1915 Carpenter’s Agreement

Today in Philippine history, March 22, 1915, the Sultan of Sulu relinquished his sovereignty over Sulu

On March 22, 1915, the Sultan of Sulu, Hadji Mohammad Jamalul Kiram, in behalf of his adherents and people of the Sulu Archipelago, signed in Zamboanga, a mutual agreement with the Governor General, represented by the governor of the Department of Mindano and Sulu, Frank W. Carpenter, renouncing his sovereignty over the Sulu archipelago.

The Sultan agreed “without any reservation and limitation whatsoever, ratifies and confirms his recognition of the sovereignty of the United States of America, and the exercise by his excellency the Governor General and the representatives of the government in Mindanao and Sulu”.

Prior to American occupation, the Sultanate of Sulu had been for more than 400 years an independent sovereignty. During the later part of the Spanish regime, the Sultanate had partially relinquished the exercise of that sovereignty as to foreign relations and to a lesser degree as concerned the Port of Jolo and the 4 other points occupied by Spanish military garrisons. A temporal sovereignty, partial but nevertheless de facto, existed and was recognized by the Bates Treaty, to which the American authorities, were by that agreement, required to turn over for trial cases “where crimes and offenses are committed by Moros against Moros” (Article IX).

The abrogation of the Bates Treaty by the American President on March 21, 1904, was premised upon other matters than the claims to sovereignty of the Sultan, who subsequently neither by conquest nor otherwise lost or relinquished his claims to sovereignty, until he signed this agreement.

The following is the full text of this agreement as signed in Zamboanga on March 22, 1915:

Whereas the Sultan of Sulu is the titular spiritual head of the Mohammedan Church in the Sulu archipelago, with all the rights and privileges which under the government of the United States of America, may be exercised by such an ecclesiastical authority, and subject to the same limitations which apply to the supreme spiritual heads of all other religions existing in American territory, including the right to solicit and receive voluntary popular contributions for the support of the clergy, rites, and other necessary lawful expenses of an ecclesiastical character.

The Sultan of Sulu, on his own account and in behalf of his adherents and people in the Sultanate of Sulu and elsewhere within American territory, without any reservation and limitation whatsoever, ratifies and confirms his recognition of the sovereignty of the United States of America, and the exercise by his excellency the Governor General and the representatives of that government in Mindanao and Sulu of all the attributes of sovereign government that are exercised elsewhere in American territory and dependencies including the adjudication by government courts or its other duly authorized officers of all civil and criminal causes falling within the laws and order of the Government.

The Sultan of Sulu and his adherents and the people of the Mohammedan faith shall have the same religious freedom had by the adherents of all other religious creeds, the practice of which is not in violation of the basic principles of the laws of the United States of America.

In testimony of the above mutual understanding we, the undersigned, the governor of the Department of Mindanao and Sulu and the Sultan of Sulu, do hereby affix our signatures in permanent record thereof.

HADJI MOHAMMAD JAMALUL KIRAM
Sultan of Sulu

F. W. CARPENTER
Department Governor

Witnesses to above:

  1. Dato Rajamuda
  2. Peter E. Traub
    Colonel, United States Army, District Chief, Philippine Constabulary
  3. Hadji Butu
    Special Assistant to the Provincial Governor of Sulu.
  4. Dato Mohammad
  5. Isidro Vamenta
    Department Secretary
  6. Abdullah Awang
    Secretary to the Sultan
  7. Ponciano Reyes
    Department Attorney
  8. Hadji Mohammad
  9. Guy N. Rohrer
    Governor of Sulu
  10. Panglima Tahil
  11. H. Gulamu Rasul
    Aid-de-camp of the Department Governor

I hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true copy of its original.

ISIDRO VAMENTA
Deparment Seretary

(Here follows the vernacular version, which was signed by the same parties.)

Zamboanga, March 22, 1915.

Sources:

  1. Annual report of the Secretary of War, Volume 3 (Chief of the Insular Affairs, Government of Porto Rico, Philippine Commissioon), United States War Department, Annual Report 1916, Government Printing Office, 1917.

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