Monday, May 31, 2010

A hundred laws

Although short-lived, the Congress of the First Philippine Republic passed more than a hundred decrees and laws to address the imperatives of the young nation. Aside from those establishing the branches of government and appointing department secretaries and directors, schools were founded in October 1898 lie the Universidad Literaria, its Faculty of Law, and the Instituto Burgos.

It may interest you to know, that it was Congress that proclaimed General Emilio Aguinaldo president, after which a congressional commission formally made it known to him. President Aguinaldo took his oath of office before Congress, delivered a patriotic speech, then the Philippine Army swore allegiance to the Republic and to the Constitution.

From the more than a hundred laws and decrees passed by the Malolos Congress and President Aguinaldo, you can tell that nation-building was the primordial concern of our forefathers, that they were doing their honorable best and that obviously they were ready for self-government. Significantly, as early as 21 June 1898, a decree gave tenants the lands they tilled; another issued on the the 29th punished cattle-rustling, and on 15 July town presidents were instructed to administer church property.

There were laws that aimed to protect future generations. Cock-fighting, cards, and other forms of gambling were forbidden to the young who were encouraged to engage in sports like swimming, boxing, and athletics. But curiously, a decree prescribed how young people could marry without parental consent.

Tax laws were passed to generate government revenue; a Permanent Commission of Justice was established, the Departments of Finance and Public Welfare were reorganized. By January 1899, due to the impending war with America, there were decrees of great urgency that ordered the production of food, creation of "Juntas de Defensa" to assure territorial security, strengthened army discipline, placed civil officials under military authorities, and forbade merchant vessels flying the American flag from entering ports controlled by the Republic.

There was an ominous decree dated 7 May 1899 after a Cabinet crisis, accepting the resignation of the brilliant loyal Apolinario Mabini while flamboyant Padro Paterno took charge and formed a new Cabinet. The rest, as they say, is history.

1 comment:

William Hernandez said...

June 12, 2010. I sometimes wonder, respectfully, whether the historical significances of the missing Aguinaldo balcony and the missing corpse of Bonifacio in this independence day commemoration are both equally substantial to recollect in our efforts to portray our skill in Philippine historiography. And perhaps, if we conclude that one or the ... See Moreother is important on this day, we will decide to ask Congress to fund the restoration of the Aguinaldo House without the balcony, like in the currency, or to ask the NHC to acknowledge that Bonifacio's death should be mourned by the Republic, after the fact, and have a state ceremonial funeral for him, finally. This is my wish, on this day, of our Republic's birthday.
William Hernandez