Letter from E.S. Otis to the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands, January 4, 1899
Office of the Military Governor
of the Philippines
Manila, January 4, 1899
To the inhabitants of the Philippine Islands.
The instructions issued by his Excellency the President of the United States reletave to the administration of the Philippine Islands have been transmitted to me on December twenty-eight of last year 1898 through the Secretary of War. Through these instructions I have been ordered to publicly announce, and I proclaimed to the inhabitants of these islands that in the war with Spain, the United States Army came here in order to destroy the power of that nation and to grant the benefits of peace and freedom to each individual Filipino; that we are here as friends of the Filipinos, to protect them in their homes, in their occupations and their individual religious freedom, that every person who materially assist or honorably cooperate with the United States government in order to effectively achieve those wholesome plans, will receive the recompense of her support and protection.
The President of the United States has admitted that the municipal laws of this country, as far as they respect the rights of the individual and the rights for property and the repression of guilt, will be considered still in vigor so long as they can be applied to a free pepole, and they must be administered by the ordinary courts of justice, presided by the representatives of the people and by those persons who are in complete accord with it in their desire for good government; that the functions and duties related to civil and municipal administration shall reside and shall be exercised by these functionaries who like to accept the assistance of the United States, elected, as far as it is workable, from among the inhabitants of the islands; that in the meantime that the management of public property and revenue and the use of public transport shall be carried out under direction of the military authorities until such time that it can be substituted by civilain administrators, all properties owned by individual persons or corporations shall be respected and duly protected, whenever property owned by individual person is to be used for military purposes, its value shall be paid in money; if monetary payment is not possible at the moment, corresponding receipts shall be issued and they shall be liquidated and satisfaction shall be made whenever there are available funds. The ports of the Philippines shall be open to commerce, of all foreign countries and the goods and merchandise, the entry of which is not prohibited by the military suthorities for special reasons, shall be admitted by means of payment of dues and tarriffs in vigor at the time of its importation. The President ends his instructions with the following words:
And lastly the Administration's supreme and true aspiration must be to gain the trust, respect and affection of the inhabitants of the Philippines, and as much as possible, they should be given a complete guarantee of individual rights, and of freedom which is the patrimony of a free people. They should show in act, that the mission of the United States is one of beneficient assimilation which will see to it that arbitrary power is substituted by an indulgent government of justice and reason.
In complying with this sublime nission and at the same time maintaining the temporal administration of matters, the strong arm of the authorities shall be prepared to repress disorder and to overcome all obstacles that may come across the way of a good and stable government over the inhabitants of the Philippine islands.
Judging from the text of the foregoing instructions of the President, I believe that the intention of the United States government is to provide general direction about certain matters, and to appoint the representatives that now form the directorship composed of Filipinos in order for them to occupy position of responsibility and confidence properly reserved for civilians, and it is my duty to appoint to those positions Filipinos who might deserve the approval of higher authorities in Washington. I likewise believe that it is the intention of the United States to recruit from among the Filipino military forces from the islands whenever possible and those who are in harmony with a free and well-constituted government, and it is my desire to inagurate this kind of policy. Similarly, I am convinced that the United States government intends to try to establis a most liberal government over these islands, wherein the people itself will have all possible representation with regard to the maintenance of law and that it will be susceptible to development in the area of increasing the representation, to granting of greater powers to a government which is free and independent, similar to thise which are being enjoyed by the ore favored provinces of the world.
It will be my constant effort, that of cooperating with the Filipino people, so that they might be able to look after the welfare of their country, and I beg your complete confidence and support.
E. S. OTIS
Major General of the volunteers
of the Unites States