Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mabini to the American People 1899

Article published in American Newspaper after Mabinis capture late Dec 1899.

The following papers by Senor Mabini were originally published in the Springfield (Mass.) "Republican," May 25, 1900. They seem so pertinent at the present time, in view of the renewed discussion of Philippine affairs in Congress and elsewhere, that they are reproduced entire:

"Some interesting documents by Mabini, now in custody at Manila, the able Filipino who headed Aguinaldo's cabinet in the Philippines, have recently reached this country and been translated from Spanish into English. Mabini, it will be recalled, was described by the American authorities as 'the brains of the insurrection.' On December 25, 1899, General Joseph Wheeler, then at Manila, sent to Mabini a list of questions on Philippine affairs, which he asked the Filipino to answer 'as a man of weight whose opinions are most worthy of consideration.' These were the questions and the answers:

"'General Wheeler. -- Is it possible to end the revolution?
"'Mabini. -- It is possible.
"'G. -- If it is possible, how?
"'M. -- By satisfying the aspirations of the people.
"'G. -- What are the causes which have produced the revolution?
"'M. -- They may be reduced to one single cause -- the need for a government which shall assure to the Filipinos liberty of thought, conscience, and association, an equal share in public offices and emoluments, respect for the laws and for property, and the development of the country's prosperity, through the means provided by modern progress.
"'G. -- Would all the Tagalos be satisfied that Aguinaldo should be president?
"'M. -- Not only the Tagalos, but all the Filipinos would be satisfied with a president whom they should elect in the manner to be stipulated with the American Congress. Today they acknowledge Aguinaldo because he personifies their aspirations; but, if they should observe in him either bad faith or incapacity, they would choose another who would have proved himself worthier.
"'G. -- Would all of the inhabitants be satisfied?
"'M. -- The answer to this is included in the answer to the preceding question.
"'G. -- Has Senor Aguinaldo sufficient power to pacify the islands?
"'M. -- He has, so long as the people are on his side.
"'G. -- Where would the money for the government come from?
"'M. -- For the immediate expenses required for the establishment of a stable and permanent government, a foreign loan of the amount necessary would be contracted, in the manner and with the guarantees previously agreed upon with the Congress of the United States. For the ordinary requirements of the administration and for the amortization of the public debt, such taxes would be equitably imposed upon the people as could be borne by them.
"'G. -- And the islands of the South?
"'M. -- They will observe the same attitude as Luzon.
"'G. -- Are the people of those islands fond of war?
"'M. -- No; and so little so that during the three hundred years of the Spanish domination no other war is recorded than that which began in the year 1896. They have found themselves compelled to sustain the present war to defend rights which they believe to be sacred and natural to every people.
"'G. -- Do the people wish a good government by the United States?
"'M. -- When they are convinced of the impossibility of obtaining for the present self-government, which in their opinion is the best, they will accept provisionally that which the United States shall impose; but solely that it may serve as a means to obtaining, sooner or later, self-government; for this is what progress, which is the law of every people, demands. When the American government shall oppose the action of this law, the period of its decadence and ruin will not be far off.
"'G. -- Do the people greatly desire progress -- as railroads, etc., etc.?
"'M. -- One of the causes of the revolution was the aspiration toward the life of progress, to which the greater facility of communication with other countries at the present day gave birth in the hearts of the Filipinos, notwithstanding the efforts of the Spanish government to neutralize this influence.
"'G. -- Is the manner of governing of Spain what they desire?
"'M. -- The sane public opinion of the country detests the manner of governing of Spain, because of the inveterate vices which it carries with it; thus it was that when Aguinaldo wished to take counsel with some who desired to resuscitate the Spanish system, manifesting little energy in repressing former abuses, the withdrawal of the honest Filipinos began, and much discouragement was seen among the people.'
"In a paper entitled 'Some Slight Observations for the Consideration of the American Congress' -- but which the American Congress will never take any notice of -- Mabini discusses, under date of December 25th, the present situation. He says in part:
"'The American Congress finds itself today in an extremely delicate and difficult position, inasmuch as upon the wisdom of its decisions depends the future of the two peoples. The Philippine problem keeps the future of the Philippines, as well as that of the United States, dark and uncertain. The prolongation of the war in the Philippines would bring with it, apart from an incalculable expenditure in men and money, the discredit of the United States before other nations. The Washington government was able to obtain the cession of the Philippines by the treaty of Paris, with the tacit consent of the powers, because the latter supposed that the government of the United States would better maintain peace and respect for the laws and for property.
"'On this basis the government of Washington refused to listen to the demands of the Filipinos to establish and secure, by means of a formal agreement, a government better adapted to their customs and needs, attempting to stifle by force their legitimate aspirations, with the pretext that the natives lacked the capacity for self-government, and could not, therefore, guarantee peace and order and the safety of foreign interests.
"'If the Philippine problem were solved by means of a compromise with the Filipinos, peace, the liberties of the individual, and the security of property would be better guaranteed, and the Americans would share the responsibility with the Filipinos before civilization and history; but if the American government attempts to secure peace by force, in order to establish a government in conformity with its own desires, and not with those of the Philippine people, all the responsibility of its failure will rest with itself.
"'To govern is to study the needs and interpret the desires of a people, in order to fulfil the one and to satisfy the other. If the natives, who know the needs, the customs, and the aspirations of the people, are incapable of governing the Philippines, will the Americans, who have had only little contact with the Filipinos, be more capable of governing them? Let Congress consider well: a good government in the Philippines is necessary, not for the good of the Filipinos, but because the honor and prestige of the American people demand it.
"'The American commission which came a short time ago to the Philippines does not know the country and could not know it in so short a time. When the Spaniards did not know the Filipinos after three hundred years, I fear that the American commission has not been able to learn much about them in a stay of three hundred days in the Philippines. They have been only in the towns occupied by the American forces, speaking to men whose only rule of action is personal interest, who confine their country within the narrow circle of their personal relations and interests and who, because of their conduct, possess no influence in the country. If they have talked with any honest Filipinos, these have not spoken their mind freely, through fear of suffering injury from the Americans because of their frankness, as was frequently the case in the time of the Spanish domination.
"'In making these observations I have not mentioned my personal interests, since I am ready to make any sacrifice that may be required in attestation of my convictions and my belief; besides which I think I shall make a better return for the good treatment I have received and continue to receive from the American authorities, by setting before them the naked truth, without considerations of any kind, in order to avoid irreparable mistakes.'
"Under date of January 15th, Mabini wrote an article on President McKinley's annual message to Congress in December last. Extracts from that are as follows:
"'We will, therefore, not discuss the validity or the justice of the treaty of Paris; nor shall we attempt to show that the purchase and sale of colonies, practiced as a lawful act by civilized nations, is, as a continuation by wholesale of the former traffic in slaves, contrary to the natural law, the only basis and sufficient reason for every human law.
"'The President makes mention of a manifesto which he caused to be published on the conclusion of the treaty of Paris, announcing to the Filipinos that "The Americans had not come as invaders and conquerors, but as friends, to protect the natives in their houses, their occupations, and their personal and religious rights." Regarding this particular, we find some explanation necessary. Has the government of the United States ever been asked if there existed, not to say the inviolability of the Philippine domicile, or the right to labor, but any personal or religious right? We must tell it that our houses, our honor, our possessions, and our personal liberties and rights were, in the time of the Spanish domination, at the mercy of the discretionary and unrestricted powers of the Spanish Governor-General in the Philippines; and consequently they did not exist as they do not now exist. Have the Americans come to establish them? In that case they should have proclaimed and ordained them before this. Are those natural rights meant possessed by all men, prior to every human law? Let them see what they have done and are still doing to the Filipinos and compare it with the principles proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence of the United States; and if they are not carried away by passion, they will comprehend that it is they themselves who have awakened distrust in the minds of the Filipinos.
"'How can we obtain peace? Every one will answer with us, that the surest and most efficacious means would be for the American Congress to give to the Filipinos what they could not obtain from the Spaniards. What is the form of government that would be compatible with the aspirations of the people? We know three: Annexation of the Philippines as a State; autonomy, like that of Canada or Australia; and independence with a protectorate. With a government like that of India, such as Professor Schurman advises, the Philippine people would gain nothing; and we believe that if such a one were offered them, peace could be obtained only by force. Peace imposed by force would not last, nor would it guarantee the fulfilment of the engagement made by the Americans to protect property and foreign interests in the Philippines.
"'We are not, assuredly, advocates of autonomy, and we have no hesitation in repeating what we have already said many times outside the country: that we would accept autonomy only when we were convinced that the people were not ready to sacrifice themselves for a better form of government. But we must take into account that the autonomy proposed by the Paterno cabinet was a plain infraction of the constitution, which they themselves had voted for, and the promulgation of which they had demanded with insistence, threatening to provoke a scandal in case of opposition by that part of the cabinet then in power. But who can say whether Senor Paterno would not have prospered in his plans and obtained the derogation of the constitution if he had been able to present a formal offer of autonomy on the part of the Americans? It is true that neither the commission nor the American generals could offer more than President McKinley offers, who in his message speaks of the Filipinos more or less as follows: If we succeed in crushing the insurrection before long, we will do with the Filipinos what best suits us; if we do not succeed, we will then enter into negotiations, availing ourselves of every possible advantage. For our part, we will confine ourselves to recommending him, with the greatest respect, not to forget these words: Blood does not stifle, but on the contrary nourishes the just aspirations of a people.
" 'It will perhaps be said that the annexation of the country as a State is not possible, because the Filipinos have different customs and a different manner of life, and that the Philippine Islands are not embraced in the Monroe Doctrine; nor autonomy, for, according to Professor Schurman, England granted this to Canada and Australia because the inhabitants, as belonging to the same race as the English, were capable of governing themselves. Hence his preference for a government similar to that of India, as we do not belong to the same race as the Americans. We, who know better the capacity and the manner of thinking of the Filipinos, will not follow Dr. Schurman in a path which, in our judgment, can lead to nothing; we would counsel Congress to adopt any one of the three systems above mentioned, decreeing, at the earliest possible date, that which shall offer the greatest probability of being accepted by the majority of the Filipinos.
"'We will examine the reasons which impel President McKinley to recommend Congress not to consider the system of independence with a protectorate. They are the following:
"'1. "The pacific and loyal majority, who desire only the acceptance of American authority, would remain, by independence, at the mercy of the armed insurgents." The pacific and loyal majority of the Filipinos, like that of every people on earth, desire only tranquillity; for which reason they adopt the plan of seeming to agree with all, without ceasing, however, to guard in their hearts the precious treasure of their illusions. This majority, in the places occupied by the American forces, are not at the mercy of the armed insurgents, but they are at the mercy of armed robbers. These latter have taken care hitherto not to show themselves in the towns, because they are afraid of the armed insurgents. Will it be said that insurgents and robbers are the same thing? The Americans think they are because they do not know the people of the Philippines, and because it suits them to think so.
"'2. "Independence would deprive the Americans of the power to put down the insurgent leaders, but not of responsibility for the acts of these." The insurgents are such because they desire and are fighting for independence. When this is obtained they will cease to be insurgents.
"'3. "Independence would impose upon the Americans the task of protecting the Filipinos from any attack by any other foreign power and from quarrels with foreigners, to which they are very prone." With independence, or without it, they will have this task to perform, which they have voluntarily imposed upon themselves by the treaty of Paris. Besides, did they not announce that their coming had for its object the protection of the Filipinos? These latter, not from temperament, but because it is to their advantage, will take very good care not to quarrel with foreigners who do not attack their liberties or their interests.
"'4. "Independence would divest Congress of the power of declaring war, investing the Tagalo chief with this delicate prerogative." Independence is not conferred without previously determining the form of government. As we suppose that the Americans and Filipinos would prefer the republican form, the Philippine Congress, and not the Tagalo chief, would in any case have the power of declaring war. If anything further is desired, it might be determined that a declaration of war made by the Philippine Congress shall be approved by the American Congress.
"'There will not be wanting those who, invested with more or less authority, will say, as President McKinley says in his message: "Let peace come first and then we will give attention to your wishes." This reminds us of ex-President Cleveland, who, in one of his annual messages, after saying that the Cubans were unwilling to lay down their arms until Spain should guarantee the fulfilment of her promises, and that his government had offered the Spanish government to serve as their surety to the Cubans, if that government bound itself to fulfil them, said, before receiving any answer, that the Cubans were right, because the Spanish government had demonstrated by its attitude that what the Cubans feared would prove true. President McKinley, indeed, has promised hardly anything, but, in case he should make any more important promise in the future, and the insurgents should not readily put faith in it, it would be well to bear in mind Mr. Cleveland's words.
"'We must not close without acknowledging the ability with which both Professor Schurman and President McKinley have formulated their arguments, although, to speak the truth, a careful examination of these arguments reveals the sophisms on which they are based. The Filipinos are accustomed to answer this sort of reasoning with an enigmatical smile. We will therefore permit ourselves to recommend our neighbors, in the places occupied by the American forces, as soon as a favorable occasion presents itself, to ask the authorization of the commandants of those places to assemble peacefully and set forth in polite and temperate terms their desires and aspirations, and also their capabilities.
"'We do not doubt that the Americans, who were born and have grown up under the protection of democratic institutions and practices, will permit such reunions as the most reliable means of information, in order that they may be able to arrive at a true knowledge of the needs and customs of those places. If they continue to keep silent, as they have thus far done, mistakes of supreme importance may easily be made, and political mistakes too often cannot be corrected without bloodshed. Let us then all co-operate in endeavoring to dispel the ignorance which darkens the future of two peoples, which, united, could do much in favor of humanity and universal peace.'
"Mabini, on January 22d, addressed a note to three American newspaper correspondents, asking them to give publicity in America to these points:
"'1. The people of the Philippines do not cherish any settled hatred toward foreigners; but, on the contrary, welcome with pleasure and gratitude all who give proof of a desire to aid them in their efforts to secure for their country freedom and prosperity.
"'2. The Filipinos are keeping up the struggle against the American forces, not through hatred, but in order to show the American people that, far from regarding their political situation with indifference, they are ready, on the contrary, to sacrifice themselves for a government which shall secure to them individual rights and rule them in accordance with the desires and the needs of the people. They have been unable to avoid this struggle, because they have not been able to obtain from the government of the United States any definite and formal promise to establish such a government.
"'3. The existing state of war does not permit the people to give sincere expression to their aspirations; for which reason the Filipinos ardently desire that the American Congress may see some way of giving them a hearing before adopting a resolution which shall definitely decide their future.
"'4. To this end the Filipinos ask Congress either to appoint an American commission which shall put itself in communication with Filipinos possessing influence, both among the peaceable part of the population and those who are up in arms, or receive a commission composed of such Filipinos, in order that it may make known to that body the desires and needs of the people.
"'5. In order that this information shall be complete, and the labors of either commission have for their result the establishment of peace, it will be necessary that the American army of occupation shall not restrict the free expression of public opinion in the press and in peaceable meetings; that it shall suspend temporarily attacks on posts defended by Filipinos, always provided that the latter agree not to attack the Americans; and that it shall give the commissioners the utmost facilities to put themselves in communication with the revolutionists.
"'6. The most thoughtless Filipino, in view of the triumph of the American arms, cannot but acknowledge that every concession in favor of the Filipinos at this time proceeds exclusively from the liberality of the American people; which is a reason the more for Congress to show itself benevolent and indulgent.
"'I confidently hope that when the American people and the people of the Philippines shall know each other better, not only will the present conflict cease, but future ones will be avoided. The sane public opinion of the United States seems more inclined than formerly not to depart from their traditions and from the spirit of justice and humanity, which now constitute the only hope of honorable Filipinos.'
-Apolinario Mabini

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