The Sultanate of Sulu
Founded in 1405 by Sultan Shariful Hashim Abubakar, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through Sayidina Hussein, it was recognized by the contemporary sovereign nations, including China, Brunei, Turkey, U.K., USA, Portugal, Holland, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Germany, Spain, etc until the death of the last Sultan Mohammad Jamalul Kiram II in 1936.
The Sultanate of Sulu was partially colonized by the Spanish for a brief period but managed to recover and resist Spanish subjugation in the over 300 years of war of attrition.
"Sold" by Spain to the USA in the infamous 1898 Treaty of Paris for $20 million along with the conquered territory of the Philippine islands, the Sultanate and its people were not even aware of the transaction. Sulu was colonized by the Americans although earlier recognized and respected as a sovereign entity as enshrined in the 1899 Kiram-Bates Treaty in which the Americans pledged not to "sell or transfer" the rights of the Sultanate to other nations.
But in violation of the above provision of the Treaty, the Americans transferred the colonization of the Sultanate of Sulu to the Philippines in 1946, without due process. Feeling deceived by the Americans, the Muslims consequently protested and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) tried to suppress all forms of dissents that almost amounted to genocide. This led to the formation of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1972, after martial law was declared purposely to legalize the total suppression of all forms of dissent in which around 150,000 Moros were killed in the process. But the Moro people fought back to dismantle all forms of oppression until the demise of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.
The MNLF was organized with the unified support of all the Moro peoples throughout Mindanao and Sulu as an Independence Movement. However, upon the interference or advise of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), the MNLF was convinced to accept a mere Autonomy without even seeking the mandate of the broad masses of the Moro and Bangsa Sug peoples.
Thirty four years to-date, since the signing of the Tripoli Agreement, said Autonomy still remains a dream and the basic problems confronting the internally displaced people were not even addressed. From the original 13 provinces to comprsing the Autonomous Government, what remains to be implemented are only five (5)! And yet, implementation is not being felt by the grassroots of the Moro people, if any. For that matter, the Sultanate of Sulu, which is the most badly damaged area in the course of the MNLF war of liberation, has decided to take over the cudgels of the struggle for self-determination and independence. With its sovereign entity being only colonized by the USA and Philippines, it is seeking to avail of the UN De-colonization Statute of 1960 for the Granting of Independence to Colonial Peoples.
The Sultanate of Sulu has decided to declare its independence and the reinstitution of its sovereign status on November 17, 2010 in Jolo, Sulu, the capital city of the once prosperous Sulu kingdom; through legal process and non-violent approach.
The Sultanate of Sulu does not include Mindanao, which is under the Sultanate of Magindanao, now being under negotiation between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the GRP.
The provinces that comprise the Sultanate of Sulu are: Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Palawan and part of the Zamboanga peninsula. (The status of Sabah as part of the Sulu Sultanate is still being held in abeyance)
The Assets of the Sultanate stashed in several Banks worldwide, both in US Dollars cash and in Gold Bar Accounts is worth in Trillions of US Dollars. Beneath the Sulu Sea is believed to contain one of the largest deposits of Black Gold in the world. Many other resources including natural gas and petroleum-based products are said to be abundant in various parts of the Sulu Archipelago.
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
The MNLF officially came into being after the declaration by President Ferdinand Marcos of martial law in 1972, as a vehicle for Independence of the Bangsamoro Republic that would comprise the whole island of Mindanao and the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan. The unified forces of the Bangsamoro people under the MNLF fought tooth and nail in 1973 that sent a chilling signal to both the military and political leaders of the Philippine Republic, forcing Marcos to send his wife Imelda as emissary to President Muammar Khaddafi of Libya, who was then the main supporter of the MNLF, to sue for peace. Faced by the formidable Bangsamoro Army at the battle front and the prospect of going bankrupt due to high cost of war, Fortunato Abat, the Commanding General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines admitted in his book, "The Day We Almost Lost Mindanao", that they were already on the verge of defeat when the MNLF accepted the offer for peace negotiation and ceasefire. The battle over the negotiation table reversed the situation as the MNLF accepted Autonomy that signaled the disintegration of the Front into several factions. Today, the MNLF have five factions to the delight of the enemy. For that reason, the GRP is dilly-dallying the implementation of the Agreements as there is no more pressure on them. Militarily, the MNLF is also badly fragmented that it can hardly count a battalion strength officially by any of the factions. Although during encounters, the armed civilians are still a force to reckon with that create havoc upon the enemy with their tenacity and inborn fighting ability.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is a splinter group of the MNLF that was formed in 1979 by responsible MNLF officers from mainland Mindanao who opposed the capitulation of the MNLF from Independence to Autonomy. Later on, they invited former colleagues from the island provinces of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi and Palawan who were disgruntled with the MNLF to join them. Therefore, the MILF is dominated by Moro freedom fighters from mainland Mindanao. They initially struggled to maintain independence as their goal. But after they realized the demographic situation brought about by the massive resettlement of non-Muslims in their midst, in which they are losing much of their ancestral domain to land grabbing cases fully aided by the state, they seemed to be softening their stand to claim just what they call Bangsamoro Juridical Entity or Moro Ancestral Domain, a pocket of Muslim concentrations amidst Christian-dominated areas.
Historical facts that abound in archives of many older nations are favorable to the Sultanate of Sulu's claim for 'decolonization and re-institutionâ€™ of its sovereign entity. A number of non-governmental organizations in Europe, the West and other oparts of the world, including some learned officials of the United States of America , have signified their support for the independence of the Sultanate of Sulu. China is also highly supportive, though unofficially at the moment, because one of the Sulu Sultans who died during an official visit to China is buried there. Some historical records also show high level contacts between Turkey and Sulu between the 17th and 19th centuries. Filipino, Malaysian and American historians and academicians also have expressed concurrence to and others have written many facts about the veracity of the inalienable rights of the Sultanate of Sulu to national self-determination and independence, including that of not having been conquered by any foreign invaders.