1905 The Bureau of the Philippines Constabulary Report on the Peace and Order in Batangas - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore 1905 The Bureau of the Philippines Constabulary Report on the Peace and Order in Batangas - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

1905 The Bureau of the Philippines Constabulary Report on the Peace and Order in Batangas

The annual Reports of the Philippine Commission provide a comprehensive picture of life and conditions in Batangas — and elsewhere in the Philippines — early during the American colonial era. Excerpts of these reports that are relevant to the Province of Batangas are made available in this web site for the benefit of teachers, students, researchers and enthusiasts of Batangas history, culture and folklore. For citation purposes, the pages given are as they appear in the reports themselves.


[p. 3]

Filipino insurgents in Tondo
Image digitally extracted from the 1898 publication "Our New Possessions."


Manila, November 3, 1905.
GENTLEMEN: I have the honor to make the following report of the operations of the various bureaus of the department of commerce and police during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1905:


[Note to the reader: This page is a mere excerpt of the entire report and includes only content relevant to the Province of Batangas. From page 3, this transcription skips over to page 6 for this content.]

[p. 6]

During the fall of 1904, the ladron leaders who had been lurking in the fastness of Cavite and Batangas and in the neighborhood of Manila began to show much more activity. They grew bolder, established a system of taxation by which everyone within their reach was mulcted as much as they thought he could pay, from 1 peso for a man and 5 pesos for each carabao to larger sums, running into the hundreds of pesos, from the hacenderos, or owners of plantations. They established an “underground” system of communication, maintained by agents known as “inahins.” Their collections were largely made by intimidation, and they threatened those who didn’t pay or who reported their operations with punishment so horrible that most of the people found it easier to pay and keep quiet about it than to run the risk of torture or mutilation if they refused or told. The schedule issued by one of these leaders provided punishment of death for anyone who took office under the American Government; punishment of cutting off the lips of anyone who gave information to the Americans; cutting the tendons of the feet, thus rendering them cripples for life, if they guided the American troops, and crushing the fingers, which they did by pounding them with rocks, if they gave supplies to the Government troops. A few examples of the effects of this kind of punishment are now living in the neighborhood of Manila, and in the towns where they live, it is not surprising that people should be unwilling to take any chances of being dealt with in a similar manner.

A very small number of these bands grew and flourished in two of the forty-odd provinces until their own successes rendered them foolhardy and they began operations on a larger scale. In December, they descended on the town of Parañaque, about 7 miles from Manila, and entering the constabulary cuartel, captured a number of arms, killed 1 man who resisted, and wounded others. On January 15, 1905, several bands, having joined and increased their number by several hundred volunteers, marched into the town of Taal, in the province of Batangas, looted the municipal treasury of ₱15,000 and carried off 25 guns, the whole equipment of the municipal police, 1 of whom only was killed. On January 24, a raid was made on the town of San Francisco de Malabon in Cavite. The ladrones were dressed in the costumes of constabulary and scouts, some of which they had captured and some of which they had made, and came marching into the town about dusk, simulating Government troops. When close enough to be challenged, they rushed the cuartel, or barracks, and possessed themselves of 21 guns. In the fight that ensued, 12 of the ladrones were killed, and 1 of the constabulary. Dr. J. O’Niell, an American medical officer attached to the scouts, was shot and killed while escorting his wife and daughter into the cuartel.

[p. 7]

The outlaws made an insistent effort to capture Señor Mariano Trias, a gentleman of high distinction in the province of Cavite, who had been prominent in the insurrection against the Americans and, after his surrender, had become the provincial governor of the province of Cavite. Señor Trias was a man of high character and of prominence and importance among his people, and escaped only by concealing himself in the river. His wife and children were carried off by the outlaws and held several weeks in their custody until the insistence of the troops and constabulary was such as to render their further retention by the outlaws too onerous, when they were set at liberty.

These movements added greatly to the prestige of the ladrones, and made prompt and decisive action necessary. Accordingly, a provisional district was declared of four provinces — Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, and La Laguna. On January 31, 1905, the writ of habeas corpus was declared suspended in Batangas and Cavite. Major-General Corbin, commanding the Philippines division, whose hearty cooperation with the civil government in all matters was always to be depended upon, ordered the Third Squadron of the Second Cavalry and four companies of the Seventh Infantry, under Maj. F. W. Sibley, to take the field and assist the civil authorities in the restoration of order. The troops stationed in Batangas were also ordered to make practice marches throughout the infected region, and in general, a very rigid campaign was undertaken. Colonel Baker, chief supply officer of the constabulary, was selected for this difficult work and placed in charge of the provisional district. He took up his headquarters in Lipa, in Batangas, and with masterful and tactful energy, was soon in complete control of the situation. It would have been far too great a drain on the resources of the civil government to have endeavored to handle this situation wholly by constabulary, and the presence of American troops was of the very greatest value and showed the people that we were entirely in earnest. The Americans did not find that the natives liked the ladrones, but that they feared them, and, fearing them, were unwilling to help the authorities until assured of ultimate protection. It is natural that a property owner in Batangas should hesitate to give information as to the whereabouts of ladrones to the Americans, whom he has not yet learned to like, and with the certainty that his draft animals would be driven off, his buildings burnt, and possibly worse outrages perpetuated on the persons of himself or his family as soon as the ladrones had opportunity to wreak their vengeance. It was only found necessary to demonstrate to the people that the authorities were really in earnest; that the campaign was to continue until the leaders had been captured or killed, and that protection in the meantime would be accorded to those who demonstrated their loyalty. Thus assured, the response was ready, energetic, and complete. For weeks, news was brought day by day from all parts telling exactly where this, that, or another ladrone leader has passed, and finally it got so that the American officers knew each day where the leaders had passed the night before. Soon, the information began to come in of the intended movements, and the authorities got to know where these different men expected to stay, and finally, one by one they fell into the toils, some being killed in action, others captured, and others, worried by the continued pursuit, came in and surrendered, pre-

[p. 8]

ferring to take the chance of the courts to the certainty of dogged pursuit, with the rain of bullets into the camp at dawn, that had characterized the last weeks of their outlaw life.

It is characteristic of criminals never to own themselves to be outlaws, living by what they could plunder. Fantastic designations and uniforms were prepared, and in the provisional district they called themselves generals, colonels, majors, etc., of the Philippine Army, which they declared to be fighting for independence. Leading Filipinos in Manila and in the provinces affected, the provincial governors and men who were distinguished in the insurrection against the United States Government during the years from 1899 to 1902, declared that there was no real political significance attached to these ladrones; that the men in charge were neither men of weight nor standing in the Filipino community, and that the purpose of this movement was purely personal aggrandizement and loot and their methods were intimidation and theft. It is certain that the leaders seldom or never occupied points of danger in the various engagements. They had never been shot down nor were they apt to be seen. The occasions when a leader has been killed have been when the band was surprised or ambushed.

In Cavite, special mention should be made of the fine service of Maj. F. W. Sibley, of the Second Cavalry. This position was a very difficult one, as the province had not been turned over to the control of the military authorities and he was asked to cooperate with the constabulary officers and with the provincial governor, himself an army officer but his junior in the Regular Army. That this campaign was carried through to its entirely successful conclusion without friction and with thorough harmony throughout is the best testimony of the tact and disinterestedness of Major Sibley.

At the beginning of this year, 35 companies of scouts had been transferred for service with the civil authorities and were so serving. At the close of the fiscal year, this number was 27. The scouts have given faithful and efficient service and are entitled to the greatest credit for what they have accomplished during the year.

Any comparison of the work of the constabulary and scouts or American troops is unnecessary and is apt to be unjust. Their work, while similar in some respects, is wholly different in others. It is not the business of the Regulars nor of the scouts to receive surrenders, which were very properly made to the officer in charge of the constabulary. It was he that was handling the situation, and it was he who designated the terms upon which surrenders would be received. The fact that over 512 firearms were captured, or surrendered in the provisional district during this period is ample evidence of the necessity of the campaign. The fact that the constabulary received the bulk of these arms had no significance, as it was to be expected that they would. The work of the constabulary was, however, admirable. They were untiring, their results kept coming, their officers worked vigilantly, continuously, and with great patience in spite of harassing trials and disappointments. Detachments were moved in from other provinces until the forces numbered nearly 1,200 men. Among the number were 50 Moros and 50 Igorots who proved themselves to be excellent fighters and very determined officers of peace. During the heat of this campaign, a very concerted and virulent attack upon the constabulary was made by a number of

[p. 9]

papers printed in Spanish and Tagalog, and barely a day passed without the publication of some article aimed against the constabulary, charging them, though usually indirectly, with abuses of the most revolting nature. Some went so far as to demand the abolition of the force and others to say that the whole constabulary was a total failure and that they would prefer to return to military service. It is believed that there was a special reason for this sudden and ill-timed attack upon those who were making every effort for the establishment of law and order and the protection of the home. Most rigid analysis of each specific case, searching methods of inspection, and severed discipline failed to disclose sufficient ground for this sudden attack. The cases cited were greatly exaggerated. In some instances, abuses had existed, and the authorities were not slow in dealing out punishment, the officers concerned where abuses were proven being discharged, and a number of men who had done no wrong were given a chance to resign, as they were considered undesirable.

Wages offered constabulary officers had not been sufficiently attractive to insure getting the best men in every instance. Accordingly, on September 11, 1905, an act was passed by the Commission increasing the pay on an average of $150 a year to each officer and giving a “fogey,” as it is called, of 10 per cent increase in pay for each five years of service. The appointment of a board to investigate the personnel of the constabulary, with the idea of eliminating all undesirable members, together with the announcement of the additional compensation to constabulary officers, should materially improve the class of men available for this service.

[This report continued but the rest is no longer included because they do not concern the province of Batangas]

Notes and references:
1 “Report of the Department of Commerce and Police,” by W. Cameron Forbes, published 1905 as part of the “Sixth Annual Report of the Philippine Commission” by the Bureau of Insular Affairs, United States War Department.
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