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The Philippine Revolution
The Malolos Congress

In accordance with the decrees of June 18 and 23, 1898, Aguinaldo convoked the Revolutionary Congress at Barasoain, Malolos. Peace and order conditions in some provinces were such that Aguinaldo was compelled to appoint their delegates to Congress. Consequently, on September 4, he appointed fifty delegates to the Congress. This number was increased by ten on September 10. The number of delegates to the Congress fluctuated from time to time.

In the morning of September 15, the basilica at Barasoain was filled with delegates and spectators. Outside, the Banda Pasig played the National Anthem. When Aguinaldo and his officers arrived, the delegates, the cream of the Filipino intelligentsia, spread out to give way to the President. With the President seated, the secretary read the names of the delegates, after which Aguinaldo was introduced. Cries of "Viva!" reverberated and Aguinaldo acknowledged the applause of the throng. Then he stood up and read his message, first in Tagalog, then in Spanish. A round of applause followed Aguinaldo's speech, which Felipe Buencamino wrote. Aguinaldo then announced that the ceremonies were over and that Congress was to convene after electing its officers.

In the afternoon, the Congress proceeded to elect its officers, namely, Pedro A. Paterno, President; Benito Legarda, Vice-President; Gregorio Araneta, First Secretary; and Pablo Ocampo, Second Secretary.

* * *

The first significant act of the Congress was the ratification on September 29, of the independence proclaimed at Kawit on June 12, 1898. Aguinaldo, whose office and official residence were located at the convent of Malolos Church, arrived at Barasoain, where Congress was holding its sessions, amidst the "vociferous acclamations of he people and strains of music." The ceremonies began at 10:30am and Aguinaldo, after congratulating Paterno for having been elected to the presidency of Congress, partly said in Tagalog:

    * * * now we witness the truth of what the famous President Monroe said to the effect that the United States was for the Americans; now I say that the Philippines is for the Filipinos.
* * *

A committee to draft the constitution was created with Felipe G. Calderon as its most prominent member. Having set Mabini's Constitutional Program aside, the committee. under the influence of Calderon, also set aside, but in a subtle manner, Paterno's constitutional plan, which smelled strongly of the Spanish Constitution of 1869. With the advise of Cayetano Arellano, a brilliant but unreconstructed mestizo, Calderon drew up his plans for a constitution, deriving inspiration from the constitutions of Mexico, Belgium, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil and France. In the session of Oct 8, Calderon presented the draft of this constitution.

. . .

A few other amendments were inserted in the draft constitution before it was sent to Aguinaldo for approval.

History of the Filipino People. Teodoro A. Agoncillo

The Malolos Republic

Owing to the objections of Mabini to some provisions in the Constitution, Aguinaldo did not immediately promulgate it.

The leaders of Congress compromised by inserting some amendments. After promulgating the Malolos Constitution, the Filipino leaders proceeded to inaugurate the first Filipino Republic on January 23, 1899.

Excerpts from the Malolos Constitution

Article 3. Sovereignity resides exclusively in the people.

Article 5. The State recognizes the freedom and equality of all religions, as well as the separation of Church and State.

Article 19. No Filipino in the full enjoyment of his civil and political rights shall be hindered in the free exercise of the same.

Article 20.1. Neither shall any Filipino be deprived of: The right of expressing freely his ideas and opinions either by word or by writing, availing himself of the press or any other similar means.

Article 20.2. Neither shall any Filipino be deprived of: The right of joining any association for all the objects of human life which may not be contrary to public morals.

Article 23. Any Filipino can found and maintain establishments of instruction or of education, in accordance with the regulations that may be established. Popular education shall be obligatory and gratuitous in the schools of the nation.

Table of Titles

  1. The Republic
  2. The Government
  3. Religion
  4. The Filipinos and Their National and Individual Rights
  5. The Legislative Power
  6. The Permanent Commission
  7. The Executive Power
  8. The President of the Republic
  9. The Secretaries of Government
  10. The Judicial Power
  11. Provincial and Popular Assemblies
  12. Administration of the State
  13. Amendment of the Constitution
  14. Constitutional Observance, Oath, and Language

On January 21, 1899, Aguinaldo promulgated what is now known as the Malolos Constitution.

* * *

The Malolos constitution is the first important Filipino document ever produced by the people's representatives. It is anchored in democratic traditions that ultimately had their roots in American soil. It created a Filipino state whose government was "popular, representative and responsible" with three distinct branches -- the executive, the legislative and the judicial. The constitution specifically provided for safeguards against abuses, and enumerated the national and individual rights not only of the Filipinos and of the aliens.

The legislative powers were exercised by the Assembly of Representatives composed of delegates elected according to law. To make the function of Congress continuous, the document provided for a Permanent Commission which would sit as a law-making body when Congress was not in session. The assembly elected the President of the Republic. The Cabinet, composed of the Secretaries of the different Departments of the government, was responsible not to the President, but to the Assembly. The administration of justice was vested in the Supreme Court and in inferior courts to be established according to law. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was to be elected by the Assembly with the concurrence of the President and the Cabinet.

* * *

The constitution as a whole is a monument to the capacity of the Filipinos to chart their own course along democratic lines. In a period of storm and stress, it symbolized the ideals of a people who had emerged from the Dark Ages into the Light of Reason.

History of the Filipino People. Teodoro A. Agoncillo

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