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LESSON 2.B - THE DEFECTS OF SPANISH COLONIAL RULE


TOPICS:
1. Instability of Colonial Administration
2. Corrupt Colonial Officials
3. Philippine Representation in Spanish Cortes
4. Human Rights Denied to the Filipinos
5. No Equality Before the Law
6. Maladministration of Justice
7. Racial Discrimination
8. Frailocracy
9. Forced Labor
10. Haciendas Owned by the Friars
11. The Guardia Civil


Instability of Colonial Administration
Causes:
1. The instability of Spanish politics since the turbulent reign of King Ferdinand VII (1808-1833) marked the beginning of political chaos in
Spain.
2. The Spanish government underwent frequent changes owing the bitter struggles between the forces of despotism and liberalism and the
explosions of the Carlist Wars.
3. From 1834-1862, Spain had adopted four constitutions, elected 28 parliaments, and installed no less than 529 ministers with portfolios;
followed in subsequent years in party strives, revolutions and other political upheavals.

Effects:
1. It brought about frequent periodic shifts in colonial policies and a periodic rigodon of colonial officials.
2. From 1835-1897, the Philippines was ruled by 50 governor-general, each serving an average of only one year and three months. At one time,
from December 1853-1854, there were 4 governor-generals.
3. The frequent change of colonial officials hampered the political and economic development.

Corrupt Colonial Officials
With few exemptions, the colonial officials sent by Spain to the Philippines in the 19
th
Century were a far cry from their able and dedicated
predecessors of the 16
th
, 17
th
, and 18
th
Century. Examples of highly corrupt, incompetent, cruel or venal officials:
1. Gen. Rafael de Izquierdo a boastful and ruthless governor-general, aroused the anger of the Filipinos by executing the innocent friars,
GOMBURZA.
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2. Gen. Fernando Primo de Rivera a governor-general for two terms enriched himself by accepting bribes from gambling casinos in Manila which
he scandalously permitted to operate.
3. Gen. Camilo de Polavieja an able militarist but heartless governor-general, was widely detested by the Filipino people for executing Dr. Rizal.

Philippine Representation in the Spanish Cortes
The effects of granting Filipino representation to Cortes:
1. To win the support of her overseas colonies during the Napoleonic invasion, Spain granted them representation in the Cortes; the Philippines
experienced her first period of representation in the Cortes from 1810-1813.
2. Ventura de los Reyes took active part in the framing of the Constitution of 1812, Spains first democratic constitution, and was one of its 184
signers. This constitution was extended to the Philippines.
3. The first representation was fruitful and brought beneficent results for the welfare of the colony. The second and third period, however were
less fruitful because the Philippine delegates were not as energetic and devoted in parliamentary work.

The consequences of the abolishment of Filipino representation to Cortes:
1. The representation to cortes was abolished in 1837. Since then, the Philippine conditions worsened because there was no means by which the
Filipino people could expose the anomalies perpetrated by the colonial officials.
2. Many Filipino patriots valiantly pleaded for the restoration in the Cortes. Jose Rizal, Graciano Lopez Jaena, and other youthful patriots launched
the Propaganda Movement, which paved the way for the Philippine Revolution of 1896.

Human Rights Denied to the Filipinos
Since the adoption of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, and other constitutions in succeeding years, the people of Spain enjoyed freedom of
speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and other human rights (except freedom of religion). Strangely enough, the Spanish authorities
who cherished these human rights or constitutional liberties in Spain denied them to the Filipinos in Asia.

E. No Equality before the Law
When the Spanish missionaries introduced Christianity to the Filipinos as early as 16
th
century, they taught that all men, irrespective of color and
race, are children of God and as such they are brothers, equal before God. Thus, most Filipinos except those in the hinterlands of Luzon, Visayas, and
Mindanao became Christians. However, in practice, the Spanish colonial authorities did not observe the general rule of the brotherhood of all men under
the fatherhood of God. They arrogantly regarded the brown-skinned Filipinos as inferior beings, not their Christian brothers to be protected but as their
majestys subjects to be exploited. To the imperialist way of thinking, brown Filipinos and white Spaniards maybe equal before God but certainly not in
practice. The Spanish Penal Code, which was enforced in the Philippines particularly, imposed heavier penalties on native Filipinos or mestizos and
lighter penalties on white-complexioned Spaniards.

Maladministration of Justice
Justice then was costly, partial and slow. Poor Filipinos had no access to the courts because they could not afford the heavy expenses of
litigation. Wealth, social prestige, and color of skin were preponderant factors in winning a case in court. Irrespective of the weight of evidence, a rich
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man or a Spaniard, whose skin was white, easily achieved victory in litigation. The judicial procedure was so slow and clumsy that it was easy to have
justice delayed, is justice denied.

Racial Discrimination
Spain introduced Christianity into the Philippines with its beautiful egalitarian concept of the brotherhood of all men under God the Father. But,
they regarded the converted Filipinos not as Christians but as inferior beings. Filipinos were discriminated because of their physical appearance.
Moreover, racial prejudice was prevalent everywhere - in government offices, in the courts of justice, in the armed forces, in the social circles, and even
in the educational institutions and in the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Frailocracy (Frailocracia or government by friars)
The friars controlled the religious and educational life of the Philippines, and later in 19
th
century they came to acquire tremendous political
power, influence, and riches. The friars practically ruled the Philippines through a faade of civil government. The colonial authorities, from the
governor-general down to the alcades mayors, were under the control of the friars. Duties and Responsibilities of a Friar:
1. Supervisor of local elections
2. Inspector of schools and taxes
3. Arbiter of morals
4. The censor of books and comedias
5. The superintendent of public works
6. The guardian of peace and order
7. His recommendations were headed by governor-general and the provincial officials

Two faces of Frailocracy:
1. Bad Face darkly portrayed by Rizal and his contemporaries by way of retaliation against certain evil-hearted friars who persecuted
them.
2. Good Face credits should be given to the Spaniards for having introduced Christianity and European Civilization into the Philippines.

Forced Labor
Polo was the compulsory labor imposed by the Spanish colonial authorities on adult Filipinos (particularly males). The following caused the
hatred of the Filipinos to forced labor:
1. The white residents (Spanish) contrary to law, were not recruited by the colonial authorities to perform obligatory labor.
2. The Filipino polistas, according to law were to receive a daily stipend of two pesetas (50 centavos) but actually received only a part of
this amount, or worse, they got nothing.
3. The annual forced labor brought so much inconvenience and suffering to the common tao because it disturbed their work in farms and
shops and also because they were sometimes compelled to work in construction projects far from their homes and towns.



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Haciendas Owned by the Friars
The Spanish friars belonging to different religious orders were the richest landlords, for they owned the best haciendas (agricultural lands) in the
Philippines and the rural folks who had been living in these haciendas became tenants. Hence, these friar haciendas became the hotbeds of agrarian
revolts, in as much as the Filipino tenants regarded the friar owners as usurpers of their ancestral lands. Dr. Rizal, whose family and relatives were
tenants of the Dominican Estate of Calamba, tried to initiate agrarian reform in 1887, but in vain. His advocacy of agrarian reforms ignited the wrath of
the Dominican friars, who retaliated by raising the rentals of the lands leased by his family and other Calamba tenants.

The Guardia Civil
One of the most hated symbols of Spanish tyranny was the Guardia Civil specifically created to maintain internal peace and order in the
Philippines. While it is true that the Guardia Civil in the Philippines had rendered meritorious services in suppressing the bandits in the provinces, they
later became infamous for their rampant abuses, such as:
a. Maltreating innocent people
b. Looting their carabaos, chickens, and valuable belongings
c. Raping helpless women


Notes from:
Zaide, Gregorio F., et al. Jose Rizal Life Works and Writings. Simplified version of the original note.
Halili, Ma. Christina N., Philippine History