BRIDGING THE GAP
Philippine Revolutionary Government
During the revolutionary period from 1982 onwards, the Katipunan served as a government for the Filipino revolutionaries and their supporters. The Katipunan, which was a secret society founded by Andres Bonifacio, prepared the country for an armed struggle against Spain. It was also a functional underground government that aimed to replace the Spanish colonial government in the Philippines.
The central government of the Katipunan rested in the so-called Kataastaasang Sanggunian or Supreme Council, with a president, a fiscal, a secretary, a treasurer and a comptroller. In each province, there was the Sangguniang Balangay or Provincial Council, and in each town, a Sanggunian Bayan or Popular Council. The Katipuneros paid taxes or contributions to keep the various councils in operation.
The Katipunan also practiced its own judicial system with its own courts. These courts passed judgment on members who did not abide by the rules and regulations of the secret society. There was even a Secret Chamber composed of Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto and Pio Valenzuela, who sentenced some members to be expelled for having committed some violations. Significantly, it had two constitutions, the first one in 1892 and the second one in 1894.
The Katipunan government was later on replaced by another government headed by Emilio Aguinaldo as president. The Aguinaldo-led government was established by the Tejeros Convention held in March 1897 and provided for a president, vice-president, captain general, director of the interior, and director of war. Rivaling this government was the Bonifacio-led government that resulted from the drawing up of the Naik Military Agreement. It was precisely because of this government that Bonifacio was arrested, tried and executed.
In November 1897, the Biak-na-Bato Constitution was signed which provided for the creation of a government to be administered by a Supreme Council composed of a president, vice-president, a secretary of war, and a secretary of treasury. This became known as the Biak-na-Bato Republic with Aguinaldo again as president. It lasted for a short time from November 1 to December 15, 1897, with the signing of the Pact of Biyak-na-Bato between the Filipinos and the Spaniards. In this agreement, Aguinaldo agreed to exile himself and the rest of the officials of the Biyak-na-Bato Republic to Hongkong.
As a result of the outbreak of the Spanish-American War on April 25, 1898, Aguinaldo sailed back to the Philippines on May 19 from Hongkong. Readily, he established the Dictatorial Government on May 24 that nullified the orders issued under the authority of the Biak-na-Bato Republic. The most significant achievements of the Dictatorial Government were the proclamation of Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898 and the subsequent reorganization of local governments on June 18.
The Dictatorial Government lasted for only a month, from May 24 to June 23, 1898. On June 23, Aguinaldo established the Revolutionary Government replacing the Dictatorial Government with himself as President and a Congress whose function was advisory and ministerial. The decree issued by Aguinaldo on June 23, written by Apolinario Mabini, stated that the object of the government was the "struggle for the independence of the Philippines until all nations, including Spain, shall expressly recognize it, and to prepare the country so that the true republic may be established" (Agoncillo & Guerrero, 1977).
In accordance with the above decree, a Revolutionary Congress of Filipino representatives met in Malolos, Bulacan on September 15, 1898. The first significant act of Congress took place when they ratified the independence proclaimed in Kawit, Cavite on June 12. Its main task was the framing of the Malolos Constitution, also known as the first democratic constitution ever promulgated in the whole of Asia. This constitution was approved by the Malolos Congress on November 29, 1898 and proclaimed by Aguinaldo on January 21, 1899. On January 23, 1899, the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated at Barasoain Church, Malolos, Bulacan with Aguinaldo as president. This government existed from January 23, 1899 to March 23, 1901, upon the capture of Aguinaldo by the Americans.