PAYBACK time, so it seemed.
This, when President Rodrigo Duterte unreeled before newsmen, on the eve of his departure for the Asean Summit this week in Laos, what he described as extrajudicial killings in the country’s far south by Americans in the 20th century rollover.
The President was giving context to his reaction to reporters’ queries in the event US President Barack Obama would raise the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines less than 100 days after he assumed the presidency on June 30.
Duterte, the first head of state from Mindanao where the extrajudicial killings occurred during the pacification campaign on the Muslim dominated island, replied to questions:
“Who is he [Obama]? At the turn of the century, before the Americans left the Philippines, there were 600 Moros who died. If you (sic) can answer this question and apologize, I will answer him [the US President],” Duterte said.
Duterte was referring to the Battle of Bud Dajo in 1906, when US Commander Woods ordered his officers to gather 800 of his men from the 6th and 19th Infantry, the 4th Cavalry, the 28th Artillery Battery, the Sulu Constabulary, and sailors from the gunboat Pampanga led by Col. Duncan to proceed to Jolo.
According to Duterte, the Americans were armed with mountain guns, rifles, bayonets, fast-firing pistols and grenades while the Moros, who sought refuge in Bud Dajo, were armed with just kris, baromngs and spears.
The Moros were ruthlessly wiped out.
And then Duterte, his usual defiant self, said “The Philippines is not a vassal state, we have long ceased to be a colony of the US...I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines.
“Who is he (Obama) to confront me. As a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country.”
It was in 1898 when Washington signed a treaty with Madrid, under which the Philippines was acquired for $20 million, but the Filipinos refused the takeout and waged a war.
On July 4, 1902, US President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over after subjugating the insurrectionist Filipino forces, and in his own proclamation said, “except in the country inhabited by the Moro tribes, to which this proclamation does not apply.”
The Moro Province was created in 1903, comprising the southern Mindanao and the Sulu islands.
Unlike the other provinces, the Moro Province was to be staffed by US Army officers, simply because Washington believed the Moro Province was backward and needed to be civilized and educated on democracy.
The Americans capitalized on the tribal divisions of the Moro Province and subdued them that way.
Except those in Jolo. Despite three years of persuasion by Woods, the leader of the Jolo tribes refused to recognize the US as the ruler of the country.
In 1906, hearing words that the Americans were going to invade, the Jolo people fled to the 15-hectare wooded crater of Bud Dajo, an extinct volcano, believing that the spirits of the volcano would protect them.
The “victory” earlier celebrated in the US was immediately tainted with shame after the US Congress realized there were women and children among the dead.
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