In 1920 120 Sultans and 30 Datus belonging to the Pat Pangampong Ranao (the Confederation of Sultanates of Lanao) wrote the United States President requesting that should the U.S. government eventually make the Philippines a Commonwealth and then a Republic, Lanao as a Province choses not to be part of it. They still would like to be part of the U.S.-perhaps as a State or a Protectorate. The reason behind this strange request is very simple-the Pat Pangampong Ranao is fully aware that the eventual Philippine Republic to be formed at that time would be a Unitary set-up, something which the Confederation does not like, since the Confederation is a Federal set-up-and only a Federal Government like the United State of America could understand another Federal government, hence the request.
Another option which they presented (should the U.S. reject the first option) was that the Sultanates be considered a separate Nation from the Philippines, to be known as the Bangsamoro-again for obvious reasons-they want to be a Federal Nation not a Unitary one. This is because the Pangampong Ranao had a highly decentralized form of government unlike the Sulu and Maguindanao Sultanates.
As history will show such requests has been denied. Much to the frustration of the Lanao Confederation. The move of the Pangampong was known as the “Dansalan Declaration”.
In 1935, Iligan City, was the only City in the Country which did not signed the 1935 Constitution. The reason behind this is because our Lone Delegate to the 1935 Constitutional Assembly, Senator Tomas Lluisma Cabili, wanted a Federal set-up for our Country while the rest of the other 221 delegates wanted a Unitary set-up-which was largely championed by then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon.
Tomas Cabili thundered his opposition to a Unitary set up-on several grounds- that it would make Malacanang very powerful and therefore become dictatorial, he knew that a Unitary set-up would dissipate the economic advantages of Iligan and the Lanao provinces-which is the source of abundant water and power and that the 1935 Constitution only protected the rights of the Christian majority but not the Muslims and the Lumads-it showed no respect for their culture and values as a people.
Tomas Cabili argued for almost half a day in the august assembly, citing that since the envisioned 1935 Constitution was patterned after America, then we should be a Federal set-up-a position which was turned down by the majority. For him human dignity can only come when there is subsidiarity-a time honored principle of the Catholic faith.
His parting words to the assembly after he argued his case was very prophetic:
“Gentlemen of this august constitutional assembly, Mr. Senate President…. if you make this Government and this Constitution a Unitary set-up-there will be war in Mindanao!”
And that was 1935.
Tomas Cabili was a student and an honored member of the Pat Pangampong Ranao, where he was proudly enthroned by the Maranao Tribe as Sultan Dimasangkay or the Great Sultan.
Today we have proven that the wisdom of the Lone delegate from Lanao is true.
And the rest is history.
Truly the seeds of Federalism was born in Lanao.
And if only Iligan and Lanao knew its history, we could have been part of the historic signing at Malacanang between our Government and the MILF last October 16, 2012. That GRP-MILF signing prove the wisdom of Iligan in 1935. We have gone full circle back to our original position-at the cost of so much lives and properties. This Nation should have listened to Iligan and Lanao.
Maayung Iligan!! (May Iligan be a blessing to you!!)
Source: ( http://www.federalphilippines.com/the-lanao-provinces-the-birthplace-of-federalism-in-the-philippines/ ) Written by Aji Garbanzos