Tausugs march to demand independence of Sultanate of Sulu from Philippines
text & photos HADER GLANG
A contingent of United Tausug Citizens led by Datu Ladjamura Bin Datu Wasik (5th photo below, center) march through the main thoroughfares in the capital town of Jolo, Sulu to demand the independence of Sultanate of Sulu and its people from the Philippines.
The demonstration came few weeks after a group of Tausug international and local lawyers of North Borneo (Sabah), Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, Zamboanga Peninsula and Palawan submitted an international case demanding for independence of Sulu Sultanate and its citizens.
Waving the 1718th century flags of Sultanate of Sulu and carrying posters that read "Independence of Sultanate of Sulu", "We are Tausug not Filipino", the demonstrators marched through Jolo's main thoroughfares and gathered outside the capital town's mosque.
"Mabaya kami biyaun kumila in katan hulah kamuh. Mabaya kami mag independent na sin hulah," Datu Ladjamura Bin Datu Wasik, head of the United Tausug Citizens, told reporters in his vernacular, urging the international community to recognize the Tausugs and their sovereignty.
Datu Wasik, a legatee of the Sulu Sultanate's "Second Heir Apparent" Maharajah Adinda Raja Muda Bantilan, spearheaded the demonstration. He said although Tausugs respect the Philippine constitution, they still demand for full recognition of Sultanate of Sulu.
"We have created our flag to show to the whole world that we have government, territory, people and sovereignty. So we're not Filipinos neither Moros nor Malays, we are Tausugs, and our Sultanate is based on Islamic Shariah," he stressed.
Brazeem Bin Ladjaraji, senior member of United Tausug Citizens, explained that the red color in the Sultanate of Sulu flag symbolizes the heroism of Tausugs who depended their freedom while the blue, white, and yellow colors stand for progress, justice and unity, respectively.
The five stars symbolize, Sulu/Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Zamboanga Peninsula, Palawan and North Borneo/Sabah. The Kalis sword symbolizes Al Marhom Sultan Alimuddin I - First Heir Apparent of Sultanate of Sulu while the Budjak sphere represents Al Marhom Sultan Maizzuddin - Second Heir Apparent of Sultanate of Sulu.
The Sultanate of Sulu was a Muslim state that ruled over many of the islands of the Sulu Sea in the southern Philippines. Shari'ful Hashem Syed Abu Bakr, an Arab born in Johore, arrived in Sulu from Malacca.
In 1457, he founded the Sultanate of Sulu; he then renamed himself "Paduka Maulana Mahasari Sharif Sultan Hashem Abu Bakr". Currently, the issue of who would be the legitimate Sultan of Sulu is disputed by several branches of the Royal Family.
Datu Wasik proposes that in order to resolve this issue, the Tausugs should restore first the Sultanate of Sulu and then the people would install later their Sultan.
"What we need now not the Sultan because right now, the Tausugs do not recognize the Sultanate, they must recognize it first. Then the people would decide later on who would be their Sultan after they have restored back their government," he said.
Attorney Meltino Jaujan Sibulan, who serves as lawyer for Sultanate of Sulu, its Court and people, said the march and rally spearheaded by the United Tausug Citizens signaled the start of its governance, which is dormant for 602 years.
Sibulan appealed to the governments of the Republic of the Philippines and the Federal States of Malaysia to talk or negotiate to the Sultanate of Sulu so that the issue of sovereignty would be resolved in perpetuity.
"We, the Tausug people of the Sultanate of Sulu are the same people, who like you during the British occupation of Malaysia, which like Filipinos during the occupation of Spain, America and Japan, who then wished for independence and national identity," he said.
"And now the Tausugs do the same, wish for independence and national identity. This is their sovereignty, which you exercise. We renounce war, denounce terrorism and adhere to the generally accepted principle of international law as part of the law of Sulu Sultanate," he said.
"We call on you and the international community, particularly the United Nation (UN), Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), European Union (EU) and all other bodies to help settle the issue on sovereignty with respect to the territory of the Sultanate of Sulu," he said.
Historically, according to him, the Tausug since November 17, 1405 started as a state, where no Moro and Filipino yet, and that the Sultanate of Sulu existed as an independent and sovereign state until 1578 when Spaniards attempted to conquer it.
As an independent, no country or other countries controlled this kingdom or empire. No Americans yet, no Spain yet, no Portugal yet, no British yet, no Holland yet, Netherland yet has ever conquered or controlled this empire of Sulu Sultanate, according to Sibulan.
He furthered "This is what we call historical right, the basis of the legal right of the Tausug and the evidence that is under the law; it is an established fact already. This is of judicial notice. The whole world knew that Sulu Sultanate existed 14th century ago and never been conquered."
Showing a birth certificate of Tausug citizen, Sibulan said the propriety or legality of issuing the document is recognition by the Tausug of their government and national identity that they are Tausug, not a Moro not Filipino or Sahabans of Sabah but a citizen of Sultanate of Sulu.
He explained: "This is an internal matter of the state which others states have no concerned or this is an internal matter which the Sultanate of Sulu has jurisdiction and the legality of this document is from the view point of internal law, the Sultanate of Sulu has never been vanished or lost."
"Because so long as there is a Tausug, this kingdom exists. The kingdom existed because there is still Tausug. If Tausug for instance, bringing this document to the State of Sabah, they could not be deported to the Philippines because they are not Filipino citizens," he said.
"So whether they will respect this or not it's up to them, but as far as the international law is concerned they should respect this legal document because this is not their citizens but people of the Sultanate of Sulu," he concluded. (HG)