Provisional Constitution of the Philippines (1897)

For works with similar titles, see Constitution of the Philippines.
Provisional Constitution of the Philippines  (1897) 

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(Constitución Provisional de la República de Filipinas)

(1 November 1897)


In Biac-na-Bató on the first day of the month of November of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven, the Representatives of the people of the Philippine Islands, assembled for the purpose of modifying the Constitution of this Republic of the Philippines, drawn up and proclaimed in the town of Naic, province of Cavite, on the twenty-second of March of this year, in accordance with the provisions of Decree No. 29 of current year after a long discussion, [the Representatives] have unanimously agreed upon the following:

Constitution or the Fundamental Law of the Republic of the Philippines==

The separation of the Philippines from the Spanish monarchy and their formation into an independent state with its own government called the Philippine Republic has been the end sought by the Revolution in the existing war, begun on the 24th of August, 1896; and therefore, in its name and by the power delegated by the Filipino people, interpreting faithfully their desires and ambitions, we, the representatives of the Revolution, in a meeting at Biac-na-Bató, November 1st, 1897, unanimously adopt the following articles for the Constitution of the State:

Article I: The Supreme GovernmentEdit

The supreme government of the Republic shall be vested in a Supreme Council, composed of a President, a Vice-President and four Secretaries, for the conduct of our Foreign Relations, of War, of the Interior, and of the Treasury.

Article II: Powers of Supreme CouncilEdit

The powers of the Supreme Council of the government shall be:

Section 1. Policies

To adopt measures for maintaining and developing its existence, issuing such orders as it believes adequate for the preservation and security of the civil and political life of the nation.

Section 2. Budget

To impose and collect taxes, to issue foreign and domestic loans, when necessary, and to issue paper money, to coin money and to appropriate the funds collected to the purposes required by the several branches of the State.

Section 3. Treaties

To authorize privateering and issue letters of marque and reprisal, to raise and organize troops and to maintain them, to ratify treaties, and to make a treaty of peace with Spain, with the ratification of the Assembly of Representatives.

Section 4. Judicial Powers

To try as a judicial body, should they think necessary, the President or any of the members of the Council, who should be accused of crimes, cognizance of which appertains to the Judicial Power.

Section 5. Military Authority

To have the right of supervision and supreme direction of military operations, when they believe it to be necessary for the consummation of high political ends. To approve, reform or modify the Regulations and orders for the Army, prepared by the Captain-General of the Army; to confer grades and promotions, from that of first lieuten[a]nt and to confer honors and rewards granted for services in war, at the recommendation of the said Captain-General of the Army.

Section 6. Selection of Military Leaders

To select and nominate a Captain-General and a Lieutenant General.

Section 7. Congregation of the Assembly of Representaatives

To convene the Assembly of Representatives when necessary, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

Article III: Successorship of Vice President to the PresidencyEdit

The Vice-President shall fill ad interim the office of President in case of vacancy.

Article IV: Secretaries of the GovernmentEdit

For each Secretary there shall be a Sub-Secretary, who shall aid in the dispatch of business and shall in case a vacancy-occurs fill ad interim the place of such Secretary. He shall have while so acting a vote in the Council of Government.

Article V: Government Office RestrictionsEdit

The President. Vice-President, Secretary, and Sub-Secretary can hold no other office in the Republic.

Article VI: Age Requirement of Government OfficesEdit

The President, Vice-President, Secretary and Sub-Secretary shall be more than twenty-three years of age.

Article VII: ElectionsEdit

The basis of every election and appointment to any office in the Republic shall be aptitude for the discharge of the office conferred.

Article VIII: Official LanguageEdit

Tagalog shall be the official language of the Republic.

Article IX: Majority VoteEdit

The decisions of the Council of Government shall be determined by a majority vote, and all the members of the same shall take part in its deliberations.

Article X: Executive PowerEdit

The executive power shall be vested in the President, or in his absence in the Vice-President, and shall have these powers: To approve and promulgate the acts of the Supreme Council of the Government; To provide for their execution within the period of nine days: To issue decrees, rules or instructions for their execution: To receive ambassadors and to execute treaties.

Article XI: Vacancies of OfficeEdit

In case of definite vacancies, in the office of President, Vice-President, and Secretaries, by death, resignation or other legal causes, the Assembly of Representatives shall meet for the election of others to fill the vacant offices.

Article XII: Role of SecretariesEdit

Each Secretary shall have a vote in the passage of all resolutions and measures of whatever kind, and shall be able to take part in the deliberations thereon.

Article XIII: Power of SecretariesEdit

The Secretaries shall have the right to choose and nominate their own assistants and other officials of their respective departments.

Article XIV: Department of Foreign AffairsEdit

The Secretary of Foreign Affairs shall have charge of: All correspondence with foreign nations regarding treaties and agreements of all kinds; appointment of Representatives to said nations, issuing instructions for and authorizing the expenses of such officials, as by act of the Council of Government reside in foreign parts, and preparation of passports for foreign lands.

Article XV: Department of InteriorEdit

The Secretary of the Interior shall be charged with: Collection of all statistics concerning the Republic; opening of roads and bridges; the advancement of agriculture, industry, commerce, art, professions and manufactures, public instruction and posts, depots of cattle and horses for the use of the Revolution: establishment of police for the protection or security of public order, and for the preservation of the liberties and individual rights established by this Constitution, and the custody of the property of the State.

Article XVI: Department of WarEdit

The Secretary of War is in charge of all military correspondence; of the increase and decrease, of the organization and instruction of the army; is head of the staff, is in charge of enlistment and of providing clothing, hospitals, rations and ordnance.

Article XVII: Department of TreasuryEdit

The Secretary of the Treasury shall have under his charge all receipts and payments of the Treasury, making collections and payments in accordance with the regulations and decrees issued by the Council of Government; coining of money and issuance of paper money; the public debt; administration of the property of the State, and the further duties pertaining to the Treasury Department.

Article XVIII: Drafting of LawsEdit

The Secretaries shall have charge of the drafting of all laws, correspondence, regulations and decrees appertaining to their respective offices.

Article XIX: Captain-General of the ArmyEdit

The Captain-General of the Army shall have command of all the armed troops in the towns, forts or detachments; the direction of the operations of war, except in the case reserved for the Council of Government, as set forth in Article 2, No. 5, and shall give such orders as he deems necessary for the discipline and safety of the troops.

Article XX: Lieutenant-General of the ArmyEdit

The Lieutenant-General shall serve as Captain-General of the Army, ad interim, in case of vacancy.

Article XXI: Provincial RepresentativeEdit

Each province of the Philippines may have a representative delegate elected by universal suffrage , who shall represent it in the Assembly.

Article XXII: Religious LibertyEdit

Religious liberty, the right of association, the freedom of education , the freedom of the press , as well as freedom in the exercise of all classes of professions, arts, trades and industries are established.

Article XXIII: Petitions and RemonstranceEdit

Every Filipino shall have the right to direct petitions or present remonstrances of any import whatsoever, in person or through his representative, to the Council of Government of the Republic.

Article XXIV: Freedom from ImprisonmentEdit

No person, whatever may be his nationality, shall be imprisoned or held except by virtue of an order issued by a competent court, provided that this shall not apply to crimes which concern the Revolution, the government or the Army.

Article XXV: Private PropertyEdit

Neither can any individual be deprived of his property or his domicile, except by virtue of judgment passed by a court of competent authority.

Article XXVI: Service to the RevolutionEdit

Every Filipino is obliged to serve the Revolution with his services, and property to the extent of his capacity.

Article XXVII: DebtsEdit

The debts and other obligations contracted prior to the promulgation of this Constitution by the Generals and other Chiefs of the Revolutionary Army, as well as their notes and orders, are hereby recognized and ratified to-day, also all subsequent debts, certified to by the government.

Article XXVIII: Respect of rankEdit

The officials of the Council of Government are entitled to the consideration and respect due to their rank, and if they be constant in them they shall be entitled to pensions according to regulations to be published on the subject.

Article XXIX: ImpeachmentEdit

The Council of Government has the power to remove any official from office if there be sufficient reason for it. Formal charges will be laid for the action of a court to be called the "Sworn Tribunal. "

Article XXX: Establishment of the Supreme Council of Grace and JusticeEdit

The Supreme Council of Grace and Justice to be established by the Supreme Council of Government, shall have authority to make decisions and affirm or disprove the sentences rendered by other courts, and to dictate rules for the administration of justice.

Article XXXI: Independence of the Supreme CouncilEdit

The Supreme Council of Grace and Justice shall be independent in its functions and shall not be interfered with by any power or authority.

Article XXXII: Discharge of DutiesEdit

Every official of the Republic shall render assistance to the others in the discharge of his duties.

Article XXXIII: NavyEdit

When the necessary Army is organized, a navy shall be created for the protection of the coasts of the Philippine Archipelago and its seas; then a Secretary of the Navy shall be appointed and the duties of his office shall be added to this Constitution.

Article XXXIV: Expiration of this ConstitutionEdit

This Constitution shall be in force here in the Philippines for the period of two years from the date of its promulgation, in case that the Revolution shall not have terminated within that time. Upon the expiration of said period, a session of the Assembly of Representatives shall be called for a new Constitution and the election of a new Council of Government and Representatives of the people.


As it has been thus decreed by the Representatives of the Filipino people, and in the name of the Republic ordered by the Assembly thus constituted, — We, the undersigned, pledge with our word and honor fulfillment of what is set forth in this Constitution at Biac-na-Bató. November 15, 1897.

Ratified by: President, Emilio Aguinaldo
Severino de las Alas · Pascual Alvarez · Mariano Llanera · 8Mamerto Natividad · Isabelo Artacho · Vicente Lucban y Rilles · Melecio Carlos · Simon Tecson [Simon Ocampo Tecson] · Pablo Roque Tecson · Mariano Noriel · Baldomero Aguinaldo · Salvador Estrella · Pantaleon Garcia · Escolastico Viela · Julian de la Cruz · Ciriaco Sartore · Jose Ignacio Paua · Agustin de la Rosa · Celestino Aragon · Gregorio S. del Pilar · Andres Presbitero · Benito Natividad · Pedro Dungon · Eduardo Llanera · Herminio Miguel · Deodato Manajan · Pedro Gualdes (?) · Ambrosio de la Cruz · Matias San Bno . Miguel Catahan . Clemente Valencia . Modesto Porciuncula · Claro Fuelo (?) · Emiliano Tecson · Benvenuto Ramirez · Francisco M. Soliman · Maximo Cabigting · Ramon Tombo · Artemio Ricarte Vibora · Sinforoso de la Cruz · Agapito Bonson · Valentin Diaz · Tomas Aquino Linares (?) · Cipriano Pacheco · Manuel Tinio · Anastacio Francisco · Serviliano Aquino · Wenceslao Viniegra · Doroteo Lopez · Vito Belarmino, Secretary · Antonio Montenegro, Secretary · Teodoro Gonzalez, Secretary.

The battles fought by some of the members who ratified the first Philippine Constitution:
Gregorio S. del Pilar - Battle of Tirad Pass, during the Philippine-American War.
Simon O. Tecson - Siege of Baler, in Baler, Aurora.
Pablo O. Tecson - Battle of San Miguel, in San Miguel, Bulacan.

    This work is a translation and has a separate copyright status to the applicable copyright protections of the original content.

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.


This work is in the public domain because it is a work of the Philippine government (see Republic Act No. 8293 Sec. 176).
All official Philippine texts of a legislative, administrative, or judicial nature, or any official translation thereof, are ineligible for copyright.