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Politics and government of
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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.


First Philippine 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.[1]

Second Philippine 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.[1]

The Philippine Organic Act of July 1902 establishing the Insular Government of the Philippines 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.[1][2]


  • Regular Sessions (Executive and Legislative): September 1, 1901 – October 16, 1907
    • Regular Sessions (Upper Legislative Chamber): starting October 16, 1907


  • Governor-General:
William Howard Taft (1901-1903)
Luke Edward Wright (1903-1906)
Henry Clay Ide (1906)
James Francis Smith (1906-1907)


  • Secretary of Finance and Justice:
Name Month started Month finished
Secretaries of Finance and Justice
Henry Clay Ide September 1, 1901 September 24, 1906
James Francis Smith September 25, 1906 June 30, 1908
Gregorio Araneta July 1, 1908 October 30, 1913
Victorino Mapa November 1, 1913 January 14, 1917
  • Secretary of the Interior:
Name Month started Month finished
Secretaries of the Interior
Dean C. Worcester September 1, 1901 1913
Winfred Denson 1913 1916
  • Secretary of Commerce and Police:
Name Month started Month finished
Secretaries of Commerce and Police
Luke Edward Wright September 1, 1901 February 1, 1904
William Cameron Forbes February 1, 1904 1909
Charles Elliott 1910 1913
Clinton Riggs 1913 1915
Eugene Reed 1915 1916
  • Secretary of Public Instruction:
Name Term started Term finished
Secretaries of Public Instruction
Bernard Moses September 1, 1901 June 30, 1908
W. Morgan Shuster June 30, 1908 1909
Newton W. Gilbert 1909 1915
Henderson Martin 1915 1916
  • Philippine Members (1901-1909):
Name Term started Term finished
Philippine Members of the Philippine Commission
Benito Legarda September 1, 1901 December 21, 1907
Trinidad Pardo H. Tavera September 1, 1901 March 1, 1909
Jose Luzuriaga September 1, 1901 1913
  • Philippine Members (1909-1913):
Name Term started Term finished
Philippine Members of the Philippine Commission
Rafael Palma December 21, 1907 1913
Juan Sumulong March 1, 1909 1913
Jose Luzuriaga September 1, 1901 1913
Gregorio Araneta 1909 1913

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c "Philippines: United States Rule". U.S. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-04.  
  2. ^ "The Philippine Bill of July 1902". online digital library. July 1, 1902. Retrieved 2008-01-07.  

External links

Further reading

  • 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.  


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