The Peace "Bichara"
The beginning of the bichara (This and following photos - Library of Congress)
Posing for a group photograph, Pershing is seen near the center, next to the Sultan of Sulu. Amil and his lieutenants are standing on the right side of the photo. to the left of Pershing are most of the traditional datus of the island.
In an odd dynamic, it was the civilian Americans, in particular Governor General William C. Forbes, rather than the Army who pushed for immediate armed action against Amil and called for a heavy crackdown in Lanao. Even General Wood, then Army Chief of Staff, counseled patience. 8,000 miles away, the Army was stretched thin by guarding the US border to prevent a spillover of violence from the Mexican Revolution and did not want to become bogged down in another intractable conflict in the Philippines. In fact, they wanted to disengage, not deepen, their involvement. Pershing initiated a bichara, or conference, on Jolo in order to see if a peace could be negotiated. He asked the Sultan of Sulu and the venerable Datu Mandi of Zamboanga o act as mediators. But after a few days it bogged down and ended in rancor.
A defiant Amil at the bichara.
An unsatisfactory ending
Pershing stands in the middle, the Sultan to his left. Within a few days an unhappy Sultan would attempt to travel by steamer to Manila to complain about the negotiations to Governor General Forbes. But he would be arrested in Zamboanga and forcibly returned to Jolo. Details of his complaint have been lost. To Pershing's right is Amil and a man thought to be his deputy, Datu Sahipa. Next to Amil is thought to be Lt. James Collins, Pershing's trusted Aide de Camp. The other helmeted Americans are Scout officers.