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Site last updated
26 June, 2013

Gen. Merritt's Proclamation of Governance
(4 January 1899)

PROCLAMATION
OFFICE OF THE MILITARY GOVERNOR OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS,
MANILA, P.I., JANUARY 4, 1899 To the People of the Philippine Islands:

Instructions of his Excellency, the President of the United States, relative to the administration of the affairs of the Philippine Islands, have been transmitted to me by direction of the Honourable, the Secretary of War, under date of December 1898. They direct me to publish and proclaim, in the most public manner to the inhabitants of these islands, that in the war against Spain, the Unites States forces came here to destroy the power of that nation, and to give the blessings of peace and individual freedom to the Philippine people, that we are here as friends of the Filipinos, to protect them in their homes, their employments, their individual and religious liberty; that all persons, who either by active aid or honest endeavor cooperate with the government of the Unites States to give effect to these beneficent purposes will receive the award of its support and protection.

The President of the Unites States has assumed that the municipal laws of the country, in respect to private rights, and property, and the repression of crime are to be considered as continuing in force, in so far as they may be applicable to a free people, and should be administered by the ordinary tribunals of justice, presided over by representatives of the people and those in thorough sympathy with them in their desires for good government; that the functions and duties connected with civil and municipal administration are to be performed by such officers as wish to accept the assistance of the United States, chosen, in so far as it may be practicable, from the inhabitants of the islands; and while the management of public property and revenue, and the use of all public means of transportation, are to be conducted under the military authorities until such authorities may be replaced by civil administrations, all private property, whether of individuals or corporations, must be respected and protected. If private property be taken for military uses, it shall be paid for at a fair valuation in cash, as is practicable at the time; receipts, therefore, will be given, to be taken up and liquidated as soon as cash becomes available. The ports of the Philippine Islands shall be open to the commerce of all foreign nations, and good and merchandise, not prohibited for military reasons by the military authorities, shall be admitted upon payment of such duties and charges as shall be in force at the time of importation.

The President concluded in his instructions in the following language:
	'Finally, it should be the earnest and paramount aim of the administration
	to win the confidences, respect and affection of the Philippines, by
	insuring to them, in every possible way, the full measure of the individual
	rights and liberty , which is the heritage of a free people; and by
	proving to them that the mission of the United States is one of beneficent
	assimilation, which will substitute the mild sway of justice and right
	for arbitrary rule.  In the fulfillment of this high mission, while upholding
	the temporary administration of affairs for the greatest good of the governed,
	there will be sedulously maintained the strong arm of authority to repress
	disturbance and to overcome all obstacles, to the bestowal of the blessing of
	good and staple government upon the people of the Philippine Islands.'


From the tenor and substance of the above instructions from the President, I am fully of the opinion that it is the intention of the Unites States government, while directing affairs generally, to appoint the representative men, now forming the controlling element of the Filipinos, to civil positions of trust and responsibility, and it will be my aim to appoint thereto such Filipinos as may be acceptable to the supreme authorities at Washington.

It is also my belief that it is the intention of the United States government to draw from the Filipino people so much of the military force of the islands as possible and consistent with a free and well-constituted government of the country, and it is my desire to inaugurate a policy of that character; I am also convinced that it is the intention of the United States government to seek the establishment of a most liberal government for the islands, in which the people themselves shall have as full a representation as the maintenance of order and law will permit; and which shall be susceptible of development on lines of increased representation and the bestowal of increased powers into a government as free and independent as is enjoyed by the most favoured provinces of the world.

It will be my most constant endeavor to cooperate with the Filipino people seeking the good of the country, and I invite their full confidence and aid.

E.S. OTIS
Major General of the United States Volunteers
Military Governor.

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