A Bit of History: The First Republican Constitution in Asia

in #esteem2 years ago


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Did you know that the 1899 Philippine Constitution which is also known as the 1899 Malolos Constitution was also Asia's First Republican constitution? General Emilio Aguinaldo's Revolutionary government adopted this constitution during the period of 1899 to 1901.

Here's a bit of history of the 1899 Malolos Constitution.


Upon the defeat of the Spanish to the Americans in the Battle of Manila Bay on May 01, 1898, the US Navy transported Aguinaldo back to the Philippines after he and the Filipino revolutionary leaders went to Exile in Hong Kong.

After gaining control of the newly reformed Philippine revolutionary forces, Aguinaldo issued the Declaration of Independence on June 12, 1989, together with several decrees that formed the First Philippine Republic.

After the Malolos Congress was elected, it selected a commission to draw up a draft constitution on September 17, 1898. Mostly consisting of wealthy and educated men.

The document they came up with was approved by Congress on November 29, 1898. It was then promulgated by Aguinaldo on January 21,1898, was titled “The Political Constitution of 1899” and written in Spanish.

The constitution has 39 articles divided into 14 titles, with eight articles of transitory provisions, and a final additional article.

The document was patterned after the Spanish Constitution 0f 1812, with influences from the charters of Belgium, Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, and the French Constitution of 1793.

Felipe Calderon was the main author and according to him, these countries were studied because they shared similar social, political, ethnological, and governance conditions with the Philippines.

The Malolos Constitution was also influenced by prior constitutional projects in the Philippines, the Kartilya and the Sanggunian-Hukuman, the charter of laws and morals written by Emilio Jacinto in 1896; the Biak-na-Bato Constitution of 1897 by Isabelo Artacho; Mabini’s Constitutional Project of the Philippine Republic of 1898; the provisional constitution of Mariano Ponce in 1898 that followed the Spanish constitution and the autonomy projects of Paterno in 1898.

The Malolos Constitution was a direct challenge to the colonial authorities of the Spanish Empire, the sovereignty was retroverted to the people, a legal principle underlying the Philippines Revolution.

Title IV of the constitution has 27 articles, detailing the natural rights an popular sovereignty of Filipinos, the enumeration of which does not imply the prohibition of any other rights not expressly stated.

Due to the ongoing war, the 1899 Malolos Constitution was never enforced, and the Philippines was effectively a territory of the United States after the signing of the Treaty of Paris between Spain and the United States, where Spain transferred the sovereignty of the Philippines on December 10, 1898.

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Very educational post on the history of the Malolos Constitution!

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