The Commonwealth era is the 10 year transitional period in Philippine history from 1935 to 1945 in preparation for independence from the United States as provided for under the Philippine Independence Act or more popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Law. The Commonwealth era was interrupted when the Japanese occupied the Philippines in January 2, 1942. The Commonwealth government, lead by Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio S. Osmeña went into exile in the U.S., Quezon died of tuberculosis while in exile and Osmeña took over as president. At the same time, the Japanese forces installed a puppet government in Manila headed by Jose P. Laurel as president. This government is known as the Second Philippine Republic. On October 20, 1944, the Allied forces led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur landed on the island of Leyte to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. Japan formally surrendered in September 2, 1945.
After liberation, the Commonwealth government was restored. Congress convened in its first regular session on July 9, 1945. It was the first time the people’s representatives have assembled since their election on November 11, 1941. Manuel Roxas was elected Senate President, and Elpidio Quirino was chosen President Pro Tempore. Jose Zulueta was speaker of the house, while Prospero Sanidad became speaker pro Tempore. The first law of this congress, enacted as commonwealth act 672, organized the central bank of the Philippines. The commonwealth deal also tackled the issue of collaboration. In September 1945 the counter intelligence corps presented the people who were accused of having collaborated with, or given aid to, the Japanese. Included were prominent Filipinos who had been active in the puppet government that the Japanese had been established. ”A Peoples Court" was created to investigate and decide on the issue.
Amidst this sad state of affairs, the third commonwealth elections were held on April 23, 1946. Sergio Osmeña and Manuel Roxas vied for the Presidency. Roxas won thus becoming the last president of the Philippine Commonwealth. The Commonwealth era formally ended when the United States granted independence to the Philippines, as scheduled on July 4, 1946.
Important legislations and events during the American period that made the Philippines a commonwealth of the United States:
The Philippine Bill of 1902 - Cooper Act
United States Congressman Henry Allen Cooper sponsored the Philippine Bill of 1902, also known as the Cooper Act. The bill proposed the creation and administration of a civil government in the Philippines. President Theodore Roosevelt signed it into law in July 2, 1902.
Here are some of the more important provisions of the Cooper Act:
▪ Ratification of all changes introduced in the Philippine government by the president of the U.S., such as the establishment of the Philippine Commission, the office of the civil governor and the Supreme court ▪ Extension of the American Bill of Rights to the Filipinos except the right of trial by jury ▪ Creation of bicameral legislative body, with the Philippine Commission as the upper house and a still-to-be-elected Philippine Assembly as the Lower House ▪ Retention of the executive powers of the civil governor, who was also president of the Philippine Commission ▪ Designation of the Philippine Commission as the legislating authority for non-Christian tribes ▪ Retention of the Judicial powers of the Supreme court and other lower courts ▪ Appointment of two Filipino resident commissioners who would represent the Philippines in the US Congress but would not enjoy voting rights ▪ Conservation of Philippine natural resources
The bill contained 3 provisions that had to be fulfilled first before the Philippine Assembly could be establishing these were the:
▪ Complete restoration of peace and order in the Philippines ▪ Accomplishment of a Nationwide census
▪ Two years of peace and order after the publication of...