The Tausug, as a historic people should have representation in Congress: Shernee A. Tan (Kusug Tausug)
ZAMBOANGA CITY – Some 300 people have attended the 1st Tausug Summit held recently in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines. The delegates were mostly from all sectors of the Tausug society from the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi- Tawi; and the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The summit touched on wide-ranging issues as introspection of the Tausug as a historic people vis-à-vis the current situation. The discussions and deliberations were more on the passionate rhetoric on the glorious past of the Tausug bringing into fore the call for the restoration of the Sultanate.
The summit’s keynote speaker, Shernee A. Tan, who is the president of the KusugTausug movement, offered the most practical alternative and legally feasible option – while awaiting resolution – to the issue of the sultanate which was raised during the event.
“We are setting our eyes on a larger picture; that of our people who are scattered all over the Philippines or toiling in foreign lands. They are inclusive to the humble efforts we are pursuing,” Tan, youngest daughter of Vice Governor Sakur M. Tan, said in her speech.
Tan expounded further and cited old protocols and agreements documenting the territory of the Sulu Archipelago, in particular the Madrid Protocol of 1885 which sets territorial domain of sovereign Sulu.
“The Archipelago of Sulu ( Jolo), conformably to the definition contained in Article I of the treaty signed September 23rd, 1846, between the Spanish Government and the Sultan of Sulu, comprises all the islands which are found between the western extremity of the island of Mindanao on the one, and the continent of Borneo and the Island of Paragua (the old name of Palawan) on the other side, with the exception of those which are indicated in Article III. It is understood that the Islands of Balabac and of Cagayan-Jolo form part of the archipelago.”
“We are not out to reclaim the old territory and we recognize the present political and geographical delineation,” Tan said.
She said that the KusugTausug, while recognizing any legal rights of any quarters, is more concern on the state and condition of the Tausug who are residing in many parts of the Philippines and toiling in foreign lands.
She said that while the Tausug is represented through the congressional districts of the component provinces of the ARMM or through their respective local government units, they will have no half-way institutions to make representations for them when they are outside of particularized areas.
“Hindi po naming sinasabi na ang mga lokal na pamahalaan na kanilang kinaroroonan ay hindi kayang ipagtanggol o ipaglaban ang kanilang mga karapatan, subali’t higit pong mapagtutuunan sila ng pansin if they have a representative of their own aside from the ones we mentioned, which are limited in scope,” Tan said.
In reply to questions during an open forum, Tan said that during the socalled Zamboanga siege in 2013, majority of those who were in the evacuation centers were Tausug and those who were in the local government, civic organizations and ordinary citizens in Sulu did their very best to send immediate assistance in any form and way possible to their brethren.
“Such a situation adds credence to the clamor that the Tausug should be represented and attended to wherever fortune may take them,” she said.
Shernee A. Tan, president of the Kusug Tausug movement.