1905 Excerpts from the Constabulary Provisional District Commander's Report Relevant to Batangas - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore 1905 Excerpts from the Constabulary Provisional District Commander's Report Relevant to Batangas - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

1905 Excerpts from the Constabulary Provisional District Commander's Report Relevant to 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.

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[Only excerpts of the entire document entitled “Report of Officer Commanding Provisional District, Philippines Constabulary” which are relevant to the Province of Batangas are included in this transcription. The “provisional district” referred to the aggregation of several provinces in southern Luzon, including Batangas, as far as the Philippine Constabulary was concerned.]

[p. 128]

Fil-Am War insurgents.
Image digitally extracted from the 1898 publication "Our New Possessions."

Report of Officer Commanding Provisional District, Philippines Constabulary.

HEADQUARTERS, PROVISIONAL DISTRICT,
PHILIPPINES CONSTABULARY, Bacoor, Cavite, July 31, 1905.

SIR: I have the honor to report what work has been done in this district since its organization.

The writer having been assigned the task of coping with a condition, makes no attempt to analyze or suggest, but limits himself to the narration of facts and results. While the work attempted involved constant observation, study, and reflection, the inductions made and ideas deduced would but weary the reader and serve no useful purpose.

Introduction.

With the cessation of the last rainy season. the ladronism, always existent in these provinces, increased rapidly and to an unusual strength. Its growth was favored by the weak state of the scout companies, all of which were in process of recruitment and reorganization, and by the weakening of the constabulary to conform with law and to combat the pulajan outbreak in Samar.

[p. 129]

The region affected is a rolling country, free of dense forests or considerable mountains. The uncultivated tracts are overgrown with jungle or with cogon. There are gradual slopes east and west to the China Sea and to the Laguna de Bay, and more marked ones both north and south from the Talisay ridge. The rivers and creeks cut deep in the chalky soil. Lake Taal sets like a bowl in northern Batangas. The population is Tagalog. In most of the pueblos, there is a mestizo element, the foreign blood being Spanish or more often Chinese. The social structure is oligarchic. The principal class holds its position, some through birth. but more through wealth, education, or influence. Practically all of them, including those who also follow trades or professions, own land. Dependent upon and subservient to them are the common people — taos, and the peasants, aparceros. Opportunity, propinquity, and especially debt, establishes the relationship. Some principales handle their dependents direct, but most of them do it through overseers and other confidential agents — encargados. Chinese and other foreigners are found in most towns, and especially in the commercial ones of Santa Cruz, Calamba, Batangas, Cavite, Imus, and Pasig. They little affect the life of the people, which is agricultural.

Ladronism.

Throughout the four provinces, ladrones in varying numbers and with varying success have always plied their trade. It is that of robbery. The favorite spoils, because easily lifted, transported, and marketed, are carabaos and ponies. Ladrone bands are mostly local; though they sometimes make distant raids, each claims and usually lurks about its own or a group of pueblos. As to origin: Sometimes, a fugitive from justice, or a lover of the life, gathers a band and establishes his own base and connections; sometimes a ring of principales organizes a band for their own protection, profit, or both. The band which guards one pueblo does not hesitate to prey on another which has none, or an unfriendly one. Pueblos, barrios, and individuals often purchase a precarious immunity by contributions in money or kind. The bulk of the contributions and loot finds its way to the fences, who in Batangas are called “inahins” and in Cavite “pillos.” They, in turn, divide with the backers of the band, who are not infrequently rich and prominent and sometimes are municipal officials. In so devious and secretive a manner is a band organized, recruited, supplied, led, and directed that even the inahin who acts as go-between may not know the leader of the band or its real backers. Most of these leaders took part in the Insurrection, and a few of them, including Julian Montalon and Felizardo, have never surrendered nor taken the oath of allegiance. All of them assume titles, and the organization and inter-relations of the bands are theoretically military. However, the members wear no uniform, and when pressed, hide their arms and mingle with the general population. While they do not hesitate to maim and kill peasants and laborers who incur their enmity, they content themselves with maltreatment or abduction of more prominent natives, and rarely molest foreigners. The bands are usually recruited from the ne’er-do-wells of town or country, from misguided youths and ignorant dupes. Those in this section simulate a political purpose. They pretend allegiance to an ex-barber, Macario Sakay, who, as self-appointed president of a Philippine republic, hides around Bosoboso.

Ladrone Hierarchy.

In Batangas, the band of Colonel Villanueva was recruited from and lurked around Bauan. That of Lieutenant-Colonel Vito based itself on Taal. Major Flores infested the neighborhood of San Pablo, Laguna. All of these were nominally directed by Brigadier-General Oruga, whose own band terrorized especially the jurisdictions of Tanauan and Lipa. The bands of Lieutenant-Colonel Caro about Dasmariñas and of Major Giron about Silang acknowledged the authority of Major-General Felizardo, who frequented the triangle between Pasay, Muntinglupa, and Bacoor. Both Oruga and Felizardo owned the leadership of Lieutenant-General Montalon. To him also reported direct Lieutenant-Colonel De Vega, who afflicted San Francisco de Malabon; Colonel Ramos, whose band gave protection to Magallanes, Maragondon. and Nasugbu; and Colonel Masigla, who lorded it over Indang. The band of Montalon itself

[p. 130]

picked its members widely from Batangas, and especially Cavite. His “headquarters,” usually moving, preferred the deep wooded ravines about Buenavista, in Cavite, and the rugged hills between Talisay and Bayuyungan, in Batangas.

Method of Attack and Defense.

Rarely do outlaws attack armed detachments, whether camped or moving, unless they are very small or careless. They prefer to rush a police station, a constabulary cuartel, or a scout post when it is weakly guarded. Such attacks are invariably made between dusk and bedtime, when the officers and men, having supped, are prone to scatter for recreation. The attempts are always preceded by a thorough spying out of the surroundings, strength, and habits of the intended victims, a careful weighing of chances, and a deliberate planning. Consequently, an enterprise, once undertaken, seldom fails. Frequently, they try to minimize the risk of jumping a police station or looting a municipal treasury by establishing relations with and winning confederates on the inside.

When attacked, they generally scatter hotfoot; even the few who sometimes make a stand do it half-heartedly and only to cover the flight of the leaders.

In my time, there have been but two encounters that could be dignified as skirmishes, and in both, the ladrones had the luck with them and expected success. Always in these parts, when government detachments attack, the proceeding is about as serious and prolonged as the flushing of a covey of quail. Hits were made at the first tire. Our casualties have been few, but the defective outlaw ammunition has made them severe. Ladrones do not fancy in-fighting, and only the fleet Moro or Igorrote has been able to get hand to hand with them.

The chiefs seldom lead in attack, but usually direct from a safe distance; so, too, they never stand in retreat, but flee first.

Generally, the bands move at night and sleep by day. They avoid roads and even ordinary trails, but follow little defined paths that curve, double, and twist. Their service of security and information is most practicable and efficient.

Ladrone Successes.

[This section skips parts not relevant to Batangas.]

The evening of December 16, a sergeant’s patrol of 8 Batangas constabulary encamped at Maquina. While preparing supper, they were attacked by the bands of De Vega and Masigla, who wounded the sergeant and 3 men, dispersed the whole, and captured 2 carbines and i revolver.

The writer spent holiday week studying conditions in Cavite and Batangas and mending fences.

Among the proprietors there lingered some resentment at the land tax, but more at the values at which it had been assessed.

[p. 131]

[The first four paragraphs of this page are skipped.]

About sunset of January 15, Montalon, with his own and the bands of Vito, Masigla, and De Vega, marched up the main street of Taal, disarmed the municipal police, who made but a semblance of resistance, murdered one of them, and looted the municipal treasury. Most of the townspeople remained quietly in their houses, but some openly fraternized with the bandits. The latter finally departed with 20 rifles, 15 shotguns, and about ₱7,000.

When news of this raid reached Manila, the provinces of Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, and Laguna were organized into a provisional district, and the chief supply officer, the only assistant chief available who could command both scouts and constabulary, took charge of it. His headquarters were established at Batangas, but moved successively to Tanauan, Lipa, and Bacoor.

Reinforcements of llocano, Igorrote, Moro, Manila garrison and mounted troop constabulary, and what officers could be squeezed from other districts, were brought in. The strength and distribution of the scouts and constabulary on January 1, of the regular troops, scouts, and constabulary on February 15, and of what forces are still engaged in the work, are shown in Exhibit A.

Policy Pursued.

Of the policy determined on the salient features were:

To render the Government forces less vulnerable and more capable of offense by collecting them into fewer but carefully selected, strong, and well-officered stations.

To intrust to particular stations or groups of stations the extinction of specific bands of outlaws.

To undertake a campaign of education in meetings, discussions, and gatherings of officials and people to make clear the purpose of recent legislation, and to show the shame, cruelty. and futility of ladronism.

To gain the cooperation of the principales, and through them of their dependents, not in fighting, but in spying out and locating ladrones, and thus to do away with a secret service against which there were many complaints, depending for information upon the people themselves.

Regular Troops Assist.

While these measures were being initiated, Oruga was repulsed January 12 in an attack on the scout post of Talisay, where he lost 1 captain, 6 men, and 3 revolvers.

However, in the twilight of January 24, the bands of Montalon. Felizardo, De Vega, Masigla, and Vito raided San Francisco de Malabon. Of the considerable constabulary there stationed, some were preparing for a night hike; others, including the officers, were scattered through the town, eating or lounging. The discipline was lax, and little precaution was taken against surprise. A small detachment of scouts, engaged in shipping army property, formed no part of the garrison, but took part in the fighting that followed.

The ladrones, those disguised in constabulary and scout uniforms in the lead, rushed the cuartel, and then most withdrew to the far side of the plaza and kept up a fire on the garrison, which had rallied about the cuartel and officers' quarters, while others looted the house and seized the wife and two little children of Mariano Trias. He himself escaped by flight. The outlaws withdrew in good order, divided their plunder, and then scattered. The loot consisted of Trias’s money and jewelry, ₱2,000 of municipal funds, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and 25 carbines. In the skirmishing, Contract-Surgeon O’Neill

[p. 131]

and 1 constable were killed and 3 constables wounded. The outlaws aggregated many and their own loss was considerable, but no reliable information as to their strength and casualties has been obtained.

The next day, at the request of the governor-general, Sibley’s squadron of the Second Cavalry and Wright's battalion of the Seventh Infantry were sent to Cavite to cooperate with the civil authorities. The moral effect of these troops not only in Cavite, where they took station, but also in Batangas, was decisive The cooperation given by their commander, Major Sibley, was thorough and cordial. They bore an active part in the work and some of the best of it they did. Recently, they have been withdrawn, because the dwindling of the ladrones to a mere remnant, illy armed, has reduced the task still before us to one of police only.

Suspension of the Writ.

The last day of January, the chief executive proclaimed the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Cavite and Batangas. The growth and spread of lawlessness necessitated this action. The people feared for their lives and property. For a long time, large tracts of land had lain fallow in the unsettled districts, especially about Bayuyungan in Batangas and Paliparan in Cavite, because the owners and tenants were afraid to work them. Now, the abandonment of outlying fields and the narrowing of industry that involved travel commenced about most of the towns. From Lipa and other places the upperclass was sending its women folks to the provincial capitals and even to Manila for safety. Assassinations were not infrequent, and abductions of peaceable men and women became common. The mutilating of those suspected of giving loyalty or aid to the government increased.

Suspension of the writ of habeas corpus proved an especially effective weapon in this case. Prior to the establishment of civil government by the United states, the Filipinos had enjoyed no such privilege. Now, its deprivation inspired a dread of consequences, all the greater because they were unknown.

As a matter of fact, no one was arrested except upon reasonable suspicion, and usually upon some proof of guilt or complicity. But practically the measure has proved of great assistance; the arrested law breakers cannot of right obtain bail and again free resume their practices and intimidate the witnesses against them. Moreover, the small and overworked body of officials and officers are not compelled to divide their time between the courts and their present more exigent duty of ferreting out, running down, and destroying the ladrone bands.

and justified by the Filipino. Many of those who had confessedly sinned were encouraged to make atonement by giving their influence, by obtaining information through their previous connections, or by abstaining from obstructive tactics.

The policy has been not to crowd the jails, burden the courts, and fill Bilibid, but to reform all except the confirmed or notorious sinners and to practice the people in citizenship.

Wearing Down of the Ladrone Bands.

Details of the work that followed would needlessly swell this report. They are tabulated in the attached record of events and lists of ladrones and of arms that have been accounted for.

These exhibits are defective in that they give no indication of the weary waits for information, the hard and usually profitless marches, the carefully planned but generally indecisive attacks, the tedious and often fruitless negotiations, and the patient but often disappointing efforts to induce the people to free themselves from the irresponsible bondage of ladronism.

In these trials, all — Regulars, scouts. and constabulary — shared alike; and the good comradeship and understanding thus established assured ultimate success. Nor should the assistance of the provincial authorities be overlooked. Some of the most desirable ends were accomplished by Governor Cailles and his well-trained police.

But, on the whole, the record is one of hard, patient, and monotonous toil. Seldom is it broken by incidents such as the crushing of Oruga by the constabulary of Thompson and Baker and the fierce pursuit of Johnson's Moros at Calicangan, the night encounter at Tres Cruces, where the cavalry killed

[p. 133]

Cosme Caro, and the deadly pounce of Van Schaick and his scouts on Felizardo’s lair at Lit-lit.

In March, after the harvesting of the crops, reconcentratlon, in name, at least, was resorted to in many parts of Batangas and Cavite and in some parts of Laguna and Rizal. The extent and degree of each reconcentratlon was adapted to local conditions and necessities. In no case were the rigors or penalties of a technical or much less of a popularly understood reconcentration enforced. Even these were relaxed and done away with as results justified. At the end of July, because of the very small number of outlaws still out, and that all might profit by the increased arable areas that the narrowing of lawlessness made available, what reconcentration still remained was lifted.

In April, the undertaking of the destruction of Julian Ramos’s band led to the arrest of a wealthy landowner, Roxas, and his hacienda agent, Oliva. Soon afterwards, some of the native newspapers commenced a campaign against the constabulary that became daily more bitter and reckless. The bringing of criminal libel suits against the Renacimiento has somewhat checked them, and has at least given the constabulary officers a chance to defend themselves.

Summing up what has been accomplished: 518 of firearms have been captured, seized, and surrendered; of these there are 170 rifles, 72 carbines, 64 shotguns, and 212 revolvers; the guns are to the revolvers as 3 to 2; 224 of these came from Batangas, 185 from Cavite, 61 from Laguna, and 48 from Rizal. Of them, the army obtained 38, the scouts 42, the constabulary 406, and the police 32. Ladrones: 5 officers and 44 men, a total of 49. have been killed; 12 officers and 87 men, a total of 99, have been captured; and 60 officers and 214 men, a total of 274, have surrendered. Of the aggregate of 422 killed, captured, and surrendered, the army accounted for 53, the scouts for 38, the constabulary for 310, and the police for 21. Of them. 69 belonged to the band of Oruga; 34 to that of Flores, which is now extinct; 20 to that of Masigla, now extinct; 13 to that of Giron, now extinct; 38 to that of Ramos, now extinct; 65 to that of Montalon; 13 to that of de Vega; 11 to that of Sakay; 35 to that of Felizardo, now reduced to himself; and 25 belonged to obscure or unknown bands.

A considerable share of the results obtained by the constabulary at Taal and Nasugbu and indirectly of those at other points should be credited to the coast guard cutter Mindanao, Captain Cabling, whose ready cooperation made them possible.

All officers. and especially the district chief, were greatly assisted in legal questions, in sifting evidence and in handling prosecutions, by the advisers that were detailed by the attorney-general. Mr. Harvey proved indispensable.

Conclusion.

Of the remnant of the ladrones, Sakay frequents northern Rizal, which at the end of June was returned to the first district. Felizardo, disarmed and stripped of companions, lurks between here and Manila. De Vega and his remaining followers skulk in the forests of Buenavista and Jalang. Montalon, who has been joined by Natividad’s remnant of Oruga’s band, is hidden now here and now there by the Colorum society.

Excluding Sakay’s hand, there are only 15 outlaws with 13 guns at large in this district; but among them are Montalon, the most conspicuous; Fellzardo, the most active, and De Vega, the most notorious.

What results have been obtained were in large measure due to the hard and unselfish work of Major Shanks, governor of Cavite; to the insight and judgment of Captain Baker, of the constabulary; to the dash and energy of Captain Van Schaick, of the scouts; and to the intelligent activity of Lieutenant Walker, of the scouts, and Lieutenant McLean, of the constabulary.

Acknowledgment should also be made of the advice and assistance given by Colonel Chase, until recently in command of Camp McGrath, by Major Duncan of the scouts, by Doctor Roxas of Lipa, by Doctor Lontoc of Taal, by Mr. Trias of San Francisco de Malabon, and by Mr. Baldomero Aguinaldo of Binacayan.

Respectfully,

D. J. BAKER, JR.
Assistant Chief, Commanding
Provisional District, Philippines Constabulary.

To the ADJUTANT-GENERAL.

Philippines Constabulary.

Notes and references:
1 “Report of Officer Commanding Provisional District, Philippines Constabulary,” by D. J. Barker, Jr., 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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