Gov’t stumped over Sultanate’s silence

The absence of a request from the Sultanate of Sulu or any of its members for the government to intervene in the legal skirmish over the implementation of the French arbitral court decision for Malaysia to compensate the heirs with $14.9 billion, creates a hurdle in the current review of the award.

Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra said “at this point, none has approached the government for any kind of intervention in connection with the arbitral award given by the French court to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu.”

This was according to Guevarra as the claim for Sabah rages on though the Malaysian government did not recognize the ruling.

“This will take some time. Pls. note that no party has approached the government for any kind of intervention,” Guevarra said.

Earlier, the Office of Solicitor General formed a special task force to study the implications of the arbitral award in favor of the heirs of the sultanate of Sulu.

Guevarra said he has constituted a special task force within the OSG to study the implication of the arbitral award in favor of the heirs of the Sultanate.

“We’ve begun collating reference materials for our study, but this task will require a lot of manhours to complete,” the SolGen said.

Guevarra issued the response when asked if his office will take part in the rapidly developing issue of the Sultanate claims which already rocked Malaysia after lawyers of the Sulu royal family seized $2 billion worth of overseas assets of state oil company Petronas on the strength of the international tribunal’s ruling.

“The Office of the Solicitor General, on its own, is carefully studying the legal and constitutional implications, if any, of the arbitral award in favor of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu,” he said.

On the other hand, Malacañang said the claim to Sabah of the Sultanate’s descendants is “not an issue of sovereignty” as it is “in the nature of a private claim.”

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles stated this after members of the Sultanate of Sulu expressed hope that the commitment of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to not surrender even a square inch of Philippine territory to foreigners would include Sabah.

“From what I understand, the case is in the nature of a private claim by the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu with Malaysia,” Angeles said.

The French arbitral court’s decision has reignited the status of Mindanao which like Sabah was annexed by the US to the Philippines in 1898 without consulting the people in the island a former high government official said yesterday,

The official who requested anonymity said Mindanao and Sulu were not included in the territory ceded by Spain through the 1898 treaty of Paris and the Declaration of independence of the Philippines in the same year said yesterday.

“The could be the reason why Mindanao up to this time remained a land of promise Manila central government has treated Mindanaoans as second-class citizens,” he said.

He said Mindanao and Sulu was an independent protectorate of the United States occupied through conquest or act of war and was not included in the territory ceded by Spain through the 1898 Treaty of Paris and the Declaration of Independence in the same year “

The former official said historically Mindanao and Sulu were occupied and colonized by the Americans after a 12-year (1899-1913) Moro Rebellion, which was not connected with the Spanish-American war in 1898.

He said before the American occupation, Mindanao was a territory ruled by Tribal datus, Maranao, Maguindanao and Sulu Sultanates that were not subjected to the Spanish colonial rule.

“Although Spain was able to send missionaries and set up settlements in some parts of the region, the area was practically under the control of tribal and Moro leaders,” he said.

Annexation issue rekindled

He claimed that the Treaty of Paris was silent about Mindanao and it was not included in the 20 million dollars as payment for US possession of the Philippine islands.

The source said also that Mindanao was not also included in the declaration of Independence made by President Aguinaldo in 1898 in Kawit Cavite the territories of the new Republic cover only the Luzon and Visayas islands.

“That was the reason that on 4 July 1902 US President Theodore Roosevelt issued a proclamation declaring the end of Philippine rebellion except in Mindanao and Sulu,” he said.

He also claimed that the US created the Department of Mindanao and Sulu in 1903 and began a bloody pacification campaign against the Bangsa Moro People until the uprising was contained paving the creation of a civil-military government.

It was during the American colonial rule that settlers from Visayas and Luzon were sent to Mindanao to develop farmlands in the region. The massive exodus of Christian settlers resulted in the dramatic growth of population in the area.

The source also claimed the Tydings Mcduffie Act which provided for the complete independence of the Philippine Island was specific that the independence only covers territories ceded to the US by Spain does and not mention Mindanao which at that time was never part of the Spanish territory at the Philippines.

Even the Commonwealth Act which set up the commonwealth government mentioned the people of the Philippines as Cebuano, Tagalog, Ilocano and Kapampangan.

He said, however, for unknown reasons US and Filipino lawmakers annex Mindanao and Sulu in the 1935 Constitution without consulting the tribal and Moro leaders and new settlers in the area.

The inclusion of Mindanao and Sulu in the 1935 Constitution was the root cause of the century-old secessionist problem in the region.

“Mindanao and Sulu was a US protectorate which it abandoned and annexed to Luzon and Visayas without any historical or legal basis, and this historical error justifies the political struggle of the Bangsa Moro people,” he said.


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