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Constitution of Biak-na-Bato
In Biac-na-Bato on the first day of the month of November of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, the Representatives of the people of the Philippine Islands, assembled for the purpose of modifying the Constitution of this Republic of the Philippines, drawn up and proclaimed in the town of Naic, province of Cavite, on the twenty-second of March of this year, in accordance with the provisions of Decree No. 29 of current year after a long discussion, [the Representatives] have unanimously agreed upon the following:
Constitution or the Fundamental Law of the Republic of the Philippines
The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish monarchy and their formation into an independent state with its own government called the Philippine Republic has been the end sought by the Revolution in the existing war, begun on the 24th of August, 1896; and therefore, in its name and by the power delegated by the Filipino people, interpreting faithfully their desires and ambitions, we, the representatives of the Revolution, in a meeting at Biac-na-bato, November 1, 1897, unanimously adopt the following articles for the Constitution of the State:
THE SUPREME GOVERNMENT
The supreme government of the Republic shall be vested in a Supreme Council, composed of a President, a Vice-President and four Secretaries, for the conduct of our Foreign Relations, of War, of the Interior, and of the Treasury.
POWERS OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL
The powers of the Supreme Council of the government shall be:
1. Policies – To adopt measures for maintaining and developing its existence, issuing such orders as it believes adequate for the preservation and security of the civil and political life of the nation.
2. Budget – To impose and collect taxes, to issue foreign and domestic loans, when necessary, and to issue paper money, to coin money and to appropriate the funds collected to the purposes required by the several branches of the State.
3. Teaties – To authorise privateering and issue letters of marque and reprisal, to raise and organise troops and to maintain them, to ratify treaties, and to make a treaty of peace with Spain, with the ratification of the Assembly of Representatives.
4. Judicial Powers – To try as a judicial body, should they think necessary, the President or any of the members of the Council, who should be accused of crimes, cognisance of which appertains to the Judicial Power.
5. Military Authority – To have the right of supervision and supreme direction of military operations, when they believe it to be necessary for the consummation of high political ends. To approve, reform or modify the Regulations and orders for the Army, prepared by the Captain-General of the Army; to confer grades and promotions, from that of first lieutenant and to confer honours and rewards granted for services in war, at the recommendation of the said Captain-General of the Army.
6. Selection of Military Leaders – To select and nominate a Captain-General and a Lieutenant General.
7. Congregation of the Assembly of the Representatives – To convene the Assembly of Representatives when necessary, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
SUCCESSORSHIP OF THE VICE PRESIDENT TO THE PRESIDENCY
The Vice-President shall fill ad interim the office of President in case of vacancy.
SECRETARIES OF THE GOVERNMENT
For each Secretary there shall be a Sub-Secretary, who shall aid in the dispatch of business and shall in case a vacancy-occurs fill ad interim the place of such Secretary. He shall have while so acting a vote in the Council of Government.
GOVERNMENT OFFICE RESTRICTIONS
The President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Sub-Secretary can hold no other office in the Republic.
AGE REQUIREMENT OF GOVERNMENT OFFICES
The President, Vice-President, Secretary and Sub-Secretary shall be more than twenty-three years of age.
The basis of every election and appointment to any office in the Republic shall be aptitude for the discharge of the office conferred.
Tagalog shall be the official language of the Republic.
The decisions of the Council of Government shall be determined by a majority vote, and all the members of the same shall take part in its deliberations.
The executive power shall be vested in the President, or in his absence in the Vice-President, and shall have these powers: to approve and promulgate the acts of the Supreme Council of the Government; to provide for their execution within the period of nine days; to issue decrees, rules or instructions for their execution; to receive ambassadors and to execute treaties.
VACANCIES OF OFFICE
In case of definite vacancies, in the office of President, Vice-President, and Secretaries, by death, resignation or other legal causes, the Assembly of Representatives shall meet for the election of others to fill the vacant offices.
ROLE OF THE SECRETARIES
Each Secretary shall have a vote in the passage of all resolutions and measures of whatever kind, and shall be able to take part in the deliberations thereon.
POWER OF SECRETARIES
The Secretaries shall have the right to choose and nominate their own assistants and other officials of their respective departments.
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
The Secretary of Foreign Affairs shall have charge of: all correspondence with foreign nations regarding treaties and agreements of all kinds; appointment of Representatives to said nations, issuing instructions for and authorising the expenses of such officials, as by act of the Council of Government reside in foreign parts, and preparation of passports for foreign lands.
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR
The Secretary of the Interior shall be charged with: collection of all statistics concerning the Republic; opening of roads and bridges; the advancement of agriculture, industry, commerce, art, professions and manufactures, public instruction and posts, depots of cattle and horses for the use of the Revolution: establishment of police for the protection or security of public order, and for the preservation of the liberties and individual rights established by this Constitution, and the custody of the property of the State.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR
The Secretary of War is in charge of all military correspondence; of the increase and decrease, of the organisation and instruction of the army; is head of the staff, is in charge of enlistment and of providing clothing, hospitals, rations and ordnance.
DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY
The Secretary of the Treasury shall have under his charge all receipts and payments of the Treasury, making collections and payments in accordance with the regulations and decrees issued by the Council of Government; coining of money and issuance of paper money; the public debt; administration of the property of the State, and the further duties pertaining to the Treasury Department.
DRAFTING OF LAWS
The Secretaries shall have charge of the drafting of all laws, correspondence, regulations and decrees appertaining to their respective offices.
CAPTAIN GENERAL OF ARMY
The Captain-General of the Army shall have command of all the armed troops in the towns, forts or detachments; the direction of the operations of war, except in the case reserved for the Council of Government, as set forth in Article 2, No. 5, and; shall give such orders as he deems necessary for the discipline and safety of the troops.
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL OF THE ARMY
The Lieutenant-General shall serve as Captain-General of the Army, ad interim, in case of vacancy.
Each province of the Philippines may have a representative delegate elected by universal suffrage, who shall represent it in the Assembly.
Religious liberty, the right of association, the freedom of education, the freedom of the press, as well as freedom in the exercise of all classes of professions, arts, trades and industries are established.
PETITIONS AND REMONSTRANCES
Every Filipino shall have the right to direct petitions or present remonstrances of any import whatsoever, in person or through his representative, to the Council of Government of the Republic.
FREEDOM FROM IMPRISONMENT
No person, whatever may be his nationality, shall be imprisoned or held except by virtue of an order issued by a competent court, provided that this shall not apply to crimes which concern the Revolution, the government or the Army.
Neither can any individual be deprived of his property or his domicile, except by virtue of judgment passed by a court of competent authority.
SERVICE TO THE REVOLUTION
Every Filipino is obliged to serve the Revolution with his services, and property to the extent of his capacity.
The debts and other obligations contracted prior to the promulgation of this Constitution by the Generals and other Chiefs of the Revolutionary Army, as well as their notes and orders, are hereby recognised and ratified to-day, also all subsequent debts, certified to by the government.
RESPECT OF RANK
The officials of the Council of Government are entitled to the consideration and respect due to their rank, and if they be constant in them they shall be entitled to pensions according to regulations to be published on the subject.
The Council of Government has the power to remove any official from office if there be sufficient reason for it. Formal charges will be laid for the action of a court to be called the “Sworn Tribunal.”
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF GRACE AND JUSTICE
The Supreme Council of Grace and Justice to be established by the Supreme Council of Government, shall have authority to make decisions and affirm or disprove the sentences rendered by other courts, and to dictate rules for the administration of justice.
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF GRACE AND JUSTICE
The Supreme Council of Grace and Justice shall be independent in its functions and shall not be interfered with by any power or authority.
DISCHAREG OF DUTIES
Every official of the Republic shall render assistance to the others in the discharge of his duties.
When the necessary Army is organised, a navy shall be created for the protection of the coasts of the Philippine Archipelago and its seas; then a Secretary of the Navy shall be appointed and the duties of his office shall be added to this Constitution.
EXPIRATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION
This Constitution shall be in force here in the Philippines for the period of two years from the date of its promulgation, in case that the Revolution shall not have terminated within that time. Upon the expiration of said period, a session of the Assembly of Representatives shall be called for a new Constitution and the election of a new Council of Government and Representatives of the people.
As it has been thus decreed by the Representatives of the Filipino people, and in the name of the Republic ordered by the Assembly thus constituted, we, the undersigned, pledge with our word and honour fulfilment of what is set forth in this Constitution at Biac-na-bato. November 15, 1897.
President, Emilio Aguinaldo
Severino de las Alas
Vicente Lucban y Rilles
Julian de la Cruz
Jose Ignacio Paua
Agustin de la Rosa
Gregorio H. del Pilar
Ambrosio de la Cruz
Matias San Bno
Francisco M. Soliman
Artemio Ricarte Vibora
Sinforoso de la Cruz
Tomas Aquino Linares
Vito Belarmino, Secretary
Antonio Montenegro, Secretary
Teodoro Gonzalez, Secretary