Philippine Autonomy Act
The Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 or the Act of Congress of August 29, 1916, popularly known as the Jones Law, provided the Philippine Islands the framework for the creation of an autonomous government in preparation for the grant of independence by the United States Government. It created a bicameral Philippine Legislature composed of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
The Jones Law, enacted by the 64th Congress of the United States on August 29, 1916, contained the first formal and official declaration of the United States commitment to grant independence to the Philippines. The Preamble provided that "it has always been, the purpose of the people of the United States to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established herein, which gave the Filipinos the power to determine when they will be granted their independence. It aimed at providing the Filipino people (Filipinos) broader domestic autonomy, though it reserved certain privileges to the United States (Americans) to protect their sovereign rights and interests.
Passage into law
The first bill seeking to grant the Philippine Islands autonomy and eventual independence was introduced in 1912 by William Atkinson Jones, a Democrat from Virginia, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Insular Affairs. It planned to grant the Philippine Islands independence on July 4, 1921. The bill passed committee deliberations, but it did not progress from there.
A second version of the bill was filed by Rep. Jones in 1914, this time it did not set a definite date for the granting of independence. Several amendments were introduced to the bill, as the Republicans tried to defeat it. It was only passed after the preamble was revised to: "that it is the purpose of the people of the United States to withdraw their sovereignty over the Philippine Islands and to recognize their independence as soon as a stable government can be established therein". It was signed into law by United States President Woodrow Wilson on August 29, 1916.
The Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 provided for a framework of government, a bill of rights, and the conferment of certain powers of government and its limitations. Among the salient provisions of the law was the creation of a bicameral Philippine Legislature, vested with general legislative powers, which consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. Executive power was vested in the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands, while judicial power was vested in the Supreme Court and the Courts of First Instance.
Notes and References
- The Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 (Jones Law)
- In the "Instructions of the President to the Philippine Commission" dated April 7, 1900, President William McKinley reiterated the intentions of the United States Government to establish and organize governments – essentially popular in their form – in the municipal and provincial administrative divisions of the Philippine Islands. However, there was no official mention of any official declaration of Philippine Independence.
- Castañeda, Anna Leah Fidelis T. "The Origins of Philippine Judicial Review, 1900-1935". p156. URL accessed on 12 August 2006.
- The United States Government shall determine whether this "stable government" has been achieved.
- .Encyclopedia Britannica. Jones Act. URL accessed on 12 August 2006.
- Rosario, Cortes M., et. al, The Filipino Saga: History as a Social Change. Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 2000: chapter 11. ISBN 971-10-1131-X
- Philippine Historical Commission, Philippine Legislature, 100 Years. Quezon City: Philippine Historical Commission, 2000: chapter 4. ISBN 971-92245-0-9
- To learn more about the Philippine legal system, visit the Philippine Legal Database of Filipiniana.net Digital Library.
- Full text of Jones Law/Act of Congress of August 29, 1916. In Filipiniana.net Online Digital Library. Accessed on 24 January 2008.
- The Jones Act of 1916. In The Bangsamoro Online. Accessed on October 15, 2007.