Jolo - Chronology of Moro Resistance
By Madge Kho from Jolo, Philippines
Source:  Jolo

July 22, 1878

Last treaty signed by the Sultan Jamalul Alam with Spain after another defeat by Spain in 1876. This treaty had the same translation flaws as the one entered into in 1851, where the Spanish version stated it had sovereignty over Sulu whereas the Tausug version had the description of the relationship as being a protectorate rather than a dependency and Sulu customs, laws, religion were not subject to Spanish jurisdiction. The differences are material and would have repercussions in 1899 in the territories that Spain ceded to the U.S. (Treaties and Other International Acts of USA, edited by Hunter Miller, Vol. 4, 1836-1846, p. 355; also History of Sulu by Najeeb Saleeby, pp.124-129)

This treaty made Jolo a sort of protectorate of Spain (Muslim in the Philippines, Cesar Majul, p. 299) while retaining a great deal of autonomy. The Sultan didn't have much interest in Jolo at this point and relocated his seat to Maimbung.

December 10, 1898

Treaty of Paris was signed between Spain andthe United States officially ceding the whole Philippine acrchipelago (including Mindanao and Sulu) in exchange for $20,000,000.

May 1, 1899

Spaniards departed Jolo and on same day Americans occupied Jolo.

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.

It was obvious that the U.S. signed this peace treaty as a way of stemming any resistance to its occupation in the Southwhile it was suppressing the resistance in the north.

According to Sixto Orosa, the District Health Officer in Sulu during the American occupation "The people did not wish to come under American sovereignty; but Hadji Butu, 'recognizing the folly of armed resistance,' exerted all his influence to prevent another useless and bloody war." (The Sulu Archipelago and Its People, Sixto Orosa, p. 108-109)

November 7, 1900

The U.S. pays Spain another $100,000 to incorporate the islands stretching as far as Sibutu to Cagayan de Sulu. The southernmost outlying islands of the Philippines--Turtle Island and Taganak were incorporated at a much later time period. They were part of the territories originally "ceded" (leased according to Tausug translations of the documents) by the Sultan Jamalul Alam to the North Borneo Company since 1763. 1901

"Policy of Disarmanent" implemented by Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing met with resistance that culminated in the Battle of Bud Dajo on March 7, 1906 June 1, 1903

Moro Province, of which Sulu was a part of, was created under Gen. Leonard Wood, the first governor of that province.

Gov. Gen. Wood imposed a head tax of P2 for each person. This created resentment and dissatisfaction among the Tausugs which led to a series of Cotta (trench) wars against the Americans led by Panglima Hassan. (Orosa, p. 37). Among the best known are Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak massacres.

Photo of Gen. Leonard Wood, the first military governor of Sulu. 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

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

900 Moros killed in Bud Dajo. ("On the Moro Massacre"by Mark Twain in Autobiography of Samuel Clemens, reprinted in JimZwick's MarkTwain's Weapons of Satire, Anti-Imperialist Writings onthe Philippine American War) June 11-16, 1913

Battle of Bud Bagsak. Ten years after its Disarmanent Policy, the Moros continued to resist the American rule. From
January-June, the whole ward of Lati with a population of between6,000 to 10,000, fortified themselves in a cotta in Mt. Bagsak. On June11, Gen. John Pershing ordered the attack with the assistance of Charlie Schuck who reported that it was easy to attack the cotta. Though official estimates accounted for only 300 Moro casualties (Orosa, p.27), John McLeod,who was in Manila at the time of the massacre, reported that 2,000 were killed including 196 women and 340 children. Pershing was later criticized for his actions but a Congressional investigation into the massacre never materialized. (Gowing, pp. 240-241). Photo of Gen. John Pershing August 13, 1913

People in Talipao municipality on island of Jolo refused to pay road tax. They fortified themselves in Mt. Talipao. On Oct.22, 1913, engagement ensued and the Moros were defeated. (Orosa) July 24, 1913

Department of Mindanao and Sulu created. (Orosa) March 22, 1915

Sultan signs an agreement with Gov. Gen. Frank Carpenter (Carpenter Agreement) relinquishing his claims of sovereignty and reduced the Sultan to a mere spiritual and religious head of the Moro people.

Prior to this agreement, the Sultan maintained both de jure and de facto sovereignty and was recognized by the U.S. when it was referred to as "The Government of the Sultan" in the Bates Treaty. The Sultan neither abdicated nor renounced his sovereignty or lost it to the U.S. by conquest. This became a concern for Carpenter who feared the issue might come to haunt the U.S. Thus, he said wrote in his 1916 report it became "necessary and opportune definitely to extinguish all claims of the Sultan to any degree of temporal sovereignty." (Gowing,p. 287 and Sulu and Sabah, Nicholas Tarling, p.317 Photo of His Highness Jamalul Kiram II, the last Sultan of Jolo.

September 1, 1913

Moro Province is abolished. December 16, 1913.  Military rule officially ended and civilian rule begins. Frank Carpenter, a civilian governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu and Guy N. Roher was the Governor of Sulu.

Back to top