philippine flag The 1897 Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines (Biak na Bato Constitution)


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The 1897 Constitution of the Republic of the
Philippines (Biak na Bato Constitution)




PREAMBLE

In Biac-na-Bato on the first day of the month of November of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, the Representatives of the people of the Philippine Islands, assembled for the purpose of modifying the Constitution of this Republic of the Philippines, drawn up and proclaimed in the town of Naic, province of Cavite, on the twenty-second of March of this year, in accordance with the provisions of Decree No. 29 of current year after a long discussion, [the Representatives] have unanimously agreed upon the following:

Constitution or the Fundamental Law of theRepublic of the Philippines

The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish monarchy and their formation into an independent state with its own government called the Philippine Republic has been the end sought by the Revolution in the existing war, begun on the 24th of August, 1896; and therefore, in its name and by the power delegated by the Filipino people, interpreting faithfully their desires and ambitions, we, the representatives of the Revolution, in a meeting at Biac-na-bato, November 1, 1897, unanimously adopt the following articles for the Constitution of the State:

Article I
THE SUPREME GOVERNMENT

The supreme government of the Republic shall be vested in a Supreme Council, composed of a President, a Vice-President and four Secretaries, for the conduct of our Foreign Relations, of War, of the Interior, and of the Treasury.

Article II
POWERS OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL

The powers of the Supreme Council of the government shall be:

1. Policies - To adopt measures for maintaining and developing its existence, issuing such orders as it believes adequate for the preservation and security of the civil and political life of the nation.

2. Budget - To impose and collect taxes, to issue foreign and domestic loans, when necessary, and to issue paper money, to coin money and to appropriate the funds collected to the purposes required by the several branches of the State.

3. Teaties - To authorise privateering and issue letters of marque and reprisal, to raise and organise troops and to maintain them, to ratify treaties, and to make a treaty of peace with Spain, with the ratification of the Assembly of Representatives.

4. Judicial Powers - To try as a judicial body, should they think necessary, the President or any of the members of the Council, who should be accused of crimes, cognisance of which appertains to the Judicial Power.

5. Military Authority - To have the right of supervision and supreme direction of military operations, when they believe it to be necessary for the consummation of high political ends. To approve, reform or modify the Regulations and orders for the Army, prepared by the Captain-General of the Army; to confer grades and promotions, from that of first lieutenant and to confer honours and rewards granted for services in war, at the recommendation of the said Captain-General of the Army.

6. Selection of Military Leaders - To select and nominate a Captain-General and a Lieutenant General.

7. Congregation of the Assembly of the Representatives - To convene the Assembly of Representatives when necessary, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Article III
SUCCESSORSHIP OF THE VICE PRESIDENT TO THE PRESIDENCY

The Vice-President shall fill ad interim the office of President in case of vacancy.

Article IV
SECRETARIES OF THE GOVERNMENT

For each Secretary there shall be a Sub-Secretary, who shall aid in the dispatch of business and shall in case a vacancy-occurs fill ad interim the place of such Secretary. He shall have while so acting a vote in the Council of Government.

Article V
GOVERNMENT OFFICE RESTRICTIONS


The President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Sub-Secretary can hold no other office in the Republic.

Article VI
AGE REQUIREMENT OF GOVERNMENT OFFICES

The President, Vice-President, Secretary and Sub-Secretary shall be more than twenty-three years of age.

Article VII
ELECTIONS

The basis of every election and appointment to any office in the Republic shall be aptitude for the discharge of the office conferred.

Article VIII
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE

Tagalog shall be the official language of the Republic.

Article IX
MAJORITY VOTE

The decisions of the Council of Government shall be determined by a majority vote, and all the members of the same shall take part in its deliberations.

Article X
EXECUTIVE POWER

The executive power shall be vested in the President, or in his absence in the Vice-President, and shall have these powers: to approve and promulgate the acts of the Supreme Council of the Government; to provide for their execution within the period of nine days; to issue decrees, rules or instructions for their execution; to receive ambassadors and to execute treaties.

Article XI
VACANCIES OF OFFICE

In case of definite vacancies, in the office of President, Vice-President, and Secretaries, by death, resignation or other legal causes, the Assembly of Representatives shall meet for the election of others to fill the vacant offices.

Article XII
ROLE OF THE SECRETARIES

Each Secretary shall have a vote in the passage of all resolutions and measures of whatever kind, and shall be able to take part in the deliberations thereon.

Article XIII
POWER OF SECRETARIES

The Secretaries shall have the right to choose and nominate their own assistants and other officials of their respective departments.

Article XIV
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs shall have charge of: all correspondence with foreign nations regarding treaties and agreements of all kinds; appointment of Representatives to said nations, issuing instructions for and authorising the expenses of such officials, as by act of the Council of Government reside in foreign parts, and preparation of passports for foreign lands.

Article XV
DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

The Secretary of the Interior shall be charged with: collection of all statistics concerning the Republic; opening of roads and bridges; the advancement of agriculture, industry, commerce, art, professions and manufactures, public instruction and posts, depots of cattle and horses for the use of the Revolution: establishment of police for the protection or security of public order, and for the preservation of the liberties and individual rights established by this Constitution, and the custody of the property of the State.

Article XVI
DEPARTMENT OF WAR

The Secretary of War is in charge of all military correspondence; of the increase and decrease, of the organisation and instruction of the army; is head of the staff, is in charge of enlistment and of providing clothing, hospitals, rations and ordnance.

Article XVII
DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY

The Secretary of the Treasury shall have under his charge all receipts and payments of the Treasury, making collections and payments in accordance with the regulations and decrees issued by the Council of Government; coining of money and issuance of paper money; the public debt; administration of the property of the State, and the further duties pertaining to the Treasury Department.

Article XVIII
DRAFTING OF LAWS

The Secretaries shall have charge of the drafting of all laws, correspondence, regulations and decrees appertaining to their respective offices.

Article XIX
CAPTAIN GENERAL OF ARMY

The Captain-General of the Army shall have command of all the armed troops in the towns, forts or detachments; the direction of the operations of war, except in the case reserved for the Council of Government, as set forth in Article 2, No. 5, and; shall give such orders as he deems necessary for the discipline and safety of the troops.

Article XX
LIEUTENANT-GENERAL OF THE ARMY

The Lieutenant-General shall serve as Captain-General of the Army, ad interim, in case of vacancy.

Article XXI
PROVINCIAL REPRESENTATIVE

Each province of the Philippines may have a representative delegate elected by universal suffrage, who shall represent it in the Assembly.

Article XXII
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY

Religious liberty, the right of association, the freedom of education, the freedom of the press, as well as freedom in the exercise of all classes of professions, arts, trades and industries are established.

Article XXIII
PETITIONS AND REMONSTRANCES

Every Filipino shall have the right to direct petitions or present remonstrances of any import whatsoever, in person or through his representative, to the Council of Government of the Republic.

Article XXIV
FREEDOM FROM IMPRISONMENT

No person, whatever may be his nationality, shall be imprisoned or held except by virtue of an order issued by a competent court, provided that this shall not apply to crimes which concern the Revolution, the government or the Army.

Article XXV
PRIVATE PROPERTY

Neither can any individual be deprived of his property or his domicile, except by virtue of judgment passed by a court of competent authority.

Article XXVI
SERVICE TO THE REVOLUTION

Every Filipino is obliged to serve the Revolution with his services, and property to the extent of his capacity.

Article XXVII
DEBTS

The debts and other obligations contracted prior to the promulgation of this Constitution by the Generals and other Chiefs of the Revolutionary Army, as well as their notes and orders, are hereby recognised and ratified to-day, also all subsequent debts, certified to by the government.

Article XXVIII
RESPECT OF RANK

The officials of the Council of Government are entitled to the consideration and respect due to their rank, and if they be constant in them they shall be entitled to pensions according to regulations to be published on the subject.

Article XXIX
IMPEACHMENT

The Council of Government has the power to remove any official from office if there be sufficient reason for it. Formal charges will be laid for the action of a court to be called the "Sworn Tribunal."

Article XXX
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF GRACE AND JUSTICE

The Supreme Council of Grace and Justice to be established by the Supreme Council of Government, shall have authority to make decisions and affirm or disprove the sentences rendered by other courts, and to dictate rules for the administration of justice.

Article XXXI
INDEPENDENCE OF THE SUPREME COUNCIL OF GRACE AND JUSTICE

The Supreme Council of Grace and Justice shall be independent in its functions and shall not be interfered with by any power or authority.

Article XXXII
DISCHAREG OF DUTIES

Every official of the Republic shall render assistance to the others in the discharge of his duties.

Article XXXIII
NAVY

When the necessary Army is organised, a navy shall be created for the protection of the coasts of the Philippine Archipelago and its seas; then a Secretary of the Navy shall be appointed and the duties of his office shall be added to this Constitution.

Article XXXIV
EXPIRATION OF THIS CONSTITUTION


This Constitution shall be in force here in the Philippines for the period of two years from the date of its promulgation, in case that the Revolution shall not have terminated within that time. Upon the expiration of said period, a session of the Assembly of Representatives shall be called for a new Constitution and the election of a new Council of Government and Representatives of the people.

RATIFICATION

As it has been thus decreed by the Representatives of the Filipino people, and in the name of the Republic ordered by the Assembly thus constituted, we, the undersigned, pledge with our word and honour fulfilment of what is set forth in this Constitution at Biac-na-bato. November 15, 1897.

Ratified by:
President, Emilio Aguinaldo
Severino de las Alas
Pascual Alvarez
Mariano Llanera
Mamerto Natividad
Isabelo Artacho
Vicente Lucban y Rilles
Melecio Carlos
Simeon Tecson
Mariano Noriel
Baldomero Aguinaldo
Salvador Estrella
Pantaleon Garcia
Escolastico Viela
Julian de la Cruz
Ciriaco Sartore
Jose Ignacio Paua
Agustin de la Rosa
Celestino Aragon
Gregorio H. del Pilar
Andres Presbitero
Benito Natividad
Pedro Dungon
Eduardo Llanera
Herminio Miguel
Deodato Manajan
Pedro Gualdes
Ambrosio de la Cruz
Matias San Bno
Miguel Catahan
Clemente Valencia
Modesto Porciuncula
Claro Fuelo
Emiliano Tecson
Benvenuto Ramirez
Francisco M. Soliman
Maximo Cabigting
Ramon Tombo
Artemio Ricarte Vibora
Sinforoso de la Cruz
Agapito Bonson
Valentin Diaz
Tomas Aquino Linares
Cipriano Pacheco
Manuel Tinio
Anastacio Francisco
Serviliano Aquino
Wenceslao Viniegra
Doroteo Lopez
Vito Belarmino, Secretary
Antonio Montenegro, Secretary
Teodoro Gonzalez, Secretary


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