BRIDGING THE GAP
The government during the American regime
After the Spaniards capitulated to them in the Battle of Manila on August 13, 1898, the victorious Americans established the Military Government on August 14. This government which was run by military generals appointed by the American president exercised all powers of the government until the war was declared by the Americans to have ended until July 1901, following the capture of President Emilio Aguinaldo.
On July 4, 1901, upon the recommendation of the Second Philippine Commission headed by William Taft, the American authorities established the civil government that took over the functions of the military government. The president of the Philippine Commission became civil governor in areas already pacified under the American military rule. The Civil Governor (the title was later changed to Governor-General in 1905) also exercised legislative powers while remaining as president of the Philippine Commission, the lawmaking body of the government up to 1907.
Upon the creation of the Philippine Assembly that served as the lower house, the Philippine Commission became the upper house of the legislative branch from 1907 to 1916. The first free national elections in the Philippines were held for the members of the Philippine Assembly who were all Filipinos where Sergio Osmeña served as Speaker of the Assembly.
With the passage of the Spooner Amendment in 1916, the Philippine Commission and Philippine Assembly gave way to an all Filipino Legislature. The Philippine Legislature had two houses – the Senate and the House of Representatives. Manuel Quezon was elected President of the Senate and Osmeña again became Speaker of the House.
Despite the growing participation of the civil government there were still limitations. The American governor-general was still the power behind the government and, together with the American president could veto any law passed by the Philippine Legislature. The U.S. Congress regulated Philippine trade and the American Supreme Court could overrule the decisions of the Philippine Supreme Court.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Law passed by the U.S. Congress, the Commonwealth Government was established to succeed American Insular Government in the Philippines. Following the first national elections under the 1935 Constitution, the Commonwealth Government was inaugurated on November 15, 1935, with Quezon as president and Osmeña as vice president.
The Commonwealth Government was a ten-year transitory government which gave Filipinos a chance to prove to the Americans their capability readiness in handling their own government. If proven capable the independence of the Philippines would be proclaimed upon the expiration of the said period.
The Commonwealth was a semi-independent or autonomous government of the Filipinos under American tutelage. It was republican in form under the presidential type. The legislative power was vested in a bicameral congress that was divided into the Senate and the House of Representatives.
It had its own system of judicial courts with the Supreme Court on top of the ladder.
When the Second World War broke out ,the Commonwealth Government became a government-in-exile administering the affairs of the Philippines across the ocean from the United States. The Commonwealth officials, headed by President Quezon, had to flee there to the Japanese occupation of the country.