June 1, 2018

Acts of the Philippine Commission in 1902 Concerning Batangas

The Taft Commission.  Image source:   H.L. Knight [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
The Taft Commission.  Image source:   H.L. Knight [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.  Colorized courtesy of Algorithmia.
[Keywords: Philippine Commission, Taft Commission, William McKinley, Quartermaster, Bureau of Post Offices, United States War Department, Military Governor Batangas, Civil Governor Batangas, Board of Health]
When the United States annexed the Philippines in 1898, it could not really govern over the islands from across the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean. It made sense, therefore, for American President William McKinley to constitute the 2nd Philippine Commission – the 1st was more in an investigative and reportorial capacity – and equip it with “legislative and limited executive powers1.”

The commission was headed by William Howard Taft, also the American Governor-General of the Philippines. This is why this 2nd commission is remembered in history alternatively as the Taft Commission.

In 1902, the United States War Department published the document “Volume XI Acts of the Philippine Commission2,” which was part of the department’s annual report for the fiscal year ending 30 January 1902. From this document, we extract acts of the commission concerning Batangas; and these provide valuable insights about governance in the province.

The document’s publication date ought to be kept in mind by the reader. Although the Philippine-American War was officially concluded in July of the same year, General Miguel Malvar’s surrender in April3 for all intents and purposes also put an end to the war in Batangas.

Bureau of Justice Salaries
In 1902, Batangas was part of the 7th District along with Mindoro and Marinduque. For the province’s Court of First Instance, the Philippine Commission appropriated the following salaries: a) for one judge, $4,000 per annum; and b) one court clerk, $1,100 per annum.

Chief Quartermaster Appropriations
A “quartermaster” is a senior officer who “supervises stores and distributes supplies and provisions4. For military commissions that prosecuted crimes in the Department of Southern Luzon, the amount of $3,000 was appropriated for the “pay of stenographic reporters, interpreters and witnesses.” The pay of stenographers was “not to exceed $5 per day in open session of (the) commission and ten cents for each three hundred words transcribed.” Appropriations were made for “repairs and construction of the Calamba-Batangas road…” Also, additional funds were appropriated for the repair of roads in the vicinity of the towns of Rosario5 and Taysan.
Occupied as the Americans were with the matter of dealing with Filipino “insurgents,” the setting up of an educational system with English as the medium of instruction was still in its infancy. Hence, interpreters were a necessity in the trials held by the military commissions.
Cessation of Land Tax Collections
Because the war had come to an end in Batangas and the establishment of a civil government – as opposed to one in place which was under the military – was anticipated, “all operations in connection with the assessment and collection of land tax… shall be suspended…”

Act Ending Military Government in Batangas
Because the Philippine-American War “no longer exists in the Province of Batangas,” the Philippine Commission saw fit to repeal a previous act placing Batangas – along with Cebu and Bohol – under military rule. Hence, on 4 July 1902, “the provincial and municipal officers of the Province of Batangas shall no longer report to the Military Governor, nor shall he have power to remove them and appoint others in their places… and said provincial and municipal officers, from and after said date, shall be under the exclusive executive direction and control of the Civil Governor.”

Because civilian government was being restored, the Court of First Instance of Batangas was re-established along with the right to “issue the writ of habeas corpus in all cases as provided by law, and military commissions and provost courts shall no longer have jurisdiction and authority to try crimes and misdemeanors…”

Salary of Board of Health President
In 1902, the Philippine Commission passed an act stating that a Board of Health was to be established in the different provinces of the country. The Board of Health was to be made up of a President (a qualified physician), the President of the Municipal Board of Health of the capital of the Province (the then-town of Batangas) and the Provincial Supervisor, with the Provincial Secretary acting as Secretary of the Board. The salaries of the Presidents of these boards was to be fixed by the Commissioner of Public Health, and in Batangas was not to exceed $1,350 per annum.

Bureau of Post Offices Contingent Expenses
Contingent and other expenses such as “part reimbursement of premiums on bonds and rent of offices in Batangas (as well as Aparri) by the Bureau of Post Offices were appropriated.

Notes and references:
1Philippine Commission,” Wikipedia.
2 “Annual Reports of the War Department for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1902, Volume XI, Acts of the Philippine Commission,” published by the War Department in Washington D.C. in 1902.
3Miguel Malvar,” Wikipedia.
4Quartermaster,” Wikipedia.
5 In 1902, the town of Rosario was still in what is present-day Padre Garcia.

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