Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A colonizer colonized by a colony

Where in the world can one find a colonizer being colonized by a colony? How did it happen and why? This is a complex question that deserves a complex answer under a complex situation.

Before the advent of the Spanish conquistadores in early 16th century, the country now known as the Philippines was ruled by Muslim datus, rajahs and sultans. No less that the premier city of Manila then was under the Muslim Rajahs: Sulaiman, Lakandula and Matanda. Panay was under Datu Puti, et al, Cebu under Rajah Humabon, Mindanao under the Sultanate of Maguindanao and Sulu under its own Sultanate, at the apex of which rule extended up to the Ilocos region in Northern Luzon. In essence, most part of the country was a colony of the Moro Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao.

By twist of fate, however, the Muslim Rajahs and Datus in the North and Central parts of the archipelago fell one after another to the military might and treachery of the Spaniards. Consequently, they lost not only their political power, but more so the budding religion of Islam which had just started to grow and freely accepted by the populace.

Spanish conquest was conducted on a three-pronged purpose: to colonize the people, grab the land and natural resources and plant the seed of Christianity by all means. Starting with Rajah Humabon and the Muslims in Cebu and the Visayas, Christianization was generally carried out at the point of the sword. By any standard, the ruthlessness of the “Inquisition†against the Muslims in Europe could have been patterned after the forced conversion of Muslims in pre-Philippines.

Unfortunately for the steel-clad conquistadores, they met their match and were severely frustrated in Muslim Mindanao. Captain General Marquma summarized the Spanish frustration in his letter to the King of Spain in late 18th century, thus:

From this time these Moros have not ceased to infest our colonies. Innumerable are the Indios (Filipinos) they have captured, the ranches they have destroyed and the vessels they have taken. It seems as if God has preserved them for vengeance on the Spanish that they have not been able to subject them in 200 years in spite of the expeditions sent against them, the armaments spent every year to pursue them. In a very little while, we conquered the islands of the Philippines, but the little islands of Sulu, parts of Mindanao and other islands nearby, we have not been able to subjugate to this very day.

Two facts were clearly manifested by above short missive. First, Filipinos and Moros are different peoples; one is pro-Spanish while the other is a mortal enemy. Second, Spanish never conquered Moro territory or had no sovereignty over Mindanao and Sulu.

Illegal transaction

After a mock naval battle between the USA and Spanish fleets off Manila Bay in 1898, an illegal Deed of Sale was consummated along with the signing of the Treaty of Paris of the same year. Spain sold someone else’s property to the Americans without the knowledge of the proprietors. Mindanao was included when Spain ceded the Philippines to the Americans for 20 million Mexican Dollars although knowing it does not have the legal authority. The Americans too were guilty of buying a ‘stolen’ property, for that matter they tried to atone for their sins by immediately entering into a treaty with the Sultanate of Sulu, twice in a span of ten years (Bates Treaty and the Carpenter Agreement). But upon realizing that the Sultanate was already a spent force, seemingly docile and subservient to American administration, they unilaterally and treacherously broke the treaty to rule the territory with an iron fist. Initially, the Americans promised to provide full security to the State so the Moro fighters turned in their weapons peacefully as proposed. But after having collected the Moro weapons, the true face of the ugly Americans was bared to the late regrets of the Moro people.

Bribery in Protocols

To convince the Americans that Spain had sovereignty over the Sultanate of Sulu, the latter showed the (Second) Protocol with Great Britain and Germany. In the First Protocol, UK and Germany turned down Spain’s overtures for them to recognize the latter’s control over the Moro territory. But when Spain offered vast concessions, a case of high profile bribery, in the Second Protocol, in exchange for their recognition of Spanish sovereignty, both UK and Germany relented. The UK was given full control of Borneo while Germany was to have full access to sea lanes and trade centres under Spanish influence or control.

Mailed Fist Policy

The Americans probably tried to avenge the frustration and humiliation of a co-West-European colonizer-cum-conqueror, by tempering the pride of the Moro freedom fighters. Historically, the Americans had to upgrade their sidearm from mere 0.38 caliber to 0.45 caliber to ensure a knockout capability against a resurgent Moro fighter who cannot be knockdown for up to seven shots from other light weapons.

Philippine Independence

After the Japanese occupation of the region in early 1940s, Filipinos intensified their lobby in US Congress for Independence. Although there were no Moro US- lobby for a separate homeland, nevertheless, Moro leaders and intellectuals were sending definite signals, through parliament of the streets and petitions, of their desire to be separated from the Philippines, either as a Moro province under continued American administration or as an independent Moro Nation. Congressman Robert Bacon even sponsored a bill in US Congress for this purpose, but was drown out by the strong Filipino-US lobby advocating Fil-Am parity rights. Parity right was another form of bribery for the Americans to concede to Filipino demands against the interests of the Moro people. As a result, the largest American Military (Air Force and Naval) Base outside of American soil was found only in the Philippines.

The Americans may have a fair hope of achieving a working relationship between Moros and Filipinos under an independent Philippines. Little did they know that the long drawn Spanish-Moro wars have embedded a stigma of irreconcilable relations between the Moros and the Filipino inheritors of Spanish legacy in the over 300-years war of attrition. Wittingly or unwittingly, the Filipinos cannot hide their sense of prejudice and vengeance for having suffered the wrath of Moro retaliatory raids, taking a number of their kinsfolk hostage, many of whom had been sold to slavery in various parts of the region between the 17th and 19th century.

During the Filipino-American war, after the 1898 infamous Paris “Deed of Sale†, Filipino leaders had tried to invite the Moros to put-up an anti-colonial united front against the USA, but the Moro leaders did not respond favourably. This was a sign that Moros and Filipinos were of different breed and political persuasion, with the latter having served the ruthless Spanish colonial masters for so long against Moro interests.

Moreover, the Philippine Constitution, then and now, are greatly tailored towards Filipino interests and recessively detrimental to Moros, for all intents and purpose. With no Moro representative in the judiciary and executive high level branches of the government, the fate of Moro causes against Filipinos are already a foregone conclusion.

Therefore, the Philippines, a colony of the Americans that used to be a colony of the Moro (sultanate) Nation, have effectively become the colonizer of Muslim Mindanao, or Moro Nation.

Monday, March 8, 2010

History of the Conflict in Minsupala


Compiled by: Altifahny Laguindab, Rey Trillana, Abdulrahman Ismael and Samira Gutoc

1450 AD - A Johore-born Arab adventurer, Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, arrived in Sulu from Melaka; He married Param Isuli, daughter of Raja Baguinda, and founded The Royal Sultanate of Sulu in 1457; He declared himself H.R.H. Paduka Maulana Mahasari Sharif Sultan Hashem Abu Bakr, Sultan of Sulu, of the Saudi House of Hashemite in Hadramaut, where most Tausug and Yakan believe Prophet Mohammad's genealogy is traced.

1451 AD - By this time, the Melakan Sultanate had become a leading center of Islam in southeast Asia, and as a time-tested protege of the Ming dynasty, Yung Lo sent away his daughter Hang Li-po and a cortege of five-hundred Mandarin ladies as a gift to Melakan Sultan Mansor Shah in 1459; in turn, Shah conceived "Bukit Cina" as a permanent residential court for his esteemed visitors.

1457-1480 - H.R.H. Sultan Syed Hashem Abu Bak'r reign.

1470 AD - Muslim conquest of the Madjapahit Empire.

1473-1521 AD - Golden age and rule of Nakhoda Ragam Sultan Bulkeiah’s Sultanate of Brunei that expanded her hegemony to include North Borneo, Sarawak, Indonesia Balabac, Banggi, and Palawan in Archipelago San Lazaro (present-day Philippines) and the new Royal Sultanate of Sulu

1480-1519 - H.R.H. Sultan Kamal ud-Din reign.

1509 AD - A Bengali Putih and Diego Lopez deSequeira with a squadron of five Portuguese battle ships established the first White settlement in Melaka (Ferdinand Magellan was said to be a member of this expedition).

1511 AD - Portuguese privateer Alfonso de Albuquerque captured Melaka from deSequeira and reported of Muslim trading vessels from Sulu anchored in that Malay port.

1512 AD - Unnamed Portuguese sailors effected a brief landing in Mindanaw.

1520 AD - Jesuit historian Francisco Combe reported of an unnamed Muslim Sharif who tried to spread Islam to Jolo but died at Bud Tumangtangis; His magnificent tomb was comparable to those in Makkah, but unfortunately in the years following, Manila Spaniards burned it to the ground.

1565-1663 - Fourth Stage of Moro Wars (Majul)

1638-1640 - Records had it that Sulu Sultan Wasits many heroic battles during this period at Bud Datu in Jolo island against the Manila Spaniards were never lucidly recorded; It was Wasit who named this hill to honor the bravery and unconditional loyalty of his datus.

1718-1772 - Fifth Stage of Moro Wars (Majul)

December 21, 1751 - A furious Manila governor-general F. Valdez y Tamon issued a decree that ordered: (1) The extermination of all Moros with fire and sword; (2) The destruction of all their crops and desolate their lands; (3) Make Moro captives; (4) Recover Christian slaves; and (5) Exempt all Christians from payment of any taxes and tributes while engaged in the termination of these Moros.

March 1877 - The Sulu Protocol was signed between Spain, England, and Germany that recognized Spain’s rights over Sulu and, in consideration for the said lease of North Borneo, ended European hostilities in the area

July 22, 1878 - Sultan Jamal ul-Alam signed a treaty with the Spanish Crown making whole of Sulu a protectorate of Spain yet retained her autonomy and the privilege to fly own flag thus saved Jolo from further destruction. [Majul, Muslim in the Philippines/ Kho]

1883 - Manila Spanish government established a customs house in Ciudad de Zamboanga to clear goods coming into the Sultanate of Sulu but, on the insistence of the British, Jolo was declared a free port and trade continued.

December 10, 1898 - Treaty of Paris was signed in Washington DC between the United States and Spain

December 21, 1898 - McKinley issued a proclamation calling for a Philippine colonial policy of benevolent assimilation.

February 5, 1842 - American captain Charles Wilkes landed in Jolo and signed the first-ever US-documented peace & trade treaty with Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram I.

August 20, 1899 - Sultan Jamalul Kiram II hesitatingly signed the treaty with Gen. J.C. Bates. (Bates Treaty or Senate Document No. 136, 56th Congress, lst Session, Serial 3851). A very critical error of translation exists in this treaty. The Tausug version states "The support, aid, and protection of the Jolo Island and Archipelago are in the American nation, "whereas the English version read: "The sovereignty of the United States over the whole Archipelago of Jolo and its dependencies is declared and acknowledged. The word "sovereignty" was not used anywhere in the Tausug version. (Peter Gowing, Mandate in Moroland. The American Government of Muslim Filipinos 1899-1920, p. 122).

Among the other terms of the treaty were:

1) Non-interference with religion, social and domestic customs or internal economic or political affairs of Moros unless requested to do so

2) The U.S. was not to give or sell Sulu or anypart of it to any other nations

3) Continuation of the $250.00 monthly allowance that was initiated by the Spaniards

4) Slaves allowed to purchase their freedom.

November 7, 1900 - The U.S. pays Spain another $100,000 to incorporate the islands stretching as far as Sibutu to Cagayan de Sulu.

President William McKinley’s Instruction to the First Philippine Commission of 1900 treated the Moro Nation initially as a Dependent Nation.

March 2, 1904 - The U.S. unilaterally abrogates the Bates Treaty,upon recommendations by Gov. Gen. Wood, for two main reasons: the Sultan’s failure to quell Moro resistance and the treaty's hindrance to effective colonial administration of the area. Payments to the Sultan also stopped. April 1904

The Sultan protests the unilateral abrogationof the Bates Treaty. He argues that he couldn’t stop the Moro conflict against the Americans because of U.S. had imposed poll and land taxes onthe population, a practice which the Moros were not used to. He urged theAmericans not to "put yokes on our necks that we cannot bear, and don’tmake us do what is against our religion and don’t ask us to pay poll tax forever and ever as long as there is sun and moon, and don’t ask taxes for land which are our rights of the Moro people, including all that grows (is planted) in Jolo and its islands." (Letter to Gov. Gen, Luke Wright in Peter Gowing, p. 350-351) Nov. 12, 1904

March 7, 1906 - U.S. Philippine Commission restores annual payments to the Sultan and his advisers.

900 Moros killed in Bud Dajo, Sulu

1968-1971 - Constabulary elements took control of Muslim communities. Christian paramilitary groups staged an attack at a Mosque killing 65 men, women and children, which gained international attention.

Before the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) was organized, Datu Udtog Matalam, led the first salvo by leading the Mindanao Independent Movement (MIM) declaring the whole of Lanao, Cotabato “Empire”, Davao Sur, all of Zamboanga Peninsula , Sulu (including Tawi-tawi), Basilan and Palawan as independent. These were the same areas identified in the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.

March 1968 - Government forces massacred 28 Moro army recruits with one survivor on Corregidor Island in what was dubbed the Jabidah massacre, triggering publicity and widespread indignation across the country.

September 21, 1972 - Marcos declared martial law. One month later, the first organized Moro counter-offensive took place in Marawi. The MNLF declared secessionist war against the government.

November 14, 1972 - The MNLF, headed by University of the Philippinese Professor Nur Misuari, Salamat Hashim and others, was formally announced. Fighting escalated between Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and MNLF forces.

January 1975 - MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari and government representatives held its first meeting in Jeddah , Saudi Arabia . Autonomy was the first exploratory option, after the 6th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) supported it as basis for negotiations. The definition of autonomy was culled from the Working Paper of the Committee of Four ( Senegal , Libya , Saudi Arabia and Somalia ) which provides for self-government within the framework of Philippine national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

December 23, 1976 - MNLF Chairman Prof. Nur Misuari and GRP Defense Undersecretary Carmelo Barbero signed the Tripoli Agreement. The Agreement provides for autonomy in 13 provinces and nine cities in Southern Philippines.

March 25, 1977 - Pres. Marcos issued Proclamation 1628 declaring autonomy in 13 provinces. On 17 April, a plebiscite was called despite MNLF objections. Only 10 to 13 provinces voted for autonomy. Talks broke down.

May-December 1977 - A group led by Salamat Hashim broke away from the Misuari-led MNLF leadership. Hashim went to Cairo , Egypt declaring a New MNLF.

1978 - Negotiations between the MNLF and GRP resumed. However, Marcos chose to negotiate with Hashim instead of Misuari. The 9th ICFM declared Misuari as chairman and spokesman for the MNLF.

1979 - Misuari reverted to his original position for secession, which was supported only by Iran . Surrendered MNLF founding member Abul Khayr Alonto joinsed government panel.

1980 - Malaysia and Indonesia offered to serve as peace brokers. The 11th ICFM in Pakistan requested GRP to implement the 1976 Tripoli Agreement.

1981 - Misuari failed to convince Arab states summit in Saudi Arabia to support secession. Marcos meanwhile, visited Saudi Arabia and OIC Habib Chatti. The 13th ICFM called on GRP to immediately expedite the implementation of the 1976 Tripoli Agreement. CPP-NPA formed the Moro Revolutionary Organization.

1984 - The 15th ICFM reaffirmed its commitment to recognize the territorial integrity of the Philippines and called for MNLF to close ranks. Hashim meanwhile officially declared the establishment of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

February 26, 1986 - Marcos ousted by a people-led revolt. Newly-installed President Aquino tasked the Constitutional Commission to include provisions for autonomy in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras .

March-September, 1986 - MILF sent feelers to GRP Pres. Aquino for peace talks. Through the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and Muslim World League mediation, both MILF and MNLF agreed in principle to negotiate jointly in an expanded panel. In September, Aquino visited an MNLF camp which Misuari seizes to gain an initiative and recognition for the MNLF from the government as its negotiating panel.

August 1, 1989 - Philippine Congress passed Republic Act 6734, which creates the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and signed by Aquino into law on 1 August 1989. On November 10, a plebiscite was called, boycotted by MILF and MNLF. Only four provinces— Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi— chose autonomy.

July-October 1992 - The 20th ICFM in Istanbul called for the resumption of the peace talks between the MNLF and GRP. In July 1992, Pres. Fidel V. Ramos appointed a National Unification Commission (NUC) to formulate an amnesty program for MNLF rebels. On October 1992, the first round of peace talks were held.

1993 - Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas hosted the second round of GRP-MNLF exploratory talks which led to the signing of Executive Order 125 defining the approach and administrative structure for government peace effforts.

1994-1995 - Ramos issued Proclamation 347 granting amnesty to Moro rebels and creating a government-MNLF Joint Ceasefire Committee. In September, the second round of formal talks began. An Interim Agreement was signed, containing 81 points of consensus in defense, education, economic and financial systems, mines and minerals, Shariah courts, functions of a Legislative Assembly and Executive Council and representation in the national government and administrative system.

1996 - A meeting of the GRP-MNLF Mixed Committee resulted in the establishment of the Southern Philippines Zone of Peace and Development (SZOPAD).

September-December 1996 - The Final Peace Agreement is signed on 2 September. The MILF distances itself from the Agreement, but commits not to stand in the way of peace. In the ARMM elections, Misuari runs for governor and wins, and six MNLF leaders are elected to the Regional Legislative Assembly. Ramos issues Executive Order 371, which departs from the Agreement on some significant points. The government forms a new negotiating panel for talks with the MILF in October. The MILF, in a display of strength, holds a huge assembly near Cotabato City from 3-5 December, and reaffirms commitment to independence.

Misuari wins the election as first ARMM Governor. Ramos issued Executive Order 371, a slight departure from the FPA on some significant points. GRP started negotiations with MILF.

1997 - MILF and the GRP issued a joint statement for peace. However, heavy fighting between MILF and AFP forces in Buldon which killed hundreds, marred the negotiations. In March, an Interim Ceasefire Monitoring Committee was formed but in June, AFP launches biggest offensive against MILF.

1999 - Congress filed three bills amending the Organic Act on the ARMM, expanding it in accordance with the FPA. MILF-GRP formal peace talks began at the Dawah Center , Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao. On December 17, GRP-MILF panels agreed on the rules and procedures for the conduct of formal peace talks.

2000 - All out war policy by Erap Administration invites international attention to massive evacuations .

July 9, 2000 - Government forces overran MILF camps.

July 12, 2000 - MILF Chairman Salamat Hashim declared jihad against the Philippine government.

August 21, 2000 - MILF disbanded its peace panels after GRP issues warrants of arrest against its leaders.

September 22-24, 2000 - the MILF 16th General Assembly reaffirmed Salamat Hashim’s declaration of jihad against GRP.

February 7, 2001 - Philippine Congress approved House Bill 7883 and Senate Bill 2129 as Republic Act 9054, supplanting RA 6734 or the ARMM Organic Act. On February 20, President Gloria Arroyo declared the suspension of offensive military action (SOMO).

March 13, 2001 - President Arroyo named Misuari as Special Envoy to the OIC. On March 24, GRP and MILF signed a General Framework of Agreement of Intent in Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia .

March 24, 2001 - The “Agreement on the General Framework for the Resumption of Peace Talks” was signed in Kuala Lumpur by then Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Eduardo Ermita and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, then MILF vice chair for military affairs. Ebrahim would be named MILF peace panel chair until he assumed the post of MILF chair Salamat Hashim in late July 2003 after Hashim succumbed to a lingering illness in Lanao. MILF information chief Iqbal took over the chairmanship of the peace panel. The March 24, 2001 agreement was hailed a “breakthrough” especially with both parties agreeing to resume the talks “immediately” after the signing of the March 24, 2001 agreement “and continue the same from where it had stopped before April 27, 2000 until they shall have reached a negotiated political settlement of the Bangsamoro problem.”

The parties also agreed to “commit to honor, respect and implement all past agreements signed by them” and to “negotiate with sincerity and mutual trust, justice and freedom, and respect for the identity, culture and aspirations of all peoples of Mindanao.” (Mindanews)

March 30, 2001 - Philippine Congress approved RA 9054, An Act to Strengthen and Expand the Organic Act for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Amending for the Purpose Republic Act 7634, Entitled "An Act Providing for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, as Amended"

April 2001 - The 15-Man Executive Council was formed in defiance to the leadership of Nur Misuari and chose MNLF Vice Chairman Hatimil Hassan as Chairman of the Executive Council. Misuari, however, remained ARMM governor.

June 19-22, 2001 - GRP and MILF panel chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim signed an Agreement on Peace.

August 7, 2001 - MILF and MNLF signed an Agreement on the General Framework for Unity and a Joint Communique and Implementing Guidelines on the Security Aspect of the GRP-MILF Tripoli Agreement of Peace in 2001.

November 19, 2001 - Former MNLF Chair Misuari was accused of rebellion and on November 24, Misuari was arrested in Malaysia .

November 26, 2001 - MNLF Executive Council member Parouk Hussin was elected ARMM Governor. On December 20, the GRP and MNLF signed a Joint Communique to recognize the progress in the implementation of the 1996 Peace Agreement and the need to sustain its progress.

January 2002 - Presidential Assistant for Mindanao Jesus Dureza takes Misuari from Subang Jaya, Royal Malaysian Air Force Base on 7 January and brings him to the detention bungalow in Sta. Rosa Laguna. The CCCH, tasked with supervising the implementation of the ceasefire, meets for the first time on 12 January.

February 2002 - Skirmishes resume in various parts of central Mindanao .

2004 - In December 2004, the discussions on ancestral domain, the last of the three major agenda items aside from security and rehabilitation, were divided into four strands – concept, territory, resources and governance.

2006 - The impasse of the peace talks started on September 6-7, during the 13th exploratory talks over the issue of territory when the GRP’s recognition of the 613 Muslim-dominated barangays is conditioned on undergoing a constitutional process .

2007 - Nov. 14 Joint Statement - Among the consensus points on ancestral domain that the two panels agreed upon were: the “joint determination of the scope of the Bangsamoro homeland based on the technical maps and data submitted by both sides; measures to address the legitimate grievances of the Bangsamoro people arising from their unjust dispossession and/or marginalization; Bangsamoro people’s right to utilize and develop their ancestral domain and ancestral lands; and economic cooperation arrangements for the benefit of the entire Bangsamoro people.”

April 2008 - Makati Regional Trial Court allows MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari to post bail.

July 22, 2008 - PGMA in a visit in Maguindanao, announces she supports a call to postpone the ARMM elections scheduled on August 11, 2008.

Dureza said the "Cabinet consensus" to postpone the regional polls was reached after Arroyo met with Cabinet members and ARMM officials in Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff Kabunsuan .

In the days to come, Zamboanga City Mayor Celso L. Lobregat, who has objected to calls for some parts of the city to be under the Bangsamoro territory, said he is backing North Cotabato Vice-Governor Emmanuel F. Piñol, who will file a case with the Supreme Court demanding public disclosure of the contents of the ancestral domain draft pact.

July 24, 2008 - 5 Muslim lawmakers filed House Bill 4832 which proposes to amend Section 1 of Republic Act 9333 - the law that sets the August 11 ARMM elections - by replacing the date of the ARMM polls to coincide with the May 2010 national elections.

Those who authored the House Bill 4832 are representatives Faysah Dumarpa of Lanao del Sur, Simeon Datumanong of Maguindanao, Munir Arbison of Sulu, Mujiv Hataman of party-list Anak Mindanao, and Pangalian Balindong of Lanao del Sur.

Senator Miguel Zubiri backs out on filing a similar bill.

July 28, 2008 – 14th Congress opens session with the State of the Nation Address by PGMA which mentions support for the peace process.

July 31, 2008 - The House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms approved on July 31, the bill that seeks to postpone the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Seventeen lawmakers were for the postponement.

Radio dzXL said those opposed to proposals to postpone the ARMM elections are:

• Senate President Manuel Villar II,

• Senate President Pro-tempore Jose “Jinggoy" Estrada,

• Senate Majority Leader Francis Pangilinan,

• Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr,

• Sen. Richard Gordon,

• Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano,

• Sen. Pia Cayetano,

• Sen. Mar Roxas II,

• Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, and

• Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.


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Che Man, W.K. Muslim Separatism: The Moros of Southern Philippines and the Malays of Southern Thailand, Quezon City :
AdM U Press, 1990
Criveli, Camillus. Catholic Encyclopedia, XV, Robert Appleton Co, 1912
Gowing, P.G. Mandate in Moroland, American Government of Muslim Filipinos, 1899-1920
Gowing, P.G. and Robert McAmis. The Muslim Filipinos: Their History, Society, and Contemporary Problems, Manila : La
Solidaridad Publishing House, 1974.
Kho, Madge. Chronology of Moro Resistance
Majul, Cesar A. Muslim in the Philippines, Quezon City: UP Press, 1973
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MORO TIMES, Manila Times, August, 2006

Orosa, Sixto Y. The Sulu Archipelago and Its People, NY: World Book Co., 1970
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Tregoning, K.B. A History of Modern Sabah, 1881-1963
Hurley, Vic. Swish of the Kris, 1997 http://www.bakbakan .comH.R.H. Sultan Jamal ul-Kiram I (1823-1844)


Corregidor has this tendency to surprise the student of its history, even now. All of us are well aware of the focus and significance which the world placed upon its defence, loss and retaking during World War II, but how many of us are aware of The Corregidor Massacre of 1968?
The what?

In the Philippine presidential election of 1965, the Nacionalista candidate, Ferdinand E. Marcos (1917-90), triumphed over Diosdado Macapagal. Marcos dominated the political scene for the next two decades, first as an elected president in 1965 and 1969, and then after his 1972 proclamation of martial law, as a virtual dictator. He had claimed to have served in the Battle of Bataan and later to have led a guerrilla unit, the Maharlikas. Like many other aspects of his life, Marcos's war record came under scrutiny during the last years of his presidency. His stories of wartime gallantry, inflated by the pro-Marcos media virtually into a personality cult during his years in power, have been comprehensively debunked.

Under Marcos, the Philippines became one of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), established in 1967. Although on the surface, Marcos spruiked regional stability, disputes with fellow ASEAN member Malaysia over Sabah in northeast Borneo, however, continued under the cover of plausible diplomatic deniability.

What disputes?

Historically, the Bangsamoro people had settled the geographical areas we now describe politically as Mindanao and Sabah. How they lost their land of origin to foreign governments is a peculiarly interesting saga of statecraft, with all its attendant aspects of greed, power and colonialism. It is also a story of Oil. I will avoid those issues here, for the direct relevance is that Sabah was the intended prize, and Corregidor simply a means to that end.

Following the eviction of the Japanese and the departure of the formal American influence, the Philippine government had re-established primacy over the Bangsamoro settled areas of Mindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan islands on July 4, 1946. During the administration of President Diosdado Macapagal in the early 1960s, the Philippines began again to look towards re-establishing by diplomatic maneuver a more direct control over Sabah’s wealth.

The basis of the Philippine claim relied on the assertion of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu (the Kirams) that the Sultan of Borneo had given Sabah to the Sultan of Sulu as a reward for helping quell a rebellion in Borneo. Suspicions abounded at that time that the Marcos Administration had wangled from the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu an agreement of sorts whereby Marcos would obtain part of resource-rich Sabah as "contingent fee."

Malaysia, naturally, vigorously opposed the claim, arguing that a certain Baron de Overbeck had "purchased" Sabah from the sultan of Sulu before later assigning his rights to the British East India Company. Malaysia further argued that Sabah had become part of Malaysian territory when Britain granted independence to the Federated States of Malaysia. The Philippines, by reply, argued a case of bad semantics, insisting that in 1876 de Overbeck had only "leased" Sabah from the Sultan of Sulu. The alleged contract between de Overbeck and the Sultan of Sulu used, they argued, the word padjak, a Malay term that could mean either "lease" or "purchase."

When Malaysia regained her independence from British colonial rule, it had colonized Sabah, continuing the payment of “rental” to the family of the Sultanate of Sulu. By the device of a referendum, it ultimately annexed Sabah in the early 1960’s. The integrity of the referendum was a matter of significant debate, for claims arose that Malaysia had stage-managed a semblance referendum, utilizing and bribing some Moro leaders from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to represent the “political” interest of Sabah and Mindanao.

Parallel with diplomatic attempts, planners within the Philippine military associated with Marcos conceived a plot sometime in 1967 of establishing a force of commandos to destabilize Sabah, then ultimately to take advantage of the instability by either intervening in the island on the pretext of protecting Filipinos living there, or by "the residents themselves deciding to secede from Malaysia."

Marcos could not have chosen a more auspicious time to try and reclaim Sabah. Malaysia was only a fledgling state at that point, made even more wobbly by the secession of Singapore in 1965, two years after its independence from Britain. Too, Malaysia was embroiled in a border dispute with powerful Indonesia. And there was the Philippines' Sabah claim to boot. It was all that Malaysia could do to prevent itself from coming apart at the seams.

The codename for the destabilization plan was Operation Merdeka. The plan involved the recruitment of nearly 200 Tausug and Sama Muslims aged 18 to 30 from Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and their training in the island-town of Simunul in Tawi-Tawi. Simunul was where the first Arab missionary Makhdum built the first mosque in the Philippines in the 14th century. The recruits felt giddy about the promise not only of a monthly allowance, but also over the prospect of eventually becoming a member of an elite unit in the Philippine Armed Forces. That meant, among other benefits, guns, which Muslims regard as very precious possessions. So from August to December 1967, the young recruits underwent training in Simunul. The name of the the commando unit: Jabidah.

On December 30 that year, from 135 to 180 recruits boarded a Philippine Navy vessel for the island of Corregidor in Luzon for "specialized training."

This second phase of the training turned mutinous when the recruits discovered their true mission. It struck the recruits that the plan would mean not only fighting their brother Muslims in Sabah, but also possibly killing their own Tausug and Sama relatives living there. Additionally, the recruits had already begun to feel disgruntled over the non-payment of the promised P50 monthly allowance. The recruits then demanded to be returned home.

For the Jabidah planners, it seemed that there was only one choice.

As the sole survivor later recounted, the plotters led the trainees out of their Corregidor barracks on the night of March 18, 1968 in batches of twelve. They were taken to a nearby airstrip. There, the plotters mowed the trainees down with gunfire. Jibin Arula, the survivor, said that he heard a series of shots and saw his colleagues fall. He ran towards a mountain and rolled off the edge on to the sea. He recalled clinging to a plank of wood and stayed afloat. By morning, fishers from nearby Cavite rescued him.

The truth of the massacre took some time to emerge. In March 1968 Moro students in Manila held a week long protest vigil over an empty coffin marked ‘Jabidah’ in front of the presidential palace. They claimed “at least 28” Moro army recruits had been murdered. Court-martial proceedings were brought against twenty-three military personnel involved. There was a firestorm in the Philippine press, attacking not so much the soldiers involved, but the culpability of a government administration that would ferment such a plot, and then seek to cover it up by wholesale murder. The matter even made its way to the Supreme Court in 1970, on a preliminary issue.

Although the exact number of deaths still continues to vary depending upon the source of the reference, there is no denial of the fact that Corregidor was host to a massacre on that night.

In a series of articles smuggled from prison, and published in the Bangkok Post in 1973, Benigno Aquino wrote of the worsening rebellion by communist guerrillas in Luzon and by Muslims in the South seeking to avenge the execution of 25 of their “brothers.” The Bangkok Post printed a caveat against taking the clandestine Aquino Papers as “gospel truth” though in the main those warnings were about other aspects of the story. “In his clandestine writings, the Senator has been helped by his journalistic training and his accounts of various important events have a professional precision but the reader must keep in mind that he is a politician with great rhetorical skill,” the Bangkok Post wrote.

The Centre for Media Freedom and Responsibility, in referring to the Jabidah Massacre speaks of those massacred “numbering from 28 to 64.” The Moro National Front, a less objective and more partial source, claims a massacre of “more than two hundred Muslim trainees.”

Nonetheless, sufficient evidence was amassed in time to lay court-martial charges against twenty-three members of the Jabidah group, and in time honored Philippine tradition, matters descended into the thickets of the Philippine legal system until most everyone's attention became focused elsewhere.

Whatever the figure, it is clear that the rich tapestry of Corregidor's history did not cease to be woven simply when the United States returned it to the Republic of the Philippines.