Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Moro Appeals and Rebellions
During the height of the deliberations of the Constitutional Convention, Hadji Abdulhamid Bongabong, chief religious leader of Unayan, and 189 Lanao Moros sent a letter of appeal - or a virtual warning - to the United States through the Governor General on March 18, 1935. The petition, popularly referred to as the historic Dansalan Declaration, speaks well of the undying sentiments and aspirations of the Moros for a separate homeland. The following is the full text of the petition:
In the agreement that we have arrived (i.e., the Declaration) our people gave their unanimous approval. We would like to inform you (i.e. U.S. Congress) that because we have learned that the U.S.. is going to give the Philippines an independence through the efforts of Hon. Quezon and others, we want to tell you that the Philippines, as it is known to the American people, is populated by two peoples with two different religious practices and traditions. The Christian Filipinos occupy the islands of Luzon and the Visayas. The Moros predominate in the islands of Mindanao and Sulu. With regard to the forthcoming Philippine Independence, we foresee that the condition will be characterized by unrest, suffering and misery ....
Our Christian associates have for ... many years their desires to be the only ones blessed with leadership and well progressive towns and cities. One proof of this is that, among us who were capable of participating in managing and administering the government have not been given the chance to demonstrate their ability. Another proof is that Christian Filipinos have taken control of our insular funds in which by right we must have equal share. Most of those funds are annually appropriated for the provinces of Luzon and the Visayas, and little are appropriated for the so-called Moro Province in the islands of Mindanao and Sulu. As a result their provinces progressed by leaps and bounds and ours lagged behind. Another result is that we have been and are still behind in modern civilization and education
One more discriminatory act of our Christian Filipino Associates is shown in the recen t constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth. In that constitution, no provision whatsoever is made that would operate for the welfare of the Moros ... the (provision of the) constitution are all for the welfare of the Christian Filipinos and nothing for the Moros. As a proof of this, our delegate did not sign the constitution.
We do not want to be included in the Philippine Independence (fo r) once an independent Philippine is launched there will be trouble between us and the Christian Filipinos because from time immemorial these two peoples have not lived harmoniously .... It is not proper to have two antagonizing peoples live together tinder the Philipine Independence.
One proof of this (is) that when Lanao had its Filipino Governor many leading Moro datus were killed for non apparent reasons. This has not ended up to the present time because our people can't and will never forget the bitterness of this incident ....
Should the American people grant the Philippine Independence, the islands of Mindanao and Sulu should not be included in such independence. Our public land must not be
given to other people other than the Moros. We should be given time to acquire them, because most of us have no lands. Out. people do not yet realize the value of acquiring those lands by the process of law. Where shall we obtain the support of our family if our lands are taken from us. It will be safe to us that a law should be created restricting (the acquisition) of our lands by other people. This will avoid future trouble.
Our practices, laws and decisions of our Moro leaders should be respected .... Our religion should not be curtailed in anyway .... All our practices which are incidental to our religion of Islam should be respected because these things are what a Muslim desires to live for .... Our religion is no more, our lives are no more.
As expected, the petition was never given due consideration. It was not even read in the Convention and, most probably, only the Moro delegates were the ones privy to the content of the petition. All the rest obviously swallowed the official government line that the Moro Problem ceased to be synonymous with Mindanao, but rather assumed the status of an economic problem of national concern and development. The basic issues and concerns raised in the declaration, especially over lands, were never addressed, as clearly shown in earlier discussion of the Commonwealth policy to formally colonize Mindanao and Sulu.
After having ascertained that there was no legal remedy forthcoming from the Commonwealth and the United States Government, Hadji Abdulhamid Bongabong launched a rebellion in Lanao beginning in June 1936. This only simmered down in 1941. The firefights were referred to as "cotta fights" in Philippine history. The government had a hard time putting down the rebellion of Hadji Bongabong, who built a chain of cottas in and around Lake Lanao.
On October 8, 1936, a major disturbance also occurred in Sulu. ,.'he leader was Imam Saccam. One of the issues raised by the rebels was the report that the Philippines was granted independence?' It started with the ambush of 20 Constabulary soldiers by 50 armed followers of Imam Saccam at Kulay-Kulay. All initial negotiations to make him surrender failed, although one by one his followers perished. Though his uprising did not succeed, it had direct effect on the neighboring town of Talipao, where another armed resistance erupted in 1937.
Posted by Abas at 9:50 PM