances to strike or seal a peace deal.

Firstly, it was money which was principally responsible for “crushing and silencing the Philippine Revolution against Spain when Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo, President of the Philippine Republic, agreed to accept the proffered pardon and permission to emigrate to Hong Kong together with his 26 most trusted officers on December 29, 1897 aboard the Uranus after receiving the first installment amounting to P400,000.00, exactly half of the total amount of P800.000.00 which the Spanish government offered for the surrender of all the guerilla commands still in the  field and for the revolutionary leadership”. This peace deal was consummated under the terms of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato signed in Malacañang Palace by Gen. Primo de Vera for the Spanish Government and Alejandro Paterno for the Philippine Republic on December 14, 1897.

Secondly, it was also money which finally sealed the peace deal between Spain and the United States when the former sold to the latter the Philippine Islands for $20-Million under Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris which surreptitiously included Mindanao and Sulu.

Thirdly, the amount of $300,000.00 was also paid by the United States to Spain for the group of islands of Cagayan de Sulu which were missed out in the technical description of the territorial limits of the Philippine Islands as drawn by way of lines and coordinates under Article III of the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris. This was stipulated in the supplemental treaty signed by Spain and the United States in Washington, DC on November 7, 1900 correcting the technical description of the territorial limits of the Philippine Islands erroneously drawn in the previous treaty.

And fourthly, the amount of $10,000 was also used by Gen. John C. Bates when he negotiated for the recognition of the sovereignty of the United States by the Sultan of Sulu and his datus which placed the Sultanate of Sulu as a protectorate of the United States under the terms of the Bates Treaty signed on August 20, 1899 in Jolo.

To my mind, each one of the cited treaties involving the use of money to strike a peace deal between two warring countries or parties has its own defects and imperfections which make it suspiciously anomalous or scandalous from the viewpoint of the Law of Treaties.  However, the most recent case involving the use of money, could be the most bizarre because it was given to a belligerent organization not to strike a peace deal or payment for its surrender or allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines, but allegedly as financial assistance for training and education of its leaders while it pursues its secessionist or revolutionary aspirations and objectives. Wow, where in the world do you find a country who gives assistance to its own enemy? I hope this does not constitute an act of treason to the Filipino people.  Clearly this is a huge moral victory for the belligerent organization.

And do you know what usually was meted out as punishment for high treason in the past? Death by hanging, quartering, or being drawn!  I JUST HOPE I AM ABSOLUTELY WRONG!   

By Clem M. Bascar




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