The Philippine Legislature was the legislative body of the Philippines from 1907 to 1935, during the American Colonial Period. It was a bicameral legislature of the Insular Government and was established by the Philippine Organic Act of 1902. The legislature's upper house was the appointed Philippine Commission, headed by the American Governor General (who also served as the executive), and its lower house was the elected Philippine Assembly. The Jones Law of 1916 abolished the Philippine Commission and reorganized the Philippine Legislature as a fully elected bicameral legislature composed of a Senate and House of Representatives, precursors to today's Philippine Senate and Philippine House of Representatives.
The Philippine Organic Act of July 1902 stipulated that a Philippine Legislature would be established after several conditions were met, such as the end of the "Philippine Insurrection". The legislature was to have an upper house consisting of the appointed Philippine Commission and a lower house, the Philippine Assembly, its members chosen by national election. The two houses would share legislative powers, although the upper house alone would pass laws relating to the Moros and other non-Christian peoples. Two Filipino Resident Commissioners were sent to Washington to attend sessions of the United States Congress. The act also extended the United States Bill of Rights to the Philippines.1 2
The Philippine Commission, officially the Second Philippine Commission, was headed by William Howard Taft and established by the President of the United States William McKinley in 1900 to exercise legislative and limited executive powers in the Philippines. Its members, both American and Filipino, were appointed by the US President. Beginning in 1907, it acted as the upper house of a bicameral legislature.
On July 30, 1907, the first elections for the Philippine Assembly were held. Two political groups dominated the elections—the Nacionalista Party and Nationalist Progressive Party. Minority parties and independent candidates also competed. The Nacionalista Party, which espoused "immediate and complete independence" was headed by future Philippine president Sergio Osmeña, captured a majority of the 80–seat Assembly.citation needed
The Philippine Legislature convened its first session on October 16, 1907 at the Manila Grand Opera House. Conflict between the bodies, the American-majority Commission and the all-Filipino, Nacionalista-led Assembly, were not uncommon. Such conflicts came to an end when the Jones Law creatd a bicameral legislature composed exclusively of Filipinos.3
The Jones Law of 1916, also known as the Philippine Autonomy Act and which pledged future independence to the Philippines, changed the legislative arrangement. The Philippine Commission was abolished and replaced by an elected Senate. The Philippine Assembly was also reorganized and renamed as the House of Representatives. The new Philippine Legislature was inaugurated on October 16, 1916. The history of the present Congress of the Philippines can be traced indirectly to this body.
The Philippine Legislature continued to serve as the country's legislative body until 1935 when it was superseded by the National Assembly, a unicameral body, upon the establishment of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
- Zaide, Sonia M. (1994), The Philippines: A Unique Nation, All-Nations Publishing Co., ISBN 971-642-071-4
- Philippine Assembly An article published in an American newspaper examining the membership and accoomplishments of the Philippine Assembly during the early years of American rule. An online article made available by Filipiniana.net
- Philippine Bill of 1902 A US Congress Act establishing the Philippine Assembly. An online article made available by Filipiniana.net