Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Blueprint of Subjugation
Beyond any tint of doubt, the United States did not come to the Philippines in 1898 for the islands of Luzon and Visayas alone but to claim more territories.' Fired by imperialist agenda, her intention to include the Moro country was never suspect. However, the war with the northerners was still raging and any mishandling of the Moros could be disastrous. Even a sort of modus vivendi was in order; and, therefore, as earlier said, the signing of the Kiram-Bates Treaty, more than any other reasons, was a dilatory tactic to neutralize the Moros while the pacification campaign in the northern areas was still underway. Moreover, even before American troops landed in Moro country, the United States already had a comprehensive plan on how to handle the Moros. This involved a wide-ranging strategy with military, political, social, economic, and educational components.
1. Military Occupation - The Americans did not act passively in the face of a possible alliance between the Filipino revolutionaries and the Moros. The decision to occupy Sulu and Mindanao and take over the Spanish garrisons were the first orders: "Relieve the Spanish forces; gradually extend American jurisdiction .... and do this in such a manner as to cause a minimum of friction with the people, for no reinforcements could be expected for a long time."' In May 1899, American troops landed in Jolo, and on October 30 the Military District of Mindanao, Jolo and Palawan (until 1905 was still known as Paragua) was constituted. On November 16, Zamboanga was occupied, and from December 1899 to January 1900, the southern coasts of Mindanao, including Cotabato, Davao, Mati, Polloc, Parang, and Banganga were garrisoned. In charge of this command was Brig. Gen. John C. Bates, but on March 20,1900, Brig. Gen. William Kobbe took over. Afterwards, the status of the command was elevated to the Department of Mindanao and Jolo. In 1902, Brig. Gen. William Kobbe was replaced by Brig. Gen. George Davis, who in October 1, 1902 was succeeded, after a few adjustments in the structure which was renamed the Department of Mindanao, by Brig. Gen. Samuel Sumner on July 10, 1902. A year later, General Sumner was followed by Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, later to become the first Governor of the Moro Province.
At this point, it is worthwhile to state that many of the military officers assigned in the Moro country were veterans of the Indian wars and reservations duty. It was, therefore, frequent that many of the methods in governing the Indians were also tried in the Department of Mindanao. Usually, the authority of the military commander assigned in Mindanao and Sulu was the same as that of the commander at the Indian reservation west of the Mississippi River. Under his command were some hundreds of Apaches, men, women and children, who were all restrained in their liberties and were virtually prisoners. Brig. Gen. George Davis, who succeeded Brig. Gen. William Kobbe, had earlier worked in the Indian territories before his stint here. One such approach resembling the treatment of the Indians was the attitude that "treaties" made with them, who were considered ',savages," were not binding and could be unilaterally abrogated as necessity arises. That action could be easily justified by simple misconduct on the part of the "natives".
In the beginning, the Moros and the Americans were quite at ease with each other, in the way the Kiram-Bates Treaty defined their relations; i.e., there was no direct American interference in the affairs of the local population. There was no aggressive effort to carry on the so-called White Men's burden to develop, "civilize," educate or to train the Moros in the way toward a democratic government. The main concern of the occupation forces was to maintain peace and order in the Moro region. But as more troops poured in, an offshoot of the end of the Filipino-American War in 1901, frictions started to occur between the Moros and the Americans. Customs regulations were enforced, taxes were levied, and land surveys, mapping and exploring missions were increased. Census was also conducted. Consequently, the shift from non-interference to direct rule shaped up with the creation of the Moro Province. The military occupation of Mindanao and Sulu lasted from 1899 to 1903.
2. Direct Rule - The main reason given for the change of approach from non-interference to direct intervention with the creation of the Moro Province was to prepare the Moros for integration into the body politic of the colonial government. The insistence of the Filipino leaders and the American acquiescence was predicated on one point: the importance of the rich natural resources in the Moro country. The direct rule scheme, the Americans alleged, was also to protect the common people from the "tyranny" of the sultans and datus, from the depredations of bandits, to introduce the American concept of justice, to stop the unscrupulous practices of native traders, and finally to implement public projects such as schools, hospitals and wharfs or ports. Slavery was also made illegal. In brief, the direct rule policy, overtly, was to implement the so-called American mandate in Moroland to develop, to civilize, to educate, to train the Moros in the art of democratic governance. But covertly the main motivation was the immediate exploration and finally the exploitation of the vast natural resources in the Moro country.
The Kiram-Bates Treaty was singularly the main obstacle to the implementation of the direct U.S. rule. The treaty clearly laid down the guiding principles of non-interference in the local affairs of the Moros. But the Americans had to get rid of this obstruction if they had to succeed in their grand plan for the Moro country. On March 2, 1904 ' they did exactly what they were expected to do. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, without the slightest conjunction or any moral or ethical consideration, unilaterally declared the treaty null and void. On March 21, Gov. Leonard Wood notified the Sultan of the decision and, naturally. he was displeased, especially when the decision was relayed through someone (Wood) who for years had been teaching them that we must each do exactly what we promise to do. He could not imagine how a government claiming to have come on a "pious mission" could suddenly act so unscrupulously in abrogating the treaty contained in a formal agreement signed by both sides.
Thus, in essence, U.S. policy vis-a-vis the Moros was in line with the treatment of the American Indians whereby agreements made with them were set aside as convenience dictated, without the least hesitation or the slightest compunction. These agreements carried no weight and no binding effects on the Americans on the malicious pretext that the Moros, like the Red Indians, were savages. With the "might is right" credo forming the guiding thrust of the U.S. colonial expansion, this supercilious attitude was more than expected.
However, even before this formal unilateral abrogation, the Kiram-Bates Treaty had practically ceased to exist already, when the Moro Province was created on June 1, 1903. If the Kiram-Bates Treaty was the instrument of indirect rule, the Moro Province was the nail to drive down and establish direct rule in Moro country.
The Moro Province was under the direct supervision of the Civil Governor of the Philippine Islands and the Philippine Commission. The Civil Governor, with the concurrence of the Philippine Commission, appointed the provincial governor, secretary, treasurer, attorney, engineer and superintendent for the Moro Province. The six officials. above constituted the legislative council, which, subject to certain limitations, was the legislative body of the province. The Moro Province was divided into five districts: Sulu, Zamboanga, Lanao, Cotabato and Davao, which in turn were subdivided into several subordinate local governments.
The creation of the Moro Province was deemed the transitional machinery for the shift from military to civil rule in the Moro territory. in actual operation, however, it was no less than what the Spaniards conceived earlier as the Politico-Military Province. All throughout its existence, the Province was controlled and manned by military personnel. And this being a military government, such guidelines as "to cut the Moro foot to fit the American shoe" was central in the so called "civilizing" mission of the military administrators of the Moro Province from 1903 to 1913.
The first governor of the Moro Province was Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood. As governor of the province, he adopted a "mailed fist" policy or simply the use of brute force to quell even a minor military problem. His background either as military man or political leader was far from desirable. As officer of the Rough Riders regiment, he first saw action against the Indians and then against the Spaniards in Cuba in 1898.
On both stints, there was much destruction, mass slaughter and brutality. After the Spanish-American War, he was appointed military governor of Cuba, and after his term ended in the Moro Province, he was made Governor General of the Philippine Islands. Throughout his career either as a military officer or politician, he was known to have had little regard for human life. He acted with a martial temperament, said to be the outcome of his ignominious defeat to Warren Harding in a presidential nomination.
As first governor of the Moro Province, Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood had the primary task of organizing the province along the rationale of direct interference in the affairs of the Moros. Already prejudiced to the absolute correctness of the American outlook and ways and the rightness of the mandate over the "good-for-nothing" Moro laws, General Wood proceeded to discharge his official responsibilities though, in fairness, firmly and with enthusiasm -with much predilection against the general welfare of the Moros. He introduced laws which were not only unpopular but exacerbated resistance to the American presence in Mindanao and Sulu. In his characteristic 11 arrogant" ways, he bluntly told the Sulu Sultan on the eve of the abrogation of the treaty:
I am going to be frank with you. At present, your rights as a nation are nothing ... I believe we are here forever, unless some greater country comes and drives us away; we do not know of any such country.
On April 16, 1906, General Wood was relieved of the post and Brig. Gen. Tasker Bliss succeeded him as governor of the Moro Province. General Bliss never fought in the Indian wars or in the Spanish-American War. He was more of a scholar rather than a soldier and, moreover, was as "peacemaker." It was his primary concern in war to end it rather than to prolong the agonies and sacrifices of its victims.
In November 1909. Brig. Gen. john C. Pershing took over as governor of the Moro Province and lasted up to December 15, 1913, when the Department of Mindanao and Sulu was created. Like General Wood, he was a veteran of the Indian wars and the Spanish- American War, and later in Mexico against Pancho Villa. A year after his stint in Mindanao. he was appointed commander of the World War 1 American Expeditionary Force in Europe.
During his term as head of the Moro Province, he was responsible for the creation of the first Christian colony of settlers in Mindanao in 1912. Although he continued the educational programs of his predecessors, it was under him that the number of Moro children increased. However, disarmament of the Moros was his major achievement. Under him, the Province greatly progressed, particularly in ways of the American system of governance which eventually led to the appointment of the first civilian rule in Mindanao and Sulu.
On December 13, 1913, Frank C. Carpenter was appointed the first civilian governor of the Moro Province, which later on was named Department of Mindanao and Sulu on March 13, 1914. Aside from the five provinces already under administrative jurisdiction of the Moro Province. two more provinces were added, namely, Agusan and Bukidnon. Both the Moros and the so-called "wild tribes" or "pagans," the inhabitants of the two provinces added, were now lumped together under this office.
Frank Carpenter, a Nebraskan, joined the army in 1888 and became Secretary of the Army in 1895. Four years later. he was appointed secretary to General Lawton in the Philippines and thereafter was appointed Assistant Executive Secretary and. later. as Executive Secretary of the Insular Government. He learned to speak Tagalog and Spanish very fluently and was endeared among the Filipinos. He was remembered for many highlights, among which were the signing of the Carpenter Agreement In 1915, the filipinization of the offices. the adoption of the "policy of attraction," and the sending of scholars or pensionados (including Moros) to the United States for higher studies.
In 1916, the legislative power over the Moro country was transferred to the Philippine Legislature as per stipulated in the Jones Law. By 1920, the control of the Moro Affairs, except for a few positions held by Americans, was in the hands of the Filipinos.
On February 5, 1920, the Department of Mindanao and Sulu was formally abolished by Act No. 2878 of the Philippine Legislature and, in its stead, the Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes was organized. Teopisto Guingona, a native Christian, succeeded Carpenter as Director of the new office. In 1936, a further change was effected with the renaming of this office into the Commission on Mindanao and Sulu with Dansalan, Lanao as its headquarters. The Commission was headed by a Commissioner with the rank of Undersecretary in the Department of Interior and Labor. The arrangement continued until the invasion of Japan in 1942.
The policy of direct rule, if one may gloss over the narration thus given, may well be seen that, as far as their viewpoint was concerned, the Americans had done the best they could under the circumstances. They did not and would not have satisfied the Moros because they disagreed with the Moros in almost everything except perhaps "to fight" - but as far as their self-styled mandate was concerned, they had delivered it well. Before 1920, the Americans I lad made all decisions in the affairs of the Moro country, but after this time the Moros and the pagans were left completely at the "mercy or tyranny" of the Christian Filipinos.
3. Scorch-Earth Policy - As discussed earlier, the American occupation forces had a clear policy on the Moros: neutralize them while the Filipino-American War was still raging in the northern provinces and, after that, extend American control and sovereignty over the Moro country by all means and at all cost. This "scorch earth" policy was shown in their military campaigns against recalcitrant datus and sultans all over Mindanao and Sulu.
In the 1903 official census, a distinction was made between the "civilized" and "uncivilized" and the Moros were placed under the latter category together with the wild tribes or pagans. In describing the Moros, General Wood, in a letter to Gov. William Taft on October 9, 1903, said:
The people of this island are Mohammedans. Their faith teaches them that it is no sin to kill Christians and they are taught by the priests to believe it is commendable. They are nothing more or less than an unimportant collection Of pirates and highwaymen, living under laws which are intolerable ....
Earlier in 1902, Brig. Gen. George Davis in his official report to Gen. William Kobbe said: It is useless to discuss a plan of government that is not based on force, might, and power."" In 1903, Capt. John Pershing also referred to the Moros as 'savage". Impressions like these had greatly helped shape the early policy of the United States in relation to the Moros.
We shall endeavor to discuss this policy in this section where brute force was used in what otherwise was a simple pocket military problem. The fights that constituted what we refer to as the MoroAmerican War will be discussed in another section.
There is nothing more bloody, if only to show how this policy of brute force was carried out to the hilt, than to recall what transpired in Bud Dajo in 1906, Bud Bagsak in 1913, and to the Alangkat Movement in Cotabato in 1926-1927. All three were essentially not military confrontations but simple cases of massacres.
Bud Dajo is an extinct volcano six miles from Jolo. It is covered by dense tropical jungle and is 2,100 feet above sea level. Ensconced in the crater were over a thousand Moro men, women, children armed only with krises, spears, aging rifles, and a few cannons. Laksamana Usap, the leader, and his followers were up in arms on issues they believed wrongly imposed on them. One was the payment of the cedula tax, which resembled the "tribute" of yore and which the Moros were not accustomed to give. The defenders occupied a very strategic position, probably the "strongest" ever defended against the occupation forces in the Philippines. Most important of all, they were making a defense "unto death." The American assault forces, numbering 790, were under the command of Col. Joseph Duncan, and consisted of infantry and cavalry, an artillery battery, constabulary troops, sailors, and a gunboat anchored offshore.
Before the actual combat. the Moros - women already dressed in men's clothes and in full battle gear - were asked to "surrender" or at least send down the non-combatants. The reply was a complete defiance. The Moros were seething with hatred and rearing to fight.
That early morning of March 6, 1906, General Wood was in Jolo to get things done personally. He had no other plan to settle the issue than to use force against poorly-equipped but gallant warriors. The battle started. It continued on the following day where the major phase of the fighting was fought. There was bloody hand-to-hand fighting and after two days of combat, on March 8, the slaughter. as expected, was terrible. Of the more than 1,000 defenders, only six survived, while the Americans suffered 21 slain and 73 wounded, including Colonel Duncan.
General Wood was severely criticized for the carnage, where even women and children were not spared. Critics pictured him as "blood-thirsty monster difficult to parallel in history." But as expected, his boss in Washington, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, cabled his congratulations: "Upon the brilliant feat of arms wherein you and they [his men] so well upheld the honor of the American flag-
The carnage could have been averted if only the Americans had observed restraints and paid due regard to the inviolability of human life enshrined in the United States Constitution. Several letters and pleas were addressed to Gov. Leonard Wood against a military solution, but he ignored all these pleas. His conscience, if any, did not bother him in the least.
Seven years after, American hands were again dripping with Moro blood in Bud Bagsak. The central issue was the disarmament policy of Brig. Gen. John Pershing, who succeeded General Wood as Governor of the Moro Province. The Moros resisted this vigorously. After some extended negotiations, the Moros led by Naqib Amil, Datu Jami and Datu Sahipa declared that they would never surrender their firearms. General Pershing would settle for no less and branded the Moros "outlaws" and "desperados."
Bud Bagsak is another extinct volcano not far from Jolo. Five hundred Moro warriors were encamped in the crater and swore to die rather than submit. Before the battle began, the crater was subjected to "murderous" bombardment, and soon on June 11, 1913, the action commenced. Five days of combat action, mostly hand-to-hand, ensued, and on the final day, June 15, the record of the fighting was made and the result, again, as anticipated, was that nearly all of the 500 Moros were killed or wounded versus 14 killed and 13 wounded on the American side. One report said 2,000 Moros were killed, including 196 women and 340 children."
The defenders of Bud Bagsak were completely routed like their counterparts in Bud Dajo, but the spirit of the Moros to resist did not die with them.
It is noteworthy to relate here the introduction of two new ingredients in the fighting. First, the Moros devised a new weapon in their last-ditch desire to fight the Americans in every way. This was the use of logs fastened to the slope of the volcano and let loose on the advancing enemy. According to a local tradition attached to the alleged military exploits of Sansawi, a member of the Moro Company or Scouts fighting on the side of the Americans, this caused many injuries even death to the attacking American soldiers. Another was the participation of this newly-formed 52nd Company of the Philippine Scouts, otherwise known as the "Moro Company." Members of the unit were required to wear the red fez (a Turkish cap) with either a gold or black tassel.
On March 23, 1927, the final assault was mounted on the members of the Alangkat Movement or what the Americans called "Dance craze." The movement was largely a Manobo affair under Datu Mampurok of the Arumanon Manobo and crudely devised against the influx of Christian settlers into Mindanao. The contingent under the command of Major Gutierrez and Colonel Stevens came to the Manobo settlement (located at present-day Midsayap, North Cotabato) and started shooting indiscriminately. The result was a massacre. Datu Mampuroc, and 29 other Manobos, including women and children, were killed en masse.
Datu Mampuroc had many followers in Lebak, Talayan, Dulawan and other areas in Cotabato. According to their belief, Datu Mampuroc was Datu Ali reincarnated, who came back to earth to continue the war against outsiders who were out to drive out the natives. The ceremony was weird. Members underwent a state of suspended animation or went in deep trance, after which they engaged in wild sex orgies or went in warpath to kill people, especially Americans or Christians.
4. Creation of Colonies - The next scheme to contain the Moros was the creation of colonies. The first formal plan to settle Mindanao with Christian settlers, as noted earlier, started in 1912 during the time of Brig. Gen. John C. Pershing as Governor of the Moro Province. The main reason for the resettlement plan was the alleged overpopulation in the northern areas. Other reason given was that the Cotabato Valley needed settlers if it was to produce rice in larger or commercial quantities.
In the same year, the first Christian rice colony, consisting of 100 families from Cebu, was relocated in Cotabato. They were promised to own the land eventually. Pershing emphasized that a well managed Filipino colony in the heart of the Moro country, as an example, should act as a stimulus to Moro agriculture.` They were practically provided with everything. free of charge, and there were other incentives to lure others.
However well-intentioned General Pershing was, but all his theories, save the production of rice in a wider scale, were a farce. There was no over-population in Luzon and the Visayas and the Moros were not encouraged to be productive, at least not as it was supposed to be in Pershing's mind. On the contrary, with the influx of wave after wave of settlers, the Moros were forced back to the wall and, not long afterwards, violence erupted. Similar to the 1899 "holy mission," the arbitrary settlement of these "alien" people had a direct disastrous consequence on the native inhabitants whose priority rights were not considered or attended to. This policy was reminiscent of that unscrupulous and amoral political theorist of the 15th century, Nicollo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Machiavelli was an advocate of trickery, treachery, and dishonesty in statescraft, and at one time was "identified with Satan." He declared that a country can be effectively colonized by settling there people of the colonizing power. This bit of advice was apparently heeded by the Americans in Mindanao and Sulu as it was by the British in Ireland. The Americans settled alien Filipino elements in Mindanao and Sulu just as the British Crown planted Protestant outsiders in Ireland.
Before 1913, the Americans had no fixed plan for creating settlements in Moro country. Although the lure of lands in the Moro country, tagged as another "Wild West" and inhabited by wild savages, was intense, there were many obstacles on the way. First, serious fighting was still going on and things were in a precarious condition. Second, there was no consensus as to which group of people, Italians, Negroes, Greeks or Filipinos to settle. Adding to this difficulty was the hot and humid climate prevailing in the region. And third, the free flow of the American dollars as capital for business ventures did not come to the Moro Province until the later part of the second decade of this century. B.F. Goodrich started operations only in 1919, Del Monte through a subsidiary in 1925, and Goodyear in 1929.
As a result of the explosive Negro Problem in the United States, the American blacks became the priority in the still nebulous settlement plan. By settling them somewhere, the Americans were actually defusing one of their serious racial problems at home. Moreover, the Negroes, having come originally from the usually arid African continent, would have little difficulty in adjusting themselves to the tropical climate in the Moro region.
In 1939, Pres. Manuel Quezon even had a special concept of settlement in mind by proposing to plant Jews who were running away from the gas chambers of Adolf Hitler. His Jewish contact suggested that after the settling of the Jewish refugees a law should be passed banning all other foreigners in the Commonwealth. The special target, without pinpointing it, was the Japanese who then posed the greatest problem to the state before World War II. He had in mind Lake Lanao in Mindanao as the favored site. However, had his idea - some said a "misdirected magnanimity" - materialized, he could have created another Palestine in Mindanao. Quezon might have been moved by the savagery and horrors of the Nazis, which is natural to any rational human being. But the question is, why did he fail to consider the outcome of his "generosity" right in his own backyard? No less than 10,000 Jews mostly from Germany and Austria were involved in the proposed settlement project.
There is no intention of listing all the ideas or proposals for settlement in the Moro country. Certainly there were many more. However, two such ideas bear mentioning. In 1899, there was a proposal from a certain C.A. Muir of Weatherford, Texas that a settlement of 1,000 Texas farmers and mechanics be established in Mindanao to induce others from depressed communities in the U.S. to follow. They were offered many. incentives. In the same year, there was another plan from W.G. Douglas of Baltimore to parcel lands in the Philippines (including Mindanao and Sulu) into colonies. Each colonist would be extended help and easy loans.
In the successful migration and settlement of outsiders in the Moro region resulted in the dislocation, dispossession, containment and "minoritization" of the Moros. They became virtual strangers in their own lands.
5. Policy of Attraction - There was one clear-cut aspect of the American policy vis-a-vis the Moros which contributed largely to the general atmosphere of peace in Mindanao and Sulu; i.e., the policy of attraction. History has proved that the Moro psyche would respond to love with love - and to force with force - which was not always natural to man. Other people would submit if force were applied. The Moro would not. His amor propio, his dignity, his maratabat would urge him to resist for it was dishonorable to surrender.
The policy was formally inaugurated after the termination of the military rule from 1899 to 1913. It was one of the cornerstones of the administration of Frank C. Carpenter when he became the Governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu. In essence, it was nothing but an appeal directly to people's natural interests or aesthetic sense. In practice, it involved the extending of scholarships, building of schools, hospitals, construction of roads, bridges, and artesian wells. The Americans also resorted to "dollar diplomacy" or doleouts, giving posts in the government, arranging pleasure trips and the excessive use of praise or flattery.
In the end, this policy mesmerized the minds of the Moros, which were the final target; it gradually penetrated into their society as a whole, benumbing their sense of national identity. The hands that firmly grasped the deadly krises and spilled so much blood were now trained to seize the pens and indite encomium eulogizing the erstwhile enemy-and-now masters. Exactly as it had been planned, those who were enamored of this policy or those who had availed of the pensionado program and studied in American schools, by and large, became the foremost exponents of the American system and colonial interest. These elements, fawning on their masters, went to the length of despising their own people and institutions, and in many ways, religious zeal was snapped out for worldly pleasures and other mundane matters. As a result, the epoch marked the fashion of naming Moro children after American monickers, such as Mcnutt, Pershing, Carpenter-etc. It also gave birth to the self-defeating attitude popularly referred to as "colonial mentality of preferring everything of foreign, nay American, origin. For the sultans, datus and other chiefs, the power of praise and flattery, doles and donations were masterly utilized to neutralize and finally to win them over to the side of the Americans. On several instances, datus or groups of datus and other chiefs, particularly those seething with deep-seated antipathy to the American rule, were brought to Manila and other provinces and in some instances even to America on "educational tour" or as guests of the government. The purpose of these trips were no less than to convert them into government spokesmen upon their return home. Two of those invited were Datu Alamada (Amani Boliok) and Datu Ampatuan of Cotabato, who both figured prominently in the early wars with the American occupation forces. The number of public schools increased and attendance was made compulsory. Sons and daughters of Moros were sent to Manila or Washington on scholarship grants or as pensionados. Upon their return, they carried with them new world outlooks based on the American value system and beliefs. Public works expanded and field dispensaries and hospitals were made available. Moros were appointed, though in a small scale, to offices and their lands began to be titled in their names. Moros also "participated" in agricultural colonies.
In all these efforts, the net result was not "moroizing" the Moros but "filipinizing" them in order to pave the way for the integration of the various islands into one unified state once independence is granted.
Posted by Abas at 9:20 PM