Philippine Policy Towards Sabah
A Claim to Independence

by Lela Noble
University of Arizona Press, 1977

page 32.

"At present, your rights as a nation are nothing ...We had war with Spain and took from her many places and we bought from her the Philippine Islands, and included in the Philippines were the Sulu Islands, down to Borneo . . . Not including Borneo." Wood told the Sultan when the Sultan sought his help to get his monthly payments from the British which  were not coming on a regular basis.

"The Sultan, unconvinced, shifted his arguments.  Not only did his internal sovereignty over Sulu remain intact, he contended, but his sovereignty over his possession had never been impaired."

"The Carpenter Agreement, designed to end all debate, settled firmly the sultan's pretensions to internal sovereignty, but ignored most o this other claims. Consequently there were more negotiations.  In May 1919, the Sultan and his "co-heirs" renounced all their rights of temporal sovereignty "formerly pertaining to the Sultanate of Sulu within the Philippine Islands and temporal jurisdiction of the United States of America," and specifically their claims to land.  In return the American government granted them land which they were to hold as private citizens and promised the Sultan."

This letter further states:

"It is necessary, however, that there be clearly of official record the fact that the termination of the temporal sovereignty of the Sultanate of Sulu within American territory is understood to be wholly. without prejudice or effect as to the temporal sovereignty and ecclesiastical authority of the Sultanate beyond the jurisdiction of the U.S. government, especially with reference to the portion of the island of Borneo which as a dependency of the Sultanate of Sulu is understood to be held under lease by the chartered company which is known as the "British North Borneo Government..."

Noble continues:

"The kind of support Carpenter had in mind is clarified only somewhat by a cable sent by Vice Governor Yeater to the Secretary of War in DC on June 25, 1919. Concerned over an attempt by the leader of the Japanese community in Jolo to arrange for the Sultan to receive a Japanese admiral, Yeater urged all foreign nations to be informed of the Sultan's renunciation of all pretentions to temporal sovereignty within the Philippines, yet cautioned:

"We must however, insist with Great Britain that British North Borneo Co. continue respect and carry out agreement with the sultan to receive annual payment from that chartered company under lease of sovereignty to Sandakan district which is dependency of Sultanate of Sulu. This is essential to the U.S. government in compelling Sultan carry out his agreement with us."

Noble continues:

The promise to the Sultan was a cheap one. The US had defined Sultan's status within its territories.  Outside its territories, it had no jurisdiction and little information . . .


The document quoted by Noble:

Act No. 2722 of the Philippine Legislature and Papers relating to the Renunciation of Land Rights by the Sultan of Sulu and His Direct Heirs," No. 62, No. 63.

[ Note: This article was researched and contribution by Madge Kho.]

Copyright ©1998.All rights reserved
Philippine-American War CentennialInitiative (PAWCI)