Home Stories Pres. Duterte reminds us of 1906 Bud Dajo Massacre

Pres. Duterte reminds us of 1906 Bud Dajo Massacre


On March 7, 1906, US troops under the command of Major General Leonard Wood massacred as many as 1,000 Filipino Muslims, known as Moros, who were taking refuge at Bud Dajo, a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo in the southern Philippines.


US soldiers pose with the bodies of Moro insurgents, Philippines, 1906

The First Battle of Bud Dajo, also known as the Bud Dajo Massacre, was a counter insurgency action fought by the United States Army against Moros in March 1906, during the Moro Rebellion phase of the Philippine–American War. After the United States revoked the Bates Treaty in March 1904, the Moros renewed their resistance to American authority. This took form of sporadic violence and refusal to pay taxes. The Governor of Moro Province, Major General Leonard Wood, had been unsuccessful in efforts to pacify the insurgents in Jolo Island. Consequently, Moro attacks became more frequent, and the insurgents came to believe that the Americans were too weak to stop them.

In response to rumors that the Americans planned to exterminate them, several hundred Moros, including women and children, moved to Bud Dajo, where legend held that spirits at the site would help warriors in times of need. Bud Dajo, the crater of an extinct volcano, is about six miles from the city of Jolo. Rising some 2,100 feet with steep, heavily jungled slopes, it was accessible only by three narrow paths. As such, it provided an easily defender position and was well stocked with provisions.

When negations between several friendly datus (chiefs) and hostile Moros failed to bring about the surrender of the insurgents, Wood commenced a campaign on March 5, 1906, to end the standoff at Bud Dajo. He sent U.S. and Philippine Constabulary troops under colonel Joseph W. Duncan to put down the insurgents. Meanwhile, another attempt to negotiate ended in failure on March 6. As their artillery bombarded Bud Dajo to weaken resistance, the attackers hacked their way through the dense jungle and up the slope. On the evening of March 6, Duncan’s men paused midway up the mountain and bivouacked for the night. In the darkness, Moro drums and chanting could be heard from the crate, while Moro snipers periodically fired at the troops.

The following day, the advance up the summit continued as American artillery fired ineffectively at the defenders. On March 7, while taking heavy casualties, many of the Moros feigned death and then attempted to ambush Duncan’s forces when they neared the top of the mountain. The Americans troops then attacked the cottas (forts) and the other Moro positions, taking Bud Dajo on March 8. Once the outer rim has been secured, artillery and machine guns were employed. As Wood reported: “ All the defenders were killed as near as could be counted”.

In the battle, 18 Americans lost their lives, and another 52 were wounded. Wood estimated the number of enemy dead at 600, including women and children, although some estimates ran as high as 900. Corpses were piled five deep, and many of the bodies were wounded multiple times. Only seven were captured, three women and four children. Eighteen men escaped from the mountain, and it is possible this number could have been double. Wood censored the telegrams from Jolo describing the casualties.

Although U.S. authorities considered the Battle of Bud Dajo to be a significant victory and commended Wood for his actions, some in the U.S. press viewed it a little more than a massacre, particularly given the deaths of so many noncombatants. Moro practice was for warriors to take their wives and children with them, but some in the press said that Wood should merely laid siege to the mountain. Wood’s friend, Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, sent him a congratulatory telegram, and Secretary of War William Howard Taft also approved.

In response to criticism, Wood’s explanation of the high number of women and children killed stated that the women of Bud Dajo dressed as men and joined in the combat, and that the men used children as living shields. A second explanation was given by the Governor-General of the Philippines, Henry Clay Ide, who reported that the women and children were collateral damage, having been killed during the artillery barrages. These conflicting explanations of the high number of women and child casualties brought accusations of a cover-up, adding to the criticism.

The controversy soon died down, as local datus and the sultan of Sulu, religious leader of the region, believed that the action at Bud Dajo would bring about long-term stability. Unfortunately, Moro resistance continued, leading to another Bud Dajo Campaign in 1911 and the Battle of Bud Bagsak in June 1913.

Duterte reminds US of Bud Dajo massacre

WHAT was President Rodrigo Duterte referring to when he said that the United States of America has not even apologized to the Philippines for its atrocities during the turn of the century when at least 600 Moro people were killed in the US’ pacification campaign.

Duterte spewed out a tirade of historical extra-judicial killings when asked by a Reuters reporter about discussing extra-judicial killings (EJKs) with US president Barack Obama.

“Who is he? When as a matter of fact at the turn of the century, before the Americans left, the Philippines, in the pacification campaign of the Moro in this island, there were around 6M ang population ng Moro, how many died? Six hundred. If you can answer this question and give an apology, I will answer him,” Duterte said.

Duterte was referring to the Battle of Bud Daho in 1906 in the island of Jolo.

It was in December 1898 when the US signed a treaty with Spain, acquiring the Philippines for $20-million. The Filipinos, however, refused the takeout and they waged a war.

On July 4, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over after successfully subjugating the insurrectionist Filipino forces, and in his own proclamation said, “except in the country inhabited by the Moro tribes, to which this proclamation does not apply.”

The Moro Province was created in 1903 comprising the southern Mindanao and the Sulu islands. Unlike the other provinces, the Moro Province was to be staffed by US Army officers, simply because US believed the Moro Province was backward and need to be civilized and educated on democracy.

The Americans capitalized on the tribal divisions of the Moro Province and subdued them that way. Except those in Jolo. Despite three years of persuasion by Woods, the leader of the Jolo tribes refused to recognize the US as the ruler of the country.

In 1906, hearing words that the Americans were going to invade, the Jolo people fled to the 15-acre wooded crater of Bud Dajo, an extinct volcano, believing that the spirits of the volcano will protect them.

March 5, 1906, Woods ordered his officers to gather 800 of his men from the 6th and 19th Infantry, the 4th Cavalry, the 28th Artillery Battery, the Sulu Constabulary, and sailors from the gunboat Pampanga, led by Colobnel Duncan to Jolo.

They were armed with mountain guns, rifles, bayonets, fast-firing pistols and grenades.

When negotiations for the Moro people who sought refuge in Bud Dajo failed, they attacked.

The Moro warriors were armed with kris, barongs, and spears. The attack ended by March 7, 1906, with not one Moro standing, women and children among them.

The Americans lost two dozen men and some seventy wounded. It was a complete massacre.

The “victory” that was earlier celebrated in the US was immediately tainted with shame after the US Congress realized there were women and children among the dead.

“The PH is not a vassal state, we have long ceased to be a colony of the US. Alam mo, maraming diyang mga columnista they look upon Obama and the US as we are the lapdogs of this country. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. Wala akong pakialam sa kanya. Who is he to confront me, as a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for the misdeeds in this country,” Duterte said.