The Kiram-Bates Treaty

Bates Treaty: A Deadly Trick?

Gen. John C. Bates

The United States send Brigadier General John C. Bates to negotiate a treaty with Sultan Jamalul Kiram II after US President William McKinley had a second thought on validity of the treaty and Spain’s claimed sovereignty over Mindanao.  Add the armed Moros which made the situation threatening. For more than a month of diplomacy and refinement in the conditions, Jamalul Kiram II signed the treaty on 20 August 1899. The treaty was known as the Kiram-Bates Treaty. 15 articles were included in it and confirmed by the President of the United States on April 1900. Both parties disputed the interpretations. The Sultan wanted the recognition of Bangsamoro State as different from Revolutionary Government formed by Gen. Aguinaldo.

America applied different strategy to handle the Moros. Ranging from military, politics, social, economic and educational. US troops poured in Jolo, Palawan, Cotabato, Polloc, Parang, and Banganga in 1899. The Military District of Mindanao was created under the command of General John C. Bates. The command was relinquished to Brigadier General William Kobbe on 20 March 1900 and to Brigadier General Samul Sumner in 1902.

By virtue of 1903 Moro Act(6), the Military District became Moro Province with Major General Wood as the first Governor. From there on various laws were implemented until 1919 including the Torrens land titling system which was unknown to Moros and Lumads thereby depriving them of their ancestral lands which in  favor to  the settlers and multinational companies to acquire vast lands.

The creation of Moro Province provided the America to manipulate the Moro Land which is a violation of Kiram-Bates Treaty.The America wanted to prepare the integration and assimilation of Moros into body politics. The Governor enforced Custom Regulations, Tax Levy, land survey, mapping, and exploration of natural resources.1st Lt. Horace M. Reeve, 23rd Infantry (right), escorts the Sultan (on horseback, carrying a dark-colored parasol) from Asturias Gate to the signing ceremony. The Sultan, who has ridden for three hours from Maibun, is accompanied by a substantial entourage

In United States, President McKinley was shot by an anarchist on 06 September 1901 and Theodore Roosevelt took oath as new President(7).On 02 March 1904, President Roosevelt declared the Kiram-Bates Treaty null and void. Governor Wood, informed Sultan Kiram on 21 March 1904 of the decision. The abrogation of treaty enabled the America to shift from Military to Civilian Rule.

General Wood was relieved by Brigadier General Tasker Bliss on 16 April 1906 and Brigadier General  John C. Pershing on November 1909 until the creation of Department of Mindanao and Sulu. General Pershing was responsible for the first Christian settlers in Mindanao in 1912 and the implementation of Disarmament Policy.

Source: The Mindanao Problem by Christopher Jay M. De Belen

Posted in The Bates Treaty  by lupahsug on June 14, 2009

The Bates Treaty of 1899


Conditional Agreement Between Brig.-General John C. Bates,

Representing the United States, and the Sultan of Jolo (Sulu)

August 20, 1899

Sultan Jamalul Kiram II in 1914Between Brigadier-General John C. Bates, representing the United States, of the one part; and his Highness, the Sultan of Jolo, the Dato Rajah Muda, the Dato Attik, The Dato Calbi, and the Dato Joakanain, of the other part: it being understood that this agreement will be in full force only when approved by the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands and confirmed by the President of the United States, and will be subject to future modifications by the mutual consent of the parties in interest.

Article I.

The sovereignty of the United States over the whole Archipelago of Jolo, and its dependencies, is declared and acknowledged.

Article II.

The United States flag will be used in the Archipelago of Jolo, and its dependencies, on land and sea.

Article III.

The rights and dignities of His Highness the Sultan, and his Datos, shall be fully respected; the Moros are not to be interfered with on account of their religion; all religious customs are to be respected, and no one is to be persecuted on account of his religion.

Article IV.

While the United States government may occupy and control such points in the Archipelago of Jolo as the public interests demand, encroachment will not be made upon the lands immediately about the residence of His Highness the Sultan, unless military necessity requires such occupation in case of war with a foreign power; and, where the property of individuals is taken, due compensation will be made in each case.

Any person can purchase land in the Archipelago of Jolo and hold the same by obtaining the consent of the Sultan and coming to satisfactory agreement with the owner of the land, and such purchase shall immediately be registered in the proper office of the United States Government.

Article V.

All trade in domestic products of the Arrchipelago of Jolo, when carried on by the Sultan and his people with any part of the Philippine Islands, and when conducted under the American flag, shall be free, unlimited, and undutiable.

Seated from left is Hadji Butu, the Sultan’s principal advisor, the Rajah Muda, the Sultan’s brother and heir apparent, General Bates, and an Arab advisor to the Sultan.

Article VI.

The Sultan of Jolo shall be allowed to communicate direct with the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands in making complaint against the Commanding Officer of Jolo or against any Naval Commander.

Article VII.

The introduction of firearms and war material is forbidden, except under specific authority of the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands.

Article VIII.

Piracy must be suppressed and the Sultan and his Datos agree to heartily cooperate with the United States authorities to that end, and to make every possible effort to arrest and bring to justice all persons engaged in piracy.

Article IX.

Where crimes and offenses are committed by Moros against Moros, the government of the Sultan will bring to trial and punishment the criminals and offenders, who will be delivered to the government of the Sultan by the United States authorities if in their possession. In all other cases persons charged with crimes or offenses will be delivered to the United States authorities for trial and punishment.

Article X.

Any slave in the Archipelago of Jolo shall have the right to purchase freedom by paying to the master the usual market value.

Datu Calbi on horseback with Charlie Schuck

Article XI.

In case of any trouble with subjects of the Sultan, the American authorities in the islands will be instructed to make careful investigation before resorting to harsh measures, as in most cases serious trouble can thus be avoided.

Article XII.

At present, American or foreigners wishing to go into the country should state their wishes to the Moro authorities and ask for an escort, but it is hoped that this will become unnecessary as we know each other better.

Article XIII.

The United States will give full protection to the Sultan and his subjects in case any foreign nation should attempt to impose upon them.

Article XIV.

The United States will not sell the island of Jolo or any other island of the Jolo Archipelago to any foreign nation without the consent of the Sultan of Jolo.

Article XV.

The United States government will pay the following monthly salaries:

To the Sultan $250.00(Mexican dollars)

To Dato Rajah Muda $ 75.00

To Dato Attik $ 60.00

To Dato Calbi $ 75.00

To Dato Joakanain $ 75.00

To Dato Amin Hussin $ 60.00

To Dato Puyo $ 60.00

To Hadji Butu $ 50.00

To Hadji Mura $ 10.00

To Serif Saguin $ 15.00

Signed in triplicate, in English and Sulu, at Jolo, this 20th day of August, A.D. 1899 (13 Arabmil Ahil 1317).


John C. Bates,

    Brigadier General, United States Volunteers


Hadji Mohammed Jamalol Kiram

    Sultan of Jolo


Datu Rajah Muda

Datu Attik

Datu Kalbi

    Datu Joakanain

Source of Treaty Texts: The Statutes At Large of the United States of America from March 1897 to March 1899 and Recent Treaties, Conventions, Executive Proclamations, and The Concurrent Resolutions of the Two Houses of Congress, Volume XXX, published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1899. Copy courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, Asian Division.

Document copy researched by Madge Kho of Somerville, MA

source: Philippine-American War Documents


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