Birth of Provinces and Towns in 1901

Article excerpt

Byline: Romeo V Pefianco

(Editors note: Laws cannot repeal historical facts/reality cited in this article.)

LAST Thursday, (May 20) I met Antique Gov. Sally Z. Perez at a party. Our brief conversation turned to a subject long settled in RP history the date of creation of provinces and towns.

Gov. Sally asked for the official birthday of our province. I told her that in two previous MB articles I referred to the Provincial Government Act and Municipal Government Act passed by the Philippine Commission (under William Howard Taft) in February 1901.

Organization of LGUs

All towns and provinces in PI the Americans referred to Filipinas as Philippine Islands were reorganized under the terms of the two acts of the Taft Commission.

But there are government functionaries in Manila, both major and minor, who still believe that the acts of the Taft Commission are not true legislation proceeding from the proper powers under the US Constitution.

Compilation of laws

The UP Law Centers Philippine Permanent and General Statutes, a compilation of statutes enacted by the Taft Commission, 1907 Assembly, and 1916 Legislature, refers to their collective legislation as plain "Acts," as distinguished from Commonwealth Acts (CA) and Republic Acts (RA).

I advised Gov. Perez to follow the Antique Charter and observe the foundation date provided under Act 114, dated April 13, 1901 of the Taft Commission.

Arellano as adviser

The Filipino elite was consulted by the Americans in the organization of provincial and municipal administration. Prof. Cayetano S. Arellano of UST College of Law headed a committee that formulated the plan for the LGUs (local government units).

In May 1899, Arellano was rewarded with an appointment as chief justice extended by a US Army general.

Old provinces/towns

Provinces and towns were existing LGUs during that Spanish period up to August 13, 1898, with the surrender of Manila to the US Army and Commodore Deweys Asiatic Squadron on Manila Bay that threatened to flatten Intramuros and the neighboring pueblos (towns).

Provinces familiar to most Filipinos today were also represented in the Malolos Congress by 193 delegates from Batanes to Sulu (classified as third-class districts).

Signers of the Malolos Constitution represented all the provinces and districts that sent delegates to the 1898 Congress.

An easy task

The task of organizing LGUs under the Taft Commission in 1901 was not as difficult as most of us in 2004 expected. …