History of Supreme Court
The Royal Audencia was established on May 5, 1583, composed of a president, four oidores (justices) and a fiscal. The Audencia exercised both administrative and judicial functions. Its functions and structure were modified in 1815 when a chief justice replaced its president and the number of justices was increased. It came to be known as the Audencia Territorial de Manila with two branches, civil and criminal. A Royal Decree issued on July 24, 1861 converted it to a purely judicial body with its decisions appealable to the Court of Spain in Madrid. A territorial Audencia in Cebu and Audencia for criminal cases in Vigan were organized on February 26, 1898.
Revolution and First Republic
In the three phases of the Revolution: 1896-97; 1898; 1899-1901, the exigencies of war prevented the thorough organization of the administration of justice. Katipunan councils, then the provisional governments of Tejeros, Biak-na-Bato, and the Revolutionary Republic proclaimed in Kawit, essentially had General Emilio Aguinaldo exercising decree-making powers instituting ad hoc courts and reviewing any appeals concerning their decisions.
In 1899, when the Malolos Constitution was ratified, it provided for a Supreme Court of Justice. President Aguinaldo proposed the appointment of Apolinario Mabini as Chief Justice but the appointment and the convening of the Supreme Court of Justice never materialized because of the Philippine-American War.
American Military Rule
During the Philippine-American War, General Wesley Merrit suspended the Audencias when a military government was established after Manila fell to American forces in August, 1898. Major General Elwell S. Otis re-established the Audencia on May 29, 1899 by virtue of General Order No. 20, which provided for six Filipino members of the Audencia.
Establishment of the Supreme Court
With the establishment of Civil Government, Act No. 136 of the Philippine Commission abolished