Proclamation From Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy to the People of the Philippines
This dictatorial Government1 proposes to begin within a few days our military operations and being informed that the Spaniard intends to send us a Parliamentary Commission in order to open negotiations for restoring Spanish authority, and, being resolved to admit no negotiations of that sort in view of the collapse of a former treaty by default of the same Spanish Government,2 and noting moreover the presence in this place of certain persons coming in the capacity of spies for the said Spanish Government, as General-in-Chief of this region, I decree as follows:-
Article I.-- Civilians or soldiers who enter this territory with authority to negotiate, but without presenting themselves under a flag of truce as provided for such cases by International Law, and also those lacking credentials and documents for their due recognition of character and personality, shall be considered guilty of serving as spies and put to death.
Article II.-- Any Filipino who undertakes the aforesaid service shall be considered as a traitor to his country and there shall be imposed upon him the penalty of hanging by the neck in a public place for the period of two hours with a label attached bearing the statement that he is a traitor to his country.
Article III.-- Any soldier or civilian found within our territories seeking to pass over to the enemy bearing secrets of war or plans of our fortifications shall also be reckoned as a traitor and put to death.
Given in Cavite the twenty-fourth of May, 1898.3
(Signed) Emilio Aguinaldo.
Source Note: Translation, DNA, RG 45, Entry 464.
Footnote 1: An Aguinaldo “dictatorship” was intended to be a temporary measure for the duration of the war.
Footnote 2: A reference to the Pact of Biyak-n-Bató of 1897 between Spanish authorities and the insurgents. For more details, see Trask, War with Spain, 395-97.
Footnote 3: A second proclamation was issued that day. Aguinaldo insisted that Cmdr. Edward P. Wood (Petrel) and the U.S. consul at Singapore E. Spencer Pratt promised Philippine independence for the insurgent’s armed assistance. It declares to all Filipinos that:
The great North American Nation, the cradle of genuine liberty and therefore the friend of our people oppressed and enslaved by the tyranny and despotism of its rulers, has come to us manifesting a protection as decisive as it is undoubtedly disinterested toward our inhabitants, considering us as sufficiently civilized and capable of governing for ourselves our unfortunate country; in order to maintain this high estimate granted us by the generous North American Nation, we should abominate all those deeds which tend to lower this opinion, which are pillage, theft, and all sorts of crimes relating to persons or property, with the purpose of avoiding international conflicts during the period of our campaign.
I decree as follows:-
Article I. The lives and property of all foreigners, Chinese being included in this denomination, shall be respected as well as that of all Spaniards who neither directly or indirectly contributed to carry on war against us.
Article II. Enemies who lay down their arms must also be respected in like manner.
Article III. All hospitals and ambulances must likewise be respected as well as all persons and goods found therein, including the staff on duty unless they manifest hostility.
Article IV. Those who disobey what is prescribed in these preceding articles shall be tried by summary process and put to death if the said disobedience has resulted in murder, robbery, or rape. DNA, AFNRC, M625, roll 363.
Although there is no written evidence, Aguinaldo later insisted that Cmdr. Edward P. Wood of the gunboat Petrel, and the United States Consul at Singapore E. Spencer Pratt promised the Philippines independence under an American protectorate in return for the insurgent’s armed assistance. Nofi, Spanish-American War: 1898, 269.