(On December 12, the Provisional Revolutionary Government that existed in the Visayas with its center in Iloilo, was converted into a “Federal Council” whose objective was to establish a form of Federal State composed of all the Visayan islands, under the control of the central government in Luzon. At the request of the Provincial Government of Visayas for the recognition, authorization and operation of the Council, Mabini replied in the letter now being published, giving his opinion about federalism. —T.M.K.)
The President of the Federal Council of Iloilo
The national government of the Republic has received the letters and documents regarding the events that occurred there and has been informed of the Federal Council over which you preside, by virtue of a motion presented by Mr. Francisco Villanueva, which alleges that it has received verbal instructions from the President of the Republic, Emilio Aguinaldo. The Government, ignoring these instructions which had not been confirmed by the President, and limiting itself to the constitution of the Federal Council, is convinced that this system, besides being the most perfect among the republican forms, is best suited to the topography of our country; for this reason, it expects it to predominate. The circumstances of having to continue the struggle for Independence and the promulgation of the political Constitution of the Philippine Republic voted on by Congress, even if only provisionally until it is ratified by the legitimate Representatives of Visayas and Mindanao, seem to suggest a form that will produce greater cohesion and solidarity in the interests of all the different islands that make up this beautiful archipelago and the establishment of a Central Government to unite it. In this manner we would present ourselves to foreigners as a solid union, the strongest defense against the ambitions of the powerful. I am afraid I cannot explain at length since the boat will be leaving soon and allows me little time. I will limit myself to transmitting the orders of the President of the Republic.
- The Council shall designate special delegates to preside at the election of provincial councils and popular juntas, and representatives for each of the provinces of the Island of Panay, in accordance with the organic decree of last June 18, and to swear in those who have been elected in the manner provided by the Government. After this, those who have been elected shall take provisional charge of their offices until they receive their corresponding titles, after the proceedings of this Government have been approved.
- The elected Representatives of each province should avail of the first possible opportunity to come to this capital to take part in the work of the national assembly.
- It should be endeavored to continue collecting the contributions and taxes that were imposed during Spanish times and these should be administered in a manner satisfactory to the contributors because these are the only resources available for the support of the State until an economic plan can be adopted.
- The Council, together with the military chiefs, should take special care of all matters concerning the defense and security of the Visayas and should not at any cost allow any foreign invasion, with the assurance that the national Government will not tolerate any attempt against any part of its territory.
- The Council shall recommend that all civil and military authorities watch over the freedom and interests of all, suppress any form of abuse and see to it that the vices and defects of the old Spanish administration do not recur.
- The Council shall transcribe these instructions for the Cantonal Government of the Island of Negros for their implementation.
I have the pleasure of transmitting this to you, assured of the good sense and patriotism of the Visayans.
Malolos, January 24, 1899.
Source: La Revolución Filipina by Apolinario Mabini, courtesy of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines