CHAPTER XI. The Spanish Commission

At this juncture the Admiral suddenly changed the topic of conversation and asked - "Why don't the people in Manila rise against the Spaniards as their countrymen in the provinces have done? Is it true that they accept the autonomy offered by General Augustin with a representative Assembly? Is the report which has reached me true, that a Filipino Commission has been sent from Manila to propose to you the acceptance of that autonomy coupled with a recognition of your rank of General, as well as recognition of the rank held by your companions?"

"The people of Manila," I answered, "are quiet because they have no arms and because as merchants and landlords they fear that their valuable properties and money in the banks will be confiscated by the Spaniards if they rise up and begin burning and destroying the property of others. On this account they had ostensibly accepted autonomy, not because that was what they wanted but more as a means of deceiving the Spaniards and being allowed to live in peace; but I am confident that all the Filipinos in Manila are for independence, as will be proved the very day our troops capture Manila. At that time I fully expect the people of Manila will join with us in raising loud cheers for the Independence of the Philippines, making fresh demonstrations of loyalty to our Government."

I also told him it was true that a Mixed Commission had arrived and in the name of General Augustin and Archbishop Nozaleda made certain proposals; but they made known to us their intention to adhere to our Cause. The members of the Commission said the Spaniards instructed them to say they came motu propio [2] without being formally appointed or 'coached' by the Spanish authorities in what they should say, representing, on the contrary, that they were faithful interpreters of the sentiment of the people of Manila and that they had good reason for believing that if I was willing to accept autonomy General Augustin and Archbishop Nozaleda would recognize my rank of General, and that of my companions, would give me the $1,000,000 indemnity agreed upon at Biak-na-bato and still unpaid, as well as liberal rewards for and salaries to the members of a popular Assembly promises which the Commissioners did not put any faith in, though some of them held the opinion that the money should be accepted because it would reduce the funds of the Spanish Government and also because the money had been wrung from Filipinos. The Commissioners, I added, left after assuring me that the people in Manila would rise against the Spaniards if supplied with arms, and that the best thing I could do was to make an attack on Manila at the places they pointed out as being the weakest parts of the Spanish defense and consequently the easiest to overcome.

I thanked the Commission for their loyalty and straightforwardness, told them they would be given an escort to take them safely back to the Spanish lines, and that when they got back they should inform those who had sent them that they were not received because they were not duly accredited and that even if they had brought credentials according to what they had seen and heard from the Revolutionists Don Emilio Aguinaldo would certainly not consider, much less accept, their proposals respecting autonomy because the Filipino people had sufficient experience to govern themselves, that they are tired of being victimised and subjected to gross abuses by a foreign nation under whose domination they have no wish to continue to live, but rather wish for their independence. Therefore the Spaniards might prepare to defend their sovereignty, for the Filipino Army would vigorously assault the city and with unflagging zeal prosecute the siege until Manila was captured.

I also told the Commissioners to tell Archbishop Nozaleda that he was abusing the privileges and authority of his exalted position; that such conduct was at variance with the precepts of His Holiness the Pope, and if he failed to rectify matters I would throw light on the subject in a way which would bring shame and disgrace upon him. I added that I knew he and General Augustin had commissioned four Germans and five Frenchmen to disguise themselves and assassinate me in the vain hope that once I am disposed of the people of the Philippines would calmly submit to the sovereignty of Spain, which was a great mistake, for were I assassinated, the inhabitants of the Philippines would assuredly continue the struggle with greater vigor than ever. Other men would come forward to avenge my death. Lastly I recommended the Commissioners to tell the people in Manila to go on with their trades and industries and be perfectly at ease about our Government, whose actions were guided in the paths of rectitude and justice, and that since there were no more Friars to corrupt the civic virtues, the Filipino Government was now endeavouring to demonstrate its honesty of purpose before the whole world. There was therefore no reason why they should not go on with their business as usual and should not think of leaving Manila and coming into the Camp, where the resources were limited, where already more were employed than was necessary to meet the requirements of the Government and the Army, and where, too, the lack of arms was sorely felt.