The Philippine Commission was a body appointed by the President of the United States to exercise legislative and limited executive powers in the Philippines. It was first appointed by President William McKinley in 1901. Beginning in 1907, it acted as the upper house of a bicameral legislature, with the elected Philippine Assembly acting as lower house. The Jones Act of 1916 created an elected Philippine Senate to replace the Philippine Commission.
See also: Schurman Commission
On January 20, 1899, President McKinley appointed the First Philippine Commission (the Schurman Commission), a five-person group headed by Dr. Jacob Schurman, president of Cornell University, to investigate conditions in the islands and make recommendations. In the report that they issued to the president the following year, the commissioners acknowledged Filipino aspirations for independence; they declared, however, that the Philippines was not ready for it. Specific recommendations included the establishment of civilian government as rapidly as possible (the American chief executive in the islands at that time was the military governor), including establishment of a bicameral legislature, autonomous governments on the provincial and municipal levels, and a system of free public elementary schools.
See also: Taft Commission
The Second Philippine Commission (the Taft Commission), appointed by McKinley on March 16, 1900, and headed by William Howard Taft, was granted legislative as well as limited executive powers. Between September 1900 and August 1902, it issued 499 laws. A judicial system was established, including a Supreme Court, and a legal code was drawn up to replace antiquated Spanish ordinances. A civil service was organized. The 1901 municipal code provided for popularly elected presidents, vice presidents, and councilors to serve on municipal boards. The municipal board members were responsible for collecting taxes, maintaining municipal properties, and undertaking necessary construction projects; they also elected provincial governors.
The Philippine Organic Act of July 1902 stipulated that a legislature would be established composed of a lower house, the Philippine Assembly, which would be popularly elected, and an upper house consisting of the Philippine Commission. The two houses would share legislative powers, although the upper house alone would pass laws relating to the Moros and other non-Christian peoples. The act also provided for extending the United States Bill of Rights to Filipinos and sending two Filipino resident commissioners to Washington to attend sessions of the United States Congress. In July 1907, the first elections for the assembly were held, and the legislature opened its first session on October 16, 1907.
- History of the Philippines (1898-1946)
- Senate of the Philippines
- House of Representatives of the Philippines
References and Notes
- Senate of the Philippines
- List of Senators. Senate of the Philippines. Retrieved on 2006-09-16.
- The LAWPHiL Project - Philippine Laws and Jurisprudence Databank. Arellano Law Foundation. Retrieved on 2006-09-16.
- Philippine House of Representatives Congressional Library
- The Presidents of the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines. ISBN 971-8832-24-6.
- Pobre, Cesar P.. Philippine Legislature 100 Years. ISBN 971-92245-0-9.