Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Mindanao Conflict and the Corregidor Massacre


For centuries our forefathers though of different ethnic groups were of one race living in harmony in our archipelago. From the 16th to 21st century our country was wracked by turmoil owing to our country's colonial past which results to a wide gap between Filipinos of different religious beliefs. And at present time there is a resurgence of armed conflict in the southern part of our beloved country.

To understand the ethnic and religious problems in the Philippine island of Mindanao, Basilan and Sulu we must first trace the roots of the conflict, which began about 500 years ago. On the year 1300 the Arabs arrived in the island of Sulu and spread the Islamic faith in most parts of Mindanao, Palawan, the Visayas islands, and in the Central Luzon including Manila. When the Spanish colonizers arrived in Manila in the year 1570, Manila was a Muslim Sultanate ruled by Rajah Suliman. The Spanish conquistadores called the people of Manila and the surrounding Tagalog provinces as Moros as they called "Moors" the muslims in Morocco in North Africa. Morocco is just opposite Spain in the Strait of Gilbraltar the entrance to the Mediterannean Sea., After the Spanish colonizers conquered Manila, they spread to the whole Island of Luzon and the Visayas and at the same time converted the natives to Christianity.

However, the Spaniards failed to subjugate and convert to Christianity the inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu. The Spaniards called the Muslim inhabitants of Mindanao and Sulu as Moros since they were of Islamic faith, just like the inhabitants of Manila who were muslims. . For about 300 years the Moros of Mindanao and Sulu  fought against the Spanish colonial rule. The Moros made many fierce attacks in the coastal town of the Visayas and Luzon as a revenge to Spanish colonization of some parts of Mindanao. They also attacked Manila, which became the seat of power of the Spanish colonizers.

In retaliation for the Moro raids the Spanish colonizers have recruited Christian Filipinos for their war expeditions in the Southern Philippines to punish and subjugate the Moros of Mindanao and Sulus. And from that time on, the Muslims Filipinos hated their brother Filipinos from the North who became Christian and soldiers of the Spanish colonizers.

After Spain ceded the Philippine archipelago to the Americans in the year of 1898, the American government tried to subjugate the Muslims in the south but they failed. During the American colonization period they shifted many settlers from the Visayas and Luzon to populate the vast hinterlands of Mindanao. At the same time the Americans continued their campaign to rule the whole southern Philippine Island of Mindanao and Sulus, with the help of Christian recruits.

After the Philippines was given independence by the Americans in the year of 1946, the Philippine government embarked on massive resettlement of Mindanao, which is sparsely populated. The war veterans and the poor families from Luzon and the Visayas were given public lands in Mindanao. And also many pioneering families and traders from the Visayas and Luzon chose to settle in Mindanao, as it is a very fertile land and were called the Land of Promise. By the year 1960, the majority of population in Mindanao was Christian, and only in the island of Basilan and Sulus the Muslims were the majority.

In the centuries long gone, Sabah was a part of the Sultanate of Brunei. About the 14th century the Sultanate of Brunei made war against the Sultanate of Malacca in the Malay Peninsula with the help of the Sultan of Sulu. Brunei rewarded the Sultan of Sulu by ceding to him the territory of Sabah. From the 14th century until the year 1881 the territory of Sabah was a part of the Sulu Sultanate. The Sultan of Sulu owned, ruled and exercise sovereignty in Sabah until it was leased by an American syndicate and later chartered by the British North Borneo Company in the year 1881. From that year up to 1946 the British North Borneo Company was paying yearly lease rentals to the Sultan of Sulu. From 1946 up to 1963 the British Crown government and later the Malaysian government from 1963 up to present year 2000 were paying lease rentals to the Sultan of Sulu.

Copy of Original Lease of Sabah.


Translation of the Lease document.

This treaty is written in Sulu, at the Palace of the Sultan Mohammed Jamalus Alam on the 19th day of the month of Muharam, A.H. 1295; that is on the 22nd day of the month of January 1878.
The Land Grant of 1878

Grant By The Sultan of Sulu of a Permanent Lease Covering His Lands and Territories on the Island of Borneo

Date : January 22, 1878 We, Sri Paduka Maulana Al Sultan MOHAMMED JAMALUL ALAM, son of Sari Paduka Marhum Al Sultan MOHAMMED PULALUM, Sultan of Sulu and of all dependencies thereof, on behalf of ourselves and for our heirs and successors, and with the expressed desire of all Datus in common agreement, do hereby desire to lease, of our own free will and satisfaction, to Gustavus Baron de Overbeck of Hong Kong, and to Alfred Dent, Esquire, of London, who act as representatives of a British Company, together with their heirs, associates, successors, and assigns forever and until the end of time, all rights and powers which we possess over all territories and lands tributary to us on the mainland of the island of Borneo, commencing from the Pandasan River on the east, and thence along the whole east coast as afar as the Sibuku area, known as Paitan, Sugut, Banggai, Labuk, Sandakan, China-batangan, Mumiang, and all other territories and coastal lands to the south, bordering on Darvel Bay, and as far as the Sibuku River, together will all the islands which lie within nine miles from the coast. In consideration of this (territorial?) lease, the honorable Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and Alfred Dent, Esquire, promise to pay His Highness Maulana Sultan Mohammed Jamalul Alam and to this heirs and successors, the sum of five thousand dollars annually, to be paid each and every year. The above-mentioned territories are from today truly leased to Mr. Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and to Alfred Dent, Esquire, as already said, together with their heirs, their associates (company) and to their heir successors and assigns for as long as they choose or desire to use them; but the rights and powers hereby leased shall not be transferred to any nation, or a company of other nationality, without the consent of Their Majesties Government. Should there be any dispute, or reviving of old grievances of any kind, between us, and our heirs and successors, with Mr. Gustavus Baron de Overbeck or his Company, then the matter will be brought for consideration or judgment to Their Majesties' Consul-General in Brunei. Moreover, if His Highness Maulana Al Sultan Mohammed Jamalul Alam, and his heirs and successors, become involved in any trouble or difficulties hereafter, the said honorable Mr. Gustavus Baron de Overbeck and his Company promise to give aid and advice to us within the extent of their ability. This treaty is written in Sulu, at the Palace of the Sultan Mohammed Jamalus Alam on the 19th day of the month of Muharam, A.H. 1295; that is on the 22nd day of the month of January 1878.

Signed: Sultan of Sulu and his Datus

On 15th July 1946 the British North Borneo Company leased of Sabah were transferred to the British government. It was just a month after the Philippines got independence from the Americans, and the infant Philippine government pleaded to the U.S. government for support in Philippine protest to the incorporation of Sabah to the British Crown. It was futile as the British and Americans were like brothers.

On 16th September 1963 with the British government arrangement, Sabah became a part of the Federation of Malaysia. On the year of 1965 the Sultan of Sulu have asked the helps of the Philippine government in recovering the territory of Sabah. Later about 1967 the Sultan of Sulu transferred the Sultanate sovereign and proprietary rights in Sabah to the Philippine government. The Philippine government using the lease written documents from Sulu, and from the Spanish government museums has submitted the case in the World Court to prove that Sabah was leased and not ceded to British North Borneo Company in the previous 19th century. However the World Court did not even accept the Philippine government case as the British heavily influence the World Court. The Philippine government was slow to realize that possession is one half of the law. No country in this world will returned their ill-gotten territory without a fight.


On the year 1968 with the clamor of Sabah natives to join with Sulu, the late President Marcos established a secret guerilla Special Forces to infiltrate and make a foothold in Sabah. It was called Operation Jabidah,  most of the recruits were Muslim from Sulus and some Christian who can speak the Tausug and Sabah dialects. The first training camp of Operation Jabidah  was established in the island of Simunul near Bongao Sulu. And it was named Camp Sophia a beautiful girl from Simunol and apparently the sweetheart of Major Martelino the head of Operation Jabidah.

Main island of Tawi Tawi
North west part of Simunol island
West part of Simunol island
Manuk Manka island

Since Simunul island is very near Sabah where for centuries the people in that area sailed the Sulu Seas without regards to nationality or citizenship, some Malay spies disguising as Sulu natives were able to infiltrate the training camp. After some incidents in that secret training camp, the leader of Operation Jabidah transferred the camp to Corregidor Island located in the entrance of Manila Bay. The mostly Muslim trainees from Sulu together with other Christian were transferred to Corregidor to continue training.

East coast of Corregidor island.

View of the east coast of Corregidor island.

The Malay spies to create dissention in the camp exploited the volatile long training and hardship in Corregidor. After a few months those Muslim trainees of Operation Jabidah want to quit the training and had demanded that they must be sent home to their hometowns in Sulu. According to newspaper that time, The trainees from Sulu were brought to the airstrip in Corregidor and apparently they were told that they will be flown to Sulu. However on that night, the airstrip was surrounded by other troops. Mercilessly those Muslim youth were mowed down by gunfire. However one trainee from Sulu named Jibin Arula, though wounded managed to crawl to a cliff and from there he jump to the sea. 

In the following morning a fisherman from Tanza found him floating in the sea and he brought Jibin Arula to the town mayor of Tanza and was given medical treatment.. Later Jibin Arula was brought to Cavite Governor Montano and then a news conference where the alledged Corregidor was divulged to the world. A Congressional hearing followed which was daily broadcasted in the noon time TV broadcast. As per the media, Jabidah was a secret military operations to recover Sabah, the land owned by the Sultan of Sulu. 

The late Benigno Aquino a Congressman that time went to Sulu and particularly to Siasi where most of the trainees came from. He found out that the names of the missing trainees have no records of birth nor any records that they even existed. Worst thing there is not even a record in the Armed Forces that they were recruited as  trainees. 

Well it was a secret military project like a CIA project where no evidence nor anything to prove that the project even all. On that year was the first known rallies in congress by Muslim students in Manila who came from Mindanao and Sulu, to protest against the Corregidor massacres, I think Nur Misuari  a young Professor of Political Science in UP was there that time.

The secret training ended in fiasco and led to an alleged massacres The alleged Corregidor massacres led to the outcry of Muslim Filipinos for justice and on that year the seeds of  another Muslim revolt was planted.

Ironically the Marcos secret military project Operation Jabidah that was established for the recovery of Sabah, which will benefit the whole Filipino nation particularly our Muslim brothers in the south, became the seeds of Muslim rebellion.

By 1972 during the declaration of Martial Law by Marcos, the Moro National Liberation Front was ready to wage war against the government. From the year 1972 up to the 1980s combatants, the Armed Forces and the Moro guerillas committed untold brutalities. Thousands of civilians in Mindanao, Basilan and Sulus, government soldiers and guerillas were killed in that brutal war. That brutal war was the results of our century-old prejudiced view of our Muslim brothers and sisters. It was the result of the Spanish and American colonial misrule and the past Philippine government neglect of the Muslim Filipinos welfare and education, and respect to their culture.

In the past few years there is a resurgence of the armed conflict in Mindanao but the problem of Mindanao cannot be solved by military might as some in the government would like to believe. Those Muslims or Moros where also Filipinos and not foreign invaders. In our view, peace and stability would be possible only when the people, especially in the grassroots, are deeply and completely healed of their hurts, prejudices and biases. The process will take a long time, perhaps a generation. Our government must take the lead in the healing process, for Muslim and Christian to trust each other and live together, in order to prevent the dismemberment of our country and to have a strong and united Republic.

All the people of Mindanao and Sulu especially our Muslim brothers and sisters should also learn to accept that their beloved island is now a shared land and our heritage, beliefs, and land tie us all together.

Related web site :

A Nation Under Endless Tyranny

A Nation Under Endless Tyranny

Battle of Bud Bagsak in Sulu


The Brief History of the Bangsmoro Struggle




  1. let us helped one another for a better philipines with muslims and christians live with peace and full of respect... thanks for your enlightenment...

  2. that is not jamalul Kiram, that is the true sultan of sulu, the son of Sultan Esmail Kiram, the grandson of Sultan jamalul Kiram II

    The Jamalul Kiram that run for senator is ot a sultan but only a dutu, since his father is Datu Pudjungan the brother of Sultan Esmail Kiram

    the man in the picture is Sultan Muhammad Fuad A. Kiram

  3. It is very UNATIONALISTIC AND UNFILIPINO if each and every Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad gives up on Sabah. Our muslim brothers are seeking our help to take back Sabah from the LAND GRABBERS if even if it would mean BLOODSHED. You can't reclaim a land which is rightfully ours by any peaceful means. The LAND GRABBERS are willing to die for the land that they stole from us. Let each and every Filipino show that we are willing to die and KILL for our beloved motherland. SABAH IS SULU. SULU IS THE PHILIPPINES. THEREFORE, SABAH IS THE PHILIPPINES!

  4. It's time for us to revive our dormant claim to North Borneo(Sabah)!

  5. Jabidah was the name of the secret unit- the Jabidah Forces. The name of the operation was Operation Merdeka.

  6. A certain Col. Abdul Latif martelino was placed under house arrest during the early years of martial law for his alleged connection with thw Jabidah Force.

  7. Sabah is the Philipines unless it will go to the MILF/MNLF(or worse Abu Sayyaf). Dont forget that the Katipunan revolt was also in Mindanao see and greetings from the Netherlands (including Sison in my country, sayang).

  8. Sabah is the Philipines unless it will go to the MILF/MNLF(or worse Abu Sayyaf). Dont forget that the Katipunan revolt was also in Mindanao see and greetings from the Netherlands (including Sison in my country, sayang).

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