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WORK OF RECONSTRUCTION. The unfavorable circumstances connected with an active campaign have not been permitted to interfere with the equally important work of reconstruction. Again I invite your attention to the report of the commissioners for the interesting and encouraging details of the work already accomplished in the establishment of peace and order and the inauguration of self-governing municipal life in many portions of the archipelago.
GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHED IN NEGROS. A notable beginning has been made in the establishment of a government in the island of Negros, which is deserving of special consideration. This was the first island to accept American sovereignty. Its people unreservedly proclaimed allegiance to the United States and adopted a constitution looking to the establishment of a popular government.
It was impossible to guarantee to the people of Negros that the constitution so adopted should be the ultimate form of government. Such a question, under the treaty with Spain, and in accordance with our own constitution and laws, came exclusively within the jurisdiction of congress. The government actually set up by the inhabitants of Negros eventually proved unsatisfactory to the natives themselves. A new system was put into force by order of the major-general commanding the department, of which the following are the most important elements :
It was ordered that the government of the island of Negros should consist of a military governor appointed by the United States military governor of the Philippines, and a civil governor, and an advisory council elected by the people. The military governor was authorized to appoint secretaries of the treasury, interior, agriculture, public instruction, an attorney-general, and an auditor. The seat of government was fixed at Bacolor.
The military governor exercises the supreme executive power. He is to see that the laws are executed, appoint to office, and fill all vacancies in office not otherwise provided for, and may, with the approval of the military governor of the Philippines, remove any officer from office.
The civil governor advises the military governor on all public civil questions and presides over the advisory council. He in general performs the duties which are performed by secretaries of state in our own system of government.
The advisory council consists of eight members elected by the people within territorial limits which are defined in the order of the commanding general.
VOTING IN NEGROS. The times and places of holding elections are to be fixed by the military governor of the island of Negros. The qualifications of voters are as follows:
1. A voter must be a male citizen of the island of Negros. 2. Of the age of 21 years. 3. He shall be able to speak, read, and write the English, Spanish, or Visayan language, or he must own real property worth $500, or pay a rental on real property of the value of $1,000. 4. He must have resided in the island not less than one year preceding, and in the district in which he offers to register as a voter not less than three months immediately preceding the time he offers to register. 5. He must register at a time fixed by law before voting. 6. Prior to such registration he shall have paid all taxes due by him to the government; provided, that no insane person shall be allowed to register or vote. .
The military governor has the right to veto all bills or resolutions adopted by the advisory council, and his veto is final if not disapproved by the military governor of the Philippines.
The advisory council discharges all the ordinary duties of a legislature. The usual duties pertaining to said offices are to be performed by the secretaries of the treasury, interior, agriculture, public instruction, the attorney-general, and the auditor.
The judicial power is vested in three judges, who are to be appointed by the military governor of the island. Inferior courts are to be established.
Free public schools are to be established throughout the populous districts of the island, in which the English language shall be taught, and this subject will receive the careful consideration of the advisory council.
The burden of government must be distributed equally and equitably among the people. The military authorities will collect and receive the customs revenue and will control postal matters and Philippine inter-island trade and commerce.
The military governor, subject to the approval of the military governor of the Philippines, determines all questions not specifically provided for and which do not come under the jurisdiction of the advisory council.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT SULU. The authorities of the Sulu islands have accepted the succession of the United States to the rights of Spain, and our flag floats over that territory. On the roth of August, 1899, Brigadier-General J. C. Bates, United States Volunteers, negotiated an agreement with the sultan and
his principal chiefs, which I transmit herewith. By article 1, the sovereignty of the United States over the whole archipelago of Jolo and its dependencies is declared and acknowledged.
The United States flag will be used in the archipelago and its dependencies, on land and sea. Piracy is to be suppressed, and the sultan agrees to co-operate heartily with the United States authorities to that end and to make every possible effort to arrest and bring to justice all persons engaged in piracy.
All trade in domestic products of the archipelago of Jolo when carried on with any part of the Philippine islands and under the American flag shall be free, unlimited and undutiable. The United States will give full protection to the sultan in case any foreign nation should attempt to impose upon him. · The United States will not sell the island of Jolo or any other island of the Jolo archipelago to any foreign nation without the consent of the sultan. Salaries for the sultan and his associates in the administration of the islands have been agreed upon to the amount of $760 monthly.
FREEDOM OF SLAVES IN JOLO. Article X provides that any slave in the archipelago of Jolo shall have the right to purchase freedom by paying to his master the usual market value. The agreement by General Bates was made subject to confirmation by the President and to future modifications by the consent of the parties in interest. I have confirmed said agreement, subject to the action of the congress, and with the reservation which I have directed shall be communicated to the sultan of Jolo, that this agreement is not to be deemed in any way to authorize or give the consent of the United States to the existence of slavery in the Sulu archipelago. I communicate these facts to the congress for its information and action.
WINNING THE FILIPINOS. Everything indicates that with the speedy suppression of the Tagalo rebellion life in the archipelago will soon resume its ordinary course under the protection of our sovereignty, and the people of those favored islands will enjoy a prosperity and a freedom which they have never before known.
Already hundreds of schools are open and filled with children.
Manila, whose inhabitants were fleeing to the country a few months ago, is now a populous and thriving mart of commerce.