Clemencio Montecillo Bascar was a former Professor and Vice President for Corporate Affairs of the Western Mindanao State University. He is a recepient of various local, regional, and national awards in songwriting, playwriting, poetry, and public service. Several of his poems had been published in international literary magazines and journals such as, Foliate Oak , BRICKrhetoric, About Place, Torrid Literature, Mused-theBellaOnline Lietrary Review, and The Voices Project. He had written and published by the Western Mindanao State University two books of poetry, namely; "Fragments of the Eucharist" and "Riots of Convictions." In the Philippines, some of his poems appeared in the such magazines as Women's, MOD, and Chick.
At present, he writes a column in the Zamboanga Today daily newspaper and resides at 659 Gemini Street, Tumaga, Zamboanga City, Philippines. He is married to the former Miss Melinda Climaco dela Cruz and blest with three children, Jane, Lynnette, and Timothy James.
SPAIN, USA, AND THE SULTANATES
The two big questions that have remained unanswered and unexplained for more than a century now, are:
(1) WAS THE CESSION OF THE SULTANATES OF SULU AND MAGUINDANAO TO THE UNITED STATES IN THE DECEMBER 10, 1898 TREATY OF PARIS BY SPAIN AS PARTS OF ITS COLONY, THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, LAWFUL AND VALID?
(2) WAS THE OCCUPATION OR INVASION OF MINDANAO AND SULU BY THE AMERICAN FORCES STARTING MAY 19, 1899 BASED ON THE DECEMBER 10, 1898 TREATY OF PARIS LEGAL FROM THE STANDPOINTS OF THE LAWS OF WAR, THE LAW OF NATIONS, THE CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TREATIES, AND THE 1787 US CONSTITUTION?
The full and honest- to- goodness answers and explanations as to the legal validity of the sale and cession of Mindanao and Sulu by Spain to the United States, to my mind, will be of great help in bringing about the final resolution to the Mindanao Conflict and eventually extinguish the flames of the armed struggle for self-determination waged by the liberation fronts.
Pursuant to the principle of equality, the Law of Nations mandates that all states irrespective of size and power should be treated with the same degree of respect and dignity. By virtue of the rights naturally conferred upon nations and their corresponding obligations to one another for their welfare and security, they are supposed to be as independent and free and should be left to the "peaceable enjoyment of liberty" which belongs to them by nature. (Source : Law of Nations, a work of Political Philosophy by Emmerich de Vattel published in 1758 and adopted as a foundational element of the 1787 US Constitution)
At present the local government of Jolo commemorates the founding of the Sultanate of Sulu every 17th day of November based of the most recent discovery of historical document which authentically marked its establisment on November 17, 1405 with Sayeed Abu Bakr as its first Sultan about 45 years ealier than what was chronicled by historians.
The Sultanate of Maguindanao based on some historical accounts, was established toward the end of the 16th Century by Shariff Mohammed Kabungsuan which attained greatest expansion, power. and influence during reign of the "Unconquerable Sultan Kudarat, " who made it a confederacy and virtually ruled the entire island of Mindanao.
As nations and states duly recognized internatIonally as de facto and de jure, the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao existed much earlier than the Spanish East Indies which included Las Islas Filipinas organized in 1571 with Miguel Lopez de Legaspi as its First Governor-General, the First Philippine Republic established by Gen. Emilio F. Agiuinaldo on June 23, 1898, and the Federal System of Government of the United States based on its 1787 Constitution.
These two ancient political institutions like other legitimate governments of the world , had forged treaties of friendship, trade, commerce, and peace with other sovereign countries until the Spaniards attempted to subjugate, colonize, Christianize, and place them under the Crown of Spain as what they had done to the islands of Luzon and the Visayas as early as March 16, 1521. Unfortunately, the Spaniards, as affirmed by renowned historians, authors and even top US political and military officials, mesirably failed in their more than three hundred years of expeditionary campaigns.
Then on April 25, 1898, the United States declared war with Spain reportedly on account of the bombing of the the 2nd Class USS batttleship, Maine which was blown apart on February 15 of that same year while anchored in the middle of Havana harvor causing a total death of 260 of the estimated 400 crew on board.
The Spanish-American war culminated in the capitulation of the City of Manila after a "Mock War" was staged with the assistance of the Belgian Consul, Eduoard C. Andre paving the way for the final peace negotiations in Paris for the surrender and turnover of the Philippine Islands by Spain to the United States in Article III of the December 10, Treaty of Paris which surreptitiously also included in the technical description of the territorial limits of the ceded colony only by latitudes and longitudes, Mindanao and Sulu, which were not colonial possessions of Spain by conquest according to historians.
At this juncture, I consider it of utmost importance to emphasize the fact that the war that was authorized by the American Congress was exclusively against Spain and all its colonies. THe Philippine Islands being a colony of Spain was of course, covered by this declaration of war for which reason the Battle of Manila Bay of May 1 and the Mock War for the capitualtion of the City of Manila on August 13, 1898 took place,respectively despite the fact that Spain and the United States already signed a day before (August 12, 1898) a Peace Protocol ending all hostilities between these two warring countries. In both battles, the American forces emerged as the victor.( One real war, and one mock war which in today's military parlance is popularly known as war game or military exercise. }
No other battle or military encounter between the American and Spanish forces was ever recorded anywhere else in the Philippines most particularly in MIndanao and Sulu because at this time the Spanish colonial forces were already either routed, overrun. and beleaguered by the Sultanate forces or were withdrawing from the moroland which could be validly considered or construed as the full recovery of the respective domains of the Sultanates of Maguindanao and Sulu based on the Law of Conquest.
This withdrawal of all Spanish colonial forces from Mindanao and Sulu as ordered by higher authorities in Madrid as early as January 1899, was the factual basis for historians and authors to conclude that the Spaniards never succeeded in their countless attempts at conquest of these two Sultanates . It is worth stressing that this event came to pass before the American forces sneakily landed in Jolo at two o'clock dawn of May 19,1899 to rescue the beleaguered Spaniards in the fort of Jolo who were already scheduled to be surrendered to the Sultan as what was done to the Spanish garrison in Siasi. This surprise intrusion of the American forces into the realm of the Sultanate of Sulu started the US occupation of two sovereign states without Congressional authority or official declaration of war explicitly required by the 1787 US Constitution like what the American Legislature did in the case of the Spanish-American War.
Another military event that has never been properly explained and understood up this point of our political history , was the Filipino-American war which was declared by Emilio F. Aguinaldo, the President of the First Philippine Republic on February 4, 1899 largely because of his opposition to the transfer of sovereignty of Spain over the Philippine Islands to the United States in the December 10, 1898 Treaty of Paris. The first shot which triggered the outbreak of Filipino-American War was fired by Private William Walter Grayson, a member of the First Nebraskan Volunteer Infantry at about 8:00 o'clock in the evening of Febraury 4, 1899 and ended with the capture of Gen. Emilio F. Aguinaldo by the American forces led by Brig. Gen. Frederick Funston on March 23, 1901 at Palanan, Isabela Province. General Aguinaldo and his revolutionary army fought heroically two wars; against the Philippine Spanish Colonial Government and against the United States of America; in both wars the United States was the victor; in both wars, unluckily Aguinaldo was a failure.
Now, it's time to shift our discussion to the Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao in the context of the Filipino-American and the Spanish- American wars. Absolutely, these two Sultanates had nothing to do with any of these two wars. While it is indisputably true that the Sultanates were engaged in a defensive war against Spain for more than three hundred years and remained unconquered, they never had any involvement either covertly or overtly in the Spanish-American or the Filipino American war. The Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao by their own bravery and resolve, amazingly and incredibly succeeded in defending their independence and sovereignty from all attempts of subjugation and colonization by Spain up to the American regime.
The other diplomatic, military, and political acts committed by the Americans from May 19, 1899 to July 4, 1946 leading to final incorporation of Mindanao and Sulu into the Republic of the Philippines, are vast and fertile grounds for serious historical examination, research, or inquiry.