Feb 16

Opening Remarks at the MacArthur and Laurel Perspectives of the War Years

Opening Remarks

At the MacArthur and Laurel

Perspectives of the War Years

Muralla Ballroom, The Bayleaf Hotel

Intramuros, Manila

February 16, 2015


It pains me deeply not to be able to join you today; a personal invitation from Mrs. Laurel is something I always look forward to. Our families are bound by the strong ties of affection; I myself am an admirer of the great senator Sotero H. Laurel, whose contributions, as a statesman and educator, added luster to the Laurel name, a name indivisible from the concepts of patriotism, statesmanship, and valor in service of the country.

I was also looking forward to meeting James Zobel, who has been very kind to my office in terms of helping us in our pursuit of historical documents through the MacArthur Memorial.

Let me say this: The 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila and the forthcoming anniversary of the end of the war have brought an outpouring of memory, triggering a concerted effort to transition from remembrance to commemoration. As those who lived through those harrowing days pass from the scene, it is incumbent upon the rest of us, who continue to bear their memory, to pursue the task of understanding and giving meaning to their life experiences.

As part of that effort, I would simply like to share three points relevant to the topic at hand: the great dilemma that confronted Filipinos at that time under circumstances that were unique to our country. We forget that, then, among the nations in Southeast Asia, the Philippines was the only one that had a concrete expectation and understanding of independence. We were the only ones that had an autonomous government, and only we had our own Armed Forces, one pledged to the Allied cause.

On this note, let me share an excerpt from a letter of President Manuel L. Quezon to General Douglas MacArthur, dated January 28, 1942:

The relevant paragraphs read:

In reference to the men who have accepted positions in the commission established by the Japanese, everyone of them wanted to come to Corregidor, but you told me that there was no place for them here.

They are not Quislings. The Quislings are the men who betray their country to the enemy. These men did what they had been asked to do, under the protection of their Government. Today they are virtually prisoners of the enemy. I am sure they are only doing what they think is their duty. They are not traitors. They are the victims of the adverse fortunes of war and I am sure they had no choice. Besides, it is most probable that they accepted their positions in order to safeguard the welfare of the civilian population in the occupied areas. I think, under the circumstances, America should look upon their situation sympathetically and understandingly.

Here in a few paragraphs one can find the dilemma of those who had the responsibilities of leadership at that time, in particular of those who could not be part of the government-in-exile. The dilemma strikes at the heart of a crucial debate: what are the responsibilities of a Filipino leader to his fellow Filipinos. This goes beyond any other tie—political, legal, or even personal—as these leaders had to fulfill public duties, as well as address their own personal expectations of what constituted their duty to their country. This brings me to the dilemma faced by Sotero Laurel. When World War II broke out, Sotero Laurel was in the United States. He came to serve as secretary to Vice-President Sergio Osmeña. When the Japanese established the Puppet Republic and appointed Sotero’s father, Jose P. Laurel, as President, Sotero did the honorable thing: he offered to resign.

In response to that offer, this is the reply he received from President Quezon.

The letter is dated September 30, 1943:


My dear Laurel:

Your letter of September 27 touched my very soul. Being a father and having a son I understand what you mean. The question of your remaining in the service of the Government of the Commonwealth must be decided solely upon this question. Are you in conscience loyal to America and to the Government of the Philippine Commonwealth regardless of whether your father has in truth become pro-Japanese. If you are loyal to the Government of the Commonwealth it is your duty to remain in your job and it is my right to advise you to do so. I may say in passing that I am not convinced that your father is a traitor either to the United States or to the Philippines. I know him personally and have been closely connected with him officially for many years. I believe he is doing what he honestly believes is in the best interest of the Filipino people for the time being, and not because he has become a tool of the Japanese.

After saying what I have said it is a matter for you to decide what you should do. If you are loyal to America and to my government, stay in your job. If you are not, resign, and I will accept your resignation forthwith.


Sincerely yours,

Manuel L. Quezon


I have always maintained that the sins of the father should not weigh upon the son. But sons in turn have great latitude in adding to or diminishing the reputations of their fathers. Therefore, the true measure of a father is what a son does to uphold and live by the code of conduct of his father. Nothing speaks more highly of Laurel than what his son did: offering to resign. The letter speaks of this, far from the judgment of his peers.

I cannot, and I should not, preempt what Mr. Zobel will be saying today. We can trust that it will be both interesting and thought-provoking. We must ponder what he says with the spirit of impartial inquiry, from the perspective of an inquisitive Filipino. And today, I am reminded of the words of another great leader of that war.

In his eulogy for Neville Chamberlain, dated November 1940, Winston Churchill said:

It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events. In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong. Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting. There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values. History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.


This is how statesmen must be judged. This is how generals must be judged. This is how those who feel they have served their respective countries must also be judged.

Thank you very much, and good day.




Nov 14

The Master of Tropical Baroque

Rogue Nov. 2014 cover

Rogue | November 2014


The Master of Tropical Baroque

by Manuel L. Quezon III


Nick Joaquin beautifully captured the country’s political landscape,
and created a literary benchmark that every writer aspires to attain.


Nick Joaquin to me was sin and stories. The first due to an early memory of my father arriving home with a copy of Manila: Sin City which he cautiously placed on a high shelf, beyond my reach; the second due to Pop Stories for Groovy Kids, one set in green, the other in orange, brought back from Erehwon, then the only “serious” bookstore in our vicinity. This was Manila, in the 1970s, during the Marcos dictatorship. (As a kid, it was his children’s stories; as a teen, it was the guilty pleasure of retrieving his book of essays from the forbidden shelf to read about gambling and prostitution, the heat of August and the Ruby Towers quake. The forbidden Sin City turned out to be rather tame but tantalizing nonetheless: it opened up history.) Not the history of textbooks, but history written in a hurry to meet magazine deadlines.

The pleasure of the forbidden would return when I made his novel Caves and Shadows the first “serious” novel I pestered my father to buy for me, my successful lobbying made more delicious by his failing to notice that the cover featured a crab on a woman’s breast, remarkably daring in book design in then-prudish Catholic Philippines. The book remains my favorite novel by a Filipino, made all the more precious because it long remained out of print.

Bored to tears by textbooks and the clumsy prose of historians, his A Question of Heroes opened up an appreciation of our greats that might otherwise have been impossible. His The Aquinos of Tarlac, now hard to find, but in its time the best-selling non-fiction work in the Philippines, brought forth, in turn, the discovery of political biography. His stories were now, for me, about sins: of the high and mighty, both generations gone and those in the here and now.

But it was when I found in a shop, and read with feverish delight, his Reportage on Politics, that his influence on me became profound. I had strayed from the writings of Filipinos, been entranced by the journalism-as-history of Ryszard Kapuscinski, a Pole who wrote on the decay and destruction of despots: of courtiers in hiding pining for the rule of the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie; of his witnessing the collapse of the autocracy of the Shah of Iran.

Abroad, watching from afar the senile last days of our homegrown dictatorship, foreigners seemed the only ones who could write about similar cases of the curtains coming down on dictatorships. Meaning was in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch, not in anything by a Filipino. Marquez’s book told the story of a dictator’s death, and its magical realism evoked the oddities of a society steadily achieving the removal of its homegrown tyrant. James Fenton seemed more capable of writing about the flight of the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos than any Filipino.

Then came Nick Joaquin’s Quartet of the Tiger Moon, and for once there was a rival to James Fenton’s reportage on the fall of the House of Marcos, what Filipinos call the People Power Revolution of 1986.

But it was that one slim collection, his Reportage on Politics, found one weekend in 1988, in a tattered condition, that finally gave me what every aspiring writer needs: a model to emulate. Here were the stories I wanted to read, about the period I found most interesting: the period of the fallen Third Republic (our first period of independent democracy from 1946-1972), peopled by heroes and villains, most of whom were still alive, the rest departed not so long ago; an age so vivid to my elders but totally alien to my martial law baby eyes. Here was Mrs. Macapagal, the mother of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, setting out to clean a Palace now gone (demolished by her husband’s successor); here were political parties with rivalries stretching back generations; here were politicians castigating pollsters, denouncing survey results, movie idols making aborted runs for the presidency.

Most delightful of all, the book contained the finest piece of Filipino political reportage I’d ever read: “13 o’clock,” in which Speaker Pepito Laurel, drunk as a skunk, wrestles a microphone to the ground during a session of the House, and where, presiding over a sine die session in which the legislature literally commands time to stand still, a devious Ferdinand Marcos saves his senate presidency by surreptitiously restarting the clocks, allowing him to gavel the session adjourned. This was the model; the way to write about politics and politicians; this was the keen eye for detail, the mordant wit, the way to get it done. The only other literary journalist to approach his level of influence on me would be Pete Lacaba’s reportage on the First Quarter Storm (the student rebellions in 1970 in Manila) and was he not heir to the great Joaquin?

That same year, Tom Wolfe, my preeminent writing idol of the time, published a literary manifesto titled “Stalking the Billion Footed Beast”. Profound was its influence, simple though its message was: be curious! Look, observe, inquire, and by so doing, write real stories, whether in journalism or fiction. Ten years later, Nick Joaquin would make a speech with much the same message: seek out reality, embrace it, then mold it to your will; reality was the clay necessary to produce great works of the imagination.

As he himself pointed out, before the Latin Americans had given birth to magical realism, the humid improbabilities of say, Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, he had labored forth on what we like to call his Tropical Baroque. Long before Tom Wolfe published The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, there had been Joaquin with his reportage on politics, on people, events and crime (he felt great pride in the authorship of his crime pieces, bellowing an exhortation to me once, that they must be included in an anthology I was working on, something I was unable to do). And he was right; what’s more, unlike Americans like Wolfe, his journalism as fine writing has aged well. Kool Aid suffers from artifice; Joaquin’s reportage continues to shine.

He would close his more important public remarks with, “I have spoken.” A literal translation of the way the Tagalogs of old would close their more solemn remarks. General Emilio Aguinaldo, a Garibaldi of sorts for the Philippines, of whom he had written a play of penetrating psychological insight rivaled only by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fictional meditation on Bolivar (The General in His Labyrynth), used to close his remarks in the same way. This small detail, to me, personified the manner in which his heritage was made the world’s by his pen.







Oct 15

The unbearable burden of being

Rogue Cover - October 2014

Rogue | October 2014

The Unbearable Burden of Being

by Manuel L. Quezon III



Since independence in 1946, we have nearly doubled the number of our provinces, and gone from 18.4 million people to 100 million today. The sheer volume of both people and government means you have more doing less for more. And so you have officials and citizens, both, exasperated with the system.

 Having reestablished the government of France after the German Occupation, Charles de Gaulle went into a decade-long retirement, sulking in his tent like Achilles until the Algerian Crisis when he made a political comeback and established an almost monarchical presidency. He found the parliamentary government established after World War II frustratingly chaotic, leading to his famous remark, “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”  Luigi Barizin in his highly entertaining book, The Italians, explained his society in this manner: Italians, he argued, followed a double standard: extremely honorable in matters internal to the family, and willing to cross any line when it comes to the government which they are convinced is out to get them.

Sounds quite familiar, doesn’t it? Barzini did say that the Jews and the Chinese were quite similar; the writer and diplomat Leon Ma. Guerrero once described our society in a similar way, and for similar reasons. The sociologist Randy David has argued in recent years, that the latest manifestation of this is something he calls a Crisis of Modernity in our country —where old instincts and habits among the political class leads that class to be increasingly incapable of adjusting to the challenges of a society that is outgrowing what I call the “old obediences.”  The institutions that linked together to give cohesion to society —Church, club, and school— are increasingly losing out to new challengers; but the old network built around these institutions stubbornly cling to them, leading to the kind of frustration over social exclusion that drives so many of our best and brightest abroad. Not just as economic refugees, but in a kind of collective protest vote against how things are at home. And so while Lasallians, Ateneans and UPeans  still enjoy the best access to jobs in the public and private sector, those sectors are too small to absorb enough talent, which looks for opportunities elsewhere (this includes the Top Three graduates, by the way, particularly those who may have a degree but lack social or political pull). 

The son or daughter of a kasama, who becomes a seaman, or nurse, or nanny abroad, and who then saves up to buy a small house in the province, enables their family to leapfrog in status from serf to middle class in a generation. Without the acculturation —yes, Church, club, and school— the old middle class took for granted as setting it apart from the hoi polloi and granting it proximity to the so-called leading families. If the family remains teetering on the edge of security, say due to not being frugal, then the old powers-that-be retain a hold over the family of that breadwinner; but if, for example, the breadwinner in turn has children who study in better schools, but who focus on learning simply to be able to line up for a ticket or contract to go abroad, then the only stake at home they will fiercely defend is that most thorough of middle class rights, that of property. But politics? Whether in its crudest form, voting for a patron, or in terms of civic participation in the community? It is irrelevant and possibly downright dangerous and best avoided.

An OFW I once met on a flight home, after eight hours of singing the praises of good government, of a genuine party system, and other blessings of democracy, excused himself from our conversation as we began our descent by pulling out a big wad of cash and flamboyantly counting it out in my presence. “For customs,” he shrugged. We had earnestly discussed the changes the country needed —but for him, some things would never change. One day, someone bolder than I might take a stab on a fascinating book waiting to be written: the Filipinos whose ability made this country too small a pond for them to get big in, but who, upon achieving success abroad, came back: only to become every bit as cynical, venal, and ruthless as the movers and shakers they’d once despised, and despaired of. They had, in a sense already beaten them —so why join them?

Which brings me to the debates on forms of government, the arguments about amending or not amending the constitution, that periodically take up column inches in the papers and from time to time leads to “experts” being trotted out to say nothing about something in front of the cameras. To be sure everyone seems pretty eloquent about what they are against but become vague when asked to put forward what they actually want. You cannot help but think we are well and truly stuck between a rock and a hard place. A Filipino political scientist once expressed his exasperation with our post-EDSA system of government in this manner: “It is,” he said, “set up to guarantee to fail.” When I asked what, then, did he propose as a solution, he put forward a thoroughly middle-class proposal. Take away the vote from the masses! Abolish the presidency or make it a decoration! Shift to the parliamentary form of government where the professionals can elect one of their own to run the nation! 

Oscar Wilde once described an aristocrat in a foxhunt as the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable. You have the unelectable in full pursuit of the unpalatable.

There are many earnest and eloquent advocates of things like the parliamentary system but they tend to ignore the inconvenient question of how do you convince a national electorate to give up the one basic democratic right they understand, which is to periodically cast their vote —freely or for a fee— for the country’s leader? Then they expect congressmen and senators to lead the charge, when legislators themselves derive their position from the same electorate (which doesn’t mean they don’t dream of it: taking a cue from de Gaulle or Barzini, they would probably much prefer not having to deal with a head of state with a mandate independent of theirs). And yet, parliamentarists have at least tried to imagine a status quo different from the one we have at present. It is all very interesting. But it is not, in any real sense, a real public debate.

Writing in his diary on December 23, 1938, former Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison caught his friend Manuel L. Quezon in a moment of reflection. “The people care more for good government than they do for self-government,” Quezon told him, adding that “the fear is that the Head of State may either exceed his powers, or abuse them by improprieties. To keep order is his main purpose.” In the three generations since then, this seems as good a rule of thumb regarding public expectations of our leaders, as any.

In the end, what makes or break any proposal is something not found in any constitution —the constantly shifting sands of public opinion.



Sep 22

Showdown with the Supremes

Rogue cover sept 2014

Rogue | September 2014

Showdown with the Supremes

by Manuel L. Quezon III

 How the President Marcos’ dance with the justices led to the constitutionality of a dictatorship.

A retired general once told me that the coded signal for the implementation of martial law was “happy birthday.” By and large, we’re familiar with the basic plan for its imposition: the amazingly harmless ambush attempt on Juan Ponce Enrile gave a pretext for Marcos to declare martial law. He therefore asserted his constitutional power to declare the existence of a rebellion, then went further and said there was a corresponding need to reform society. That was the gist of Proclamation 1081. What’s often overlooked is that the proclamation of martial law was accompanied by other orders that gave his proclamation teeth. He issued General Order No. 1 (a general order is an instruction to the armed forces by the president in his capacity as commander-in-chief), assuming all the powers of the entire government, and asserting he would direct the operations of the entire government, including all agencies and instrumentalities. He then issued Letter of Instruction to Kit Tatad (Press Secretary) and to Enrile (Secretary of National Defense), authorizing the siezure of and closure of private media. He then issued General Order No. 2-A, ordering Enrile to arrest individuals Marcos deemed enemies of the state and anyone else accused of offenses versus the Penal Code ranging from smuggling, drugs, tax evation, to public morals; and General Order No. 3, retaining all the courts but specifying that all challenges to martial law would be handled by military courts. This was also accompanied by General Order No. 4, imposing a midnight to 4 AM curfew. Finally, there was General Order No. 5, banning all demonstrations. In one fell swoop, in addition to ordering arrests, the closing of media, a stop to international flights and phone calls, and the capture of utilities like Meralco, he’d granted himself lawmaking powers as well as the power to limit the jurisdiction of the courts.


To this day, the exact chronology of the events of September 22-23, 1972 isn’t quite clear. In particular, the actual day and time he signed Proclamation 1081 has proven hard to pin down because Marcos himself was inconsistent about it. Although he made September 21 the official date, at one point (in January, 1973, talking to a conference of historians) he himself said he signed it on September 17. Some close to him assert it was signed at 9 PM on September 22, after the Enrile “ambush”. Other writers state it was signed at 3 AM on September 23. The public got to know about it when Marcos went on the air in the evening of September 23 to explain why most media had been shut down, with friendly stations broadcasting muzak and cartoons all day. In his broadcast, Marcos said he’d signed the proclamation on September 21, but that it had come into effect on the 22nd. The document itself provides a clue: it doesn’t bear the countersignature of either Executive Secretary Alejandro Melchor, or Assistant Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora —both of whom were out of town on September 21-23.


In his diaries, Marcos wrote that September 21 as the day for imposing martial law was decided in a meeting with close advisers on September 13. The date was selected because Congress was due to go on recess on the 21st. The armed forces signed off on September 14. Plans were finalized on September 18. The armed forces submitted a formal study to serve as a basis for it, on September 20. But Congress did not go on recess on the 21st as expected: instead, the recess was expected to begin on the 22nd. Meanwhile, the typing of the various orders was completed at 8 PM on September 21. More than numerology (the usual reason given to explain Marcos’ fetish for the 21st, a date divisible by his lucky number, 7), the need to catch Congress, media and the public off guard, dictated the tempo of events.


Even after Marcos got away with martial law, he remained nervous about the Supreme Court. On September 24, he summoned Justices Claudio Teehangkee, Antonio Barredo, Felix Macasiar and Felix Antonio to a meeting. They insisted he should submit the legality of martial law to the Supreme Court for review. Marcos replied that if necessary, he would proclaim a revolutionary government. You can sense Marcos’ glee in recounting the response of the Justices: “They insisted we retain a color of constitutionality for everything that we do.” That evening, Marcos issued his first Presidential Decree: reorganizing the entire government. The next day, the 25th, Marcos met two more Justices of the Supreme Court: Fred Ruiz Castro and Salvador Esguerra and told them “there must be no conflict between the two separate departments of Justice and Executive for it would be embarrassing to both.” They agreed. By September 25, Marcos could crow in his diary, “It is indeed gratifying that everyone now finds or discovers I am some kind of a hero! There is nothing as successful as success!”


But work remained to be done. Purged of hard-core oppositionists, the Constitutional Convention submitted a draft to Marcos who wanted a new constitution in place before Congress could convene in January 1973. He did this by setting aside plans for a plebiscite (which it seems he was going to lose) and calling for “citizen’s assemblies” instead.  On January 22, the Supreme Court said it was willing to meet Marcos on the matter, though Marcos in his entries on January 23-24, 1973 was worried the Supreme Court might declare the new Constitution invalid. On January 27, he heard the Justices would accept the validity of the new Constitution —and by the way, was there an assurance they would keep their jobs? On the 29th, he met the Justices (minus Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion who was sick), and made his case: Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said, “I get the message, Mr. President.” By March 31, 1973, victory was complete. The Supreme Court said the new Constitution was in full force and effect (heartbroken, Chief Justice Concepcion retired in protest). In September 1974 the Court set aside challenges to the arrests of two years before, saying it was a political question.


Concepcion, who was made a Constitutional Commissioner in 1986, proposed additional powers for the Supreme Court, to limit its ability to repeat the performance of 1973-74 when it ducked under the cover of “political questions.”

The result has been two decades of clashes with presidents and congress: and a new question —are the Supremes now the most powerful branch of government? A possible case of the cure being as ominous as the disease it was meant to cure.



For excerpts and links to the Marcos diaries, visit The Philippine Diary Project: http://philippinediaryproject.com

Sep 05

Charter Change: An Annotated Timeline 1934-2014

…[T]he Constitution is not, and should not be, an idol under strict taboos. It is not, and should not be, a strait-jacket for the growing and developing nation which it was made to serve. The Constitution itself outlines the procedure for its own amendment, and it thus expressly devoted to the principle that it is neither inviolable nor permanent, but a working instrument to secure the general welfare of the people. –Claro M. Recto

I’d like to put forward a survey of past Charter Change efforts as a resource for those engaged in the ongoing debate on Charter Change.

While the story of Charter Change includes three constitutions –the 1935, 1973 and 1987 charters (and excludes the 1943 Constitution under Japanese auspices, which was declared invalid in 1944 as subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court, which declared the laws enacted during the Japanese Occupation as null and void)– the dynamics involving constitutional amendment-related debates forms one cohesive story. In fact, the ghosts of past amendments, live on, institutionally, to this day:

1. From the 1940 amendments, we have the bicameral composition of the Committee on Appointments (the pound of flesh demanded by the National Assembly in exchange for the restoration of the Senate), a nationally-elected Senate (but weakened, since, by the elimination of bloc voting in the 1950s, briefly restored under Marcos then abandoned again; the present Senate is also elected on the basis of 12 senators per election, instead of 8 senators every election, which has essentially nullified the Senate as a continuing body), and a Commission on Elections.

2. From the 1980s amendments, the restoration of the position of Vice-President and the retirement age of 70 for justices.

Along the way, I’d like to tackle:

1. What makes for a successful Charter Change effort? More Charter Change efforts have succeeded than have failed: 1939, 1940, 1947 all succeeded, and 1967-1971 (to get a convention going) worked; under the dictatorship, the 1976-1986 amendments all succeeded (but these were, of course, undertaken under the gun so to speak); but no effort to amend the 1987 Constitution has succeeded. What all periods of amendment-mania have in common is that they were proposed in the waning years of an incumbent president: however in 1939-40 the incumbent was not only popular, but possible successors were not as popular; in 1971-73 the incumbent, increasingly perceived to be unpopular; in 1997, 1999 and 2005-09, either waning in popularity, or subject to the veto of the Catholic Church and civil society, or manifestly unpopular. So it can be argued that 2014 is unique in that it is the first time since 1939 that amendments have been discussed in the context of a popular (majority positive opinion) president and a question mark as to a successor to keep up reforms.

2. What dooms Charter Change to fail or at least, imperils it? Public opinion plays a central role. Amendments to the 1973 Constitution, from its very “approval” to its subsequent, and repeated, amendments, worked due to force majeure and legal legerdemain (the consensus is that if a proper plebiscite had been conducted in 1973, the 1935 Constitution would have been retained by public demand); 1997-98, 1999-2000, and 2005-2006 also failed due to public protests, defeat in the courts, or both. Most of all: if there is a perception that the amendment will benefit an individual or group that does not enjoy widespread public trust, the exercise will be difficult going.

3. In the past, leaders and parties proposed amendments. The present Constitution made an innovation, giving the electorate powers of initiative and referendum, including directly proposing amendments (but not revisions) of the Constitution: however the law to enable this was originally declared defective, and subsequent efforts have proven problematic. Consider these summaries of public opinion as reflected in past surveys:

Pulse Asia Survey: Q. Whether or not it is right to change the constitution now / Whether in favor or not in favor of changing the constitution now?

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 6.45.10 PM

 Source: Charter change surveys from www.pulseasia.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

SWS Survey: Q. Are there constitutional provisions which need to be changed now?

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 6.48.30 PM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

*See other Public Opinion charts by SWS and Pulse Asia on Charter Change in Annex A at the end of the timeline.

These surveys tell us that public opinion shifts over time; that, depending on the question, public opinion can be, at times, fairly evenly divided on specific questions. But the biggest problem of all, however, as Fr. Bernas put it in 2011, is “structural”:

Next month the Constitution will complete its 24th year. Through all these years it has remained untouched. It has lasted unchanged longer than either the 1935 Constitution or the 1973 Constitution. The 1935 Constitution underwent change almost immediately after its birth, first, by giving suffrage to women, and a little later by moving from a unicameral National Assembly to a bicameral Congress. As to the 1973 Constitution, it was not what the Constitutional Convention of 1971-1972 had intended and, during its brief lifetime, it underwent several major changes. If the 1987 Constitution has resisted change to this date, it is not because it is a perfect Constitution nor is it for want of attempts to change it. Almost every year attempts at constitutional change have been made. None has succeeded. In my view, one major obstacle to attempts to revise the 1987 Constitution is structural. It has a built-in unintended obstacle to change. And I do not know how this can be overcome this year. In many respects the 1987 Constitution consists of significant borrowings from the 1935 Constitution. Unfortunately, however, the provision on the amendatory process is a carbon copy of the provision in the 1973 Constitution. Year after year since 1987 this has been the major obstacle to change. Why so? The text says: “Any amendment to, or revision of, this Constitution may be proposed by: (1) The Congress, upon a vote of three-fourths of all its Members; or (2) a constitutional convention. . . . The Congress may, by a vote of two-thirds of all its Members, call a constitutional convention, or by a majority vote of all its Members, submit to the electorate the question of calling such a convention.” The provision is one formulated for a unicameral legislative body but it is now meant to work for a bicameral Congress. This was not a tactical product designed by an evil genius. It is merely the result of oversight. But the oversight has spawned major problems. First, must Senate and House come together in joint session before they can do anything that can lead to charter change? The 1935 Constitution was very clear on this question: Congress could not begin to work on constitutional change unless they first came together in joint session. The 1987 Constitution is non-committal. Second, since the text of the Constitution is not clear about requiring a joint session, can Congress work on constitutional change analogously to the way it works on ordinary legislation, that is where they are and as they are? I have always maintained that Congress can, but this is by no means a settled matter. There are those who believe that the importance of Charter change demands a joint session. Third, should Congress decide to come together in joint session, must Senate and House vote separately or may they vote jointly? The 1935 Constitution was very clear on the need for separate voting; the present Constitution is silent about this… Howsoever the matter might be settled by agreement of the majority of both houses, someone in the minority will run to the Supreme Court to challenge the decision. What about a constitutional convention? But the business of calling a constitutional convention is fraught with the same problems. Should Congress choose to call a constitutional convention, must the two houses be in joint session? And if in joint session, should they vote separately?

So Fr. Bernas brings up a problem unique to the 1987 Constitution: the wording of the charter makes a consensus on how to go about amending it, problematic –and that includes the innovation of the electorate directly proposing amendments, too. Since 1987, the historical memory of the public and the politicians has become far more limited. At best, that memory goes back only to Marcos, whereas the memory of his generation went back all the way to the Revolution. There was 1896-1946, the period of national identification and creation, anchored on the belief of a strong executive and institutionalizing a strong central government; and 1946-1986, the period of the great divide between liberal democracy and constitutional authoritarianism; and 1986-2006, the rise and fall of people power as a Third Way. These periods have been marked by changing attitudes towards our national leaders and public confidence and trust in them.

As the PCIJ reported in 2006, in 1971 and 2006, New Charters Designed to Keep Embattled Presidents in Power, which makes for a struggle and debate untouched and uninformed by the great debates that took place prior to Marcos: while the debate is overshadowed by three points of view:

a. The view that the Constitution is somehow, not subject to amendment.

b. The view that the Constitution should be amended to restrict the electorate’s ability to choose the head of government (transferring that power to elected members of the legislature instead: parliamentarism: See this paper) On these and related questions, a look at public opinion over time is revealing as well:


Pulse Asia Survey: Q. Whether or not in favor of changing the present system into a parliamentary system?

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 11.07.43 PM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.pulseasia.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

SWS Survey: Q. Opinion on cha-cha allowing a former President to become prime minister in a parliamentary government.

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 11.10.03 PM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

SWS Survey: Q. Opinion on cha-cha allowing President Arroyo to become prime minister in a parliamentary government.

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 11.12.34 PM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO

Substituting a strong executive who is directly elected by the entire electorate, with not only a parliamentary system, but a unicameral one, has proven problematic it they would eliminate the electorate’s ability to directly choose the head of government, and replace the system of checks-and-balances between three branches of government and substitute the dominance of the legislature –with the House being the surviving entity.

c. The view that restrictive economic provisions should be amended, while leaving political provisions intact –when generations have been raised to consider the Parity Amendment after World War 2 a travesty.

d. Tied, at times, to b and c, but far less discussed by the public but far more current in academic circles, the exploration of Federalism: See this paper.

Again, here’s a look at public opinion over time:


Pulse Asia Survey: Q. Whether or not in favor of changing the present system into a federal system?

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 11.16.37 PM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.pulseasia.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

SWS Survey: Q. Opinion on cha-cha on creating regional governments / Would a proposal to create regional governments be good or not good for the country?

Screen shot 2014-08-27 at 11.19.32 PM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.


For reference: Here is a matrix, for quick reference, of some of the major proposals that have been made over time.

See Matrix of Constitutional Amendments Proposed in Plebiscite, decided on by Supreme Court, and Proposed by Constitutionalists


Here is a comprehensive narrative of the Charter Change through the years. I have included plebiscites, even those, like the one on women’s suffrage, as Fr. Bernas mentioned it, and as an indication of the attitudes and behavior of the public in plebiscites, which forms part of the story of amendments.


Charter Change: A Timeline 1934-2014

July 10, 1934: The Constitutional Convention Begins

The 1934 Constitutional Convention assembled, with its chairman Claro M. Recto, to craft the 1935 Constitution. (See Presidential Museum and Library, Today in History, Tumblr, July 30, 2012). For a backgrounder, see Re-constructing Colonial Philippines: 1900-1910 by Patricio Abinales; Institutionalizing state interventionism, by Manuel L. Quezon III. For an overview of the 1934 Constitutional Convention, see Constitution Day, by Teodoro M. Locsin, February 7, 1953.

May 14, 1935: Ratification of the 1935 Constitution

1,213,046 YES
44,963 NO

Plebiscite on constitutional amendment: 1,213,000 votes / population of 14,731,000. (See The referendum scorecard 1935-1987, June 9, 2009)

1935 Plebiscite

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

  This was actually the first nationwide vote the country had, in which the nation voted as such and not just for provincial or regional leaders. I can’t say if there was any change in the four months between the plebiscite on the constitution and the first national presidential elections held that September; but what observers did point out was that only slightly over half of the electorate bothered to vote. Most observers commented that this was because the outcome was practically predetermined. It is remarkable that more people seemed to have participated in the plebiscite on the Constitution than in the presidential election (however,it also seems to have been rainy in many areas during the September election, then as now, possibly lowering turnout). A possible reason for higher turnout was that the plebiscite on the constitution was also, in a sense, a plebiscite on independence (see Why they voted against the constitution, June 1, 1935). Hence the very lopsided result in favor of the new constitution.

November 15, 1935:  Inauguration of the Commonwealth of the Philippines

Manuel L. Quezon took his oath as the first President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines (Official Gazette)

April 30, 1937: Women asked if they wanted suffrage

This was an unusual plebiscite, in that the voting was restricted to women, only, who were asked if they wanted suffrage for themselves. The suffragette movement had been active from the 1920s and particularly in the early 1930s so women’s groups were extremely well organized to get out the vote.

447,725 Affirmative
44,307 Negative

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 9.25.35 AM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac 2013


As the contemporary account Votes for women pointed out, men had required 300,000 affirmative votes for approval. Women handily overcame that hurdle.

1937: The Start of Amendments Discussions

Jose E. Romero, Majority Leader of the National Assembly, in his memoirs recalled:

Midway in his term of office [1937-38], the inevitable speculation as to President Quezon’s successor and the beginning of the stirrings of the potential candidates began. Of course everybody realized that President Quezon would determine the choice of his successor. Vice-President Osmeña was a logical choice. President Quezon had given him some encouragement, but he also encouraged Mr. Roxas and, it seems, Speaker Yulo. At one time he even considered the possibility of a compromise candidate, and I remember his mentioning Teofilo Sison, who was then Secretary of the Interior and who had done a good job in that important position and also as Governor of the big province of Pangasinan. Mr. Osmeña who as I said was the most logical successor, had often been unfortunate politically. On the one hand, his ambition was opposed by the leaders of the National Assembly, Speaker Jose Yulo and Floor Leader Quintin Paredes. The peculiar situation had arisen that while all the different factions were reunited under the leadership of President Quezon, the cleavage between the former Quezon followers and the followers of Osmeña and Roxas had persisted. There still was rivalry and mutual suspicion between the ANTIs, who had followed President Quezon in the fight on the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Independence Act, and the PROs, who had followed the leadership of Osmeña and Roxas. Now on top of the opposition of the ANTIs, Mr. Osmeña had to reckon with the opposition of his erstwhile ally, Mr. Roxas. When Mr. Osmeña would press his claim on President Quezon, the latter would tell him that he would have to have an agreement with Mr. Roxas. Mr. Osmeña would tell President Quezon that Mr. Roxas had assured him that he had no ambition for the position himself, but Mr. Quezon would smilingly tell him that he should get an iron-clad assurance from Roxas because the latter had given him to understand otherwise. It was quite obvious to me that President Quezon was playing one against the other as the threat of disruption of the United Nacionalista Party would inevitably give rise to a movement to draft President Quezon to prevent such disunity. Either their ambitions had blinded Messrs. Osmeña and Roxas to this strategy or Mr. Roxas actually preferred the reelection of President Quezon to Osmeña’s succession to the office.

May 6, 1939: Surveys enter the scene

In 1939, surveys began to appear on the scene; see Free Press straw vote will feature reelection, May 6, 1939.

The first truly nationwide straw vote on a large scale ever conducted in the Philippines was the Free Press poll on the Hare-Hawes-Cutting law, conducted in February and March of 1933. On that occasion, 10,000 ballots were mailed out and 65 percent of them were returned. Of the votes recorded, 56 percent opposed the Hare-Hawes-Cutting law. The first Free Press straw vote had accurately reflected public opinion.

Then, in August and September of 1937, shortly after President Quezon returned from Washington where he had flirted with the idea of independence in 1939, the Free Press sent out 12,500 ballots asking whether the people favored or opposed shortening the transition period. In this case, 67 percent of the ballots were returned. There was some raising of eyebrows when the final result showed 55 percent opposing and only 45 percent favoring the shortening of the transition period. Yet subsequent events showed that the Free Press poll had once more mirrored public opinion. Today virtually no one favors a shorter transition period, and quicker independence would not be accepted in the Philippines unless it were accompanied by substantial economic concessions.

In July, another article mentioned the results:

“Only a few days ago,” argued Gullas, “a straw vote conducted by the FREE PRESS, a non-partisan and widely read weekly in the Philippines was concluded. The result was against reelection. Of course, it is not an absolute indication of how the public will vote. But it clearly shows which way the wind blows. It is a barometer of the sentiment of the people. Like a finger on the pulse, it counted, as it were, the heartbeats of the nation.”


May 13, 1939

An Open letter to President Quezon, by Arturo Tolentino, was published by the Philippine Free Press, expressing that amidst clamor of the public to push for constitutional amendments for Quezon’s reelection (and with the president’s silence on the matter), the president should stand by the constitution and “let new blood and new brains take on the responsibility of guiding the ship state.” On the same day the Free Press editorial asserts the campaign for re-election has begun.

May 15, 1939: President Quezon calls for Constitutional Amendments

President Quezon spoke to the National Assembly and called for Constitutional Amendments calling for the revival of the bicameral legislature with each senator being elected by national suffrage. The amendments would also permit his reelection. Jose E. Romero describes the speech of President Quezon, pointing out that the main issue of the time was to maintain the status quo; but that political objective had to be couched in terms more appealing to the public than merely preserving party dominance:

So it was that the movement was started to draft President Quezon. One day, he appeared before the National Assembly together with the members of his Cabinet. He told the members of the Assembly that he could no longer ignore the movement to amend the Constitution to permit his reelection; that what he was particularly interested in among the proposed amendments was the one reestablishing the bicameral system of legislature; that as to the proposed amendment to permit his reelection, he would only consent to this provided that at the same time a provision was adopted limiting the term of office of the President to not more than eight years, following the example of George Washington.

Yet there remained the problem of how to maintain that status quo, without provoking a new split in the ruling party:

As soon as President Quezon left the session hall of the National Assembly, the Assemblymen held a caucus to discuss the proposed amendments, and if a vote had been taken that same evening the proposal would have been rejected. I called the attention of my colleagues to the fact that the President had just told us that he would be receptive to the amendment permitting his reelection with the proviso he stipulated and for us, immediately after his speech, to reject the proposed amendments might be taken as a slap in the face. I suggested that we take a little time to consider this very serious matter and go about it in the most tactful manner. I was promptly seconded by Assemblyman Pedro Sabido, and the meeting was adjourned. This gave the proponents of the amendment time to do some arm-twisting, and by the time the matter was taken up again, the majority had shifted in favor of the proposed amendments. Regarding this arm-twisting, Assemblyman Tomas Oppus, the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations and one of the wittiest Assemblymen, described the situation in his inimitable way in a story he told his colleagues. He and his colleagues had asked the directorate of the Party if they could vote freely on the amendments since this was a matter of conscience, involving as it did the fundamental law of the country. The party leaders replied that the party had taken a stand on this question and that while they were free to vote in accordance with their own conscience, the party would take a dim view of their reliability as party men. The situation, said Oppus, was like that of a little boy who asked his uncle if he could go to the show. The uncle said he could do so but that when he came back, he would get a whipping. “That,” said the little boy, “means I cannot go to the show.”


Study Group Formed

Romero then describes how the leader concerned, Quezon, set about finding out how public opinion -and his allies- would react to his extension in office; arm-twisting in such a case, wasn’t enough; conviction, not compulsion, was essential if public opinion was to be won:

Still, the President was bothered by what history might say of his part in the approval of the amendment to permit his own reelection. He organized a group of nine men that he considered his close friends who could wisely advise him as to whether the amendment to permit his reelection should be presented. I can easily remember those who composed this group because there were four Joses in it –Jose Yulo, Jose Abad Santos, Jose Laurel, and Jose Romero. There were two Manuels –Manuel Roxas and Manuel Briones (three, if President Quezon, who was always present in spirit, was to be counted as member of this group) and there were Claro Recto, Quintin Paredes, and Pedro Sabido. We were made to promise not even to mention the existence of this group. We even agreed not to arrive together at the place selected for our meetings, which was the office of the Chairman of the Board of the PNB, the Chairman then being Secretary Abad Santos. At one of these meetings, Dr. Laurel said that if he had his way, he would not touch a comma of the Constitution. Eventually, however, Dr. Laurel and the rest of us would line up behind the proposed amendments. After thorough deliberation, we took a vote. The vote was four in favor and five against. Those who voted in favor were Abad Santos, Yulo, Paredes, and Roxas. Those who voted against were Recto, Laurel, Briones, Sabido, and I. I really thought that with President Quezon already bothered by compunctions as to the move he was about to take, this majority opinion against the proposal expressed by men whose loyalty and wisdom he reposed confidence and whom he had called on to give their honest opinion, would deter him from proceeding with the proposal. In any event it did not turn out that way. In later deliberations of the party caucus, the proposed amendments were approved.

Lobbying for amendments

Romero then recounts how lobbying was done, one-on-one:

I hid myself off to Malacañan and was immediately taken to his office. “Romero,” he said as soon as I was seated, “I wish I had died before this question of my reelection arose.” I was shocked. I told him I saw no reason why he should be so concerned with the problem, that the great majority of the people were behind him, and that they would accept whatever decision he made. As I have said, I knew that he had been bothered about the moral issue involved and about his image in the future being tarnished with the same brush of ambition that characterized most of the presidents and dictators of the banana republics. But I did not imagine that this would worry him so much that he preferred to have died before he could face such a problem… He said that now he was doubtful whether he should encourage the movement for his reelection… I asked him if he would take it as a lack of of affection and loyalty towards him if we started an opposition to the proposal. He said that we could go ahead and spearhead such an opposition. He suggested, however, that the term of office of the next President should be reduced to four years without re-election…


June 24, 1939

The Second Open Letter to President Quezon, by Arturo Tolentino was released by the Philippine Free Press, as the writer’s response to President Quezon’s affirmation of the push for constitutional amendments to extend his term. Tolentino warns the president that allowing the president reelection is a precedent for dictatorship and “that it will be easier in the future to amend the Constitution again to suit some future President who may want to entirely eliminate the limit on the number of re-elections, and thus perpetuate himself in power.”

July 7, 1939: Ruling Nacionalista Party approves amendments

The Nacionalista Convention met and adopted the following two amendments: (a) Reduction of the presidential tenure to four years, applicable to Quezon, with one re-election, (2) changing of congress from unicameral to bicameral legislature. This is inspired by the two-term tradition of the American presidency. See United behind Quezon, July 15, 1939 for the maneuvering from 1935-1939; essentially practically the whole prewar period was used up by the debates on the issues of presidential re-election and the restoration of the Senate (unicameralism had won in the Constitutional Convention, not because the majority of delegates actually preferred it, but because opinion between the bicameralists was divided on the question of a Senate elected at large or according to senatorial districts); it took another year after that, for the actual campaign to overcome public resistance to the proposed amendments.

“AYE!” With a tired roar that echoed hollowly in the dark bowl of the Rizal basketball stadium in Manila, one night last week, the Nationalist party convention approved the proposal to amend the Constitution, so as to allow the reelection of the President.

“Nay!” A half-hearted and scattered cry in opposition went up, after hours of resounding but futile debate.

An undisputed majority sent up an “Aye!” again, the following morning, approving another amendment, to revive the old senate.

The “Nay!” was even weaker.

For three days and nights last week, the party which rules the country met in the stifling shadow of a gathering typhoon to deliver itself of a series of historical mandates to its members in Malacañan, in the Assembly, in the cabinet, in every important office of the government. The mandates, expressed in resolutions, were to:

1. Change the Presidential term from one six-year period, to two four-year periods;

2. Revive the old bicameral legislature;

3. Create an administrative body to take charge of all elections;

4. Revise local governments to make them more, responsible and efficient (presumably, along the lines of the Quezon plan for appointive mayors and governors);

5. Readjust the three-year terms of assemblymen, provincial and municipal officials, so as to make them fit the new four-year presidential term;

6. Reaffirm loyalty to the coalition platform, including independence in 1946;

7. Request President Quezon to call a special session of the Assembly;

8. Ratify Presidential and Assembly action on the JPCPA report;

9. Congratulate President Quezon for his social justice program, and to request him to remain in office (that is, take advantage of the reelection amendment);

10. Congratulate Party President Yulo for his handling of the convention;

11. Increase the representation of governors in the Nationalist executive commission, from five to 12, thus putting them on a par with the Assemblymen.

The whole menu being called, by Speaker Yulo, a series of “Conservative Reforms,” which were opposed by one Assemblyman as going against public opinion (see Free Press straw vote will feature reelection, May 6, 1939. according to the October 1939 article above, public opinion, as expressed in the poll, opposed re-election).

National Assembly tackles amendments

Jose E. Romero:

As I was entering the session hall of the National Assembly a few hours later, I was met at the aisle by Speaker Yulo, who asked me what it was that I had told President Quezon which made him change his mind. I narrated the whole story, but the Speaker was adamant, and he said he would proceed with the campaign for the approval of the amendments irrespective of President Quezon’s desires. I told him that the process of amending was not easy as we needed only a few votes to defeat the proposed amendments. At that time we were adhering strictly to the interpretation that questions had to be approved by three-fourths of all the members of the National Assembly, and not only of those present. There were many vacancies at that time in the National Assembly, mostly due to the appointments in the Executive Department, and a mere twenty votes either voting against or abstaining from voting or absenting themselves would defeat the proposed amendments. I told the Speaker that I had the President’s permission to oppose the amendments and I thought I had the votes to succeed in our opposition.

I began getting the signature of those opposing the amendments. Many assemblymen were wary about signing although, at heart, they were opposed because of their regard for, or more candidly, fear of President Quezon. I assured them I had the President’s permission and they signed on condition that they were assured that the President really had no objection to our move. Predictably, the Assemblymen from Cebu and from Capiz were among the first to sign. Thereafter, others followed and I thought I had the required number of votes to defeat the amendments. The leadership of the house, seeing we were making headway, appealed to President Quezon to ask us to withdraw our opposition. This came about one night, at a gathering at Manila Hotel when everybody who was anybody in politics was in attendance. I was surprised and flattered when, leaving all the other political moguls, the President took me by the arm to a corner. He began by asking me if my political antagonists in my province were still bothering me. I told him they were still preparing the ground against me in the next election. He told me I had nothing to worry about for, if need be, he would go and campaign for me. Then finally, as if incidentally, he said that as regards the matter of the amendments, the leadership of the Assembly had committed themselves too deeply, that their prestige was involved, that that he was therefore requesting me to withdraw my opposition to them.

As I have already said, the opponents signed the agreement on condition that really President Quezon was not interested one way or another in the approval of the amendments and so, naturally, when I told them about the final word of the President, the whole movement collapsed…


September 15, 1939: Constitutional Amendments approved

By a vote of 81 to 6, the National Assembly dominated by the Nacionalistas approved the constitutional amendments concerning the restoration of the Senate, a two-term presidency, and the creation of a Commission on Elections.

September 16, 1939: President Quezon commends the National Assembly

President Quezon commended the National Assembly on having approved the proposed constitutional amendments with a statement to the press.

September 19, 1939: Plebiscite for Commonwealth constitutional amendments approved

Commonwealth Act No. 492 set October 24, 1939 as the date of the plebiscite on proposed amendments to the Constitution, was approved by the National Assembly.

October 24, 1939: Plebiscite on Economic Adjustment

Aside from the ongoing debate on amendments to the Constitution, another issue intervened at this point: the approval, or rejection, by plebiscite, of a proposed Ordinance to be appended to the Constitution, concerning economic adjustments. On March 18, 1937, as later reported in the State of the Nation Address for 1937, the Philippine and American governments had decided,

Arrangements are being made for the appointment shortly of a joint preparatory committee of American and Philippine experts. The committee is to study trade relations between the United States and the Philippines and to recommend a program for the adjustment of Philippine national economy. This announcement followed conferences between President Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth and the Inter-Departmental Committee on Philippine Affairs, which is acting on behalf of President Roosevelt in the preliminary discussions. Assistant Secretary of State Francis B. Sayre is Chairman of this Committee.   Inasmuch as the Independence Act provides that complete political independence of the Philippines shall become effective on July 4, 1946, and inasmuch as President Quezon has suggested that the date of independence might be advanced to 1938 or 1939, it was agreed that the joint committee of experts would be expected in making its recommendations to consider the bearing which an advancement in the date of independence would have on facilitating or retarding the execution of a program of economic adjustment in the Philippines. It was further agreed that the preferential trade relations between the United States and the Philippines are to be terminated at the earliest practicable date consistent with affording the Philippines a reasonable opportunity to adjust their national economy. Thereafter, it is contemplated that trade relations between the two countries will be regulated in accordance with a reciprocal trade agreement on a non-preferential basis.

In the end, a report was completed, although the proposal to advance the date of Philippine independence to 1938 or 1939 did not prosper. This is perhaps the least well-known of all our constitutional plebiscites. See Philippines: Brain, March 27, 1937 for a backgrounder of the economic issues threshed out between 1937-39:

The Independence Act was supported in Congress by two groups, one inspired by international altruism, the other inspired by national selfishness. Those inspired by selfishness were Congressmen, mostly from sugar-producing States, who wanted to put the Philippines outside the U. S. tariff barrier so as to get rid of business competitors. Into the law they wrote provisions which would institute a series of export taxes on Philippine goods shipped to the U. S. – the equivalent of a U. S. tariff – beginning at 5% in 1940 and mounting 5% a year. Since the U. S. is the Philippines’ best market and the Philippines’ chief export, sugar, goes almost entirely to the U. S., the Independence Act, as Señor Quezon well knows, is the next thing to sure ruin for the economy of the Islands. But independence means to the Philippines much what isolation means to the U. S. So three years ago when independence was offered, it was politically impossible …to refuse. Now his job as President of the Commonwealth is to fix it so that Filipinos can eat the cake of independence and at the same time keep the cake of free trade with the U. S. Last week it looked as if he might gain his ambiguous end when, after several days’ conferences, he agreed with the Committee in Washington to create a joint committee of experts: 1) to study and recommend a program “for the adjustment of the Philippine national recovery,” 2) to consider the economic merits of advancing the date of complete Philippine independence from 1946 to 1938 or 1939.


See Primer on the plebiscite, October 21, 1939 for a summary of the plebiscite issue itself.

The Ordinance to be appended to the 1935 Constitution, proposed by Resolution no. 39, was ratified, with 1,393,453 voting for and 49,633 against duty-free quotas on Philippine products for the remainder of the Commonwealth. (See The referendum scorecard 1935-1987, June 9, 2009)  



49,633 Negative

Hayden, note 53 pp. 869-870, summarizes the whole thing as Amendments to the Tydings-McDuffie Act by Public Act No. 300, 76th Congress, August 7, 1939; Amendments to “Ordinance Appended to the Constitution of the Philippines,” proposed by Resolution No. 39, adopted September 15, 1939, ratified October 24, 1939. Per Resolution 53, Second National Assembly, Third Special Session, November 3, 1939. More people participated in this plebiscite than in the May 1935 one; to be expected, since the population and electorate had been growing; but the number also surpassed the much more controversial plebiscite held the next year; one reason I can think of, is that the 1939 plebiscite, concerning economic questions, was viewed as significant because a necessary part of putting the country on a stable economic footing for independence; so, essentially, a second referendum on the question of independence. On the other hand, the figures registered in opposition to the propositions were much larger in 1940, pointing to the ferocity of public debate.

Screen shot 2014-08-18 at 5.33.41 PM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

January 22, 1940: State of the Nation Address on proposed amendments:

On September 15, 1939, the National Assembly adopted a resolution proposing important amendments to the Constitution. I refer to the amendments es­tablishing a bicameral legislature, changing the tenure of office of the President and the Vice-President, creating an independent Commission on Elections, and fixing a compensation for Senators and Representatives higher than that now received by the members of the National Assembly. By Commonwealth Act No. 492, it is provided that these amendments shall he submitted to the people for their ratification at the next general election for local officials. After hearing the views of provincial and municipal officials and the members of the Council of State, as well as other persons who have no partisan interest, I deem it my duty to recommend that the law be amended so as to authorize the holding of a plebiscite on these amendments on a date different from that fixed for the election of provincial and municipal officials. While this may entail more expenses for the Government, I believe that the change is imperative from the stand­point of public interest.

The proposed constitutional amendments are in effect a revision of the present Constitution, and the resolution proposing the same clearly contemplates that they should be submitted to the people in an integrated form. The amendments so affect the entire document and in this sense are so interrelated as to preclude any manner of having them voted upon separately or severally.

The importance of these amendments requires that they be submitted to the people for ratification or re­jection squarely and without the introduction of extraneous and irrelevant issues, and this would be impossible if the plebiscite were held on the same date as that set for the next regular election of local officers. The proposed amendments affect only the national Government and should be acted upon by the voters independently of local political interests or considerations.


April 1940: National Assembly approval of constitutional amendments

The most far-reaching amendments to date were approved by the National Assembly in April of that year [1940] and accepted in a plebiscite in June: it cut the term of the president from 6 years to four, but allowed reelection for another 4; it restored the Senate; and it established the Commission on Elections. (See Plebiscitary Democracy)

June 18, 1940: Presidential re-election; Senate elected at large; creation of COMELEC

(See The referendum scorecard 1935-1987, June 9, 2009)

Hayden, Note 58 p. 870 gives an insight into the mechanics of the plebiscite:

Commonwealth Act No. 517, April 25, 1940. Proposed amendments published in English and Spanish in three consecutive issues of The Official Gazette, at least twenty days prior to the election; and copies of the amendments in these languages and principal native languages posted and made available for examination in the voting places.

Note 60 provides the official returns of the election of June 18, 1940, on the constitutional amendments proposed (Plebiscite votes 1,135,000 / population of 16,356,000.):


Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 9.27.10 AM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

The first elections under the amended 1935 Constitution were held in November, 1941, but before the new Congress could convene, World War II broke out. The turnout in that election was lower than for the plebiscite in 1940. As for the plebiscite itself, there was marginally more enthusiasm for the restoration of the Senate, but this time, on a nationally-elected basis than for allowing presidential re-election; the most opposition was registered on the question of a Commission on Elections. The conventional wisdom today is that popular interest and enthusiasm for constitutional questions and thus, participation in plebiscites, is historically low. I can only assume this conventional wisdom emerged during the martial law “plebiscites” but this assertion certainly didn’t hold true for the first plebiscites. In fact, the opposite is true: public participation was higher for constitutional plebiscites.


1. Changing the President’s term from six years, no re-election, to four years, with one re-election, with a special election in 1941 qualifying the incumbent to a two-year extension to make for eight years; furthermore, the change in the President’s term was reflected in the proposed lower house, making the terms of representatives and local officials 4 years instead of three years, while senators would be elected for 6 year terms.

The argument of the “indispensable” man was put forward by Quezon himself, as a signal to his partymates that their forty year old one-party dominance (in the 1938 mid term election, for the first time, not a single opposition Assemblyman had been elected) might be imperiled on the eve of independence:

“The only thing that I am afraid of,” he confessed, “is that after I leave the presidency the country may be divided, not along political lines, but on the choice of my successor. The country is not prepared for a great division among our people.”

— Question 1: Presidential and Vice-Presidential terms (from six years, no re-election, to four years with one re-election)

1,072,039 FOR



2. Restoring the Senate but on a purely national basis; unicameralism had only won out in the 1935 Constitutional Convention because the bicameralists were divided on whether the Senate should be elected according to districts, as was the case under the Jones Law, or nationally. (One compromise no one has noticed is that the restoration of the Senate came at a price: the Congress of the Commonwealth and the Republic would both have a Commission on Appointments composed of congressmen and senators, in equal measure, a deviation from the Jones Law and American practice that puts the vetting of executive appointments strictly in the hands of the Senate. Further research, I think, might reveal that this was a very clever move to make assemblymen agree to diluting the powers of their chamber, while ensuring that no Senate President would be able to wield the powers Quezon had so effectively wielded in fighting the American governors-general by threatening to reject the confirmation of appointments. The always-pliable House would at least be able to obstruct any senatorial inclinations to put a squeeze on appointments: thus, while future Senate Presidents would always look back to the 1916-1935 Senate as a blueprint for their presidential ambitions, in truth, the 1940 setup makes using the Senate Presidency as more than a rhetorical podium a structural impossibility)

– Question 2: Re-establishment of a bicameral legislature of the Philippines

1,043,712 FOR
275,184 AGAINST


3. Establishing a Commission on Elections: combined with bloc voting, this made for the kind of equity of the incumbent that remains a reality in other Southeast Asian countries; removing bloc voting in the early 1950s, however, began a quarter century of erosion that led to the parties being unable to stand up to Marcos in 1972; and the multiparty system, in turn, has entrenched executive influence on national elections but in terms of a single person and not a ruling party, which reconfigures with every new presidency. – Question 3: Commission on Elections (creation of)

1,017,696 FOR
287,923 AGAINST


4. (Actually accomplished, separately, in 1939) approving the amendment of the Tydings-McDuffie Act to establish preferential trade relations with the United States up to the 1960s.

The amendments were approved in a national plebiscite. See Prelude to Dictatorship? Monday, Sep. 02, 1940for Time‘s account of the campaign for amendments in the context of the Far Eastern situation, and Bedroom Campaign: Monday, Nov. 24, 1941 (where block-voting was first practiced) for an account of the amendments finally operating for the first time: and the establishment of what, if the war hadn’t intervened, would have been a political system very familiar to the Malaysians and Singaporeans today (hence my belief that the Philippine experience since World War II has been a tug-of-war between our political class, whose instincts and preferences aren’t far removed from their peers in Malaysia and Singapore or even Japan, and the public, increasingly Western or at least broadly populist in its political actions and orientations; hence the constant frustration of the political class, which has failed to return to the comfortably setup envisioned before the War but came quite close to it in under martial law).

January 31, 1941: State of the Nation Address acknowledges National Assembly about to pass into history due to Constitutional amendments:

You have initiated amendments to our Constitution designed to strengthen the foundation of our democratic institutions and to insure their stability and permanence. And because of such a splendid record the members of the National Assembly have merited the lasting gratitude of our people.

As this body is about to pass into history by reason of the recent amendments to the Constitution creating a new bicameral legislature to be known as the Congress of the Philippines, I desire to express my deep gratification at the manner in which the members of this Assembly have dealt with the many important public questions requiring their attention.

The Constitution of 1935 was amended, dividing the National Assembly into two separate houses. The Senate of the Philippines and the House of Representatives were reestablished, with a Senate President and a Speaker of the House leading their respective chambers. The elections for members of these newly created chambers were held.. However, the onset of World War II prevented the elected members from assuming their posts and the legislature of the Commonwealth of the Philippines was dissolved upon the exile of the government of the Philippines. (Official Gazette

May 25, 1946: 2nd Commonwealth Congress Convened

The second Congress of the Commonwealth convened on May 25, 1946. It would only last until July 4, 1946, with the inauguration of the Third Republic of the Philippines with Manuel Roxas as President. (Official Gazette)


July 4, 1946: 1st Congress of the Third Republic was formed

Upon the inauguration of the Third Republic, the Second Congress of the Commonwealth was transformed into the first Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, also made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives. (Official Gazette)

Bell Trade Act and Parity Rights Issue

In October 1945, Congressman Jasper Bell of Missouri introduced the Bell Trade Act in the U.S. Congress that would grant free trade between the Philippines and the United States until 1954, after which traded goods will be taxed 5% tariff increase every year until the full 100% was reached in 1974. One of the conditions included in the Bell Trade Act was parity rights for Americans. This meant that Americans would have the same access to the country’s natural resources as Filipino citizens do. Since the parity clause was unconstitutional, the Philippine constitution had to be amended. Pressure was upon the Congress to amend the Constitution because the Tydings Rehabilitation Act, which would have provided $620,000,000 as war reparation to the country, was connected to any trade relations agreement. Should the Philippines and the US not agree to a trade agreement, the Philippines would not have received more than $500.

September 18, 1946: President Roxas gets legislative approval on Parity Rights

President Manuel Roxas was able to get a legislative approval for the Parity clause, through a resolution granting United States Citizens right to the disposition and utilization of Philippine natural resources or the Parity Rights. The plebiscite happened on March 11, 1947. (See Chris Pforr, Americans in the Philippines: An illustrated history, December 2010)

March 11, 1947: The Parity Amendment in the Constitution

The plebiscite held granted United States citizens the right to the utilization of Philippine natural resources or the Parity Rights. This plebiscite was the first after World War II, and the first under the two-party system, and the only plebiscite conducted as a stand-alone vote (the 1967 plebiscite was an additional question attached to the ballot during a regular election). Public participation, particularly in comparison to the pre-war plebiscites, was very low, although the public debate was ferocious and government had to use every means at its disposal to get what it wanted. On the proposed Parity Amendment to the Constitution:

432,933 FOR
115,853 AGAINST

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 9.29.03 AM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

See Report on the Plebiscite, April 5, 1947. The drama was much more evident before the plebiscite, as the Roxas administration had difficulty maneuvering it through Congress. See Two Freedoms, March 24, 1947:

In spite of the untactful use of the word “exploitation,” the Philippines voted in a plebiscite last week (March 11) to amend the Constitution as Washington wanted. The vote was light (about 1,000,000 out of a registered vote of 3,000,000). With returns still limping in from outlying islands, the vote was about 5-to-1 in favor of the amendment. Even in Manila, center of Philippine economic nationalism, the amendment carried nearly 3-to-1. The only excitement occurred when Philippine President Manuel Roxas got a close shave from a Manila barber, one Julio Guillen y Cuerpo. Barber Guillen pulled a hand grenade from a bag of peanuts, missed Roxas but killed a bystander. Roxas had just finished a speech favoring U.S. parity in corporate control.

Parity extends to 1974. To nail down freedom from fear, the Philippines three days later signed an agreement giving the U.S. military and naval bases until 2046.

See Economic Relations with the United States:

The most controversial provision of the Bell Act was the “parity” clause that granted United States citizens equal economic rights with Filipinos, for example, in the exploitation of natural resources. If parity privileges of individuals or corporations were infringed upon, the president of the United States had the authority to revoke any aspect of the trade agreement. Payment of war damages amounting to US$620 million, as stipulated in the Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946, was made contingent on Philippine acceptance of the parity clause.

The Bell Act was approved by the Philippine legislature on July 2, two days before independence. The parity clause, however, required an amendment relating to the 1935 constitution’s thirteenth article, which reserved the exploitation of natural resources for Filipinos. This amendment could be obtained only with the approval of three-quarters of the members of the House and Senate and a plebiscite. The denial of seats in the House to six members of the leftist Democratic Alliance and three Nacionalistas on grounds of fraud and violent campaign tactics during the April 1946 election enabled Roxas to gain legislative approval on September 18. The definition of three-quarters became an issue because three-quarters of the sitting members, not the full House and Senate, had approved the amendment, but the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the administration’s interpretation.

In March 1947, a plebiscite on the amendment was held; only 40 percent of the electorate participated, but the majority of those approved the amendment.

What is significant in the 1947 Parity Amendment campaign were two things:

1. The first time an assassination attempt was made on a President (a crazed barber, as it turned out, not a full-scale plot; but a close call nonetheless for Roxas at Plaza Miranda).

2. The removal of enough opposition congressmen and senators (on charges of fraud and terrorism) in order to obtain the votes required to propose the amendment to the people.

See Time’s Two Freedoms, Monday, Mar. 24, 1947 for a contemporary overall report and Report on the Plebiscite, April 5, 1947 for a report from the critics of the plebiscite.

1949: After controversial elections, some legislators propose return to single 6-year term for the presidency.

1950: Claro M. Recto warned that the martial law provisions of the 1935 Constitution could easily be abused by a president without scruples.

Claro M. Recto warned of the dangers of martial law, when he opposed President Elpidio Quirino’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Central Luzon on October 20, 1950. Quirino would try other ways to exercise emergency powers, but didn’t try martial law. (See Nuts and Bolts of Martial Law and Concerning Martial Law)

1958: Recto proposes amendment to strengthen Separation of Church and State

Claro M. Recto suggested, in an article in The Lawyers Journal (1958) that a Constitutional amendment be passed to further clarify the definition of the separation of Church and State in the Constitution. (See Filipinos and Freemasonry)


December 30, 1965: Ferdinand E. Marcos is elected as President in his first term. He is the only president to be elected to a second term.


March 16, 1967: Senate and the House of Representatives passed a Joint Resolution that proposed constitutional amendments.

November 14, 1967: Increasing representatives; Members of Congress to sit in Convention

Subsequently, the Congress passed Republic Act No. 4913, providing that the amendments to the Constitution proposed be submitted at the general elections to be held on November 14, 1967.

The referendum was on the amendment to Article VI, Section 5 and 16 of the 1935 Constitution. The proposed plebiscite was apparently challenged in the Supreme Court; it declined to intervene. The plebiscite is under-reported but was a highly significant one, in that it was the first and only time, plebiscite questions resulted in a rejection by the electorate.

Question One: Increasing number of congressmen from 120 to 180

18% FOR

Question Two: Allowing members of Congress to serve in the coming Constitutional Convention without forfeiting their seats.

16.5% FOR

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 9.30.53 AM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

Details are slim, so all I can  reproduce are the overall percentages. All I’ve found is a footnote in Liang, citing Nick Joaquin, March 16, 1968:

“Of the 65 provinces, 62 rejected both issues; of the 50 chartered cities, 44 voted ‘no’ as against 2 voted ‘yes’.”

The immediate outcome of the rejection of Congress’ proposals was Republic Act No. 6132, prohibiting any political party and public officer from being represented in the Constitutional Convention, which was adopted in reaction to public opinion. See my April 27, 2009 column The elimination of public opinion for Raul Manglapus’ summary of events and the political implications of the plebiscite defeat:

According to Manglapus, politicians began to consider abolishing the [president’s] four-year term (with one possible re-election for another term) in 1949, because of the controversial elections of that year. By the 1960s, legislators were also keenly interested in two other Constitution-related proposals: first, that the membership of the House should be increased; and second, for elections to be synchronized to save time and money.

In 1967, fulfilling the provisions of the 1935 Constitution, Congress began sitting in joint session to consider these proposals, but no consensus could be reached on restoring a single six-year presidential term and on synchronized elections; there was agreement, though, to increase the number of representatives.

At which point, according to Manglapus, “someone said, ‘Since we cannot agree and we cannot keep on meeting in joint sessions because the public will demand that we cease this futile exercise, let us call a Convention.’”

But, Manglapus added, “the intention of course was that the Congressmen and the Senators were to control the Convention. And therefore when somebody said, ‘Let us call a Convention, anyway we can all be members of that Convention and we can control it,’ some other members of the House said ‘We cannot because we are inhibited by the present Constitution.’”

Clever colleagues proposed a solution: ‘All we have to do is amend the present Constitution at the same time that we pass the increase of seats in the House. We will say ‘However, a senator or congressman may be a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.’”

The problem was that any amendment had to be submitted to the people; Manglapus related that public opinion was disgusted with such a self-serving proposal, the result being “84 percent of them said ‘no.’ And the next morning the Senators and Congressmen woke up to find they had created a frankenstein monster. They had called a Constitutional Convention and they were not going to control it. And so they began to make noises that there was no need for the Convention, that [it] would be expensive; and cheaper and more convenient for the Senators and Congressmen to resume their work as a constituent assembly.”

Public opinion forced Congress to pass a Constitutional Convention Act, according to Manglapus, and deprived the political professionals of the fruits of victory twice over.

As I pointed out, as things turned out, robbing the political class of control over the 1971 Convention may have predisposed it to accepting Marcos’ solution: to force the Convention to accept his own draft, while ensuring general compliance by offering delegates seats in a new parliament on condition they approved Marcos’ draft.

June 1,1971: Constitutional Convention called to order

After fits and starts (and one wonders, since the Constitutional Convention law was passed in 1967, whether with the encouragement based on foresight, of Marcos, preparing for his second term), a Constitutional Convention was called, with several main proposals to consider: 1. Unitary versus Federal 2. Presidential versus Parliamentary

3. Unicameral versus Bicameral

See The Constitution speaks, February 12, 1972.

1972:  Controversies rock the Constitutional Convention.

Marcos’s political problem was that his 1969 term expired on December 30, 1973; and that, ideally, the extinction of the 1935 Constitution should be accomplished by means of the process set out in it. He seems to have been concerned that the Supreme Court might become the focus of resistance to his plans, as cases challenging martial law began to clog the court’s docket. An additional problem arose, when some senators tried to organize a ruckus in Congress, in time for the 1973 Regular Session scheduled to begin on January 22, 1973.

See The politicalization of the Constitutional Convention, January 22, 1972; Constitutional Convention Or Malacañang Kennel? Editorial for January 22, 1972; Constitutional Convention: Nakakahiya! February 26, 1972;

September 23, 1972: President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law through Proclamation 1081, s. 1972.

As the Martial Law was implemented, the Constitutional Convention had approved a draft acceptable to President Marcos (in late 1972) and presented it to him, formally, on December 1, 1972; he’d accordingly issued a proclamation calling for a plebiscite to ratify or reject the new Constitution.

It seems that Marcos got wind of the possibility public opinion had swung against ratification. So if he held a plebiscite, he might lose; and win or lose, Congress or at least the Senate if not the House, seemed hell-bent on challenging martial law when it resumed session on January 22; that challenge, among other things, might stiffen the spine of the Supreme Court. So something had to be done before January 22.

 This concern is reflected in his December 23, 1972 announcement postponing the plebiscite; statements in December 29 in the state-controlled media warning of a “constitutional crisis” if senators insisted on convening in January, 1973; then, his decree creating Barangay Assemblies on January 5; then, having created a new mechanism, his January 7 order stating that the plebiscite originally scheduled for January 15 might be held on February 19 or March 15 as alternate dates; in other words, he postponed the only option, a plebiscite, to create two tracks, the barangay or citizens’ assembly and plebiscite paths.

Prior to martial law, Marcos had been admiringly described by his critics as engaging in Ju-Jitsu, and he handled the possibility that Congress would convene, under the provisions of the 1935 Constitution, and the difficulty represented by a plebiscite in the old manner leading to the rejection of the new constitution, by scrapping the rules.

September 24, 1972: President Marcos issued Presidential Decree No.1 adopting the Integrated Reorganization Plan. Thousands of employees mostly from BIR and Customs were dismissed from government service.

Marcos as a political strategist and tactician can be seen in his own diary entries, showing how in 1972, on September 24 (the day after he proclaimed martial law) he bluntly warned the Supreme Court that any effort to question his proclamation might provoke him into proclaiming a revolutionary government, which would mean shutting down the Supreme Court; September 26 (or three days after he proclaimed martial law) he was still telling subordinates that Congress and the Constitutional Convention would be untouched;

December 1, 1972: the Constitutional Convention presented a draft to President Marcos, which he found acceptable. He accordingly issued a proclamation calling for a plebiscite to ratify the new Constitution.


December 23, 1972: President Marcos announced the  postponement of the plebiscite.

January 7, 1973: Marcos postpones plebiscite

January 7, 1973: Marcos postpones plebiscite

President Marcos once again gave an announcement that the January 15 plebiscite was to be moved to either February 19 or March 15.

As for the Marcos “plebiscites” from 1973 to 1984, they were conducted in a manner entirely different from the 1935-1967 plebiscites and that held in 1987. So they are not part of a piece. What Marcos was trying to capitalize on was the familiarity of the public with referenda as a democratic process.

January 10-15, 1973: “Citizen’s Assemblies” on proposed Constitution

Marcos lowered the voting age from 18 to 15 and illiterates were allowed to vote. From January 10 to 15, a series of “citizens’ assemblies” were held, in lieu of a plebiscite in the manner specified by the 1935 Constitution. The “results” of the January 10-15, 1973 were:

– Question One: Whether to adopt the proposed (1973) Constitution:

14,976,561 (90.67%) Yes
743,869 (9.33%) No


– Question Two: Whether the public still wanted a plebiscite to be called to ratify the Constitution:

1,421,616 (9.04%) Yes
14,298,814 (90.96%) No


Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 9.33.10 AM

With total valid votes at 15,720,430 (compare this figure with the 1967 plebiscite and 1969 presidential election figures; the Supreme Court itself, in its decision on the “ratification” of the 1973 Constitution, mentioned “the total number of registered voters 21 years of age or over in the entire Philippines, available in January 1973, was less than 12 million”: this suggests the boost in voting numbers provided by relaxing voting requirements such as age or literacy; except that Marcos, as a shrewd and self-confident strategist, didn’t rely on subordinates to scrounge around for a “will I win by 1 million” margin, but rather, created an infinitely safer margin for himself of nearly 3 million votes!).

January 13, 1973:  Marcos marshalls support among allies for his own draft of the proposed new constitution was what was going to be “ratified”.

(See The referendum scorecard 1935-1987, June 9, 2009)

January 17, 1973: Congress is padlocked. 

Two days later, President Marcos certified that the new constitution had been ratified. And then, he padlocked Congress, which he argued, was now defunct. All that was left was for the Supreme Court to declare the process valid. (See The referendum scorecard 1935-1987, June 9, 2009) This, the Supreme Court did in Javellana v. Executive Secretaryon March 31, 1973. Chief Justice Concepcion wrote the decision, stated his objections, and retired ahead of schedule in muted protest. For contemporary coverage, see Smiling no more, January 22, 1973.

January 23, 1973: Marcos once again reviewed the option of simply proclaiming a revolutionary government. 

January 24, 1973: Marcos reviewed the option of citizen’s assemblies instead of a secret ballot in a plebiscite.

January 27, 1973: Marcos saw plebiscites as a way to legitimize his rule.

Marcos expressed satisfaction with how everyone has fallen in line, and contemptuously noting the Justices of the Supreme Court seemed inclined to fall in line too, as long as he reassured them they could keep their jobs. And so, once success had been achieved, how the plebiscite route became his favored option for validating his rule; see May 5 and July 5-6. And his self-satisfaction a year after proclaiming martial law, see September 22. For my purposes, it’s not relevant to rehash the Marcos plebiscites which you can find in Wikipedia. In 1981, a Time Magazine report, Blighted win reported the indifference and civic disobedience to voting having been made mandatory:

In their strenuous efforts to ensure heavy voter participation and thereby give the regime a popular mandate, the Marcos forces had warned Filipinos that if they flouted the electoral law – as nearly 4 million voters did in a national plebiscite last April – they faced up to six months’ imprisonment. A week before the election, the warnings were reinforced by television films of two men who had been jailed for failing to vote in April. First Lady Imelda Marcos tried to lure Filipinos to the polls by hinting that amnesty might be granted to April boycotters if they voted this time. In the campaign’s closing days, President Marcos even invoked possible religious sanctions, citing a 1948 statement by Pope Pius XII that it was “a grave sin, a mortal offense” not to vote. That provoked a sharp rejoinder from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that Marcos had taken the Pontiffs remarks out of context.


October 16-17,1976: Plebiscite on Martial Law

A plebiscite was held in order to determine if people were amenable to  amendments to the 1973 Constitution.

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 9.57.32 AM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

June 12, 1978: Marcos restores Legislature

After having amended the 1973 constitution in 1976 to guarantee himself legislative powers even if a parliament convened, Ferdinand Marcos finally restored the legislature. It’s interesting to consider what the process of constitutional amendments was like, when the Batasang Pambansa was eventually established. (See The Worm Within)

1980: Proposed amendment on immunity from suit

One of Marcos’ lieutenants, Assemblyman Rodolfo Albano Jr. of Isabela province proposed a constitutional amendment. The amendment would turn the immunity from suit enjoyed by a president during his term of office, into a permanent protection. That is, immunity from suit for life. Assemblyman Arturo Tolentino rose in parliament to oppose the amendment (Tolentino also wrote one of the most interesting autobiographies ever penned by a Filipino politician, titling his book Voice of Dissent).

In a move reminiscent of Quezon’s informal committee to study his re-election, Parliament set up a committee composed of Justice Minister Ricardo Puno, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Minister Leonardo Perez (Marcos’s adviser on political affairs) and Assemblymen Emmanuel Pelaez, Juan Liwag, and Tolentino. Tolentino convinced the committee to refuse to tackle the proposal. It was sent to President Marcos and discussed in a meeting.

Tolentino recounts that in the meeting, Marcos was furious. He asked, “Where is it? Where is that provision? What will the military think of me if I will have only my own immunity as president and during my tenure?” He looked at the report and angrily repeated, “What will the military think of me when I will continue to be immune from suit as president but those who are under me and who followed my orders in times of crisis and in an hour of need will not have any immunity?”

Marcos’ table-thumping met with silence. So he went further: “This is the time for us to determine who are with me and who are not with me; and for those who are not with me, the door is open. You can join people who are like you. You have no place here.”An Assemblyman immediately chimed in suggesting not only that the proposal for lifetime immunity for the President be presented to Parliament, but immunity should be lifetime as well for other officials. Tolentino recounts, “in the face of presidential ire, nobody objected; I did not object.”

The proposed amendment was debated in parliament and Tolentino devoted six pages of his memoirs to a transcript of the debate. He claimed he was able to”water down” the amendment through a typically lawyerly definition of terms:

The extended immunity after tenure would not prevent a court from acquiring jurisdiction over the person of the ex-president who had become a private citizen, and as such subject to the judicial process. But the court would have no jurisdiction over the subject matter of the suit if it is a lawful official act… and so the case would be dismissed. The ex-president would not really be immune from suit but cannot be held liable because what is charged is an “official act”.

In other words, no president would be exempt from being charged in court; but because every official act’s presumed legal, and thus every official act is lawful, the courts would have had to automatically dismiss any charges against any former president.

(See The worm within, Nov 25, 2008)


April 7, 1981: Plebiscite

The government held yet another a plebiscite. It won, just as it would win when Marcos engineered more constitutional amendments, including yet another typically tricky one: since he was getting older, and sicker, even his party wanted a constitutional successor. So Marcos said yes. (See Plebiscitary Democracy)

January 27, 1984: Plebiscite held on various amendments

 A plebiscite was held in order to get the approval of the people on various proposed amendments to the constitution.

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 11.32.36 AM

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 1.07.31 PM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac

March 25, 1986: Provisional constitution adopted

President Corazon Aquino declared in Proc. No. 3 “declaring a national policy to implement reforms mandated by the people protecting their basic rights, adopting a provisional constitution and providing for an orderly transition to a government under a new Constitution. After the EDSA revolution, there was a debate as to which policy to pursue concerning the 1973 Constitution as amended: 1. Restore the 1935 Constitution, on the grounds that the 1973 Constitution had never been validly ratified. 2. Retain the 1973 Constitution. 3. Proclaim a Revolutionary Government, govern under a temporary constitution, while paving the way for an appointed commission to write a new constitution. For details on the debate, see my series, Wedded to an Old Charter (December 18, 2008), Accommodating new forces( December 22, 2008), and ‘35, ‘73 or a new start? (December 24, 2008). See Cory’s Proclamation No. 3, by Napoleon G. Rama in the Free Press, April 19, 1986.

April 23, 1986: Through  Proc. No. 9 , Pres. Aquino created a Constitutional Commission to replace the 1973 Constitution.

Read Farewell, My Lovely, July 26, 1986

February 2, 1987: Ratification of the 1987 Constitution

The results were as follows:

17,059,495 (76.37%) YES
5,058,714 (26.65%) NO


The plebiscite ratified the 1987 Constitution. Under the charter, Aquino served as President until mid-1992.

(See The worm within, Nov 25, 2008)

  Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 10.00.05 AM

Source: PCDSPO Philippine Electoral Almanac


On February 16, 1987 Time reported the plebiscite as follows in The Philippines:

By the time it had ended, the largest electoral turnout in Philippine history had resoundingly endorsed the new constitution by a vote of more than 3 to 1. When the plebiscite results were proclaimed Saturday, they showed the document had been approved by some 16.6 million votes, with about 5.2 million opposed, for a winning margin of 76%. The outcome was a personal triumph for President Corazon Aquino, who had turned the plebiscite into a nationwide referendum on her government. “We have surprised the world again,” said the President. “The tremendous vote of confidence of Feb. 2 reaffirms the now unquestionable legitimacy and democratic power of our government.”

Aquino’s overwhelming victory was all the more remarkable because it followed several weeks of political unrest. On Jan. 22 a violent clash between soldiers and pro-land-reform demonstrators left at least a dozen dead. A week later, a tense three-day coup attempt ended when rebel soldiers surrendered. The President’s margin of victory forced even her most bitter opponents to concede that it represented the popular will. “We accept the verdict of the Filipino people,” said former Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, who led the rightist opposition under the banner of the Nationalista Party. He added, “We did our share in making democracy work by taking the other side of the issue.” Declared Jose Castro, a leader of the leftist Bayan Party: “We will abide with the masses’ decision.”

From my December 24, 2008 article: In David Wurfel’s estimation, “The basic law is probably close to what it would have been had the Constitutional Convention of 1971 been able to complete its work without the imposition of authoritarian rule.” In a way, things had come full circle. The unfinished task of the old Con-Con was completed. The idealism of some members of the Con-Con, which had provided some hope to an apparently disintegrating society and its government, found fulfillment, after a long interlude of repression. At the same time, some of the painful lessons and progressive insights gained under a dictatorship had borne fruit. But since then, the defects of that Constitution have become manifest; and among the defects are the thorny issues surrounding just how proposing amendments should come about. In July 1987, Congress is reestablished.

1992: SWS Survey on Charter Change

In the 1992 SWS survey, 40% agree that the Constitutional provisions should be changed at that time.


1993: Constituent Assembly of Congress convened

The House of Representatives passed Resolution 24 convening a Constituent Assembly of Congress to propose amendments to the Constitution, to undertake “structural and social action designed to propel the Philippines to a (newly industrialized country) status before the turn of the century in addition to a possible shift from presidential to parliamentary government.” The move did not push through, but it did not die as well. The move was tried again in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Congress.

August 1995: Shift towards Parliamentary Government

The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments began public hearings on constitutional change and shifting to a parliamentary government.


September 1995: Parliamentary Constitution leaked

The Manila Times published a leaked draft parliamentary constitution, apparently prepared by the National Security Council, which was headed by Jose Almonte) 

March 19, 1997: Supreme Court rules in Santiago v. Comelec

See G.R. No. 127325, March 19, 1997:

Under Section 2 of Article XVII of the Constitution and Section 5(b) of R.A. No. 6735, a petition for initiative on the Constitution must be signed by at least 12% of the total number of registered voters of which every legislative district is represented by at least 3% of the registered voters therein. The Delfin Petition does not contain signatures of the required number of voters. Delfin himself admits that he has not yet gathered signatures and that the purpose of his petition is primarily to obtain assistance in his drive to gather signatures. Without the required signatures, the petition cannot be deemed validly initiated…

The foregoing considered, further discussion on the issue of whether the proposal to lift the term limits of elective national and local officials is an amendment to, and not a revision of, the Constitution is rendered unnecessary, if not academic.


September 23, 1997: SC dismissed signature campaign

The Supreme Court dismissed the People’s Initiative for Reform, Modernization and Action (PIRMA)’s  petition which sought to amend the Constitution through a signature campaign. (PIRMA vs. COMELEC, 1997)


September 27, 1997: Rally held against charter change

Former President Cory Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin spearheaded an anti-charter change rally with the support of Catholic bishops at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila. (GMA News: Past major rallies vs. charter change, February 29, 2008)

March and June 1999: SWS survey on charter change

In the March 1999 survey by SWS, 23% agree that the provisions in the Constitution should be changed now.

August 1999:  Estrada proposes CONCORD

President Joseph Ejercito Estrada proposes the Constitutional Correction for Development (CONCORD), to amend economic provisions of the Constitution in order to lift prohibiting provisions on foreign ownership of land and stake in any local industry. 

August 20, 1999: 2nd rally against cha-cha

Former President Cory Aquino and Cardinal Sin led another anti-charter change rally this time at Ayala Avenue, Makati against President Estrada’s version of charter change, the Constitutional Correction for Development (CONCORD). (Past major rallies vs. charter change, GMANews TV, February 29, 2008)

June 10, 2001: Carpio proposes three amendments Antonio Carpio (now Associate Justice) op-ed proposing three “necessary” amendments to the Constitution:

The first necessary and urgent change is amending the fixed and permanent definition of the national territory in our Constitution. The Constitution defines the national territory to include all lands and waters over which the Philippines has historic or legal title. This includes Sabah and the Kalayaan Island Group. No president can conclude a peace settlement with Malaysia over the Sabah issue without violating the Constitution… The only solution is to amend the Constitution to insert the proviso “unless otherwise provided by law” as a qualification to the current definition of the national territory in the Constitution. This way, the President can by law be authorized to settle the Sabah dispute, the Congress can enact the national baselines law and the DFA can argue more seriously the Sipadan case before the ICJ. Most importantly, we can prepare a stronger case for the big battle of them all: the future arbitration of the Spratlys dispute before the ICJ. The second most important amendment to the present Constitution is the “regionalization” of the Senate. Visayas and Mindanao have always been under-represented in the Senate, and the incoming Senate, with 19 senators from Luzon, is no exception. If senators are elected by region and not nationwide, there will be an equitable representation of all regions, including the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in the upper chamber of Congress… The third most important amendment to the Constitution is the return of the country to a true democracy by instituting the rule of the majority. The present Constitution provides for a multi-party system but inexplicably fails to require a run-off in presidential elections if no candidate wins a majority of the votes cast. A run-off is an essential element of a multi-party system and ensures that the president enjoys the mandate of the majority.

In July 2001, Jose de Venecia, former House Speaker, assigned priority status to amending the 1987 Constitution through a constituent assembly in Congress. He chose Antonio Eduardo Nachura, representing the Second District of Western Samar, to lead the Committee on Constitutional Amendments. 

2002-2005: Pulse Asia and SWS Surveys on Charter Change

In the November 2002 survey by SWS, only 21% agree that there are Constitutional provisions that are needed to be changed at that time. In the 2003 survey by Pulse Asia, 77% of Filipinos have little or no knowledge of Constitution. Of the 23% of Filipinos who have at least a sufficient knowledge of the charter, only 4 out of 10 (39%) support moves for amendments during that time, while another 39% oppose but are open to amendments some time in the future. According to SWS in June, only 20% think that there are Constitutional provisions that need to be changed.

In the March 2005 Pulse Asia survey, 29% agreed that the Constitution should be amended.
In May of the same year, the SWS survey showed that 30% of Filipinos agreed that there are Constitutional provisions that should be changed now.

September 1, 2003: Jose Almonte admits he was behind PIRMA

In an interview by Newsbreak, Jose Almonte admits to being the one behind PIRMA. “I was the one behind it. I take full responsibility. But I would like to clarify certain points. It was not Charter change: it was an implementation of the people power provision of the Constitution, that the people can take the initiative to amend the Constitution. This was what we wanted: for the people to initiate and approve a resolution that any president of the Republic who. in their perception and their opinion, has done very well, be made an exemption to the term limits. He should be allowed to run again.” “Those who were against it were the ones who would be affected, and they were those who would like to become president in 1998.”

Asked about PIRMA was to prevent an Estrada Presidency – “That is correct. In my view, he would reverse all the reforms that the Ramos government had done. We knew that only the incumbent. President Ramos, could beat Estrada in the election. In short: if we have to defeat Estrada in an election, then we have to allow Ramos to run again. I have nothing personal against Estrada. Whoever was the strongest potential candidate at the time was immaterial. The original intention of Pirma was for a good president to be allowed to run again.” (Newsbreak Archives, Jose Almonte: The Original intention of PIRMA was for a good president to run again).

August 19, 2005: GMA forms Consultative Commission

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Executive Order 453, Creating a consultative commission to propose the revision of the 1987 constitution in consultation with various sectors of society. A year later, the Consultative Commission pushed for the amendment of constitution to parliamentary-federal government. (See Jose Abueva’s “Some Advantages of Federalism and Parliamentary Government for the Philippines”)


October 2005: Pulse Asia Survey on Charter Change

In October, 36% agreed that the Constitution should be amended. At the same time, 26% are in favor or changing the present presidential system into a parliamentary system of government.

November 6, 2005: Matrix of various proposals for Constitutional amendments

Prepared by PCIJ and published online as Proposals for charter change: A comparison of the Abueva, House, and Coalition for Charter Change proposals.

December 15, 2005: Consultative Commission on Charter Change finishes report

After three months of work, the Consultative Commission on Charter Change proposes the postponement of elections until 2010. A parliamentary government is proposed, and gradual Federalism as well as the liberalization of economic provisions of the Constitution. See sidebar of this article for the records of the deliberations of the Commission.


November 6, 2005: House to begin debate on Constitutional Amendments

As reported by PCIJ.

2006: Congress proposes People’s Initiative

House of Representatives presents matrix of proposed amendments to the Constitution: the amendments propose a unicameral, parliamentary, People’s Initiative proposed as means to accomplish Constitutional amendments. Supreme Court struck down people’s initiative as a means for amendments. 

February 15, 2006: Makati Business Club proposes the following amendments to the Constitution:


(1) The President’s and Vice President’s term be limited to four years, with one re-election allowed as in the past. (2) The President and Vice President should come from the same party. (3) Revert to the two party system and pass measures that will penalize turncoatism. (4) If a multiparty system is maintained, then a run-off election for President and Vice President must be provided when none of the candidates achieve a clear majority.(5) The provisions or restrictions on economic activities should be removed from the Constitution and made a matter of law that Congress can amend, revise or repeal as the need arises to meet changing conditions and global competition.

Sergio Osmeña III commissions survey to take snapshot of public opinion on Constitutional amendments. The results take anti-Charter Change advocates by surprise.

March, April and July 2006: Pulse Asia Survey on Charter Change

In the March 2006 Pulse Asia survey, more Filipinos were in favor of amending the Constitution as compared to the previous year. 43% agreed that the Constitution should be amended. 33% are in favor or changing the present presidential system into a parliamentary system of government.
Meanwhile, in April, 44% agreed that the Constitution should be amended. In July, less Filipinos were in favor of the Constitutional amendments. Only 40% agreed that the Constitution should be amended.
According to the SWS survey in June, 27% will vote for a new Constitution that President GMA wants.


July 29, 2006: See Explainer: The difference between parliamentary and presidential government.


August 2, 2006: See Explainer: Parliamentary and Unicameral Resources.


August 6, 2006: See Explainer: The difference between presidential and parliamentary government.


September and November 2006: SWS and Pulse Asia Survey on Charter Change

According to the SWS survey in September, 29% will vote for a new Constitution that President GMA wants.

In Pulse Asia’s November 2006 survey, 39% are in favor of changing the Constitution. In the same month, SWS found out that only 28% will vote for a new Constitution that President GMA wants.

Senate Economic Planning Office publishes Electoral System, Parties and Bureaucracy: The Missing Links in the Charter Change Debate

October 25, 2006: Supreme Court rules in Lambino v. Comelec.

See Lambino v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 174153, October 25, 2006.

There can be no mistake about it. The framers of the Constitution intended, and wrote, a clear distinction between “amendment” and “revision” of the Constitution. The framers intended, and wrote, that only Congress or a constitutional convention may propose revisions to the Constitution. The framers intended, and wrote, that a people’s initiative may propose only amendments to the Constitution. Where the intent and language of the Constitution clearly withhold from the people the power to propose revisions to the Constitution, the people cannot propose revisions even as they are empowered to propose amendments.

December 5-7, 2006: Congress proposes move to parliament, postponement of elections and term extension

The month began with the House of Representatives vowing it would finally propose amendments to the Philippine Constitution. It would do so with or without the participation of the Senate. To facilitate the process, it amended its own rules to dispense with a previous (and long-standing) requirement that constitutional proposals undergo the same process as legislative measures. In a marathon session that went on from Dec. 5 to 6, the House majority forced through the change. The next day, the House proceeded to attempt to propose a resolution which would transform itself into a Constituent Assembly; this would be made possible by a House Resolution stating the intent of the House. This was passed early in the morning of Dec. 7. But the bruising dusk to dawn sessions of the past days antagonized the public to an extent that surprised the House leadership and even the president. The reason people were antagonized was in the nature of the House proposals. First, to postpone elections from May 2007 to November of next year; second, to immediately transform the Congress into a Parliament if the proposals were approved in a plebiscite; third, to lift term limits (congressmen are presently limited to three, three-year terms) and lengthen terms from 3 to 5 years. They would do so, even in the face of Senate opposition, and provoke a constitutional crisis if necessary. The Catholic hierarchy said it would call the people to a rally on Dec. 15. Word got around that other influential groups would join the Catholics; the president got nervous, and told the House leadership she would disown them if they didn’t drop their plans.

December 9, 2006: Congress challenges Senate to call for Constitutional Convention

The Speaker of the House held a press conference saying he was bowing to public pressure, but -in his own words — then tried to “turn the tables” on the Senate by challenging it to call for a Constitutional Convention. The Speaker gave an ultimatum: The Senate had three days to respond or the House would continue with its plans. This further galvanized public opposition and the intention of the various churches and civic groups to rally.

It was at that point that the president began more public maneuverings even as some pretty frantic plans were launched to blunt the effect of a rally. First, the national gambling authority, the Philippine Amusements and Games Corporation, hired the location where the rally was supposed to take place. The rally organizers were forced to announce a postponement from Friday the 15h to Sunday the 17th. Then, on the 15th, the president made the announcement quoted above.

December 14, 2006: GMA sets aside charter change.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said this: “It is time to gather together all the energies of our people for the continuing work ahead… Philippine democracy will always find the proper time and opportunity for Charter reform at a time when the people deem it ripe and needful, and in the manner they deem proper. The nation must consolidate now and I call upon all our institutions and sectors to stand as one for the country’s future.”

December 19, 2006: GMA challenges national leaders to take up charter change.

President Arroyo said this: “There are three realities we face as a nation: One, that the people accept the need for Charter change to overhaul the system; two, that there is a need for a unified national consensus on the means and timetable; and three, that this is a platform commitment of the administration that will be pursued with urgency and fervor…This is a matter of paramount national interest and our leaders must all rise to the challenge.”

May 7, 2008: Proposal on unitary to federal government

Rep. Monico O. Puentevella Tuesday filed House Concurrent Resolution 15 which supported the initiative of Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., author of Joint Resolution 10 that has been backed by 16 senators  to move to change the form of government to federal from unitary. SeeHouse resolution supports change in form of government See Explainer: Charter Change script on what makes for a successful charter change

October 2008: SWS Survey on Charter Change

In the October 2008 SWS survey, 15% are in favor of amending the Constitution to allow President Arroyo extend her term.

November 10, 2008: Fr. Bernas on amendments on choosing supreme court and other appellate justices

Serious talk about constitutional amendment after the 2010 elections is growing in strength. If we should have an amendatory process, I am certain that one of the provisions which will be subjected to examination is the manner of choosing Supreme Court justices and other appellate justices. Until this happens, we have to make the present system work.

(Inquirer Opinion, Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J)

December 1, 2008

PCIJ summary of pro- and anti-amendments bills.

February 2009: Pulse Asia and SWS Survey on Charter Change

In the February 2009 survey by Pulse Asia, 33% are in favor of changing the Constitution. According to SWS, 15% are in favor of amending the Constitution to allow President Arroyo extend her term.

April 22, 2009:  Rep. Luis Villafuerte sponsors resolution calling upon the House of Representatives to “convene for the purpose of considering proposals to amend or revise the constitution, upon a vote of three fourths of all the members of Congress

See House Resolution 1109 sponsored by Rep. Luis Villafuerte.

See op-ed by Joel Rocamora on impossibility of ruling coalition’s math at the time.

June 2009: SWS Survey on Charter Change

In the June 2009 SWS survey, 12% are in favor of amending the Constitution to allow President Arroyo extend her term.

June 4, 2009: Locsin statement on House unilaterally convening a Constituent Assembly.

From his statement:

I submit that the Supreme Court and the country as a whole will ignore us — and then laugh at us all the way to the ignominious end of the 14th Congress. We shall be ignored as surely as we shall be laughed at.

For this is a resolution calling upon the members of Congress but naming only the members of the House to convene constituently for no stated purpose. And yet the Constitution specifies that Congress may convene as a constituent assembly only for the purpose of considering — considering — not introducing let alone just awaiting — proposals to amend or revise the Constitution upon a vote of 3/4th of all the members of Congress.

This resolution puts the cart before the horse because, there being no amendments to consider, there is no purpose to convene Congress as a constituent assembly. It is a blatant lie that this resolution reflected upon its introduction to the floor of the House a consensus of the House of a need to amend the Constitution because, aside from the Speaker of the House who filed his amendment to the economic provisions as a regular bill, no one has expressed any desire to change the Constitution or expressly specified in what particular respect.


July 3, 2009: One Voice full-page ad opposing House Resolution 1109 which proposed strategy of House of Representatives convening a Constituent Assembly in Congress.


August 3, 2009: Jesuit priest Joaquin Bernas proposed replacing the JBC with old system of Commission on Appointments approving judicial nominations

Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J.  proposed to amend provisions in the Constitution, particularly the process of appointing justices of the Supreme Court, appointed by the president from the list prepared by the Judicial and Bar Council (see Inquirer: Appointing a Supreme Court justice).

See also Inquirer: Saludo blows out


June 14, 2012: Fr. Bernas on restoring a 1935 constitutional provision on appointments to the judiciary

Fr. Bernas has argued for a return to the 1935 system that requires appointees to pass through the CA, at least for candidates to the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. He agrees with the late former senator and fellow ConCom member Francisco Rodrigo who favored the CA choosing pre-martial justices. Bernas recalls how Rodrigo “valiantly” fought, but failed, to restore the 1935 constitutional provision.

From President Quezon on to Osmeña, Roxas, Quirino, Magsaysay, Garcia, Macapagal and even Marcos before he declared martial law, the appointments to the Judiciary, especially to the Supreme Court and to the Court of Appeals, were high-class, so much so that we had the highest, the utmost respect for the Judiciary,” Rodrigo had said. “Before the declaration of martial law, we regarded the Supreme Court, up to the Concepcion Court, with awe and respect. And so why should we change this now, merely because of what happened during martial law?

(See ABS-CBN News, For better judiciary, reforms in appointment process needed)

June 25, 2013: Fr. Bernas on giving back to the Commission on Appointments the power to confirm appointments to the Supreme Court

I keep referring to things prior to martial law because I believe that the completely discretionary power of the president under martial law to appoint members of the judiciary was what destroyed the Philippine judicial system. We have not yet recovered from that debacle, and I am not sure which direction the present administration is going. What then?
One thought I have is that we should give back to the Commission on Appointments the power to confirm appointments to the Supreme Court. Go back, in other words, to the 1935 system. But, yes, only for Supreme Court justices. Let the JBC continue to handle appointments to lower levels. Of course, on the evidence of how the impeachment of Renato Corona was conducted by the House of Representatives and the Senate, one cannot claim that a Commission on Appointments would work perfectly. But a fully transparent process of the commission will help temper the allure of political temptations. Regrettably, however, a return to the old system can only happen after a constitutional amendment, which may not be near in coming.

July 9, 2013: House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. filed a concurrent resolution proposing amendments to the 1987 Constitution regarding economic provisions on foreign capital investments in the country.

See Belmonte makes fresh push for Cha-cha, but Palace questions its urgency

July 16, 2014: Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 2

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV introduced a “concurrent resolution proposing the amendment of section 16, article vii of the 1987 Philippine constitution in order to limit the confirmation process of the commission on appointment for members of the staff of the AFP and service commanders of the army, air force, and navy only. (S. Ct. Reso. No. 2, 2013)

August 7, 2014: Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice proposes term extension for President Aquino and is currently drafting a bill to amend the Constitution.


August 13, 2014: President Aquino’s Interview with TV5

Asked about term extension in an interview, President Benigno S. Aquino III said that he will listen to what his “bosses” [people] want.

PRES. AQUINO: Well, ‘nung pinasukan ko ho ito, ang tanda ko one term of six years. Ngayon, after having said that, siyempre, ang mga boss ko ho kailangan kong pakinggan rin e, at hindi ibig sabihin noon na automatic na hahabol ako na magkaroon pa akong dagdag dito, ano. Pero ang tanong nga doon: Paano ba natin masisigurado na ‘yung mga repormang nagawa natin—at ‘pag nina-natin ko, lahat ho ng—mula ‘yung nagbigay sa akin ‘nung mandato nandiyan nakikidamay sa akin, nasa gobyerno, wala sa gobyerno—na maging permanente na itong pagbabago natin. So pagkokonsulta ho sa mga boss ‘yon. Paano ba ang mas may katiyakan tayo na ‘yung pinaghirapan nating lahat ay talaga namang magkaroon na ng ugat at magkatotoo ng permanenteng pagbabago.

(See full transcript of President Aquino with TV5)

See President Aquino says he is open to Cha-Cha, 2nd term, and a weaker SC


August 26, 2014: Resolution of Both House No. 1

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. authored a House Resolution that proposed amendments on some economic provisions in the 1987 Constitution. He particularly seeks to add the phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” in provisions in Articles II, XII & XVI.

See Complete List of House Bills & Resolutions on Charter Change and Constitutional Amendments 


August 27, 2014: President Aquino’s Interview with Bombo Radyo

In a recent interview with Bombo Radyo, President Aquino said that he was open to amending the 1987 Constitution to set limits to the “judicial overreach” but his openness to charter change has nothing to do with seeking a second term of office.

MR. ACOL: Nabanggit niyo na kayo ay tila bukas doon naman sa tinatawag na Charter Change. Pero may pahawatig na sinasabing maramingmay kumontra, may mga kritiko po kayo, meron din namang sumuporta na sinasabing bukas din kayo kung saka-sakali na tinatawag na tatakbo sa 2016 elections kung magkaroon ng Charter Change. Ano pong konteksto talaga nang nabanggit n’yong ito?

PRES. AQUINO: Iyong judicial reach mukhang dapat yata i-review, lagyan ng hangganan.

MR. ACOL: So walang kinalaman ito sa paglalayon na mapalawig daw iyong termino ninyo po beyond 2016?

PRES. AQUINO: Ako ba ang nag-aambisyon na pahabain?

Sinabi ko naman noong una akong tumakbo hindi ako masokista. Pero at the same time, tila—sabi ko nga makikinig ako sa anumang utos ng mga boss natin.

(See full transcript of President Aquino with Bombo Radyo)

September 1, 2014: House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte said that there is no room for political changes in the Constitution in the 16th Congress. However, economic changes can be pursued.

(GMA News: Political cha-cha, walang puwang sa 16th Congress)


October 2014: Pulse Asia Survey on Charter Change

In the most recent Pulse Asia Survey, 62% of Filipinos were opposed to amending the Constitution, while only 20% were willing to amend it.




SWS Survey: Opinion on Cha-cha that will allow President Gloria Arroyo to still be the chief official of the Philippines after June 30, 2010 / Allowing P. Arroyo to become head of government even after 2010?

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 1.09.05 AM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

SWS Survey: Opinion on cha-cha lessening restriction on foreign participation in the economy.

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 1.11.13 AM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.

SWS Survey: Would you vote for or against a new constitution that President Gloria Arroyo wants?

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 1.12.22 AM

Source: Charter change surveys from www.sws.org.ph consolidated by PCDSPO.


Acknowledgments: Francis Kristoffer Pasion Gino Bayot Mica Olaño Celina Cua Sandi Suplido

Aug 11

Crown and Country

rogue cover - aug 2014

Rogue | August 2014

Crown and Country

by Manuel L. Quezon III

 As we say goodbye to our current leaders, we greet their next-in-lines. From Imelda to Bongbong, from JPE to Jackie, can succession plans really go the distance?

AUGUST is a month which reminds us that the problem with revolution (ours began in August, 1896 against Spain), dictatorship (the beginning of the end for Marcos was Ninoy Aquino’s assassination), or unprecedented political leadership (Cory Aquino and Manuel L. Quezon both died on August 1, Quezon and Ramon Magsaysay were born on August 19 and 31 respectively) is, as one lawyer recently told me, “it never has an exit plan.” A revolution, by its very nature, destroys the old and finds it difficult to turn what is new into some- thing permanent: hence a revolution devours its own children. A dictatorship built on the argument that the dictator is the indispensable man considers a succession plan a dangerous sign of weakness—leaving the only possible exit plan, as in a revolutionary situation, a matter of execution or exile.


Marcos had a succession plan, which as one of his advisers put it to me, consisted of a secret decree naming a committee whose members were then expected to fight it out to see who would end up on top. From time to time to stir the pot, Marcos would hint to allies as to who comprised the committee, all the better to see the jockeying unfold. Quezon, Roxas, and Magsaysay all cultivated successors, but only Quezon actually successfully designated his political heir; Roxas and Magsaysay died in their first term, unable to finish their expected tenure and build up a successor. Cory Aquino during her lifetime got some credit for helping elect Ramos, but was more successful in blunting the ambitions of her successors: a reactive veto.


Then there are those who occupy the intersection of politics and commerce: enjoying political as well as business clout. One wonders what Juan Ponce Enrile felt, as his motorcade wound its way to Camp Crame early in July, about his political and commercial aspirations. Surely all the struggle was about a legacy greater than Delimondo canned goods? Looming over Ayala Avenue remains the stump of his unfinished Jaka Center, started 20 years ago as the tallest building in the country. Back then, it was a symbol of the self- made man, built on the former lot of the Elizalde Building, a symbol of the old tycoons giving way to the new. Now, Enrile has no building, and too many copies of his autobiography—filled with self-made pride, and meant to boost the prospects of his son—are gathering dust in the bookstores because the book opened up more questions than it answered. What was meant to be at the very least a political exit plan—his serving out his last years in the senate in the company of his son and heir—has been reduced to the son chatting with ANC as he rode in the convoy to deliver his father to detention.


The exit plans that seem to work are those that involve two things: a conscious decision by the one making the exit to leave the scene, and a plan to make sure the heirs are kept from screwing up.


Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape designer of Central Park, noticed he was not only going senile but developing dementia. He told his sons to take over and take him out of the business. While Olmstead ended up dying in an insane asylum, the firm he established lasted a hundred years. The best-laid plans can go awry even if they start off well. Henry Ford had established the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and by 1918 (then only aged 55), he handed over the presidency of the company to his son, Edsel. But Edsel Ford died in 1943, and Henry made a comeback—senile, paranoid, and al- together incapable of running his great corporation.


John D. Rockefeller, the oil tycoon, had his son, John D., Jr., enter the Standard Oil Company in 1897. He left the company in 1910 to focus on philanthropy; when the Standard Oil monopoly was broken up, it ironically resulted in ballooning Rockefeller’s fortune—which he then systematically transferred to his son. John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s fortune then passed into trusts controlled by his five sons. But these Rockefellers ended up feuding, in large part due to the political career of Nelson Rockefeller who at one point became an appointed, and not elected, Vice President of the United States: the Senate hearings for his appointment led Nelson Rockefeller to disclose the full extent of the family fortune, which revealed it was no longer as vast as popularly believed, a reduction of family prestige his brothers found unforgiveable. Then the third generation faced a revolt from the fourth generation, which persisted until the 1990s, when the fourth and fifth generation of Rockefellers, plentiful in number, shifted from “wealth preservation” to expanding to new enterprises to keep their individual and family net worth up.


William Randolph Hearst created a trust for his heirs composed of a board of 13: five family members, and the rest executives from his corporations. The trust in turn invests and then makes annual payments to Hearst’s heirs. The trust has been so successful that it has made the transition from the previous to the current century not only intact, but has greatly expanded its value and clout, with 20 percent of ESPN, and the Hearst publications among its crown jewels.


Even a notorious attempt by the ex-wife of John Randolph Hearst Jr. to deprive her husband of his fortune (a long time girlfriend who had married him after he had a stroke allegedly proceeded to transfer his assets to herself), which resulted in a settlement to prevent the case breaking the seal of secrecy on the details of the Hearst Trust imposed after Patty Hearst was kidnapped in 1974 (secrecy was imposed so that other heirs would not become targets), failed to break up the trust.


Unlike the Rockefellers and the Hearsts, other succession plans fail because of the heirs themselves.


Jay Pritzker, founder of the Hyatt hotels fortune, had placed a trio of heirs—including Penny Pritzker, now President Obama’s Secretary of Commerce—in charge of the family trust. Other Pritzker heirs eventually challenged the trio, arguing they were overcompensating themselves at the expense of the other heirs. The result was that Penny Pritzker and the others in charge of the family trust had to basically liquidate the family fortune, and parcel it out among all the heirs— including Penny’s two brothers with whom she stopped being on speaking terms.


The generation of the first Taipans are now in the departure lounge; now part of the establishment, they will face the same succession problems the old mestizo commercial families faced. And what is true for business applies to politics, as well: the current era of reform ends in 2016.


To the delight of those who find it inconvenient, there is the prospect of a return to the old ways after that (enter Madame Marcos, complete with flower tiara, proclaiming the presidentiability of her son); and to those who feel it’s meant something, there is the horrifying prospect of the reforms being rolled back.


At the back of everyone’s mind, then, is this: is there an exit plan two years hence?

Jul 11

Opening Remarks At the Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines: Information Resource Sharing Forum

Opening Remarks

At the Association of Special Libraries of the Philippines: Information Resource Sharing Forum

Presidential Broadcast Studio, Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan, Manila

July 11, 2014

I regret being unable to join you today: at this moment the 2015 budget is being presented to the Cabinet. I would very much have wanted to be with you and beg your understanding.

At a time when the value of knowledge seems severely reduced, because it is freely available online, one can only wonder at the irony we face: the accumulated information and learning of humanity has never been so accessible and yet never has it been in some respects so remote from the public.

The reason for this as endlessly discussed and analyzed is that the colossal scale of information out there, puts discernment and comprehension at a premium; superficiality is accompanied by an insistence on instant gratification. My point in bringing this up is, never has your role been more crucial: now more than ever, you bear on your shoulders the heavy yet rewarding task of not only being custodians but advocates of knowledge and an informed society.

Each of you is tasked with amassing a hoard – of books, documents, of data– so that the public should it feel inclined, can plunder that hoard to its hearts content. You are building up riches of the mind in order to give men and women the intellectual tools with which to build a new world. It is a counterintuitive task in some respects: to build up at great cost in time and money, so that others may take away and build value, not for your institutions but for themselves: though of course in building value for ones self one ideally contributes to the whole.

I hope you will not flag or fail in this mission. After all if resources are required, then together, we can reduce the burden to each other by sharing what each of us has; building on the strengths of our individual collections and enriching each others collections out of a shared commitment to the betterment of humanity.

Today you will be sharing ideas on how to do this better; you will be strengthening the personal bonds that enable each of us to persevere in our sometimes lonely, even thankless tasks. May you remain advocates of a humanistic attitude that cherishes the past –its artifacts and ideas and ideals–while playing a vital role in the building of a more generous, more informed and more humane future.

For anyone who dwells in the great halls of the knowledge community, the job is the reward. All of us are privileged to roam the stacks, fortunate to add to the great body of work begun by Dewey, to be like Linneaus in categorizing the world, each according to the frameworks of our individual disciplines.

On a personal note, let me express my gratitude to each of you for the generosity of spirit and solidarity you exhibit to non-experts like myself, when we have questions or concerns. Each question you answer and with every citation you help us find, you allow us to stand on the shoulders of giants.

I hope that in the remaining two years of the Presidents term, my office and the institutions we work with, will work even closer and achieve what we have set out to do: to enable the Filipino people and the world to access the institutional memory of our Republic.

Thank you.

Jul 11

The Sports of Kings

Rogue July 2014

Rogue | July 2014

The Sports of Kings

by Manuel L. Quezon III

An exploration of how, on their days off, the most powerful men of public
office– and sometimes, of the cloth– play a different kind of hardball


PLAYTIME for the powerful is both means and method for power plays. If War, as the German strategist Clausewitz famously expressed, is the “continuation of politics by other means,” then sport and other pastimes is an extension of the political life of the boardroom or executive office. Sport permits manly exhibition or feminine grace; it provides spectacle and opportunities for social interaction; it imbues leisure with purpose, whether moral or psychological.

No surprise then that traditionally, horses and playing cards have all the hallmarks of princely relaxation: horses are not only expensive, requiring land, staff, and leisure –they also require skill and a certain dash if one rides (if not, it requires wealth, hence horseracing as “the sport of kings”); cards can either connote skill or simply a carefree attitude towards debt (the ultimate in aristocratic attitudes). The pinnacle of American colonial playgrounds was the Manila Polo Club in Pasay, cleverly set up by William Cameron Forbes in the 1920s, and who, as late as the 1950s would parlay his investment into a profitable transfer to Makati. The Anglophile Forbes established the Polo Club as part of the network of Anglo-Saxon polo grounds dotting the British Empire, with vestiges that remain to this day, such as when the Sultan of Brunei comes to Manila to play polo.

Anglomania was not just a WASPish affectation; it held sway in a significant sway among Spanish-Filipino commercial families, too: the Elizalde brothers in the 1930s famously constituted their own team, and sports met politics when they led a walkout from the Polo Club over the blackballing of a prospective Filipino member, and established a rival polo club, Los Tamaraos, in Parañaque (the field exists to this day, used for dressage). However, horsemanship, while it appealed to some presidents (Quezon, Roxas and Magsaysay, specifically), it didn’t catch on in wider political, commercial or even military circles.

Neither did hunting, much as Americans thrilled to carabao hunt at the turn of the 20th Century, and shooting snipe had its adherents in Wack-Wack and the Candaba Swamps; the Tamarao caught the hunting of colonial hunters for a time but by the 1930s already had to be conserved.

It may be that violence was simply too much part and parcel of upper class life to make the slaughter of animals much fun. This is in contrast to the European, aristocratic passion for killing things that shifted from people to the fauna of fields and forests in the long period of peace between Waterloo and World War I (with the added bonus of being relatively risk-free, unlike traditional hunting, whether in real life or in fiction: think Robert Baratheon). There it turned into an absolute mania. In 1904 a monument was put up in Schorfheide (in today’s Brandenburg, Germany) to commemorate the “100th noble deer that our Gracious Imperial Majesty Wilhelm II” slaughtered in the forest; he would go on to the massacre of 1,100 pheasants over two days in 1913. When he lost his empire, the ex-Kaiser spent the remainder of his life systematically chopping down trees in his estate-in-exile in Holland: so much so that 73 years after his death, the place is still recovering.

There are exceptions to hunting being more dangerous to animals, of course, such as when former Vice President Dick Cheney –slightly—wounding Harry Whittington during a duck hunt in 2006; and there can be other types of hunting accidents, such as bad timing. The Spanish monarchy is still reeling from the revelation that at the height his nation’s economic woes, King Juan Carlos went off to shoot elephants in Africa.

The high and mighty did go great guns for golf, however, and up to a generation ago it was considered the presidential sport: the late 1930s often found the trio of Manuel L. Quezon, Vicente Madrigal, and Archbishop O’Dougherty at the links (the Archbishop of Manila’s residence, Villa San Miguel, is situated in Mandaluyong precisely because it was close to Wack Wack): their games, it seems, were remarkable not for their handicaps but the manner in which the president swore, vigorously, and loudly, in three languages throughout, amazing all and sundry as far as the archbishop’s tolerance of expletives was concerned. Manuel Roxas, with Laurel’s cautionary example in mind, started the golf course in Malacañan Park; while Ferdinand E. Marcos expanded it, with subsequent improvements by Fidel V. Ramos: all these names suggesting –with the exception of the Church—the professions –politics, business, and the military– for whom golf remains a cultural fixture.

But golf, too, can be dangerous –and not because of the game itself. During the Japanese Occupation, guerrillas mounted a daring operation and nearly killed Jose P. Laurel as he played in Wack-Wack. Impending martial law led frantic oppositionists to seriously plan dive-bombing Ferdinand E. Marcos as he played golf (the plan never, shall we say, really took off). Marcos’ downfall, in turn, was signaled by stories of his golfing prowess being replaced with tittering about how he cheated at the game –always a sign that a leader’s days are numbered. And just as bad publicity can hound a hunt, it can present a PR trap in golf, as Mar Roxas recently found out. Though in the final analysis the real blowback After all, like Vegas, the expectation is that what happens in the club, stays in the club. Woe to those who break this rule; among gentlemen it might well turn out that Manila Golf, with its iron-clad code of silence, will gain an additional prestige premium compared to Wack-Wack.

Fallen by the wayside, too, in contrast to the renaissance it’s enjoying in film and television, is poker as a political pastime of choice. The ability to bluff; the knack for detecting the “tell” of someone else at the table; the quick calculations and breathtaking bluffs: to this day the language of poker colors descriptions of politics, and politicians (businessmen, for some reason, only seem to play poker in college before taking up golf instead, unless they become addicted to high stakes in general in the casino). But its heyday among politicians seems to straddle the Quezon and Roxas administrations (and even Quezon, by the late 1930s had dropped poker for the more complicated, but respectable, Bridge, a game that seems to be virtually extinct).

Other presidents either had no sports to speak of –Osmeña was considered, in his time, as avid a ballroom dancer as Quezon—or were chess players (like Carlos P. Garcia), billiards players (Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, and from time to time, President Benigno S. Aquino III), swimmers (Quirino, Marcos, Ramos) if they weren’t golfers (which Marcos and Ramos were). A curious note is that only two seem to have liked mahjong: Cory Aquino and Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Though whether either was as enthusiastic about the game as their critics insisted at the time, seems less certain. By their games shall ye judge them.

Fast forward to the the most recent issue of Time magazine, where an unnamed “former Obama diplomat” suggests the West may be trying to gauge Vladimir Putin according to an irrelevant standard. “We keep trying to see him as a chess player,” the diplomat says of Putin, “But it is important to remember he is a judo master. And judo masters are famous for standing on the mat for an hour, waiting for a one-second opportunity.” By way of The Huffington Post (quoting, in turn, from Putin’s own website) we know that Putin himself sees power and politics in terms of his favorite martial art: “Judo teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results… I am sure you will agree that these are essential abilities and skills for any politician.” Or for any leader, for that matter, whether by Divine Right, through the consent of the governed, or by means of corporate maneuvering.

Whether then or now, presidents, potentates or kings, here’s the thing about sport: the widespread belief that what one plays, and how one plays, reveals something profound about the person. It also reveals something about we, the people, as we play audience to the mighty: tolerant of bending the rules, which is the only way I can explain the adulation Jaworski enjoyed in his heyday, with his hot-headed playing; mocking of those who break the rules just because they can (again, countless stories of Marcos in the 1980s); admiring when the player happens to actually demonstrate proficiency, and affectionate when exposure of a flaw is taken in good grace. And when prizes are shared, admiration turns to outright adulation –though as Vladimir Putin and his judo suggests, Machievilli applies to sport as much as politics. It is better to be feared, than loved.


May 11

Closing Remarks at the Readysaster Hackathon for Resilience

Closing Remarks at the Readysaster Hackathon for Resilience

12/F, Sa Doce, Smart Tower 1, 6799, Ayala Ave, Makati

May 11, 2014

Everyone’s waiting for the phone, some of you I have met before. So I have to think of something new, which is not a problem because… Well, what hasn’t changed is, the last speaker always has the worst job because you’re all tired to go home, you had 48 hours with too little sleep.

It’s Mother’s Day today, although, officially it’s not. Mother’s Day is in the first week of December in the Philippines. I have to give you that dose of nerdiness just to earn my keep.

And, it’s 36.5 degrees outside, so maybe we’re not that much of in a rush to get out of the air conditioning. But, I wanted to talk about what a contrast your being here today is with what it was like just a few years ago.

I’ll give you two quick stories. The first was, when we were setting up the Official Gazette and that’s at www.gov.ph Shameless plug, please visit us.

When we were trying to putting together the servers and everything, someone else from another government agency said, “You know, I envy you guys because you guys are making the big step on going online 24/7.” And I said, “Why, it’s long overdue.” And he said, “No, but for the rest of the government, it’s not like that.” He was telling a story about how their agency, one of the biggest agencies in the government, when they were computerizing in the 1990s, when they got the final list for the computers, at the bottom of the list was 20 typewriters.

And the guy who was in charge, in fact the head of the department said, “Didn’t someone get the memo? This is about the computerization of the department. Why are there typewriters in this?” And there’s a little guy at the back who raised his hand. And the guy said, “Yes, you, are you the one responsible for putting this stupid typewriters when we’re computerizing the office?” And the guy said, “Yes.” And he goes, “Why?” “Brownout.”

And that’s the reality that we have to deal with sometimes. Even as we are investing both in terms of skills and in the equipment, to join the rest of the world in the 21st century in a 24/7 online world, there’s a lot of people out there who cannot rely on that all the time.

I’ll give you the second story. The second story is much simpler and it was about online security. And we were talking to some people who were the type who would close all the windows and look at everything before they talk to you to make sure that it’s really safe. And we were talking to them about the dangers of, let’s say, our servers being hacked or our networks being compromised, and that sort of thing.

And the guy looked around and says,“No we don’t have that problem.” And I said, “Wow. What’s your secret? Do you have some technology? Do you have really trained people?” And he goes, “No, something better.” And I said, “What is it?” “We don’t have computers.” And then, he goes, “Even our fax machine at night, we unplug it. We are safe.” And that was his story.

Now, there’s another people out there who, truth be told, are still skeptical about what you’re doing and what we’re doing. There are a lot of people out there who will give you two answers when you say with pride, “You know I joined this Hackathon. We came up with an app. It’s gonna help people. It’s gonna solve that big problem when there’s an emergency which is people deserve to know information. They deserve to understand. They deserve a way to reach out and participate wherever you are in the world.”

And they will go, “What about that person without a computer? What about that time when there is no electricity and nothing can be done? What about all the security? What about, what about, what about?”

There’s always a reason, I guess, to be negative. But the fact that you guys gave up your weekend, and it’s not like, while the prizes are nice, and we should all be very thankful to the sponsors, I don’t think you’re here for the Krispy Kreme or the spaghetti or the free diet soda. Maybe the aircon helps.

I think you’re here because there’s a part of you that really wants to make a difference. That while the world is your oyster because you guys have the skillz, with a Z, that everyone is going to be beating down your doorstep to hire you sooner or later. Mahar Lagmay was just standing out there when they came in and he said, “Oh, I’m gonna grab some of these guys because they’re so good.”

I think a lot of you here, were here and are here because of that sort of old-fashioned word, caring. I guess some of you are quite young, not all of you, but for those of us who went through Ondoy and Pepeng, I think it led to that generation vowing, “Never again.” That’s what pushed Mahar Lagmay to do what he’s doing. It’s what got Bon Moya really interested in seeing how information, and the Net, and all of these things could help people.

It’s why big organizations like the State Department or the World Bank are stepping up and ponying up cash. It’s the reason that you guys, with all the people who are twice your age or even ten years older than “Ah, they use…They don’t care. They just want to be at the mall. They just want to watch a movie. They’re just doing some goofy stuff online.” But you guys are here. And that’s something no one can thank you for because it’s not something you do for someone else’s thanks, is it?

So, I guess the main takeawayfor all of us here today is: Is it gonna end here? How many of you are going to take that extra step that when Mahar Lagmay comes up to you and says “Are you willing to give up a few more weekends. Are you willing to have a few more sleepless nights?” Or if Bon Moya goes up to you and saysCan you still help us figure out the way so that people don’t steal the money that we will be paying from your payroll when you start working?”

Are you still going to care? It’s a great and fantastic thing that you guys have given up one weekend in the middle of summer. It will be beyond uber fantastic if you guys can do it for a couple, several, multiple weekends to help those who do and will be helped by what you are doing.

The guy without a computer is as affected as much as all of the people who are plugged in. And I’ll tell you why. It’s the reason why there’s FAiTH, which we developed with the World Bank. It’s the reason why there’s the Official Gazette. Because if you raise the bar in one place, and what do I mean by raising the bar, if you get your friends, yourself, to understand what is going on and why it’s going on, that is the first step to getting it fixed. And if you fix it in one place, word spreads.

And even the guy who has never had a computer will know that “Hey, in that particular place because they kept on trying to figure out where is the money going, where is the flood levels being reported, is it all being gathered in a database so that we can all figure out where the next time will come.” That raising of the bar will have such a spillover effect that it will not matter if you have a computer or not.

They are saying that the Internet, for example, has been as disruptive to the world as a much older invention, the invention of the printing press. You know about that. You’ve heard about it. You’ve read about it in all sorts of documentaries and think pieces. The idea was once you invented the printing press, you could share ideas so quickly that no idea could ever be killed, especially a good idea.

The fact that you are now working online, where even papers are becoming obsolete, means no information, no data can ever be held fully secret, most of all, from people who deserve to know.

So on that rather serious note, I would like to say thank you even though you are not here for my thanks, or Bon Moya’s thanks, or the World Bank’s thanks. I would like to say thank you because you guys are proving all your elders wrong. You are proving that this country does have a future. And I think you are proving to each other that while some of you are going to be very successful indeed and very wealthy indeed, and you deserve it, you are also going to be good citizens. And that is something that’s beyond any price.

Thank you very much.

May 06

Closing Remarks at the TechCamp Philippines: Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Building

Closing Remarks at the TechCamp Philippines: Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Building

G/F Glove Valero Teleparl, 111 Valero St., Makati

May 6, 2014


         I apologize for not being able to join you, as I had to meet the President in preparation for his upcoming ASEAN trip to Myanmar. Allow me to share some thoughts with you, as part of the President’s communications team and as editor-in-chief of the Official Gazette online, the pioneering Open Government initiative of the administration.

There is an inherent contradiction between what this event represents, and how our national institutions are set up. On the one hand, we have a representative government—one that sets up institutions that ensure order through processes, a system where laws are crafted and implemented by your delegated officials—the result of which is that your representatives are empowered, and power is invested in people like myself. On the other hand, there is that clamor for more transparency, less red tape, and greater access to the processes, systems, and information of government.

So all of you, in a sense, represent an existential threat to the kind of government set up by the Constitution—one set up along Western democratic, republican, constitutional lines, which cannot truly survive open government: For what happens to representatives long accustomed to acting for the people, when the people increasingly demand a participative role at a table where the decision-makers were used to calling the shots in your name?

A certain amount of discombobulation is to be expected—and welcomed. Then as now, we are living in an era of great discoveries, where innovation is changing the way we view and do things: first was fire and rough tools of the past, then the printing press, and later on electricity, and now the Internet and the promise of more open, unregulated access to information and opportunities for action.

This change that we are seeing tells us of something profound: In a time of development, all of us interested in the public good must consider who the public really is and what the definitions of good are. Is it as simple as saying that disasters are bad and technology is good? Is this a truly helpful binary relationship? Because if we were to think of it, in a very complex world like ours today, both elements, as we see them, may provide opportunities for development and may also, in turn, create setbacks for us. Natural calamities are unavoidable; human behavior that worsens their effects or subjects communities to additional suffering is definitely avoidable. Technology can forewarn; it can deepen and speed up analysis, logistics, and the identification of solutions. But it cannot substitute for empathy, solidarity, and maturity—which are all needed in equal measure in a crisis. This is one side of the many dimensions we have to contend with as we all find ways to develop systems, applications, and technologies for the benefit of our countrymen.

Then we also have to consider the many skeptics—not all of them luddites—who are out there asking how many lives will truly be saved or can be improved by hackathons such as this; who will really benefit when not everyone has access to the Internet; and what will happen to an endeavor such as this with the change in administration.

I believe that just as Open Government represents an existential threat to all the institutions hosting you today, which is good, you also serve as a counterbalance to those who view change in a negative manner. We must all evolve, or otherwise choose to perish. Just as change serves as the hallmark of our time, so too does harnessing information technology represent a threat to the gatekeepers—of technology, information, and opinion. The large corporation wallowing in profits can see its user-base dissolve with the invention of a new app; the government media bureau must set aside sycophancy for a durable and useful institutional memory—one that is relevant because it provides factual and reliable information that neither reinvents the wheel nor condemns us to sticking to solutions that no longer work. An opinion writer can be easily fact-checked and called out for plagiarism; the commentator and anchor meanwhile can be challenged for bias; media today is held to a higher standard, just as government is required to act more efficiently.

This is what all of you contribute today: A chance to change the way we do things for the better. There is such a thing as creative destruction—and it is not for the selfish joys of hooliganism or an ominous experiment in anarchism. It is part of a social narrative of evolution, one that brings out the best in what we can do as a people. The changes we see today remind me of what the American historian David Kaiser said: that the Era of the Enlightenment that brought us the American, French, and Philippine Revolutions is well and truly coming to an end. More and more, all of us, through Open Government initiatives such as this, are creating what Benedict Anderson famously described: an imagined community, one where the virtual developments—the threats you yourselves create—will bring people closer, will open up more areas for dialogue, and will thus create a world where neither distance nor nationality will be an obstacle to compassion and communication ever again.

Thank you, and good day.

Mar 07

To the Manner Born

Rogue | March 2014

To the Manner Born

by Manuel L. Quezon III

What are the conditions that made
yesterday’s babies today’s leaders—
and what does that mean for us?

I am an avid reader of the blog of David Kaiser, an American historian very much concerned with tracking the effects various generations have had on the history and politics of his country. In turn, Kaiser has relied on an idea put forward by William Strauss and Neil Howe: that different groups age in different ways; that each group, or cohort, usually falls into one of four types: Prophet, or idealist; Nomad, or reactive; Hero, or civic; and Artist, or adaptive; that each type, in turn, has a different outlook and behavior.

In their writings, Howe and Strauss propose that these four types of generations in turn exist in different mileaux or eras, defined by a generational event or turning: “High,” which comes after a crisis, where individualism is weak, and institutions are strong—people, fresh from a crisis, want to come together; this is followed by an “Awakening,” where those seeking individual or spiritual freedom attack institutions; leading, in turn, to an “Unraveling,” where besieged institutions are deeply distrusted, and individuals are relatively independent of each other; and then there is the fourth turning, called a “Crisis”—when, in the face of the threat of a general collapse, people turn once more to a sense of community, to renewing cooperation and strengthening institutions. Each of these turnings comprises roughly 20 years, and a full cycle of four turnings lasts 80 to 90 years.

Prophets are born near the end of a Crisis, and as crusaders, they are part of an Awakening. In old age, they become elders guiding generations through the next Crisis. Nomads are born during an Awakening, and as alienated individuals, they are pragmatic during a Crisis. Hero types are born after an Awakening, during an Unraveling: generally self-reliant, they are optimists when young, overconfident when middle-aged, and powerful in old age. As for Artist types, they are born after an Unraveling, during a Crisis. Their quiet years leading to adulthood leads them to being consensus- builders who are strong advocates of fairness.

For example, they labeled those born from 1901-1924 as the GI Generation, which was a Hero or civic type. After all, they participated in that great group effort known as World War II, which defined them, and in terms of the USA they provided much of the leadership—Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and Bush, Sr. came from their ranks. The next cohort was the Silent Generation, also of the Hero or civic type, who, for example, embarked on the civil rights movement as a logical progression of the freedoms espoused by the GI Generation—but this generation never rose to national leadership. They were followed by the Boomers, of the Prophet or idealist type, who questioned and rebelled against the certainties of the GI and Silent Generations, and from whose ranks leaders like Bill Clinton emerged, with their tendency to either extreme liberalism or conservatism.

The Boomers themselves are now fading from the scene, as Gen X (born 1961-1981), of the Nomad or reactive type, developed as a generation lacking the sense of endless optimism (and entitlement) of the Boomers— a brooding cohort whose life experiences have been on the whole negative when it comes to both institutions and the fulfillment of individual desires, but who seem to have won the respect of their Boomer parents.

I have often wondered if a similar classification— along generational lines, with each generation having its own personality, so to speak— is possible within the Philippine context, and if so, what those generations might be.


Era of National Foundation


Era of Independence

Sen. Sonny Angara belongs to the generation of "Martial Law Babies" (see chart)


Here is how the chart on the opposite page works: a description of the Generation; the characteristics of that Generation (its “Type”); the years in which the generation was born, and what was happening in that era. So Our Founding Father were Prophets (Idealists), born in 1861- 1882, who grew up in a High era, the time of the opening of the Suez Canal, who were active participants in the Awakening known as the Propaganda Movement and the Revolution, and who were the senior leaders in the Unraveling era and elders in the Crisis era of the Commonwealth, War, and Occupation. In this manner, each generation is born into an era, matures and rises to active leadership in the next, and reaches seniority and fades away in the era after that.

Thus in the lifetime of our nation, we have gone through one full cycle and the babies of today will be the ones to complete the next full cycle we’re in.

Feb 08

Mabini: Who Holds the Course



I. We are tail end of long line of Spanish Revolutions: first, Mexico, last Philippines. We were the last gasp of Enlightenment- after us, came the 19th century Marxism Nationalism.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 157

It was said that the Philippine Revolution was “anti-history”. It broke out when imperialism was at its noontide- when Victoria had been proclaimed empress of India, when Hawaii was asking to be annexed as a territory, when Egypt, Borneo and Sudan were begging for colonial masters. That was the current of history at the turn of the century, but the Philippine Revolution ran counter to this current- because it was following an older current, the one released by the French Revolution. Like a pebble thrown into a pool and creating ever widening circles, that revolution had spread first all over Europe, then all over Spanish America, and had finally reached the Philippines. In fact, one Mexican scholar, Don Rafael Bernal, calls the Philippine Revolution “the last of the Hispano-American wars of independence”. We belonged to that world then and were shaken by its tides.


II. Clashes of modernity in the formation of the first proto-state –Mabini’s own ambivalence over the Katipunan, ambivalence over representative government except to establish the basis for proclamation of independence– there doesn’t seem to be much discussion over 1896 or even 1897, the first two phases of the revolution, as far as Mabini is concerned.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 39; Split? Compare to Richardson

The assertion of historians that the Katipunan was organized by Bonifacio and others on July 7, 1892, soon after Rizal’s arrest for deportation to Dapitan, appears to contradict Mabini’s contention that the Katipunan was a radical offshoot of the revived Liga after its dissolution in October 1893. At the bottom, this discrepancy is only apparent and can be resolved in the light of the following hypothesis: After the original founding of the Katipunan by a small group on July 7, 1892, some katipuneros, including Bonifacio, joined non-katipuneros like Domingo Franco and Mabini to revive Liga Filipina, an event which took place in April, 1893. After a brief encounter between these two groups during which time Bonifacio was able to recruit a great number of followers, a split took place in the Supreme Council. Those ilustrados still committed to peaceful techniques refused to be assimilated by Bonifacio and his followers who favored another technique, and decided to form a distinct organization called Cuerpo, an organization still adhering to peaceful methods. The, other group, who were katipuneros in original membership or sympathy, then decided to keep their identity in accordance with the original revolutionary aims of the Katipunan. This explains why, according to Mabini, Bonifacio recruited members to the revived Liga without requiring them to accede to the peaceful means of the Platform. The fact might have been that Bonifacio utilized the Liga as a tool to recruit members for his own particular ends, or to lead the katipuneros to ride on the Liga and eventually swallow it up.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 59;            Plan The “Ordenanzas de la Revolucion”

The “Ordenanzas” is a complex document, for, besides a definition of and justification for the Revolution, it presents a general outline for the political, administrative, economic, military and judicial organization of a proposed revolutionary government. It even contains details as to the national language to be adopted, the kind of flag for the revolution, etc. It contains 89 rules of varying lengths. These later on served as the matrix for many of the organic laws penned by Mabini for the Revolutionary Government under Aguinaldo.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 47;

After writing the “Ordenanzas,” Mabini circulated a letter to revolutionists in the field. Stating that while the Revolution in 1896 was not without its deeds of valor, it failed to secure the desired results because there was no coordinated plan to bring these about properly. This was a lesson for all to profit from.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 152

The 1896 Revolution had failed to win the support of the Creoles, of the native principalia, or even of the nationalists. It was repudiated by Rizal, denounced by Antonio Luna, rejected by Mabini. It was carried out mainly by the proletariat of Manila and the landed gentry of Cavite and it was confined to the eight Tagalog and Pampango provinces. The other provinces not only did not join but eagerly helped in suppressing the revolt, oversubscribing their quotas when the government called for volunteers against the Tagalog rebels.


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 78; Assembly is akin to appeal of KKK & LIUS

Mabini, like Antonio Luna, was simply out of touch with the prevailing situation.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 217:                    check Laurel book on government

Among the leaders of the Revolution, Mabini was the one who was able more than anyone else to emancipate himself from personal and petty interests in order to will for what he conceived constituted the good of all Filipinos.


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 40;   Personal grudge

Aguinaldo blames Bonifacio and Ricarte for the death of his elder brother, Crispulo, who had taken over command of the defenses in Pasong Santol, in Dasmariñas, Cavite, to enable the younger Aguinaldo to take his oath as the newly elected president of the revolutionary government that replaced the Katipunan secret society. Aguinaldo claims that Bonifacio and Ricarte had conspired to prevent strong reinforcements from reaching his brother at a critical moment during the Battle of Pasong Santol, resulting in the rout of the Filipino defenders and the death of Crispulo on March 24, 1897. (Aguinaldo, Mga Gunita, pp. 182-188)


III. The government was established in an ad hoc manner; policies after Mabini entered the scene involved the rectification of mistakes Mabini identified early on:

1. The premature proclamation of independence, in particular under the protectorate of the United States. (N.B. Mabini criticized it as unfounded on any binding agreement)


  • The Revolutionists by E. De Los Santos p. 77:  war began on August 24

The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish monarchy and the formation into an independent state with its own government called the Philippine Republic has been the end sought by the Revolution in the existing war, begun on the 24th of August 1896; and therefore, in its name, with the power delegated to by the Filipino people- interpreting faithfully their desires and ambitions-we, the representatives of the Revolution, in a meeting at Biak-na-Bato on November 1, 1897, unanimously adopt the following articles for the Constitution of the State.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 75;  Same as meui elections by Americans in 1901

The decree provided that as soon as a town was freed of Spanish military control, those “inhabitants most distinguished by their education, social position and honorable conduct, from both the towns and the surrounding barrios,” were to assemble, and by means of a majority rule proceed to elect a head for each barrio (cabeza de barrio). The town itself was to be entitled to a barrio head. Now, the different elected heads of barrios were to meet, and by the same rule of procedure, elect the chief of the town (jefe de pueblo).


  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw  p. 208-209:   aims

According to Mabini, the most advantageous ideal for the Philippines was absolute independence with neutrality guaranteed by the powers, “without prejudice to our acting as circumstances direct, should we realize the impossibility of attaining it, accepting the least possible limitations. This is another proof that it would be inconvenient for us to reveal now our wishes


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 228 – 230 open to protectorate


Facts To Be Considered

1st. Despite the conference that have taken place between the Commissioners of General Aguinaldo and those of General Otis last January, it is still possible to maintain a different stand, inasmuch as said commissioners were not appointed by the Governments of both sides and neither have they received from the Governments special instructions for the conferences. General Aguinaldo will not be in an embarrassing position, because he can allege that, in those days, the people had approved the propositions in order to avoid war; but that said propositions are no longer acceptable because the people have already shed so much blood and have suffered heavy losses.


2nd. The best goal for the Philippines is absolute independence with its neutrality protected by the world powers. This is not impossible to have, because many of them will think that inasmuch as not all of them can profit let no one else do so. I am trying to show in the press that the end of the Revolution will not be advantageous for the colonizing powers so that they will impose neutrality on us and they will guarantee it in their own interests, inasmuch as it is not possible to crush a revolution which is pressed forward by science and supported by the people, even if it is prejudicial to colonial interests.


This is the goal to which we must aspire; and when we see that it is physically impossible to obtain it, we yield to what is best under obtaining circumstances accepting the least of possible limitations. And this is another reason that shows the disadvantage of making our wishes known now.


3rd. It is true enough that our hope of defeating the Americans is problematical. But we can force them to come to an understanding with us, because neither to them nor to the world powers nor to anyone else would an indefinite war be favorable. The Americans cannot just leave us to the mercy of the other world powers after having spent much here and having shed plenty of blood. When the fight will no longer suit them, they themselves shall come for us, and that will be the time to talk of terms and conditions for a treaty, because then we may be able to obtain advantages. Insisting on talks now will make them believe that we are weak and make them press their advantage.


4th. This war is not recognize as an international war by the world powers.   They neither recognize our flag nor can we acquire arms from them openly like the Americans. As a general rule, a revolution doesn’t indemnify, because the recognition of the country’s independence means its triumph. If we obtain that independence as a favor granted to us, it is but natural that we have to offer indemnification.

Besides, a protectorate per se is a far heavier responsibility than indemnification. The protectorate of Egypt was at the beginning nothing more than a complete financial inspection or control which became, in fact, a sort of joint ownership between France and England. Now that it is overrun by English troops, Egypt is, in reality, an English colony.

A protectorate is not bound by any laws except the agreement between the protector and the protected. This is why there is always a danger of war, because the protector misuses its power and very often pays no attention to the treaty. For this reason, we have to wait until the Americans propose the protectorate to us, so that it will be, as much as possible, less onerous. Otherwise, the Americans would not accept it, unless it gives them greater advantages than a real indemnification.

The concession of naval stations should be looked into with utmost care, because if these naval stations are found among islands, the Americans could use them as points or centers of their machinations in fomenting discord or insurrection, in order to have a reason to intervene and insist on a military occupation under the pretext of insuring peace. I would concede the Americans only one in the Batanes Islands.

Lastly, one should look carefully into the concessions of privileges on industries, because the Americans are dangerous monopolizers. Any disagreement later on, may be a cause of future wars and, therefore, we would not, after all have insured our tranquility and prosperity. Before the termination of the time limit of the protectorate, the protector will not be wanting of pretexts to find fault with the protected and prolong the protectorate indefinitely.

With all that I have expounded, I believe I have sufficiently shown how pernicious it would be to enter now into treaties with a general who, in order not to promise anything, always gives the excuse that he is not empowered by his Government to make statements. When they see that we are as diplomatic as they are, they will not have any cause to attempt to take away from us the direction of our foreign affairs in the future. But if they find us stupid and ignorant, they will say, with reason, that we are incompetent and that we might seriously embarrass them.

When the occasion comes, I offer myself to form part of the Commission taking charge of drafting the conditions of the Treaty of Peace.


Rosales, October 17, 1899.

A. M


2. The formation of a constitutional regime –versus what Agpalo in an early essay described as a “Pangulo” Regime (McCoy description of an authoritarian strain: Laurel, Marcos etc.) Mabini seems in an ambiguous place here, viewing a caudillo as more urgent than a constitutional regime; then, once his own constitutional program was thwarted, warning of oligarchy versus the antidote as he proposed it, of the man on horseback.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 61;          1776 vs 1789 model, USA

Consequently, the aims of the Philippine Revolution were:


1. To forcibly expel the Spanish government and the religious corporations from the Philippine Islands and expropriate all properties usurped by them.

2. To make accessible to the masses of the people the truths contained in the True Decalogue, to serve as a solid base and the fundamental principles for the moral education of the Filipino as man and citizen.

3. The triumph of the Revolution, to implant in the country a constitutional regime based on the Constitutional Program of the Philippine Republic. (“Ordenanzas de la Revolucion,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume I, p. 110)


  • The Revolutionists by E. De Los Santos p. 98:  codes

The Verdadero Decalogo of Mabini is therefore the third of the decalogues. The first was Andres Bonifacio’s and the second Emilio Jacinto’s.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 57;            Rousseau

Mabini’s decalogue is a veritable civic code that was, in effect, propounding a civil religion in the spirit of Rousseau.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 51; Ponce, Bautista, Mabini

Aguinaldo brought with him a constitutional program penned by Mariano Ponce, but he dropped this aside in favor of a dictatorial form of government framed by one of his advisers, Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista. The Dictatorship was proclaimed on May 24. According to Mabini, a copy of his plans for the organization of the revolutionary movement (probably the “Ordenanzas”) fell into Aguinaldo’s hands, leading him to invite Mabini (La Revolucion Filipina,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, p. 307.) to come to Kawit and help in the movement that was dramatically accelerating. However, it appears that Aguinaldo had previous information about Mabini for during his exile Felipe Agoncillo had already briefed him about Mabini.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 62; Note: Alfonso XIII Regency

The importance of a study of Mabini’s constitutional program is that it evinces all the liberal gains in Europe which he desired to flourish in the Philippines.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 62-63: Law Center: Constitution of 1876 never extended the PH

The constitutional program consists of 130 articles of varying lengths grouped into ten titles arranged in the following order: citizenship and individual rights, the territory and general structure of the Republic, Congress, the Senate, Provincial and Local Governments, the Executive (President and Cabinet), the Judiciary, Taxation, the Military, and Public Instruction.

The provision for citizenship (Title I, Article I) takes over the formulation of Article 1 of the Spanish Constitution of 1876 and elaborates it to suit Philippine conditions. Resident foreigners are given opportunities to gain Philippine citizenship by virtue of marriage to Filipinos, for having offered their services to the defense or well-being of the Republic, or simply on account of their worth in the economic life of the country.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 68;            Local: Interesting

Mabini’s specification of the relations between the President and the heads of provinces, strengthening the powers of the President and that of the central government are of purely local character and they do not appear to have been borrowed from any other constitution.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini

p. 105 – 107;



Malolos, January 24, 1899




The National Government of the Republic has received the messages and documents on the events that had taken place over there and is now informed of the constitution of the Federal Council, which you worthily preside and which was formed on motion of Mr. Francisco Villanueva, who allegedly had received verbal instructions from the President of the Republic, Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo. The Government, disregarding said instructions, which have not been confirmed by the President, and limiting itself to the rulings of the Constitution of the Federal Council, fully believes that this system, aside from being the most perfect within the republican form, is the most suitable to the geographical setup of our beloved country. For this reason, our Government hopes that, in the long run, it will predominate. However, the fact that we still have to fight for our independence and that the political Constitution of the Philippine Republic voted by Congress has been promulgated, even if only provisional in character unit it could be ratified by the legitimate representatives of the Bisayas and Mindanao, would seem to point out a form of government that would result in greater cohesion and solidarity among the interests of the different Islands that compose this beautiful Archipelago and the establishment of a central Government that would synthesize them. Thus, our union would be more patent to foreign eyes, and this will be our best shield against the ambition of the strong. And, while I leave the explanation of the next instructions for a later time so as to be able to do it better, inasmuch as the boat is about to sail and I have no time to write longer, I shall limit myself for the present to transmit to you, on the order of the President, the following resolutions:


1st. The Federal Council shall designate special delegates who will preside over he elections of the Provincial Councils and Popular Boards, and of the Representatives of each province of the Island of Panay in accordance with the Organic Decree of the 18th of June, last, and who will administer the oath to those who will be elected in accordance with the formula adopted by this Government. Immediately after the oath-taking, those who have been inducted shall take possession of their offices temporarily and exercise their duties in the same manner until they receive their corresponding titles as approved by this Government.

2nd. The elected representatives of each province shall take advantage of the first opportunity to come over to this capital and take part in the work of the National Assembly.

3rd. The contributions and taxes in force during the Spanish regime, inasmuch as they constitute the only and indispensable source for the support of the State, shall be continued. The collection shall be administered to the satisfaction of the contributors and taxpayers, until a plan which is less burdensome to the citizens can be adopted.

4th. The Federal Council, in collaboration with the military Chiefs, shall take special care of all that refers to the defense and security of the Bisayas. It shall not, at any cost, allow any foreign invasion that would endanger the security of the National Government and shall not tolerate any transgression against any integral part of its territory.

5th. The Federal Council shall enjoin all civil and military authorities to do their utmost to protect individual liberties; and interests, to repress strongly all kinds of abuses, and to take care net indulge in the vices and excesses of the old Spanish administration.

6th.    The Federal Council[2] shall send a copy of these instructions to the Cantonal Government of the Island of Negros so that the latter will enforce them within that island.


This is all I have the pleasure to inform you. I am trusting to the good sense and the patriotism of the Bisayans. May God guide you for many years to come.


By Order:



Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini: p. 107;                        Use of Excellency







Mr. Ambrosio Moxica, in a letter dated the 17th of this month addressed to His Excellency, the President of the Republic, gave an account that on such date he assumed office as politico-military governor of Leyte. He was appointed to this position as per decree dated 27th of last December.


This is for your information and guidance.


May God be always with you.

Malolos, January 26, 1899.




To the Secretary of Interior


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 68;

Mabini’s conception of the three divisions of the powers of government was closer to European jurisprudence than to the American one. He viewed the division of power more in the sense of specialization of functions rather than a practice based on the doctrine of the balance of powers. The interpretation of laws remained with the legislature and the main functions of the courts were to deal with civil and criminal cases and to see to it that no one was a victim of injustice.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 141;






Enclosed is a copy of the minutes of the Council of Government on the 10th. If you have not yet answered the telegram of General Malvar regarding the prisoners, please let me know. I shall answer him in accordance with the minutes, if you agree.

In the meeting of the Council of Government last Saturday, we agreed with the Permanent Commission of Congress to establish the Audiencia in the capital of the Government. The Audiencia, in turn, will establish the courts in the provinces and municipalities of the whole of Luzon in the meantime that the Supreme Court has not been constituted. The need for the Audiencia is great because the cases are piling up for lack of judges to try them.

We have carefully considered the lawyers who will compose the Audiencia. They are:


President of the Audiencia            ………………………………            Don Leandro Ibarra


Chiefs of Court         ………………………………            Don Juan Arceo

Don Aguedo Velarde

Don Pablo Tecson

Don Mariano Crisostomo


Magistrates               ………………………………            Don Cecilio Hilario

Don Anastacio Pinzon


Delegate-Fiscal       ………………………………            Don Francisco Icasiano


Attorney-Fiscals                   ………………………………            Don Juan Tongco

Don Cayo Alzona


Secretary of Government   ………………………………            Don Simplicio del Rosario


Clerks of Court         ………………………………            Don Isidro Paredes

Don Ramon Salinas


If you approve of these persons, I shall prepare the decree.




  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 78;          Concession on Legislative Powers?

Evidently, Mabini did not intend to make the Revolutionary Congress a truly legislative body. He conceived of it more as an advisory body than anything else. According to him, he judged it indispensable to have it formed “in order that the provinces would not be distrustful of the dictatorial powers of Señor Aguinaldo…” However, it was not to have “legislative powers since war conditions required a concentration of powers to expedite action.” (“La Revolucion Filipina,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, p. 309.)  If these were Mabini’s intentions, it is difficult to find out why Mabini in Article 15 of said decree explicitly provided that the Revolutionary Congress could discuss and vote upon revolutionary laws. Possibly he did not mind this concession, considering the further provision that any act of Congress could be nullified by the President’s exercise of his absolute veto power.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini



January 14, 1899


Honorable Mr. President:


Don Baldomero informed me that you would like to see the Tagalog translation of the amendments I have written . . .[4]

We conferred and debated the attitude of Congress with regards to the Council last night and we decided unanimously that the veto on the Constitution should be availed of, for the following reasons:


1.  If the amendments are not accepted, no secretaries will be appointed except those sponsored by Congress. What will happen is that, although you have the power to choose your assistants, you will have to consult Congress first to see whether it will approve them.

2.  In these critical times, if the Government cannot act without first consulting Congress, it will be very difficult to save the country from danger because we will first have to face defeat before we start taking preventive measures.

3.  If the amendments are admitted, I am afraid Iloilo and Negros, which have established a Federal Republic, will oppose the military Republic founded by the Constitution. One thing more: if our Constitution becomes effective, the Americans will be cautious about giving recognition to our cause because our desire for independence will be very evident to them.

We cannot tell whether this is a political move of the annexationists, who desire our Constitution to take effect so that the Americans will lose their confidence in us and have every reason not to recognize us because we have prevented them from tampering with our Constitution.

You can say that these reasonings are vague, and that they spring from my displeasure towards Congress. I leave them to you to ponder over and decide what is best to do.

I am at your orders,


Ap. Mabini


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 88;          Infographic, See outline for structure of government

It will be recalled that the decree establishing the Revolutionary Government provided for the establishment of four departments, one of which was that of Foreign Affairs. This department was subdivided into those of Diplomacy, Marine, and Commerce.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini


p. 70;




Malolos, October, 18, 1898

Mr. President:

In accordance with the agreement with Arellano yesterday, I shall deliver to Pardo today, inventoried, all the papers in my possession.

I was trying my best to make Don Cayetano join the others resolutely so as to give unity to the progress of affairs; but he answered me that we shall talk the matter over some other day.

I am relaying it to you for your information.


Ap. Mabini


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini

p. 70 – 71;




Malolos, October 28, 1898

Mr. Galicano Apacible


My dear Friend:

I acknowledge receipt of your pleasant letter of the 16th inst. It is true that Messrs. Arellano and Pardo[5] have taken over, and from now on may, perhaps, be the, ones to communicate with you, although., according to the present provisional Constitution, you should address your correspondence to the President. With reference to the Constitution, a copy of which I have the pleasure of enclosing herewith, it is now under discussion in Congress. I decline to make any comment.

I cannot inform you with certainty of the diplomatic policy of the new Secretary. Yesterday, I handed over to him the papers of the Department. I believe, nevertheless, that there will be some modifications in the sense of leaning towards the Americans. I suppose Messrs. Arellano and Pardo will communicate with you.

It is true that our priests still acknowledge the authority of Nozaleda. I am trying to convince them little by little that they should ask earnestly the Roman pontiff to appoint Filipino bishops in the Philippines. I do not know whether I can finally convince them, they being obstinate.

I shall ask Arsenio, editor of the Heraldo de la Revolucion, to send you copies of the paper if he has not yet done so.

I have just moved to a house within a short distance from the Government building to give rest to my mind, which is somewhat harrowed by the continuous work of the past days. I beg of you to keep me thoroughly posted, by private means, of what is going on over there so that I can form an idea of the state of our relations abroad and, thus, would be able to advise the President in my own modest way.

Albert told me that he wrote you about the incidents that we had with the Americans in these last days. Dewey captured four of our launches, I believe, and immediately General Otis asked for the recall of our forces from the old line of defense of the Spaniards. The idea of giving in to everything to avoid conflicts prevailed, although there were preparations and moves on both sides that showed strained relations. I suppose that Albert has given you a detailed account of the events.

It is not true that we are divided; so far, there is no division among us. Neither is the news about Perfecto Poblador true. Finding himself threatened by the wrath of the Spaniards on account of his influence among the Visayans and lacking arms to declare open hostility, he pretended submission. Those thousands of people that the Consul says are a pure invention of the Spaniards.

Until now I have not yet been able to answer your official letters because Mr. Arellano does not believe in pushing forward any work abroad that does not tend to bring an understanding with America.[6] He believes that any tendency to deal with other world powers would be dangerous, which belief I do not share. I refrained, therefore, from dispatching anything to avoid a disapproval on his part that might turn out unfavorable to us.

Should you write to Naning, please tell him that I was not able to answer him at once because I have been swamped with work, and besides I have not as yet found out the whereabouts of the friend of Dr. Betances. I intend to answer him in a few days.


You know that you can ever count on your affectionate and humble servant,


A. Mabini


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 39;  President must always balance factions

(2) Out of delicadeza, Aguinaldo remained neutral during the controversy between the “absolutists” in Congress led by Mabini and the “constitutionalists” led by Calderon, Paterno, and Buencamino. Mabini was in favor of giving Aguinaldo absolute powers in carrying out the tasks of the revolutionary government without any legislative impediment. (Agoncillo, Malolos, 373-408.) Consequently, Mabini was trounced by the “constitutionalists.”

(3) Although he was personally against the Hay autonomy proposal, Aguinaldo chose not to intervene in the cabinet crisis in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, which led to the downfall of Mabini and the rise of the “autonomists” (Paterno, Buencamino, and company). Mabini tendered his resignation afterward, but he was bitter and resentful obviously against Aguinaldo. (Mabini’s Letters, pp. 175-176)


  • The Revolutionists by E. De Los Santos p. 41: How can you secretly issue a manifesto?

On Christmas Day of 1899, he secretly issued a manifesto wherein he appealed to the people to relieve him of the presidency as a token of gift that day.


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 39;  Aguinaldo’s resignation

The facts show that Aguinaldo never lifted a finger to gain the presidency; and when he attempted to resign on Christmas day of 1898, Mabini secretly ordered the seizure and burning of the printed copies of the documents, fearing that Aguinaldo’s resignation would mean the death of the revolution.


3. Central question of Reason –Science—in nation-building; tying him to the Katipunan, and in contrast to the principalia who were more comfortable with recognizing territorial barons; no surprise, then, that at the end of his regime, without Mabini, Aguinaldo reverts to proposing the creation of nobility in a last gamble to shore up support for the Republic. If Jim Richardson’s newly-identified Katipunan documents is a guide, there is more of a continuity of thought and aspiration in Rizal-Bonifacio-Mabini: it is Aguinaldo who is the outlier. While Pardo de Tavera, with Buencamino and Legarda (Federalistas), are closer in synch with Propaganda Movement than, say, the Nacionalistas who hewed to Mabini’s program of the inevitability of independence, so long as Filipino leadership was united and thus could confront Americans with blunt political reality that it could not be divided and conquered.


  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw p. 243-244:   interesting note – tie into Mabini

The Amnesty Banquet.- The idea of Paterno, according to Rafael Palma, was to take advantage of the Amnesty Proclamation for the presentation to the commission of a conciliatory formula which, in Paterno’s opinion, would be acceptable to the Filipinos still under arms, to the end that hostilities might cease. So the picture of Aguinaldo appeared on the triumphal arches in the streets of Manila as well as the Philippine flag and inscriptions in favor of Philippine independence under an American protectorate; but the military authorities, noticing the turn events were taking, ordered that the picture of Aguinaldo and the inscriptions on independence be removed from arches.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 40-41;    Compare to Richardson, 1892 1st KKK doc

In retrospect, Mabini reflected that were Spain willing to allow the existence of political parties in the Philippines (and he desired to have the Liga and the Cuerpo serve as such) the Filipino educated and influential class would have been more free in its activities, enabling them to calm the popular resentment – thus arresting the growth and development of the Katipunan. The reason was that such a “middle-class” was committed to and had “decided for the program of the Liga, in spite of having experienced cruel torments, and even after the Pact of Biak-na-Bato.” (“La Revolucion Filipina,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, p. 299.)

This reflection of Mabini reveals what he always stood for: the attainment of social betterment by peaceful and legal means whenever possible and his disinclination against any form of violence or illegality.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 41;          Richardson 1892 KKK doc

Note: Compare to Richardson note on Sakay 1907 surrender

I never had, in reality, enough courage to disturb my countrymen, as long as they desired to live peaceably. I was working with enthusiasm together with Rizal, Marcelo del Pilar and others, who, after having been exposed to the evils that an arbitrary administration can cause to the Filipinos, asked formally for the political assimilation of the Philippines as a province of Spain, to avoid precisely that which many other Filipinos would find in separation [from Spain] as a remedy for said evils. (“La Revolucion Filipina,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, p. 272.)


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 214;  see Richardson, it is at end, not start, that special charge was put forward

In the belief that the Revolution expressed the popular will, Mabini claimed that he had earlier decided to play a role in directing the Revolution in order to destroy what was reprehensible in the old regime and to build a new social order more adequate to meet the necessities of the Filipino people. He joined the Revolution, believing that he was merely heeding the voice of the people, and for this very same reason he was now abandoning the armed struggle. Since peace had been attained in the country, he was not going to prepare or suggest new uprisings by rather propound means for averting these in the future. For in times of peace this was the duty of every citizen who truly loved his country. Mabini then contended that he had tenaciously upheld the rights of the individual during his negotiations with American military authorities solely because he believed that only by recognizing these rights among the Filipinos would the Americans succeed in establishing peace in the Philippines and in eliminating all threats of revolution.


  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw p. 239:  conditional

“I asked that I be permitted to take the oath of allegiance imposed by the amnesty proclamation only after the American authorities had promised to respect the rights of the Filipinos as free citizens. I added that in all civilized and liberal countries, the constituted authority has the right to exact obedience from the citizens once it had promised to respect their individual rights. I remarked, further, that I limited myself to individual rights because I was merely a private citizen, without power to represent or act for the revolution.


IV. Mabini’s point was not independence at all costs (he has been member of La Liga Filipina after all), but the minimum demand of recognition of the government; a treaty of peace between equals rather than a protectorate government  which would end up not only imposed, but representing a break from the evolution of regimes from 1896, 1897: furthermore even after the defeat of the First Republic,   in debates over whether to have either an outright protectorate or an autonomous government, the question was not one of peace or commonwealth status but the end goal of Filipino government –a question he raised again, long after: he wanted to gauge for himself the sentiments of his people, first as to the end of hostilities, and second, as to the end goal of independence. Interesting is his prescription for the way forward after the defeat of the Republic –a point interesting as he himself viewed the Republic as extinguished with the capture of Aguinaldo- previously warning (see Kalaw) that there was a difference between the Americans negotiating with government and negotiating with Aguinaldo personally –yet he shows that he did not consider, much less recognize, a successor- government to Aguinaldo.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 89;          Protectorate

Possibly, Mabini was toying with the idea that should there be different nations developing conflicting interests in the Philippines, they might all agree to its neutrality. Mabini is reported to have once remarked that should independence for the country be impossible, he would not have minded, as a last resort, allowing the Philippines to become a protectorate under two nations whose interests were antagonistic with each other; for a protectorate under a single nation could lead to pure colonialization and therefore, slavery. (“Letter of Arcadio Rosario to Rafael Palma,” [September 4, 1914], Informes sobre Mabini, p. 4.)


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 74 – 75;





Honorable President:


I had thoroughly studied the instructions you entrusted me, but I could not take them quite correctly.

I have determined the state of our relations with the other powers, but it changes from day to day. At first I thought it was from America alone that we should seek advice; now it seems Germany wants to meddle; and we cannot predict what is going to happen in the future. We will spend the money of the country so that America will know our condition; and yet it may happen that we cannot be friends with America after all, because the wishes of the other powers will prevail.

Since the beginning, my political belief has been to send men there [to America] and spend our money on anyone who is willing to give us arms. Once we have attained a certain degree of strength, we can then have more than just confidence. What I want is for us to hire foreign officers who might teach us the art of warfare and form, the nucleus of a corps consisting of new soldiers having high educational attainment and recruited from different provinces. These officers will compose the General Staff and, when the time comes, take command of the troops.

I insist on this because, once the powers realize that we are ready to fight, they will be forced to come to terms with us, especially if they learn that the country that supplied us with officers and arms greatly sympathizes with our cause. Nonetheless, because those who offered you the decision are counselors and some of them are going there, no one else should sign the instructions but themselves. It is but proper that, before they leave, the Council must come to an understanding as to what they are going to do — which will be their instructions. They should, however, take note that not America alone will take an interest in us; other powers too will meddle; therefore, it is perhaps not wise that all should side with America.

Another thing; if you are going to give assignments to those who will go abroad, you must extend the same to those who were there previously; to those in Hongkong, Japan, and Paris. If you do not do this, there will be resentment and the work might be jeopardized.

It is also necessary that those who will leave for abroad have no definite destinations. It is preferable that they go to Paris first, and there determine where their presence is badly needed, depending on the circumstances.

Above all, there should be one among them who must provide harmony and co-ordination in the work. To effect harmony, someone whose political belief is attuned to the wishes of the Government should take charge of the office. This office should be manned by a staff of linguists who would have knowledge of what is happening in the international scene. They should, likewise, be aware of the changes taking place domestically, so that they can suit their policies to the circumstances. If this office is not established, we will be wasting money sending people abroad.

The person who will take charge of the office must have complete freedom of action if you find that his political plans are worth supporting. He should give the instructions; he should inform foreigners of what is taking place here in the Philippines; he should receive all telegrams and forward them to you and decide in a conference with you what action to take. He must be given the freedom of action of a General so that he can execute his plan in the way he sees fit and in accordance with the circumstances. It is, therefore, of the greatest importance that he should be aware of what is taking place, not only domestically but also internationally, thru the foreign papers.

It is not of the utmost importance to go to America immediately. The Spaniards have not given us away yet; and no one knows with certainty the other power which might want to meddle and the power to approach and court. We must, however, organize the office as soon as possible, as this will form the trunk of the tree which we will climb.

I had occasion to meet with Sandiko and he told me that he was offered by the Americans the position of Chief of Police at a salary of P200. He, likewise, mentioned that you had offered him the position of Police Director. He said that he would accept it if his services were badly needed, as he did not relish serving the Americans despite the big salary. If you really intend to give him the position, he should be informed at once so that he could issue the instructions that would best suit his plans.

It is necessary that whoever will take charge of the diplomatic work should make out the program schedule so that the desired goal will be realized and no demoralization or luke-warmness of spirit sets in. It is also necessary that he appear before the Council before anything definite takes place.




  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw p. 243: communications with the Federalists?

Mabini write the following letter to Paterno:

“You want to know my opinion and I give it to you frankly and sincerely: I believe that you should first ask the American authorities to recognize the freedom of the press and of peaceful lawful gatherings, in order that the state of public opinion, uninfluenced by either fear or expediency, may be known. It is not a question of organizing a party, for there is always time enough for such things, but for finding a formula which would restore towns not only material, but also, above all, moral peace. Even granting that Aguinaldo side with your, if the masses of the people are dissatisfied, at most you will have found a palliative, not a cure.”


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin Pre-1935 mayor: “Presidente” (where from?) Bonifacio as “Presidente” p. 131

The momentous point here was not the June 12 Kawit proclamation but the transfer in July of Aguinaldo’s headquarters to Bacoor, within sight of Manila. In a month he had advanced along the old Camino Real from Cavite port to the very gates of the capital city. A June 12 wire from Dewey notified Washington that Aguinaldo already had Manila encircled and was punishing it without cease.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 186;                   3 Conditions

However, he was willing to state the principles under which the war might be stopped, principles which might serve as the bases upon which the “political edifice of the Philippines could be built” later on. The first was that the Filipinos were to be allowed to enjoy all individual rights (natural and political) then being enjoyed in all free countries. The second was that the Filipinos were to have the same rights as Americans in Filipino territory. The last was the immediate formation of a government that guaranteed the above two principles. (“Contestacion de Mabini,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, pp. 194-199)


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 249: Jones Act!




Anda Station, June 22, 1900


Owing to the preceding letter, General MacArthur honored me with a summons to his office in the Ayuntamiento at four o’clock this afternoon.

He informed me that he had not said anything to Mr. Canon about my freedom; but that he was ready, of course, to grant it to me as soon as I accept the amnesty that he had just published.

In answer to all of this, I requested that I be allowed to postpone the oath-taking required by the amnesty until such time as the Americans have sworn to respect the rights of Filipinos as free citizens. I added that in every cultured and liberal country, constituted authority is entitled to the obedience of the citizens after it has bound itself to respect the individual rights of the latter. I made the observation, besides, that I was limiting myself to individual rights as I was just a mere private citizen without being a representative of or having a commission from the Revolution.

General MacArthur told me that, after taking the oath, I would enjoy complete freedom; to which I replied that I would not believe him as long as the freedom to which every citizen was entitled to was not decreed by law.

He then, read to me some provisions on freedom taken from the Constitution of the United States, emphasizing to me that he was authorized to implant them in the Philippines when those who were in the fields had laid down their arms.

I told him that the trouble lies in that the President of the United States is the arbiter of those provisions, and, because of this, he can give them and withdraw them at will, and that we, the Filipinos, do not want freedom under a precarious title. “We want,” I added, “a law that would insure our freedoms in a way that neither the president of the United States nor any other authority could destroy, such as the Constitution of the United States; and we want besides that said law be passed and promulgated now, to calm the anxiety of the people, even though it should not be implemented until after the signing of the treaty of peace.”


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 179; Basis of campaigns for 1916 and 1934

This article openly questioned the principle enunciated by some Americans that the Filipinos could not govern themselves; a principle that Mabini claim served as a mere rationalization to prevent the realization of Filipino aspirations. He further claimed that the Americans did not really know the Filipinos for they could not know in 300 days what the Spaniards failed to know in 300 years,


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 180; Is Mabini quoted by Twain?

Mabini’s analysis of the political situation led him to conclude that there were only two alternatives left: either to make the Philippines a state of the American Union or give the country its independence. Completely disregarding other possible alternatives and maintaining that being a state of the union was a chimera. Mabini insisted that independence could serve as the only solution to the Philippine question. (See “El gobierno de los Estados Unidos en Filipinas,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, pp. 156-167.)


  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw: p. 259:                    BOER – what was this?

In a memorandum he prepared for General Mac Arthur, dated September 29, Mabini said that independence is the ideal nearest to the hearts of the great majority of the Filipino people, “with the limitations imposed by the Americans and accepted by the Filipinos”. What these imitations might be was a question which he was ready to discuss in detail as soon as the Americans should accept as valid the power which General Aguinaldo had conferred upon him.


During the conference, Mabini expressed the belief that the Filipinos in arms and the people in general would accept a government similar to that of the Republic of South Africa before the war.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p: 224 – 226: Mabini Plan for Negros




Rosales, October 17, 1899


My dear President Aguinaldo:


I have read the conferences between General Alejandrino and Otis, according to the memoir signed by the former and his’ companions and I still remember the previous conferences.

From said conferences, we get the conclusion that the Americans maintain the same attitude that they had when I resigned from my position in the government, to wit: They are not ready to recognize the Philippine Government and they will only admit a commission formed by General Aguinaldo as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and not as President of the Republic.

The petition of General Alejandrino that Otis be the peacemaker of the Philippines has completely destroyed the good effect that the spontaneous pardon of the American prisoners should produce.[8] Otis can say with reason that the remission of a few American prisoners was a gift to him to make him a partisan of peace, which shows weakness and is very damaging to our cause, because the triumph of our ideals consists in making the Americans believe that we are strong and tenacious. If our cause has won sympathies abroad and in the United States, it is because the people of those countries marvel at our resolute attitude and all weakness, therefore, is harmful to us.

Now, then the Americans do not admit Commissioners of the Government but only Commissioners of General Aguinaldo. I ask: Is General Aguinaldo ready to answer all alone for the good or bar result that the work of that Commission may produce on the country? The Government will not answer for it, inasmuch as Otis does not recognize it. General Aguinaldo alone can answer it, because he is the only one recognized by the said American general. It seems to me that the glory and the prestige of General Aguinaldo should be well guarded by every patriot and should not be exposed to any failure, because once that glory and that prestige are destroyed, our unity will be seriously threatened.

I will prove that the way the Commission intends to carry on its work can be considered treacherous by the country. May the President forgive my language, which is inspired by my very loyalty to him, much more so when I shall expound the reasons with the greatest clearness’ possible.

The policy of the American Government, if we pay close attention to the Treaty of Paris and to this conduct here, also in Cuba and in Puerto’ Rico, is nothing but a policy of deceit. Everything tends to show that Americans seek to find that we want, so that, once the terms of our claims are made public, we can no longer turn back even if circumstances favorable to us should turn up. They are cleverly trying to shy away any compromise with us, so that they can avail themselves of all the advantages that the fortunes of war may bring them.

If the Commissioners of General Aguinaldo can state their terms, they do so only by virtue of the instructions that they receive from General Aguinaldo and not from the Government. General Aguinaldo in his capacity as General can only ask for the suspension of hostilities in order to be able to consult the will of the provinces through their lawful representatives, who are the only ones who can talk in the name of the people. If Otis would accept a Commission appointed by the Government, General Aguinaldo could carry out what the Cabinet would decide, which, in accordance with the Constitution, is the body responsible; but as long as Otis does not, let General Aguinaldo consider the terrible responsibility that he has to shoulder in the eyes of public opinion and of history.

Should General Aguinaldo deal with an American General who admits that he is not vested with ample powers by his own Government on the terms of pacification that the present Cabinet wants, he will exceed his attributes as General. Those terms can only be agreed upon by: the President of the Republic and his Government, and these are neither recognized nor accepted by the Americans. When the Americans shall recognize the Philippine Republic and the Philippine Government, then the discussion on said terms will be in order. If General Otis declines to act on the ground of lack of powers from his Government and Congress, then, let General Aguinaldo excuse himself likewise, alleging that, as a simple general, he is not empowered to discuss anything concerning the future of the country. But should they accept his rank as President of the Republic, he will talk things over with his Government.

When the Americans shall come to recognize the Philippine Government, I shall try to go there to cooperate in the preparation of a treaty which is advantageous to the country under obtaining circumstances. While the Americans refuse to do this, I consider my presence unnecessary, because, over the uncertainty of these negotiations, I also want to save my prestige.

This is my answer to your courteous letter of the 16th instant, being deeply grateful for the honor that you do me in asking to hear my humble opinion.


I am always your respectful and obedient servant.



Ap. Mabini





should you interpose your valuable influence with your Government so that it would recognize our independent Republic and may your Excellency be in this way the peacemaker of the Philippines.’  ”

” ‘ I do not think I have such influence. ‘ ”

” ‘ On the contrary, General, I believe that your opinion would be of great weight in Washington, and it can influence in the termination of this unfortunate war. ‘ ”

“Among the witnesses present at this conference who are still living, I can cite Col. Ramon Soriano and Ex-Magistrate Fred Fisher, who was then acting as interpreter of General Otis ” — Excerpt from a letter of General Alejandrino to Teodoro M. Kalaw.




Preliminary Requirements


1st. Work for the official recognition of Commissioners appointed by the Philippine Government, and not by General Aguinaldo, for reasons already expressed in the letter.


2nd. Ask for the suspension of hostilities in order to convoke all the provinces to a special meeting. Said provinces shall be advised beforehand to appoint Representatives who will expound their wishes on the future of Philippines. In this way, confusions that would arise as a result of the nonconformity of some on the ground that they have not been properly represented shall be avoided; such confusions would tend to give cause to the world powers to dominate us.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p. 216;                   Peace as means for independence

In this second letter Mabini stated that: “It seems to me that at the present time we should endeavor to secure independence through the path of peace. Let us cease that the people may rest, that it may work to recover from its recent proprietary losses. Let us conform to the opinion of the majority, although we may recognize that by this method we do not obtain our desires… This is, I believe, the surest and most fit method in dealing with the welfare of all.” (Fourth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission, 1903, Part I, p. 26.)


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 255





Wednesday, August 1, 1900

At four o’clock in the afternoon I was taken to the Ayuntamiento and introduced to the North American Commission. Present were the President of the Commission, Mr. Taft, two members of the same, the interpreter, and a stenographer. I asked for this conference so that it would not be said that I have shut myself up to appear self-important doing no effort to find means for solution an/1 understanding under obtaining circumstances.

When the session opened, I said the following: “I have been a prisoner since last December and I am denied my freedom unless beforehand. I acknowledge American sovereignty. In international law, the word sovereignty has no precise and fixed definition, so much so that in the South African question England still claims to have sovereignty over two Republics, notwithstanding the fact that she has recognized the complete independence of the same regarding the interior administration of the government. My efforts in favor of my country have no other purpose than to obtain the most solid guaranty for the freedoms and the rights of the Filipinos. If, therefore, the American sovereignty offers more or less the same guaranty that a proper government could offer, I would, then, have no difficulty in acknowledging it in the service of peace.”

I ended by saying that I had solicited the conference in order to find out up to what point the Americans would limit the sovereignty Which, by nature, belongs to the Filipino people.

Mr. Taft, after listening to the observations of his companions, answered as follows: ”’American sovereignty has for its purpose to give the Filipinos a good government. The sovereignty that the United States of America claim is the same that Russia or Turkey would claim if they were to occupy the Philippines, with the only difference that, in the case of the United States of America, the exercise of this sovereignty shall be inspired by the spirit of the Constitution. The Commission shall try to 

1 Wm. H. Taft’s letter to MacArthur dated Aug. 1,1900 (see Appendix) B) indicated Taft’s willingness to hear Mabini’s views.



p. 256:                        NOTE

establish a popular government in the Philippines within the moulds of the one which has been recently voted for Puerto Rico.”


To this I replied that the principles on which the American constitution is based declare that sovereignty belongs to the people by natural right; that the American Government, therefore, in wanting not only to limit but to annul completely the sovereignty of the Filipino people, commits an injustice that sooner or later will exact a reparation or an expiation and that there can be no popular government where the people are not given real and effective participation in the constitution and in the running of that same government.

The members of the Commission answered that they were not authorized to discuss abstract matters, as they had orders to make their opinion prevail by force, if needs be, after hearing the opinions of the Filipinos.

I said then that I considered the conference over, because I believe it useless, to debate with force and to give my opinions to one who did not like to listen to the voice of reason.

Mr. Taft asked me if I wanted to help in the study of the taxes that could be imposed on the people, I answered that, considering unjust all taxes imposed without a concourse of the representatives of those called upon to pay them, I could not take part in said study without the representation and the mandate of the people.

I see all too clearly now that the Americans are set on reducing us to the cruel alternative of dishonor or death. Since this is so, I shall try to conduct myself as an honorable man who places his duties and his honor before everything else. Between dishonor and death, it is our duty to prefer the latter.



Note: I limited myself to writing down the substance of the talks although in the actual conference the expressions were softened by the accepted forms of courtesy and culture.


  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw p. 179:  A government of opinion

“First – The Filipino Government is compelled to ask for armistice and for the suspension of hostilities, as the only way to peace; firstly, in order to justify itself before the people that it had done everything to prevent the country from being utterly ruined, and, secondly, in order to give to the Commission a means to end the war in a manner most honorable to the American army and most glorious to the Government of the United States.


V. “Nationalism” through both “reform” and “revolution” Mabini identified that independence could no longer be suppressed; that it would be impossible to ignore either by Filipinos or Americans: the last showdown of this would be the Dominion proposal of 1938 and in 1946.


  • The Philippine Revolution by T.M. Kalaw: p. 245-246:   autonomy and rights

 “When the meeting began I said: I have been a prisoner since last December and I shall not be set free unless I swear allegiance to American sovereignty. The word ‘allegiance’ in international law has no precise and exact definition; in the problem of South Africa, Great Britain still pretends to exercise sovereignty over the two republics, notwithstanding the fact that she had recognized their complete independence with reference to their internal administration. My efforts in behalf of my country have no other object than the institution of an enduring guarantee for the rights and prerogatives of the Filipinos; if, therefore, American sovereignty offers, more or less, the same guarantee as would be offered by a government of our own, I shall have no hesitation to swear allegiance for the sake of peace. I ended saying that I asked for the conference in order to know in what degree American sovereignty would limit what naturally belongs to the Filipino people.


  • The Philippine Revolution by Apolinario Mabini: p. 176-177:   why obsession with South Africa?

Since the Boers ruled in Orange and Transvaal by virtue of conquest and might over the natives, they did not have a reason to complain against the English, who by law of mighty, took hold of the said territories. If the Boers has at least permitted the natives the gradual access to political and civil life of free citizens, their triumph would have interested and benefited humanity. But this could not be expected of a people who believe to be God’s chosen ones because Jehovah himself ordered Joshua the extermination of the Canaanites. Perhaps, that is why, President Kruger, for having not considered himself called to undertake any extraordinary mission for the future of humanity, opted, as a prudent and wise general, for the dissolution of his army and abandoned the conquered country under the hands of a stronger conqueror. Later it would be said that civilization has erased from international law that word “conquest” as a means of acquiring the right to own persons and things!


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p.158: ordenanza

And there’s an echo of this in Mabini’s “A revolution is always just, if it tries to destroy a government that is foreign and an usurper.”

But did Mabini extend this ordenanza to mean any government with interests foreign to those of the masses and which usurps power that should belong only to the people? Was he in Malolos already fighting a counter-revolution against a possible tyranny of the “clase ilustrada y rica de Manila”?


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 67; Find this speech

Then in a speech on May 1, 1912, he told Americans that the “Filipino people would unhesitatingly prefer to be poor but free rather than be rich but subjects!” (Manuel L. Quezon)


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul: p 213;                    Defeat, Does not consider Sakay, etc.

What Mabini then emphasized was that the struggle of the Filipinos was initiated to enable them to enjoy what they deemed constituted to their natural rights; for if they did not enjoy these rights, they would once again be living in an atmosphere of social inequality. But the scanty resources of the Filipinos were no match against that of the Americans. Consequently, defeat became inevitable. Thus, “the war became unjustifiable and untenable the moment that the great majority of the population preferred to submit themselves to the conqueror and many of the revolutionists joined their ranks; for not being able to enjoy their natural rights, since the American forces prevented them from doing so, and not having the resources to remove such impediments, they judged it prudent to yield and hope in the promises made to them in the name of the people of the United States.” According to Mabini, it was while the last of the guerrilla bands were surrendering that, amnesty was proclaimed and repatriation offered to the exiles.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 200 – 206;




Rosales, July 25, 1899





My dear Friends:


I acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 25th and 26th of June which I got only two days ago, not knowing what could have caused the delay. I sent “Puno” the translations of the foreign news, with the copy of the treaty between Spain and Germany, and your letters to him. I wrote Mr. Buencamino, telling him that you are complaining of his silence and that of the President of the Council of Government, and requesting him to inform you of the decision of the Government about Ilustre’s request for 800 gold pesos for his return expenses, an amount which, to me, seems somewhat excessive, unless he has to meet some obligations. I told him also that you already know about the change of the Cabinet, that is why I am of the opinion that you should also write to him about the general progress of the affairs over there, so that the members of the Cabinet will not think that you are not with them. The welfare of the country and our goals demand that you do this.

The autonomists of Manila are very much discredited in the eyes of the country, and in those of the Americans themselves who believed that the former could be of great service to them with the revolutionists. Even the present Cabinet has to change its opinion and program very soon and to continue our previous policy, because it has seen that if it would not lend itself to this change, it could not remain long in power, as “Puno”, backed by the Army and by the people, is decided to fight for independence. “Puno” wanted a suspension of hostilities only for a short time to afford the troops a much-needed rest and to gather pills.[11] Otis refused out of distrust, but “Puno” has partly obtained his wish, because the rains are forcing the enemy almost to inaction and the soldiers are disheartened. “Puno” tells’ me that the Government is ready to receive the Serge[12] any time, but it is necessary that it be soon.


                        “Puno” = Aguinaldo?

The news about dissensions and formation of factions is not true. There are only the autonomists and the partisans of the war. The first are very few and they are within Manila and, even among these few, it seems to me that many show that they are so only for the sake of convenience. Among us, although I deplore and condemn the violent death of Luna, his demise has warded off a threatening tempest. Luna aimed high, convinced maybe that he was more cultured than “Puno” and, if he had not done anything as yet, it was because he had not yet acquired the necessary prestige to challenge “Puno” openly. That is why he aspired to the Presidency of the Council with the portfolio of war. “Puno’s” weakness before Luna has contributed much to rouse Luna’s ambitions. Because “Puno” allowed him to do what he wanted, Luna thought that he could manipulate “Puno” like a puppet. But, knowing “Puno” as I do, it is safe to suppose that had Luna obtained what he wanted, a cleavage would have taken place that may have destroyed us all. Despite everything, however, I frankly admit that, until now, I am yet in the dark as to the real motives behind Luna’s death, which I still cannot determine whether it was casual or premeditated.

I do not know if it is true that Paterno has asked to be allowed to return to Manila. It may be true, but the request may have been made before his coming into power, and after robbers have entered his house in Mejico, robbing him of plenty of money and jewelry. The news about General G. del Pilar is not true either; so much so, that “Puno” had appointed him one of the commissioners who went to Manila to ask for a suspension of hostilities, after Arguelles had failed and following the scandal stirred up by Luna against Buencamino and Paterno right after the formation of the present Cabinet

“Puno” has just written to me about the appointment of Antonio Regidor as envoy to America. He tells me that Regidor’s power is limited to asking for the recognition of our independence. Would to heaven that he be more luck than “Kita.” As long as he would not allow himself to be flatter by the Americans, like the political acrobats of Manila, he can be of some service to us. The trouble with Regidor is that because he does not know our people well he may be guided by the information that he may receive from those of Manila. It will be up to you to put us on guard if needs be. On the other hand, the Americans know by now that the truly influential men in the Revolution and in the country are not those who are on their side.

It seems that the friars do not really stop resorting to every means, however, inhuman, in order to save their interests from being lost. But let us see if they can do it. While I have an atom of strength and influence left, I shall use them to destroy their plans and calculations. Their expulsion from the Philippines for our tranquillity is becoming indispensable. McKinley, Otis and their followers are falling under those leeches. On the other hand, the campaign in Cavite failed to yield the result that the Americans had expected.

With my last letter of July 21st, I enclosed a narrative, which I signed, of the events or of the behavior of the Americans towards us. Please translate it into English so that the American people shall know of such behavior. If you think it is necessary, you can give the lie to an interview which is attributed to me, because there has been no such interview, and much less have I said that we are awaiting foreign intervention, that is, a European one.


August 11th


Up to now, I have not found an opportunity to send this letter. Neither can I add other news, because there has been no remarkable occurrence. Military operations are paralyzed. The roads are almost impassable because of the rains. However, a rumor is going around that the Americans will renew their attacks on the 15th and that the Government is contemplating to move to Bayambang. I do not know how much truth there is in this.

Congress has voted a foreign loan of twenty million pesos in order to give formal authorization to “Kita” to negotiate for it. I am against any other world power, aside from America, to be our creditor nowadays because I am afraid of a dangerous intervention. That world power will get back her money either by siding with us or by forging an understanding with the enemy to divide us between them. The means that I consider safest is that America herself, upon recognizing our independence, should lend us the money. However, if that loan is badly needed I consider it indispensable that the world power which will be our creditor should recognize our independence or, at least, our belligerence.


September 13, 1899

I have already sent this letter to Manila by a messenger, but he had to return it to me because he could not cross the American lines. On the other hand, as in my letter of July 21st, I had already announced many of the things that I repeated here, I did not consider its sending very necessary and urgent and, hence, the delay.

As of today, I have just received the very pleasant letter of “Ikkis,” dated July 25th, last, with the translations of clippings and of foreign news, which I sent to La Independencia together with the letter and the news for this newspaper.

Our communications are in truth, very slow; but I have already previously written; to “Puno” about your wishes that he arrange a faster means of communication. I am now going to reiterate this request, “Puno” has just told me that you have retained the credentials of Regidor and that he has approved said retention, and ordered the sending of said credentials withheld until further orders, because of certain inconveniences that you have found and which he considers reasonable. I answered him saying that, in my opinion, Regidor has the disadvantage of knowing our country only very slightlly, as he has been away from here for quite along time. If to this is added the consideration he has kept no connections with, the Philippines except with the rich people of Manila, particularly, may be, with Pardo de Tavera, the leader of autonomism and political “acrobatism,” I cannot lay aside the fear that he would represent in, America said pernicious element, disregarding our legitimate aspirations.


Note: Assertions he is up?

On the 23th of last month, Congress and the Government elected me President of the Supreme Court of Justice which, according to our Constitution, carries with it the office of the Vice-President of the Republic, “Puno” sided by, Doctor Barcelona, Don Gracio and others, worked for my election; but the Council of Government, backed by Tio Bosiong, the actual President of Congress, and Ferrer, opposes my appointment tenaciously. I is being said that they are working hard to annul my election on the ground of physical disability and, for this reason, I have not yet been informed of my election. But I do not know if they would succeed, because “Puno” appears to be firm in his wish that I be the one to occupy that position. It is also being said that Paterno is set on being elected to the post because he sees that “Puno” does not have much confidence in him and he may lose his position any time; that is why he wants to insure an honorable exit. Besides, if these people did not like me before, they like me less now that I have published articles describing graphically some errors and blunders that, in my opinion, would be fatal unless they are corrected. You know well enough, that I am often harsh in my language, and, besides, I purposely called aloud to make sure that I would be heard. Result: a warning from the Department of the Interior which considered my article antipatriotic, because they, the persons in power, say that I am giving the foreigners cause to think unfavorable of our capacity to govern and of our union. I had to convince the editor of the paper that to point out our own errors is patriotism and it will, at the same time, show the foreigners that we have definite nations of the art of governing: that polemics are not discords, and they cannot harm us, unless they weaken or break our union in our efforts to attain our final goal, which is independence. In the beginning he felt certain scruples; but now, in the last issues of the paper, he himself wrote two editorials against the politics of deceits and lies which our politicians and employees, copying the Spanish model, seem to pursue. This is why certain elements who are fond of ostentation, but who pay very little attention to the Constitution and to the laws, hate me so much.

We have started here the campaign of the Filipino clergy, owing to the excommunication launched against P. Aglipay by the noted Nozaleda. I am sending you herewith the answer in the form of manifesto, of said priest. I do not know if I could send you other works that have been published, to show that Nozaleda has no longer eclesiastical jurisdiction over the Philippines. I have not yet received the copies that I was promised, but if they do not come on time to go with this letter. I shall send them to you when I receive them.


                        Note: Buencamino & Nozaleda


Buencamino wants also to assure for himself of an honorable exit. He is working on the clergy so that they will appoint him ambassador to Rome. But his intentions are not good, because he says that he will earnestly try to obtain from Nozaleda the appointment of an Ecclesiastical Governor, I do not understand what this man thinks. But I told the clergy that should they allow themselves to be taken in and come to an understanding with Nozaleda, they will become the enemies of the county and of the truly patriotic elements. I feel ashamed of having to inform you of these internal problems, because I consider them ugly; but I trust in your discretion and, besides, I believe it convenient that you should, know what is going on here.

Fortunately, these things do not prevent our army from becoming more and more animated, neither do they detract from the enthusiasm of the people, despite the sorrows caused by certain abuses and burdens. The Americans can hardly move forward despite all their efforts; that is why the Government has decided to stay in Tarlac. There are very persistent rumors that the volunteers and some American officials in Manila are very much displeased, and that, over there, there is much fear of a sudden attack by them in combination with the native police. Hence, our communication with Manila has become more difficult, because the American authorities have taken certain precautions.

I received with great satisfaction the news that my answers to the foreign traders and to the questions of the Oceanic had contributed to the formation abroad, of a favorable opinion about our aptitudes, and I am deeply grateful for your congratulations, although I do not deserve so much, because very few are really free from this childish weakness.

A Spanish Commission, working for the freedom of the Spanish prisoners, has been here a short time ago to confer with the Government, and our Government has asked for six or seven million pesos as indemnification. I can understand that, maybe, the penury of our Treasury and the expenses which the maintenance of the prisoners occasions in our towns, could have forced the Government to this decision; but I am afraid that the payment may be interpreted as a ransom and other people may form a very poor idea of our culture. I am of the opinion that you should hear “Kita” and Naning on this particular matter, and you should advise “Puno” on what is most convenient to do, just in case said demand may be harmful to our reputation, because the Spanish Commission which has been authorized to offer one million, promised to come back.

I have just read La Independencia of the 11th, which says that according to news from Manila, General Wheeler has just arrived to relieve Otis, who, owing to some last-minute communications with his Government, has succeeded in retaining his post, leaving the newcomer in an embarrassing position. If this is true, the dissensions between the two will be favorable to us. Enclosed herewith is a number of La Independencia that carries one of my articles. I do not know whether its publication is advisable or not, because some people may say that it means putting the colossi on guard. But I say to myself that the latter already know, without our saying so, that our Revolution is injurious to them. And in this supposition I believe that it would be to our advantage that they should understand that we possess some knowledge. If being reserve was convenient to us at the beginning, I do not anymore consider it necessary today, because the question now is to show our capability. It is up to you to decide whether it is advisable to send this article to “Kita,” so that he can see whether or not it is suitable for publication in European papers. It seems to me that you should work over there so that the Pope will appoint a Filipino Bishop, inasmuch as to appoint a foreigner would result into schism, because the clergy has established its Chapter for the government of the Philippine Church and appointed a Commission to Rome which sails as soon as it can. Of course, I am talking of work in the press and not of other kinds of efforts which are not possible nowadays. This would help our aspirations for the expulsion of the leeches with cowls.

If you have not received my article of July 21st, which I sent you with my letter containing an exact and faithful narration of the conduct of the Americans towards us, please tell me so that I can send you another copy.

I am still as before, waiting for relief that may never come. Regards to all from your affectionate.


Ap. Mabini


P. S.

Is the loss of many grains[13] which have been loaded for that place due really to the recent storm, true? It seems that the obstacles which are trying our dedication to the cause are not yet through. Fortunately, the stormy weather has to pass and, by force or by the unavoidable law of Nature, better days will come in which, with a stroke, we shall make up for our losses and gain much more.





Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 209;              See p. 204 on Buencamino one month later





Rosales, August 12, 1899




My dear Friend and Colleague:


I received your last two letters, that is, the one of July 1st and that of August 6th. I am grateful not only for your offers but also for the news that you are so kind to impart.


I congratulate you for the improvement that is taking place in our foreign relations, and I congratulate myself also, because said improvement indefinitely prolongs my rest. Even if I consider the present Cabinet patriotic to the utmost, I cannot free myself of the misgiving that, when the tempest and the dangers increase in violence, it may find itself hard-pressed enough to shift the weight to other shoulders as it had happened to me. It would not be so bad if, you should have the luck that I had in finding stronger ones.


I agree with you. We have to try all means to make the American people put down McKinley or force him to change policy. It is in this way alone that we can obtain our independence with less danger for the integrity of our territory. Any negotiation that may result in a foreign intervention is very dangerous, because the world power that may intervene can forge an understanding with America if in so doing it can get greater advantages than by helping us.


I am afraid that, despite your best wishes, the plan of establishing schools would entail a useless expenditure. Until we can have the certainty that the Americans will not attack, I do not believe that opening schools is advisable.

You know that you can always command your affectionate and and respectful


Ap. Mabini





p. 253-254:                 all sub historians pick up on Kalaw



July 20, 1900




My dear Sir and Friend:


In inviting me to a meeting of the Filipino people I see that you have overlooked the fact that I should not attend it because I am neither the people nor have I have been authorized by the people to represent them. I beg you, therefore, to excuse me and accept my thanks and not to misuse so much the name of the poor Filipino people.


You say that one of the purposes of the meeting is to make known the peaceful aims of General MacArthur, which is completely useless. In the articles published in the newspapers and signed by you, copies of which you have so kindly sent me, you quote the above-mentioned General as having said these words: “It is a mistake to believe that something can be obtained by force from the United States; but, on the other hand, it is true that any concession can be expected from the generosity of the American people.” You could not have found a better and a clearer way of expressing the thought than this. I believe, however, that it would be more practical and positive that you tell the General that to believe in their generosity, it is necessary that we first see justice. A generous act costs the doer more than any act of justice, because in the latter case he does nothing more than pay or give what is due, while in the former case he has to make a present of something which is his very own. If the Americans begin by taking possession of the sovereignty that belongs to the Filipino people, you are more than sagacious to understand that it is useless to expect gifts from one who, not content with what is his, takes possession of what belongs to another.

Another purpose of the meeting, according to you, is to make the people see the necessity and the advantage of peace as a basis of freedom. It seems to me that instead of making the people see the necessity of this, it should be treated as something which is already known or understood. We all want peace1 and there are those who suffer and fight, just to obtain it. I grant that the masses may, perhaps, believe that once the armed fight is over we shall have peace. But you are not the masses; you who have grown grey hair in the struggle of life will not allow yourself to be fooled by appearances. You know perfectly well that there cannot be real peace, which is the only basis of freedom, etc., where there are ignored rights, outraged justice, and crimes.

A humiliating peace is tolerated only in uncivilized countries. Do you mean that those who believe us lacking in all culture are right — you, who, because of your learning and experience, are the ones most called, upon to honor our culture in the eyes of the world?


I am your courteous and respectful,


Ap. Mabini



Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p.259 – 263:



Manila, P.I., August 31, 1900


General J. F. Bell


My dear and distinguished General:


The reading of your personal letter of the 28th instant1 has made me very happy. After having considered closely the points treated in it, I cannot but acknowledge the loftiness of your intentions and the nobility of your sentiments. I shall try to match your kind attention and courtesy and give you, with the greatest clearness and frankness, my private opinion on the subject under consideration, with so much more pleasure, as I am no less anxious to find a satisfactory solution of the same.

You bewail that the Filipino people do not know how to appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of the Americans. May I take the liberty to tell you that until now all the efforts and sacrifices of the Americans tend only to show their devastating strength, and this fact the Filipino people understand. When the American authorities turn back their eyes to reason and justice, making less use of force, I can assure you that the Filipino people shall at once know how to appreciate the change of procedure.

You yourself corroborate my estimate of the situation when in your letter you set up this principle: “The only justifiable condition of war under whatever circumstance is the possibility of success.” Were this principle true and were it constantly put into practice, the solution of all international and civil questions would have to be sought in force, and men would have to blot out with a stroke of the pen the eternal principles of morality and justice, written with the blood of many generations, and bring back mankind to its primitive state.

You could not invoke the words “humanity” and “civilization” without demolishing your principle. If in real life the strong nations so easily make use of force to impose their claims on the weak ones, it is because even now civilization and humanitarian sentiments that are so often i principle, it has to be admitted that the war which the Americans are waging- in the Philippines is just and humanitarian, because the Filipinos are weak, which trend of reasoning not even the most ignorant Filipino will believe to be true.

I am the first to deplore deeply the guerrilla and ambush system of warfare which, the Filipinos have been forced to adopt, because I have always considered the fight that offers equal risks to both combatants more noble and more worthy of men. But the laws of war that authorizes the strong nations the use of their powerful weapons of combat in their fight with a weak people who lack said weapons, are the very laws that persuade the weak people to make use of the guerrilla and ambush system, especially when it comes to defending their homes and their freedoms against an invasion. In this extreme case, those very laws implacably order the weak people to defend their threatened honor and natural rights under pain of being called uncivilized and incapable of understanding the responsibilities of a proper government. I agree with you in this: force as the only factor used in the solution of all kinds of questions among rational being is not only crim-nal in itself but it is also the cause of all the miseries and ruin that have afflicted humanity and the peoples of all ages, For the reasons that I have stated in the previous paragraphs, the Americans and not the Filipinos should be reminded of this lesson from history.

The Filipinos knew only too well that by force, they can expect nothing from the United States. They fight to show to the United States that they possess sufficient culture to know their rights even when there is a pretense to hide them by means of clever sophisms. The Filipinos hope that the fight will remind the Americans of the struggle borne by their ancestors against the Englishmen for the emancipation of the colonies which are now the free States of North America. Then the Americans were in the same place which the Filipinos are; in today. If at that time the justice of the American cause found defenders in France, the Filipinos hope to have on their part the very Americans when the latter will realize that the fight is not motivated by hatred of race, but by the same principles: sealed with the blood of their own ancestors.

The Filipinos: know also that the art of governing, like all other practical knowledge, is acquired through experience and that, in order to be good citizens and to be able to conduct rightly a republican form of government, it is necessary that they know how to appreciate honor and defend justice. This does not destroy the natural disposition of peoples to learn the art by themselves as the American people learned it



1 See page 265.    (Letter dated Aug. 28, 1900)



Page 261:                 Preloging la Revolucion, Note


without the help of any other men. If the Filipinos, giving up the faculties that by nature belong to them, would let the Americans govern the Islands by themselves as the latter claim to do, the Filipinos would never learn the art of governing, and they would give the Americans a cause to say that the Filipinos are by nature incapable to govern. The Filipinos cannot believe in the promised help because the conditions required for the granting of said help make the realization of the promise impossible.

I hope the Americans will understand that the present state of culture of the Filipino people shall not put up with subjugation by force as a permanent condition. The Filipinos may be vanquished now and again, but as long as they are denied every kind of right, there will not be lasting peace. The Spaniards were able to rule the Islands without great troubles for three centuries because the Filipinos were then sunk in the most complete ignorance and they lived without consciousness of national solidarity. Today it is different; today the Filipinos share in the life of other nations and they have tasted, even if only for a short time and in an incomplete manner, the joys of an independent life.

I can understand that its impossible, nay, even pernicious, that the Americans should abandon the Islands to the mercy of other ambitious world powers. The Filipinos know likewise that the union between the two peoples is the only thing that can undo and avert the dangers of the future. Mutual convenience demands the prompt cessation of hostilities; because as the war drags on, it will necessarily engender hatred and make it impossible for the Americans and the Filipinos to lead a common life together. In the Revolution of 1896, the Filipinos were only asking of Spain the concession of certain privileges which the Spaniards enjoyed, but the Spanish Government refused to grant them their request; had those privileges been granted, the Revolution would not only have been stopped, but the Filipinos would have made common cause with Spain in the war against the United States.

The Filipinos are ready for an understanding as long as said understanding would not demand as a condition an unconditional submission to the claims of the Americans, but the acceptance of a formula in the advantages and disadvantages of which both sides would equally share. The Filipinos would not have faith in the promises of the American authorities while the latter pin them down to the cruel alternative of dishonor or death. In the meantime that American sovereignty is not content with limiting the prerogatives inherent to the Filipino people, and would go so far as to claim the complete annulment of the same, such sovereignty shall be hated by the


p.262:             Impt. Definitions


Filipinos who will see in it the origin of all their humiliation. If the war does not prevent the organization of municipalities, much less can it prevent the creation of a constitutional project that will lay the cornerstone of the political future of the Philippines. When the Congress of the United States shall become convinced that the completion of said project will paralyze the fighting, it will make it into law. Any reference to the just claims of the Filipinos far from weakening among them the prestige of the Americans, would make it more firm to serve as a base on which the solidarity, of interests, which is the best guaranty of union and peace, would stand.

For my part, I shall do everything that I can to facilitate such understanding. The one branded as uncompromising will give a clear and practical proof of the greatest adaptability, because he knows that he who lives in this world has to undergo the inconveniences in it. Hence, I shall not advocate absolute independence, knowing that I cannot obtain it now. Neither would I talk about independence with protectorate nor of autonomy, because both are purely theoretical. Protectorate is a limitation the nature and importance of which depends upon the mutual agreement, tacit or expressed, between the protector and the protected. Autonomy, on the other hand, involves in itself the idea of independence more or less restricted. To discuss these formulas, therefore, is to waste time on abstract questions.

I shall go direct to the point as is commonly said, following the example of the Americans who are a very practical people. I shall limit myself to point out the bases on which, in my opinion, the political edifice of the Philippines should stand, to wit:

1st. The enjoyment by the Filipinos of the same individual rights, natural as well as political, that the citizens of cultured and free nations enjoy;

2nd. Complete equality between the Americans and the Filipinos within the territory of the Philippine Islands; an

3rd. The organization of government which would offer the best guarantees for the realization of the first two conditions.

I should like to see a project of the Constitution that would fix the rules which shall serve as basis for the solution of the questions that may arise from the three capital points which I have just specified; and should I find it acceptable to the majority of the Filipinos, I would not have any inconvenience in advising my countrymen the acceptance of the same. My uncompromising attitude has no other1 purpose but the assurance of a real peace; hence, I cannot accept conditions which, in my opinion, will not lessen the unrest of the minds.

Please forgive me if I have written long and if, involuntarily, I have expressed myself with more frankness than courtesy. I wanted to have these poor lines reflect faithfully the sentiments of the majority of the Filipinos, and I hope I have achieved it. Many maybe cannot or will not like to express their real thoughts on these questions; but it does not matter. Everything that I have said beats to the core of the hearts of all Filipinos.


I have the greatest pleasure to be your most attentive servant.


Ap. Mabini


P. 265-267 :

[Enclosure]  letter from general bell*


Manila, P.I., August 28, 1900


My dear Mr. Mabini:


In view of what you have told me in our last conversation, it seems that it will not be difficult for the Americans and the Filipinos to come to an understanding more definite than the one that exists between them now, as long as the latter would be willing to recognize clearly the wisdom of the policy which I shall try to explain to you.

In this compromise, the Americans do not constitute an enemy people. They only want as any other nation would want, that their good intentions shall be recognized. They need to see a. sign that the Filipino people appreciate the efforts and sacrifices that the Americans have done for the benefit of the same.

It will probably be impossible that the Americans would feel inclined to concede anything to an ungrateful people, especially while the latter continue to be at war with the former.

The Filipino people should understand that they cannot obtain anything from the Americans by force. Those who are familiar with the customs of the Americans should also understand that, under favorable circumstances, almost everything can be expected from their generosity. But this generosity cannot be put into practice for lack of an object, while the American soldiers are being killed under conditions that (according to the laws of war respected by all civilized nations) make their death, in reality, a murder.

The only justifiable condition of war under whatever circumstance is the possibility of success. As soon as this possibility disappears with the fluctuations of the fortunes of war, civilization demands that the defeated side, in the name of humanity, should surrender and accept the result, although it may be painful to its feelings. That is what civilization


* This letter of General Bell to Mabini and the answer of the latter [dated August 31] were both published in the local press, and they caused quite a stir in those days. The nationalists, in the fields as well as in the cities, expressed approval and pure joy. — T.M.K.


p.266: Deal of USA

would expect, and combatants who would stray, from this principle place themselves in a separate classification among civilized peoples and show themselves as incompetent in the management of civil affairs to the extent of their ignorance of the demands of humanity.

The Filipinos have been clearly defeated in the battlefields and, in my opinion, in this stage of the war, the only wise thing to do is to admit what is inevitable, suspend hostilities, surrender the arms and cooperate with the United States in the regeneration of the Islands. This is the only road to the sympathy of the people of the United States and, after the lapse of a few years, fifteen or twenty at most, it is probable that the government shall have been well adjusted in the whole Archipelago, functioning smoothly and with all the questions and disputes satisfactorily settled. If, by that time, the people of these Islands, having already shown their capacity for self-government and self-control, and their fitness in the management of their own affairs, would come to the American people and express their aspiration for a more ample self-government and ask for the indulgence of the same, in my opinion, there is almost no doubt as to the outcome. I consider too probable that the people of the United States would grant every reasonable petition made unanimously by the Filipino people.

The logic of the situation, therefore, places the fate of the Filipino people in their very hands and points out to the fact that with the acceptance of peace and the cultivation of the arts of civilization, they would, in due time, become the masters of their own destiny. Under the present circumstances, the use of force as a factor is not only criminal but it is also daily shoving the natives of the Archipelago headlong towards a deeper attitude of semicivilization in which they will become completely incapable of appreciating and understanding the responsibilities of civil government. The Filipino people can only show their fitness in this matter by laying down their arms and stop forcing the United States to grant any concession which, at present is utterly impossible for anyone in her position.

The fitness to establish and run a republican form of government in accordance with the upright principles of the American people is not an inborn gift. It is a matter of cooperation and it is acquired through experience. The people of the United States have been studying and learning this problem tor more than two centuries. They cannot, therefore, believe that the Filipino people will be capable of developing all at once such a government. The Americans, however, have no doubt that they can help the Filipinos learn this art in a short time.

I should like you to understand that I do not speak here in my official capacity as Provost-Marshal, not even as an American official, but simply in my personal status as an American citizen, expressing my own private convictions to a personal friend whom I have always respected for his frank and friendly confidence in me and for the sincerity of his intentions.

It would please me very much if, after a personal discussion, we could come to an agreement over a definite proposition that would be feasible, with which we would be doing a service to the people of these Islands who now live in a deplorable condition of doubt and uncertainty.


Yours very sincerely,

J. F. Bell





October 1, 1900


General J. F. Bell


My dear General:

I have the honor to send you the enclosed Memorandum for General MacArthur regarding the authority granted me, which document I delivered to you on the 24th of last month.

If there is no urgency for the conference and it can be indefinitely postponed, I shall, with your permission, start my preparations to move to another place.

Deeply grateful for your attention, I am, with the greatest consideration,


Your most respectful servant,

Ap. Mabini


memorandum to general macarthur


The power signed by Aguinaldo in my favor shows that the armed forces, notwithstanding the recent reverses, persist in the ideal of Independence maintained since before the war. Likewise, I am convinced that this is the same ideal cherished by the immense majority of the Filipino people.

From this it can be inferred that the most effective remedy to calm the minds of the Filipinos and to make them consider peace as a blessing is Independence, with the limitations that the Americans may impose and that the Filipinos may accept.

But I see that the word Independence is as distasteful to the hearing of the party in power in the United States as the word control, in the sense of American domination, is dis-


p. 270: Note: What does he mean?


pleasing to the ears of the Filipinos. If the Republicans do not like to hear Philippine Independence, let them not talk either of American domination in the Philippines as, otherwise, they shall never become friends with the Filipinos.

Can a state of relationship be found which would not imply either domination on the part of Americans or independence for the Filipinos? This is the real problem and its solution in the affirmative sense is the key that would unlock the doors to peace. The bases which I proposed in the answer[15] to the letter of General Bell may be considered as an expressed equation in the search for that unknown state, which is the real formula of salvation.

If such a state does not exist, the Republican party of the United States, unless it modifies its program with regard to the Philippines, can never solve the Filipino problem. History, which is the only infallible guide in this world, teaches that force only begets misery, never the welfare of peoples; that the Americans cannot destroy the Filipino people without, at the same time, attempting the destruction of the very people of the United States.

The future of the United States is magnificent, flattering, secure; that of the Filipino people, sad and uncertain. The policy of expansion claimed by the party in power will doubtless produce great advantages; but it has the misfortune of binding two peoples to a common fate, making the strong participate in the miseries of the weak. Should the Philippines be annexed to America in the cense which the party in power claims up to now, the future of the United States will, not be in the hands of the Americans alone; it will also be in the hands of the Filipinos. If the latter are not happy, the former cannot be happy either. Can all the advantages put together make up even for this inconvenience alone? Let the American politicians reflect well on this and may they not be dazzled by their strength and their triumph! Let them look not only at the present but also towards the future, since they take pride in being practical.

In short, the Filipinos offer the Americans two roads to peace: one straight and safe, the one proposed by Aguinaldo in the authority he had conferred on me; and the other, tortuous and uncertain, the one I have proposed. I say that the bases I have proposed will not lead directly to peace, because, coming as they do from a private individual mediator, they need the approval of public opinion and of the armed forces.

Let the American authorities, therefore, decide whether they accept the authority which General Aguinaldo conferred


p. 271: Note: Quote

on me or the terms which I have proposed. It is only after this preliminary question has been solved that I can come to the principal problem and go into the details. The Americans have shown only too clearly their excellence as soldiers; what is now lacking is for them to show the virtues proper to politicians and rulers, so that they can rightly say that they are worthy sons of a country destined by Providence to regenerate the world.


Manila, September 19, 1900.


In the conference between Mabini and General MacArthur, the latter wanted that Aguinaldo should surrender unconditionally and yield himself to the generosity of the Americans. The Filipino representatives could not, of course, accept negotiations based on that condition; hence the conference failed. –T.M.K





Manila, November 12, 1900

Mr. [Name erased]


My dear Friend and Colleague:


I owe it to our old friendship to inquire after your health and that of your family and to let you know, at the same time, of my freedom and the important things that have happened to me.

After you had left, I had a conference with the American Commission, a conference that bore no result, as said Commission assured me that the sovereignty that the United States claims to establish is the same that Russia or Turkey would claim to establish if they were to occupy the Philippines, but softened only by the democratic spirit of the American institutions and customs. And when I was trying to show the great advantage that could be gained were they to recognize, even if only in part, the rights of the people, the members stopped me flatly saying that they had orders to carry out the instructions they received from their Government by force, if needs be.

But afterwards you may have learned of the letter of General. Bell and of my answer, both of which were published by the newspapers here. As a private mediator who wants to exhaust all means to prevent the prolongation of the war, I proposed three bases for peace, trying to give the Americans the widest latitude possible, so that they could be familiar with the different ideals and make easier the bargaining and the exchange of impressions.

Shortly after the receipt of the letter, I unexpectedly received the notification that I could move to any, other house in Manila, but that I could not leave the capital without the permission of the American authorities. Availing myself of this authorization, I left the station on Anda Street on October 3rd last and I am staying temporarily in a house on Nagtahan Street, No. 21, Sampalok, where you have me ready to serve you in what means I can.



1 The above letter reached the camp of Aguinaldo on March 6. In the original, the address appears erased.: It is believed that it i’s addressed either to a person in the confidence of Aguinaldo, or to Aguinaldo himself, or to one who was in Aguinaldo’s company. — T.M.K.


p.277: Note: WB

Lately, I had another conference in which I was asked to specify the wishes of the armed elements. I said that I had no definite and ample instructions from General Aguinaldo, who is the only one accredited to formulate said wishes. Nevertheless, I told them of my private opinion, that not only the armed element but the whole people of the country would receive with pleasure a system of government similar to that which the South African Republics had before the war, supported by an agreement on terms that would definitely avoid a war like the one that broke out between the Englishmen and the Boers. The Americans told me that they cannot agree on the independence of the Philippines; that in order to avert the great evils that come with the prolongation of the war, Aguinaldo should lay down the arms, yield himself to the generosity of the Americans and come to Manila, with the assurance that General Bell would himself go to meet him at any place that he, Aguinaldo, may designate and that General MacArthur would welcome him as a guest in his palace and treat him like a real brother. I promised, of course, to relay the message.

Do not ask me about the terms that I proposed, because there is nothing that I can say. The Americans are silent about them; they do not say whether they accept them or not. I told them frankly that any stipulation I may make is useless without the approval of the armed element and of public opinion. I told them also that, although I am looking for means of rapprochement, my allegiance is still with the Revolution, and that I continue to acknowledge that the right to stipulate the terms belongs to the leaders of same.

McKinley has repeatedly said that he cannot concede us independence, and McKinley has been re-elected. Nevertheless, if the revolutionists insist on independence, I will be with them. If, however, they should lack the strength to go on defending said ideal and they should authorize me to ask for another thing, I would still be with them in everything that would not be prejudicial to our honor.


Allow me to say that you can always command your affectionate.



VI. Mabini bridged these gaps: Propaganda to Malolos,  and Malolos to the autonomy movement leading to the independence in 1946; within that, he represented ideas of a strong presidency that would arise in the 1930s, World War II and even Martial Law; also: the idea that constant referenda –the plebiscitary elections in 1922 and 1933 in particular– meant he was the first advocate of (Quezon’s) articulation of a government of public opinion that was the central referendum question in 1922.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin: p. 153

Malolos synthesizes a society, a culture, a history, a nation. Here, come together at last, after 300 years of movement towards this point, stand the Creole (Calderon, Pardo de Tavera) and the principalia (Paterno, the Aranetas, the Legardas) and the ilustrado (Mabini, Luna, the Guerreros), standing side by side with native clergy and peasantry. It is as if, with the American intrusion, the diverse elements of Philippine society, hitherto so strange to one another, had suddenly realized what they had in common- vis-à-vis the alien presence.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin: p. 154

Superficially, Malolos can be viewed as a struggle between two caps to “capture” Aguinaldo. In one camp were Paterno, Calderon and the wealthy Manileños. In the other were Mabini, Luna and the peasant army. What Paterno represented is clear enough: property rights. But what did Mabini represent? Though born a peasant, he can hardly be said to represent the peasantry. He had a great distrust of it as any Creole; he believed in the leadership of an intellectual elite; he didn’t think that any Juan, Pedro, or Pablo could handle the portfolio of foreign affairs; he wanted an Arellano or a Pardo de Tavera. When he could no longer turn to clergy or gentry or Creole or ilustrado, having antagonized all of them, he began to identify himself more and more with “the people”, but he was a main with little emotional need for people. Ultimately, we have to grant that he was moved by noble abstractions


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 157: Caesarism or Bonapartism (Marx)

It’s curious, but in his campaign for an absolute military dictatorship, this frail invalid, this champion of law and republicanism, verged on Caesarism. (The story goes that on being appointed to the Supreme Court his first query was what division of the army he would have under him.) Had events been otherwise, he might have found a Bonaparte in Luna.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini

p. 131 – 132;




March 6, 1899


Mr. President:


Many complaints have been directed to us here against the abuses committed by General Luna. People say that he published an edict a few days ago threatening1 to shoot without process of law those who would violate his orders. In Bocaue, he ordered a Chinese shot without due process of law; and published his edict even in the province of Pampanga.

Soldiers usually shoot people summarily, it is true. But only in barbaric countries, not in civilized ones, do military chiefs order such a thing by means of an edict. Besides, Luna has jurisdiction only in Polo, where his headquarters stands, and in the towns comprising the Manila zone.

I find it strange that Luna does not understand this. He cannot be giving orders in Bulacan and Pampanga except through the military chiefs of these provinces.

While he is acting as Chief of Operations, he stops being the Director of War, and even if he does not he can only have powers within the office and, at most, only when he takes the place of the Secretary of War in the absence of the latter.

If an educated person cannot understand what powers he has, how much less an ignorant one?

Please make him understand these things so that we shall have no conflicts.


Command me.





If you can put another in his place, it would be much better.




Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini


p. 135;




Malolos, March. 7, 1899


Mr. President:


Do not offer Luna the undersecretaryship of war, which was formerly the directorship, because we need for that post someone who understands office work, the organization of the army, and the laws governing war. He might tangle up the organization, which will be worse.

If he insist on retiring to his hometown, do not mention to him the undersecretaryship of war, and feign to be ignorant of the matter.

If he is not good for the army, the less he will, be for the office, because he is a despot.

This is a sort of warning. I have already given you to understand long ago that he does not know the organization and the function of a war office.

He is a chemist and knows something about trenches, but he will not do for politics and law.


Command me.



  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 62;            Was 1876 constitution in govt n 1898? 7 NB

However, this does not eliminate the fact that it draws heavily from two Spanish constitutions, that of 1812 and 1876. (The entire “Programa constitucional de la Republica Filipina” is found in La Revolucion Filipina, Volume I, pp. 130-165. The entire texts of the Spanish Constitutions of 1812, 1869, and 1876 are found in Diccionario de la administracion Española, Volume III. Ed. D. Marcelo Martinez Alcubilla, Madrid.) It will be recalled that the Spanish Constitution of 1812 was greatly inspired by the French Constitution of 1791.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 103;  Is this point relevant in context of the times?

Consequently, it can be seen that theoretical and practical considerations were intimately connected, if not confused, in the discussions in Congress. If Calderon had in mind a conflict between Congress and the Cabinet in a parliamentary system based on European models, then he was technically correct when he maintained that a loss of confidence by Congress in the Cabinet was enough for the latter to resign. However, if he intended to apply the above principle to what was happening at the Malolos Congress, the question could be raised as to whether or not Congress actually directly represented the people. The fact was that, as had been mentioned more than once, not more than one fourth of the representatives were at any time elected, and if they were elected, the evidence was that the electorate was a restricted one. This was a fact Mabini must have been aware of. In any case, Calderon’s clear hints for the Cabinet to resign did not produce the result desired although they were seriously discussed by the Cabinet.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini

p. 78;






Mr. President:


There is heated discussion in Congress over the question of religion. If you take the side of one group, the other will keep away from the government.

It is necessary that you request a Department Secretary to tell Congress that, while the situation has not come down to normal, such matters should not be discussed.

This is just a warning for what may happen in the future.

Command your old servant,


Ap. Mabini


P.S. If you accept one religion, you will lose the people on whom you can count more during critical times.




Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini


p. 94 – 96;




January 14, 1899


Mr. President:


I have read and understood the letter of Buencamino. He says that if you do not approve the Constitution, you will lose your prestige. On this we differ in opinion.

Should the Constitution be approved without the amendments, no one could be appointed a Department Secretary without the approval of Congress. In my case, for example, because Congress doesn’t like me, I will be censured for anything I do until I will be forced to resign and, if I do not resign, the members will say that I am a despicable weakling who can swallow all insults. In short, no one can stay in the Department except the one who knows how to regale the Representatives, do what they want, and be in cahoots with them, even to do such as that will be against the interests of the country and justice. Such Department Secretaries, even if they should do badly, would be in the good graces of Congress, while the good ones would not be.

What will you do if the Secretaries you appoint be not acceptable to Congress? You will have to change them. And should the new ones be neither acceptable, change them again, of course. When this happens, no fright-thinking person will accept the position except the one who has an understanding with the Representatives. For this reason, you will find yourself forced to choose their men, whether you like them on not; and since you cannot govern without a Council of Government, you will have no ether way except to please the Representatives.

You cannot dissolve Congress because, in accordance with the Constitution, this cannot be done without the former’s consent. You will have to follow whatever they want because you do not have the veto power. Neither can you indict any Representative, because to do so you will need the permission of Congress. And, should you do it by force, the Representatives will say that you are violating the law. If now that you are acting strictly within the law, they are finding so many faults with you, what will they not do when you will be out of it? In short, when the people see that the Government and Congress work together against their welfare, they will have no other recourse except to revolt and destroy the Government and Congress, as it is happening in South American republics. I want to avoid all of this not primarily for your prestige, but because it will hurt the people.

With regard to responsibility and the decree that Mr. Buencamino cites, all of those are true, as it is also true that the loan was approved by Congress when it was forced to do so. What I do not like is that the loan would be wasted when there would be neither Constitution nor Congress. The loan will simply be squandered when the people in the Government are rascals.

Buencamino says that you should stick to the law and not to any particular opinion. This is true enough; but there is no law that can bind you to follow the agreement of Congress, because Article 24 gives you the veto power. When the Constitution is enforced, then that will be the time when you will be forced to follow what Congress says.

Finally, Mr. Buencamino says that the law orders you to promulgate the Constitution and, afterwards, you can dissolve Congress. This is not true, because Article 27 of the above-cited decree, dated June 23rd, give you the veto power. But once the Constitution is in force, you can no longer dissolve Congress without its consent, as it has been foreseen in Articles 36 and 70 of the Constitution, which is enclosed herewith and signed by the Representatives.

You can see, from what I say, who is right. I already anticipated something of the kind to you at the end of the translation of the amendments that I sent to you this morning.

In my opinion, if you approve the Constitution without the amendments, you will be contributing to the failure of our country and of our ideals. I can see it all too clearly now. That is why I find no other solution except to do one of the following:


1.   Change the Representatives appointed by the Government.

2.  Veto the Constitution.

3.  Accept the Constitution and change the Council of Government.


Before accepting the position that you offered me, I called your attention to my shortcomings and I did not yield to your wishes until I saw that you really needed me.

I cannot resign, come what may, because I believe that the people will blame me in the future should I not fight now for the good of the country. But as my strength lies with you, should you withdraw your confidence in me, I cannot do anything more. If you accept the Constitution without the amendments, you will show that you have no longer faith in me and that consequently, I have no more power. But even if this should happen, I want you to know that I will always be your loyal servant. It is possible that I may be the one who is wrong.

Please do not believe in the promises of the Representatives to the effect that when the Constitution should be in force, you can do whatever you want, because what will happen will be the opposite—you shall have to do what they want. If now that we have as yet no Constitution they are already pushing you down, what will they not do when you are tied to them?


May God enlighten you in these times of serious crisis.


Ap. Mabini


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 107;  Nick Joaquin, Calderon was right

When Calderon used the argument that during times of war, since the military element would come to the fore and its abuses might remain unchecked, it was necessary to give Congress extensive powers, Mabini retorted that the abuses of the military could only be checked by its leaders. Since at that time, Aguinaldo was the military leader, Mabini deemed it necessary to give all powers to Aguinaldo, who, in the first place, would be the most competent to check the abuses of his subordinates. Regarding this point, Mabini well demonstrated his pragmatic considerations.


VII. The period of premiership for Mabini is remarkably modern: telephones, telegraph, public opinion, mass media, all elements of governance; his critique of Aguinaldo –personal feelings taken into consideration—remains a useful prism for looking at the weaknesses of Philippine leaders and society.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 181; Good insight into Paterno. See book of Ceb…

Mabini was once invited by Paterno to one of these meetings but he declined with the sour remark that according to Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista it was out of place for a sick man to be present in formal reunions. More seriously, he blunted told Paterno that what should be done before holding meetings was to work for the freedom of the press and assembly in order that public opinion, unrestrained by fear or expediency, may be better known. (“Carta de Mabini a Paterno,” La Revolucion Filipina, Volume II, p. 180.)


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini  p. 78 – 79;




Malolos, December 8, 1898


Mr. Galicano Apacible


My dear Friend:


I received your pleasant answer to my letter.

We have just received your last letter of the 5th instant with the letter of Mr. Lozada. Luna is to blame for the misunderstanding about the codes. He left here the codes for Hongkong, Japan, Paris and America, and it is clear that he made a big mistake: he did not leave with you the Hongkong code from which we based the composition of the first telegram. It is obvious that he also made a mistake in the formulas, because we decoded the telegram of Buan[16] and your telegrams that followed with the formula for Japan and not with that for America as he says. In the first telegram we simply added 135, which is the code number for that place. I am telling you this, but you should not use it anymore. Continue using the previous formula.

It is better for you not to pursue further the contract you have been negotiating over there because the President wants the funds to be used for another operation in Japan, as he ordered in his last telegram.

Please tell Lozada that the separation of the Church and the State and the freedom of religion have been agreed upon with an overwhelming majority. The Americans are now winning over our men, as they have recently offered positions in the Audiencia to Messrs. Araneta and Arellano, after having offered another lucrative one to Sandiko.[17]

Should you receive, henceforth, telegrams that you cannot decipher, please transmit them literally to us here as you have not been properly acquainted with the formula.

Mr. Lichauco will return at once. I am thoroughly informed of the telegrams from Paris and Japan, and of your own.


Affectionately yours,


Apolinario Mabini

P. S. The President has asked me particularly to send him quarterly a detailed report of your entries and expenses to properly account for the funds of the State. He wants, besides, that you advise us in particular every time that you receive any remittance of money or of anything, sending us the corresponding receipt.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 157

(Aguinaldo was somewhere quoted as complaining that Mabini, jealous as a woman, wanted the President all to himself.)

Calderon wanted a Congress and a Constitution powerful enough to curb the excess of the army, excesses that were alienating the country folk. There would be sneering afterwards at the impotence of a Constitution author of which (Calderon) had to flee for his life after threats of a revolutionary general (Malvar). But this was precisely the sort of thing that Calderon feared would happen unless the army was placed under a strong law, a law the strength of which Mabini vitiated with his insistence that it was a military dictator, and the military chiefs, who could best curb the army. Apparently, Mabini later realized his mistake. In retrospect- and so much of the man’s sublimity is in his retrospects! – he allowed that the Revolution had failed partly because of the abuses of the army. But the Revolution failed when Congress and Constitution had long ceased to function and power rested solely on the military dictator and the military chiefs in whom Mabini had reposed his faith.


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 33:                   Opposes Majul

Here again is another instance disproving the claim that Mabini was the sole “Brains of the Revolution”. For the second time, Aguinaldo simply ignored Mabini and went ahead, taking another momentous step to show the world that the Philippines, with a Congress and a Constitution written by delegates elected by the sovereign people, truly deserved to be included among the free nations.

If Mabini had his way, the chances were that there would have been no Malolos Constitution at all, and without this constitution the proclamation of the First Philippine Republic would have been untenable. Thus one cannot see, contrary to the words of his hagiographic biographer, “Mabini’s form and guiding hands in shaping the course of the Filipino nation in the making.” In short, Mabini’s “intellectual leadership” of the revolution a myth.

One more blow to Mabini came shortly after the Malolos Congress opened. at the outset, eight standing committees were constituted, including the committee to draft the Constitution.


  • Rewriting Philippine History, The Truth About Aguinaldo and Other Heroes by Alfredo B. Saulo p. 41;                   Ricarte + Mabini

But historical research shows that Ricarte was Mabini’s principal informant in his book La Revolucion Filipina, in which Mabini condemned Aguinaldo for the deaths of Bonifacio and Luna–a kind of “disinformation” swallowed hook, line, and sinker by some uncritical Filipino intellectuals.


VIII. It is difficult for contemporary Filipinos, increasingly ignorant either of the Enlightenment, Classical thought, or basic principles of law and political science, to grasp the fundamental, nation-building approach of the Revolutionary and Independence (1901-1946) generations.


  • The Light of Liberty: Documents and studies on the Katipunan, 1892-1897 by Jim Richardson p. 474:                 Mabini

The baleful consequences of reprinting these bogus documents, however, persist to this day, and can readily be found even in cyberspace. An edition of the Manila Bulletin Online, for example, relays the nonsense that Apolinario Mabini “played a vital part in the establishment of the Katipunan…. Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto frequently consulted Mabini, and, at their request, Mabini wrote the political platform of the Katipunan”.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 146:            How can be he a “sphinx”??

Of our heroes, Mabini was the sphinx- a verbose one, but a sphinx nevertheless; and he may have carried his secret with him to the grave.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 165

Like Mabini, who, as he fled northward, saw the people turning away from the Republic, Alejandrino, too, saw his “popular masses” abandoning the lost cause. Yet, again like Mabini, what he saw apparently did not influence what he thought; and he could later argue that it was the middle class who abandoned the Republic, though he himself, left alone in Mangatarem but still determined to continue, is the best proof against his argument.


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majulp. 215;                    Hence Mabini Cedula: “Writer? As Profession?”

He merely wanted time to write for the newspapers.


  • A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin p. 148:

There is no parallel here with Rizal. Rizal, a more robust character, shunned involvement too, but because he knew he did not have the qualities of leadership. Mabini did, and he knew he did; but he was the type who could lead only as pure mind, not as will. He had the intellectual equipment; he did not have the emotional power. He could project his mind, make Mind encroach on Will- but on somebody else’s will.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini

p. 185 – 186;                        Sustain same ideals by previous Cabinet




Balungaw, June 18, 1899




My dear Friend and Colleague:

I am deeply grateful for the news that you are so kind to give me, and I sincerely regret your hardships which happen in these times of confusion and war. I do not doubt that your unalloyed patriotism will give you strength to bear them up with resignation.

I beg you in all sincerity that you should not lay on my ailing shoulders a heavy burden that requires exceptional strength in these calamitous times. I am now decided to live away from politics, inasmuch as by a proclamation of the Government, I see that you all sustain the same ideals upheld by the previous Cabinet. The welfare of the country depends on the efforts of many and I can well understand that you need to carry out your plans of Government. I would not like to find myself in the position of having to refuse what the President may offer me, and I could not accept anything unless my assistance, which is so limited, is indispensable. I have tasted the sweetness of a peaceful life, after one that has been burdened with care, and I prefer to rest. My character is not suited to the restless life of the politician — a life that I have led only out of necessity.

Please do me the favor to express my most cordial regards to Don Severino and Don Hugo. I am also sending sincere ones to Fr. Aglipay, and please tell him that I am at his orders in whatever capacity I may be of use to him. I cannot leave this place until the first days of next month, and I still do not know where to go because of the bad state of the roads. I am grateful for your good wishes.

I am enclosing herewith two letters from Cebu concerning the prisoners, one from Mr. Regidor and the other from Mr. Centurion. Please propose to those who may be concerned the most convenient solution of the matters and kindly tell the said gentlemen, when you may find the opportunity to write to them, to excuse me at present for my inability to answer them because I am on vacation.

I reiterate my thanks. Command as you wish your affectionate and respectful true servant,


Ap. Mabini


P. S.


I have just received foreign newspaper clippings for the President. I am not sending them to him because according to news, he is in Angeles, and it is faster to send them to him there. According to said clippings, public opinion in America asks for the prompt suspension of hostilities and the recall of the troops, as the imperialistic policy of McKinley is meeting with serious opposition.




p. 192 – 193;                        Luna: Why are they sad?





Balungaw, July 3, 1899




My dear Friend and Colleague:


I have in my possession your pleasant letter of June 30th in which you talk of the proposals made by Maxilom. I cannot also understand the cause of the delay of my letter of the 18th, which was brought along on the same day with others addressed to my colleagues, Don Cayo and Don Gracio, by tenants of Don Juan Mananquil, the nephew of Dona Maria, owner of the house which was used as headquarters of the President of the Government Council in Cabanatuan.

My colleague, Don Cayo, who arrived here yesterday from there, tells me that he has not received my letter, due, maybe, to an oversight of the above-mentioned Don Juan Mananquil, because the other leters were received in Talavera on that very day, the 19th.

I know nothing either about previous records concerning Don Arcadio Maxilom or any of his proposals. The only thing I know is that said Maxilom has been the leader of the revolutionists since the start of their movement in Cebu and continues to be so until now. None of the so-called generals of lloilo and Cebu has an appointment from the Government for the simple reason that the letter does not recognize the aptitudes of the former. We have, however, tried to give them the title of General so as not to displease them, with the promise to determine their respective ranks when we could send arms and duly organize the forces over there. Settle the matter as well as you can. The few records on this subject must be in the office of the President and in the Department of War.

If the sons of Mr. Centurion have been given their freedom in return for the efforts of the father in favor of the Filipino exiles, it is but just, it seems to me, to grant Don Julio del Rio and his son-in-law their freedom which is persistently solicited by Dr. Calvo, who is getting married to a daughter of the former. Dr. Calvo is one of our trusted agents in Manila who has taken charge for a long time now of coursing our correspondence abroad. That is why I believe we should please him. I have already had an occasion to say as much to the President.

Having found no relief in these thermal baths, I am making preparations to go to Rosales. I may not find it possible to go over there, since I made the resolution to get away nowadays from the political life which is too exciting for my little strength. I need to rest because I have noticed that continuous work, like the one I have done from Cavite until a short while ago, will end up in my complete annihilation. Nevertheless, in what little I can, I shall contribute my share, publishing now and then short articles which, although pitiful, due to lack of proper training and excess of love of country, are the only means I have in order to help.

I share your sorrow for the death of your son. You may, at least, take the comfort in that his was an honorable death, worthy of a punctilious soldier. I also deplore with you the tragic death of General Luna.

I am glad to learn of your happy hopes of a coming peace. Everyone desires peace as long as it is honorable.

Thank you so much for your generous offers. Kindly give my respects to the President and his family, and command your affectionate and respectful


Ap. Mabini


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul  p. 211-212  Oath

On February 26, Mabini arrived at Manila on the American transport “Thomas.” Before disembarking, he took his oath of allegiance in the presence of Customs authorities and Ricarte, who signed as one of the witnesses. When told that he was at liberty to go anywhere he desired in the country, he requested that he be conveyed to his old home in Nagtahan. Thus was his exile for a little more than two years terminated.


Book: The Letters of Apolinario Mabini p. 304;




Apolinario Mabini, native of Tanauan, province of Batangas, single, 38 years of age, writer, resident of No. 21 Nagtahan Street, of the district of Sampaloc, requests that he be issued a personal residence tax, without requiring him to sign it in your presence, because his ailment prevents him from personally appearing in your office.


He has no residence tax to show for last year, because he was then in Guam as a political deportee.


Manila, May 12, 1903.


p. 305 – 306;




About the end of August of last year, I requested that I be brought to Manila and be allowed to find out, in, the first place, the state of public opinion in the Philippines before taking the oath of allegiance and loyalty to the supreme authority of the United States, in the conviction that this claim is in conformity with the paragraph of the Proclamation of Amnesty, which orders that the oath-aking be administered by any authority in the Philippine Archipelago.

Five months later, on February 9th of the current year, I received a communication from the Governor of Guam in which the latter, carrying out the “instructions of the Government in Washington, informed me that I was free to go anywhere, except to the Philippines, where I would not be allowed to land without taking the above-cited oath. Afterwards, in answer to consultations, the Governor said that the authorities of Guam, as well as the United States consuls abroad, are authorized to administer the oath.

It now appears clear that the intention of the President of the United States is that the oath may be taken before any Government official authorized to administer it, whether he be in, or outside of the Philippine Archipelago. I have to put on record that I never had any intention to put off signing in order to evade the oath, no. Right from the beginning, I considered it the same, to take the oath either in Guam, or in Manila or anywhere else. All I wanted was to ascertain, before taking it, whether the circumstances now obtaining in the Islands justify my taking it or not, so that I would not be taken for a rash man who places very little value on his word.

In the full conviction that, in order to know what is useful and necessary for my country, I have, before doing anything else, to find out what the majority of my countrymen think and want. And, fully convinced also that I could not effectively find out what I wanted to know with the greatest possible certainty, without coming back to the Islands and finding it out for myself, I took the oath, hoping as I have said to the Governor of Guam, to be still able to convince the American authorities that they have wrongly interpreted the independent criterion with which I judged the political questions of the Archipelago.

After an absence of two long years, I come back, so to speak, utterly confused, and, what is worse, almost annihilated by ailment and sufferings. Nevertheless, I hope, after some time of tranquility and study, to be still of some usefulness,[20] unless I have just returned to the Islands, with the sole purpose of dying.[21]


  • Book: Apolinario Mabini Revolutionary by Cesar Adib Majul p. 217:   Rizal – Mabini on civic virtues ends up with 1940 code of citizenship


His funeral on the sixteenth was arranged by his admirers and civic and labor associations like the Union Obrera and the Partido Nacionalista. It was one of the biggest funerals witnessed in Manila and various persons were asked to speak during the ceremonies. Among them was Felipe Calderon. Most of the Manila newspapers gave him the highest praises. The Spanish press was aware of Mabini’s fierce hatred for the Spanish regime and it appears that its eulogy for Mabini was partly due to the fact that the Spaniards had still to adjust themselves to the new American rule which Mabini also greatly opposed. El Mercantil called him the most excellent man born on Filipino soil, El Noticiero de Manila characterized his death as a national misfortune, while El Comercio spoke of his profound convictions and love of the soil that saw his birth. Most of the American newspapers delineated Mabini’s role in the Revolution. The Manila Times wrote that he was the brains behind the Revolution, while The Manila American went as far as to assert that were it not for the role played by Mabini in the Revolutionary Government, the revolution would have fizzled out at the very start. However, a nasty note on Mabini’s death was registered in The Manila Freedom. Needless to say, the newspaper run by Filipinos were full of sorrow on the passing of what they considered a patriot par excellence. La Democracia  called him the greatest product of the Philippine Revolution while La Patria commented that Mabini “had decided to return to the beloved land of his dreams to die in it and have his sepulchre lay under the eternally smiling and sapphirine skies of the Philippines.

[1] The Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Bisayas was changed to Federal Council on December 12 [1898], for the purpose of turning the Visayas Islands into a sort of a federal state subordinated to the Central Government. The Council was composed of:

[1]Roque Lopez, President of the Council of State; Vicente Franca, Vice-President and Secretary of the Interior.

[1]Members for Iloilo: Jovito Yusay, Secretary of Justice; Ramon Avanceña, Secretary of State; Julio Hernandez, Secretary of War; Magdaleno Javellana, Secretary of the Treasury.

[1]Martin Delgado and Pablo Araneta, members of the Army and exoficio Counsellors.

[1]Fernando Salas, member for Cebu and Secretary of Public Instruction and of Communications

[1]Members for Negros Occidental: Agustin Montilla for the Southern District; Juan de Leon, for the Northern District.

[1]Juan Caballo, member for Negros Oriental.

[1]Vicente Gella, member for Antique.

[1]Venancio Concepcion, member for Capiz.

[1]Numeriano Villalobos, member for the District of Concepcion.

[1]Raymundo Melliza, member for Leyte.

[1]Francisco Soriano, member for Samar.

[1]Francisco Villanueva, Secretary General of the Council of State.


[2] This Council was dissolved by the decree of April 27, 1899, and from then on the same system of local government in force in the Island of Luzon was implanted in the Visayan provinces.

[2]— T.M.K.

[3] March 12 [1899] according to T. M. Kalaw. See Cartas Politicas, Manila, 1930, p. 173.

[4] The Tagalog translation, rendered into English, is in the following two pages.

[5] Cayetano Arellano and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera were appointed Chiefs of the Foreign Affairs Department, changing the national policy to favor the Americans.

[6] Cayetano Arellano and Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera did not stay long in their office. They accepted important positions in the American Occupation government.

[7] 1 Answer to Aguinaldo’s letter dated Oct. 15, 1899.

[8] 2 “ I am not trying to discuss, much less to defend myself against the opinion expressed by Mabini in his letter dated October 17, 1899, from Rosales, Pangasinan, and addressed to President Aguinaldo, on my actuation as special envoy of the Philippine Republic. My only aim is to state the historical truth, leaving it to posterity to judge us.

[8]“After the official conference with General Otis, the latter asked me:

[8]“‘What can I do for you, General?’”

[8]“’Officially, there is nothing I want nor I can ask for you, because I have not been authorized to do so by my Government, but I thank you for your offer, and, personally, I would be grateful to your Excellency


[9]                       See footnote:


[9] Although retired from power, Mabini continued writing to the Committee in Hongkong and to his friends to inform them of the progress of the national politics with its varied incidents. It is a pity that the whole correspondence of this period has not been saved. — T.M.K.

[10] Dr. Isidoro de Santos

[11] Munitions

[12] Arms

[13] Written by Mabini. It is in the book, “The Philippine Revolution,” by him.

[14] This letter clearly shows that in those days, in Manila and in the eyes of the Americans, two tendencies were at odds, the very same ones that cause the change of the Cabinet in May 1899: one, radical, which is that of Mabini; and the other, peaceable and temporizing, which was supported by Paterno and Buencamino.—T.M.K.

[15] 1 See letter of Mabini dated August 31, 1900, p. 259.

[16] Juan Luna

[17] The Americans started their policy of attraction offering tempting positions to some Filipinos.

[18] This is Mabini’s last writing – a short note to the corresponding authority requesting that he be issued a cedula certificate…

[18]- T.M.K.

[19] Mabini, together with Ricarte, arrived at the Manila Bay on February 26, aboard the transport Thomas, after an exile of 25 months. He was courteously attended upon by the Customs authorities and, in general, by all the American officials in the Government who had anything to do with him. The Governor of Guam, W. E. Sewell, whom we already know, in a letter to the Commander of the Division of the Philippines, said: “On account of the helpless condition of Mr. Mabini, and of the high opinion of his character held by all those who have known him here, I recommend that he be given every possible consideration.” — T.M.K.

[20] Of some usefulness to his country, working to obtain the longed-for freedom, looking for satisfactory solutions to the Filipino problem, showing the culture and the capacity of the Filipinos for an independent life: that was what Mabini wanted to say. The Americans offered him, a few days after his arrival, the position of Register of Deeds, but Mabini refused it. Before his deportation to Guam, the Americans vainly tried to lure him with seats in the Judiciary.—T.M.K.

[21] Only a little time was left to Mabini to serve the cause of his country in time of peace. His presentiment that he was to die soon came true. He died at eleven o’clock on May 13, 1903, two months and seventeen days from his return from Guam. — T.M.K.

Older posts «