The Dansalan Declaration of March 18, 1935 “requesting Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago not to be to be included in the event that the United States grant independence to the Philippine Islands”. (Madale, Abdullah T. (1997). The Maranaws, Dwellers of the Lake[na1] ), the Declaration further state,
“Our public land should not be given to other people other than the Moro. We should be given time to acquire them, because most of us have no lands. Our 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 land by other people. This will avoid future trouble” …
The Declaration was introduced by Cong. Robert Bacon (Democrat, Ohio) but was defeated by pro-independence lobbyist led by Pres. Quezon and some of his Moro conspirators.
In June 9, 1921 – petition of the people of Sulu, they stated clearly: “We are independent for 500 years. Even Spain failed to conquer us. If the United States quits the Philippines, and the Filipinos attempt to govern us. We will fight.”
Likewise on February 1, 1924 – Declaration of Rights and Purposes (Zamboanga declaration) forwarded to the US Congress, led by Sultan Mangiging of Maguindanao, Hadji Panglima Nuno (Zamboanga), Datu Sacaluran (Zamboanga), Maharaja Habing (Zamboanga) , Abdulah Piang (Maguindanao) and Datu Benito of Lanao, a portion of declaration runs this; “In the event that the US grants independence to the Philippine Islands without provision for our retention under the American Flag, it is our firm intention and resolve to declare ourselves as independent Constitutional Sultanate to be known to the world as Moro Nation.”
Despite a series of Moro petitions, Mindanao was illegally annexed by the new Philippine Government without the benefit of Plebiscite or consultation with the Moro People. Upon his assumption to office, President Manuel L. Quezon, the new President of the Commonwealth, declared that there would be no place for sultans and datus in the new regime and that the national laws would apply to Muslims and Christians equally. Several laws were latter enacted during Quezon administration that discriminated the Moro Muslims, among them:
(1) The Philippine Commission Act 2254 of 1913, requiring the Christians Settlers or Homesteaders from Luzon and Visayas to own 16 hectares of land in Mindanao while the native Bangsamoro to own only 8 hectares. (2) The Public Act 2874 of 1919, for the Christian Settlers to have 24 hectares whiles the native Moros only 10 hectares. (3) The Commonwealth Act 141 of 1936, 24 hectares for the Christians and only 4 hectares for the Moros, and many laws followed. Because of such laws, Christian settlers came to Mindanao in waves until such time outnumbered the Moro population.
Accordingly, the predictions of our forefathers came true, hence violence and killings flared up in Mindanao, thus extreme military force was used in Jolo Burning or Jolocaust in 1974, Zamboanga Siege in 2013, Marawi Siege in 2017, Manalili in 1971, Malisbong Massacre in 1974, Tran Incident in 1973, Tong Umapuy Massacre in 1983, and many more. These are not new, even during the American colonial time, we have the Bud Dahu in 1906 and Bud Bagsak in 1913.
U.S. policy in Mindanao blamed.
The US colonial rule policy contributed significantly to the Moro struggle. Three aspects of US colonial rule contributed to the Moro struggle: (1) labeling and classification of the population, (2) discriminatory provisions of public land laws, and (3) the resettlement programs, (Cristina J. Montiel, Department of Psychology, Ateneo de Manila University)
Despite strong representation of Moro Muslims royal leaders, the U.S. Congress favored Pres. Quezon and his conspirators. Unknown to the Moro who are dabbed by the Spaniards with derogatory terms such as “traitors,” “pirates,” “uncivilized” and so forth in order to get the Catholic majority of Filipinos to turn against and alienate them, yet some salute Pres. Quezon as hero, but in the eyes of Moro Muslims who read his history, Pres. Quezon may have provoked a wrong action to the Moros. One Moro Muslim executive who read his history, who latter become a Mayor replaced the main street name in his hometown from Quezon to Gomesa Avenue, he said putting things in the right perspective.
The prophecy of the 1935 Dansalan Declaration came true, war and bloodshed would have been avoided had the U.S. policy in Mindanao started on the right track. Will the mayhem of history comeback to Mindanao in the mask of a tribal war? Some advocate of a separate Ranao Autonomous Region insist, “it is in the offing and more disastrous, may God forbids”.
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Atty. Bayan G. Balt is the former Chapter President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, 2013-2015) Chairman of the Ranao Federal State Movement (RFSM) and President of the Alliance of Regional Coalitions Against People’s Poverty (ARCAPP)..