Proclamation of amnesty in the Philippines by the United States

MANILA, P. I., JUNE 21, 1900.

By direction of the President of the United States the undersigned announces amnesty, with complete immunity for the past and absolute liberty of action for the future, to all persons who are now, or at any time since February 4, 1899, have been, in insurrection against the United States in either a military or civil capacity, and who shall, within a period of ninety days from the date hereof, formally renounce all connection with such insurrection and subscribe to a declaration acknowledging and accepting the sovereignty and authority of the United States in and over the Philippine Islands. The privilege herewith published is extended to all concerned without any reservation whatever, excepting that persons who have violated the laws of war during the period of active hostilities are not embraced within the scope of this amnesty.

In order to mitigate as much as possible consequences resulting from the various disturbances which since 1896 have succeeded each other so rapidly, and to provide in some measure for destitute Filipino soldiers during the transitory period which must inevitably succeed a general peace, the military authorities of the United States will pay thirty pesos to each man who presents a rifle in good condition.

In his message of December, 1900, the President refers to the work of this second commission, quoting his previous message as follows:

Our forces have successfully controlled the greater part of the islands, overcoming the organized forces of the insurgents and carrying order and administrative regularity to all quarters. What opposition remains is for the most part scattered, obeying no concerted plan of strategic action, operating only by the methods common to the traditions of guerrilla warfare, which, while ineffective to alter the general control now established, are still sufficient to beget insecurity among the populations that have felt the good results of our control, and thus delay the conferment upon them of the fuller measures of local self-government, of education and of industrial and agricultural development which we stand ready to give to them.

By the spring of this year the effective opposition of the dissatisfied Tagals to the authority of the United States was virtually ended, thus opening the door for the extension of a stable administration over much of the territory of the archipelago.

Desiring to bring this consummation about, he appointed the second commission as aforesaid.

We quote from the message of December, 1900:

The articles of capitulation of the city of Manila on the 13th of August, 1898, concluded with these words:

"This city, its inhabitants, its churches and religious worship, its educational establishments and its private property of all descriptions are placed under the special safeguard of the faith and honor of the American army."

I believe that this pledge has been faithfully kept. A high and sacred obligation rests upon the government of the United States to give protection for property and life, civil and religious freedom and wise, firm and unselfish guidance in the paths of peace and prosperity to all the people of the Philippine Islands. I charge this commission to labor for the full performance of this obligation, which concerns the honor and conscience of their country, in the firm hope that through their labors all the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands may come to look back with gratitude to the day when God gave victory to American arms at Manila and set their land under the sovereignty and the protection of the people of the United States.

This commission, composed of eminent citizens representing the diverse geographical and political interests of the country and bringing to their task the ripe fruits of long and intelligent service in educational, administrative and judicial careers, made great progress from the outset. As early as August 21, 1900, it submitted a preliminary report, which will be laid before the Congress and from which it appears that already the good effects of returning order are felt; that business, interrupted by hostilities, is improving as peace extends; that a larger area is under sugar cultivation now than ever before; that the customs revenues are greater than at any time during the Spanish rule; that economy and efficiency in the military administration have created a surplus fund of $6,000,000, available for needed public improvements; that a stringent civil service law is in preparation; that railroad communications are expanding, opening up rich districts, and that a comprehensive scheme of education is being organized.

Later reports from the commission show yet more encouraging advance towards insuring the benefits of liberty and good government to the Filipinos, in the interest of humanity and with the aim of building up an enduring, self-supporting and self-administering community in those far eastern seas.

I would impress upon the Congress that whatever legislation may be enacted in respect to the Philippine Islands should be along these generous lines. The fortune of war has thrown upon this nation an unsought trust, which should be unselfishly discharged. Upon this government has devolved a moral as well as material responsibility towards these millions whom we have freed from an oppressive yoke.

I have upon another occasion called the Filipinos "the wards of the nation." Our obligation as guardian was not lightly assumed; it must not be otherwise than honestly fulfilled, aiming first of all to benefit those who have come under our fostering care. It is our duty so to treat them that our flag may be no less beloved in the mountains of Luzon and the fertile zones of Mindanao and Negros than it is at home; that there, as here, it shall be the revered symbol of liberty, enlightenment and progress in every avenue of development.

The Filipinos are a race quick to learn, to profit by knowledge. He would be rash who, with the teaching of contemporaneous history in view, would fix a limit to the degree of culture and advancement yet within the reach of those people if our duty towards them be faithfully performed.

The insurgents, as the Filipinos are termed, kept the war alive just the same notwithstanding the pacific tone of the message.

Congress had many excited debates upon the general question of proclaiming our intention to retain the Philippines and assume a protectorate over the archipelago. The war of words between expansionists and anti-expansionists has not yet ended, as principles are at stake. The Friars had caused considerable trouble all round, and General Otis met certain demands of theirs by issuing a decree granting individual religious liberty in Luzon. Their power may be gauged by the following statement copied by an American journal, the Catholic World from the Etudes, dated July, 1898:

"With Legaspi, founder of Manila, in 1571, came a band of Augustinianmonks. They were followed some five years later by a body of Franciscans, and before a dozen years had passed Manila had a Dominican bishop and an addition of missionaries of the Order of Preachers and the Society of Jesus. To-day the spiritual charges of the various communities are represented by the following table:

1892-Augustinians. 2,082,131 souls 1892-Recollects. 1,175,156 souls 1892-Franciscans. 1,010,753 souls 1892-Dominicians. 699,851 souls 1895-Jesuits. 213,065 souls 1896-Secular Clergy. 967,294 souls

"Most significant in the above table is the comparative fewness of souls cared for by the secular or native clergy. The work is all done, the power all possessed by the monks.

Whatever the reason-we may be able to guess-this is most unfortunate. Antagonize religious sentiment and patriotism, and you have done much to uproot the in-fluence of the spiritual authority."

These Friars were a thorn in the flesh of the Spaniards when owners of the islands. It appears that there is one Friar to every 5,000 native Filipino Catholics, who are only about one-half of the native population. Yet the Friar counted for more than all his flock in both ecclesiastical and secular affairs. It is recorded that Governor-General Blanco, before he left the Philippines in 1896 to rule Cuba, had found the situation so intolerable there that he had demanded either the immediate expulsion of the religious orders or reinforcements of an army of 80,000 men to crush the insurrectionary movement against the Friars. Failing to secure either the expulsion of the Spanish monks, or the Spanish army for the enforcement of their obnoxious rule, he resigned.

The Friars were put under subjection, virtually deposed from their secular thrones, under American rule. An anti-Catholic or anti-Friar movement has developed, with indications that their day is over. Archbishop Chapelle has stated that they will not henceforth be sent into districts where the people object to them. It is only fair to note that it is generally admitted that the Friars are to be credited with many excellent qualities, not only in their spiritual capacity but as administrators in civic affairs. They were often the only persons qualified by education and training to guide the practical conduct of local commercial business.

Now, having presented the case against the insurgents from the government standpoint, it is proper to place the reader in possession of such facts and utterances of responsible persons as may exhibit the other side of the controversy. The vital thing to know is the truth about the Filipinos, the insurgents, who presume to resist our philanthropic efforts to coerce them to accept our aid in raising their standard of civilization to the level of ours. We do not need to go outside the ranks of the eminent Americans who, as soldiers, sailors, diplomatists, and statesmen, have spoken from personal knowledge, gained on the spot, as to the character and qualities of the native race we have not yet reconciled nor subjugated.

The first commissioners to the Philippines gave frank testimony to the character of the Filipinos as prospective rulers of their native land. They stated as follows in their official report:

The commission, while not underrating the difficulty of governing the Philippines, is disposed to believe the task easier than is generally supposed. For this has the following among other grounds:

First-The study by educated Filipinos of the various examples of constitutional government has resulted in their selection, as best adapted to the conditions and character of the various people inhabiting the archipelago, of almost precisely the political institutions and arrangements which have been worked out in practice by the American people; and these are also, though less definitely apprehended, the political ideas of the masses of the Philippine people themselves. This point has been frequently illustrated in the course of the preceding exposition, and it must here suffice to say that the commission was constantly surprised by the harmony subsisting between the rights, privileges and institutions enjoyed by Americans and the reforms desired by the best Filipinos.

Secondly-In addition to the adaptation of the American form of government to the Filipinos, the Filipinos themselves are of unusually promising material. They possess admirable personal and domestic virtues; and though they are uncontrollable when such elemental passions as jealousy, revenge or resentment are once aroused, most of them, practically all of the civilized inhabitants of Luzon and the Visayas, are naturally and normally peaceful, docile and deferential to constituted authority. On the suppression of the insurrection the great majority of them will be found to be good, law-abiding citizens.

Thirdly-Though the majority of the inhabitants are uneducated, they evince a strong desire to be instructed, and the example of Japan is with them a cherished ideal of the value of education. A system of free schools for the people, another American institution, it will be noted, has been an important element in every Philippine programme of reforms.

Fourthly-The educated Filipinos, though constituting a minority, are far more numerous than is generally supposed, and are scattered all over the archipelago; and the commission desires to bear the strongest testimony to the high range of their intelligence, and not only to their intellectual training but also to their social refinement as well as to the grace and charm of their personal character. These educated. Filipinos, in a word, are the equals of the men one meets in similar vocations-law, medicine, business, etc.-in Europe or America.

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