Today in Philippine History, May 19, 1893, the Maura Law was promulgated

Friday May 18, 2012 ()
   Antonio Maura y Montañer
   (Antonio Maura y Montañer in 1910)

On May 19, 1893, the Maura Law was promulgated. Named after its author Antonio Maura y Montañer, who was then the Minister of Colonies of Spain. Its purpose was to confer upon the towns and provinces of Luzon and the Visayan Islands a greater measure of autonomy, with the exception of Manila whose government (at that time) was not altered.

The Law was intended to implant a more enlightened form of local government, through the establishment of tribunales municipales and junta provincial and the concession of powers deemed properly to belong to particular localities, subject to the supervision of the parish priest, provincial juntas, and the Central Government.

Under the Maura Law, the islands of Luzon and the Visayas were divided and subdivided territorially for administrative purposes. The general government of the Archipelago was in the hands of the Governor-General, assisted by the Council of Administration, the Board of Authorities, and the General Directorate of Civil Administration.

Each province, the largest administrative territorial division under the Law, was under the provincial governor assisted by the provincial council (junta provincial). Each province was divided into towns (pueblos), whose affairs were managed by the municipal councils with the aid of the principales. The pueblos were in turn divided and subdivided into barrios (wards) and barangays under tenientes del barrio and cabezas de barangay, respectively. The municipal council was charged with the administration of its affairs and interests.

The Municipal Council

Maura Law renamed the existing local offices, councils of the towns (tribunales de los pueblos), as municipal councils (tribunales municipales). Each town, contributing one thousand cedulas each year to the State, was to have a municipal council.

Each municipal council was to be composed of five members, one of whom was the captain. The others were the chief lieutenant, the lieutenant of police, the lieutenant of fields, and the lieutenant of livestock. The chief lieutenant was to substitute the captain in case of absence, vacancy, or disability. The substitution of the captain was in the order in which the lieutenants were named.

The municipal council was charged with the active work of administering the affairs of the pueblo. Its functions were grouped into administration of public works and finance.

The administrative functions included the organization of the town and its internal government; the supervision of education and public health; the encouragement of agriculture, industry, and commerce; and the care of municipal buildings and municipal services.

Under the finance were included the collection of rents and revenues derived from public property; the determination, collection, and investment of all taxes and imposts necessary to defray the expenses of the government; the conduct of public works; and the keeping of their accounts.

Fully implemented in 1895, the Maura Law is the most laudable Spanish reform in Philippine local government in its time.

References

  1. Local government in the Philippine Islands, pages 35-38, Jose P. Laurel, La Pilarica Press, Manila, 1926.
  2. Philippines News Agency archives
  3. Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons


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