Senator Carmack's testimony / Reconcentration
While the American mood fluctuates between benevolent assimilation or
total extermination Senator E.W.Carmack comes on a visit to the
islands and finds Filipinas in full swing:
"The trade conditions observable at Manila are merely a reflection of
what may be witnessed in the interior. A journey through the
provinces can not help giving a most discouraging impression. Many
towns, formerly well-built, were destroyed during the war. Churches
are in ruins;whole villages, here and there, lie waste.
The growth in the import of rice is attributed to 1)The almost total
loss of their farm animals (estimated officially at 90% due to the
war and rinderpest) 2)Injury done to the irrigation system during the
war3)The scarcity of adult male labour as a result of the war. The
dispropotionate number of women and children consequent upon the war
is still noticeable...
...Notwithstanding that in the beginning many of the provinces were
organized as civil governments, it has been thought necessary now and
again to substitute them with a politico-military government, and to-
day at least six of the provinces are still organized on that basis.
Extreme military methods for controlling the population are provided
for by law and their application in certain cases authorized. Of
these the most marked is what is known as " reconcentration."
RECONCENTRATION: The use of this plan for reducing a population to
submission is authorized by section (i of the Commission's act No.
781, further organizing the constabulary, in the following
words: "'In provinces which are infested to such an extent with
ladrones or outlaws that the lives and property of residents in the
outlying barrios are rendered wholly insecure by continued predatory
raids. and such outlying barrios thus furnish to the ladrones or
outlaws their source of food supply * * * it shall be within the
power of the civil governor, upon resolution of the Commission. to
altilorize the provincial governor to order thaut the residents of
suchi outlying barrios be temporarily brought within stated proximity
to the poblacion or larger barrios."
It is a fact that no year has passed without the application of this
policy in a larger scale. In 1902 it was undertaken in the region
about Lake Taal, comprising parts of Laguna and Batangas provinces.
It then affected not less than 100.000 people, according to the
report of Colonel Wagner, who inspected the camps. ...each of which
included from 8000 to 14ooo persons. During 1903 the same plan was
pursued in Albay, where very large areas were entirely deprived of
population, the inhabitants being herded in camps.
Besides the official application of the policy on a larger scale,
other instances have occurred. Several camps now exist in Cavite, and
not long since, reconcentration was tried in Tayagas, without
official authority, according to ex-governor Taft. It is beyond the
question, from the testimony both natives and Americans who are
conversant with the workings of reconcentration that its effects are
the most disastrous, causing widespread suffering. In the camps food
is distributed only when extreme want requires it. .... The lack of
house accommodations and the scarcity of food as well as the
overcrowding of the inmates of the camps have invariably caused much
increase in mortality. At the same time there has been a tremendous
loss of crops and houses throughout the districts in which
reconcentration has taken place...
It is the testimony of capable American lawyers in Manila that under
existing law it is entirely possible to convict any human being in
the archipelago of "bandolerismo" (the local name for membership in
or assistance to organized bands of insurrectionists), without regard
to guilt. That such conviction can be secured is, in fact, the open
boast of some constabulary officials...
How effective have been may be seen from the situation in the Bibilid
prison...The total number of persons confined August 31, 1903,on
charges of "aiding insurrection, conspiracy,highway robbery, illegal
custody of arms, rebellion, sedition, violation of oath of
allegience, violation on articles of war, and treason was 1093. On a
recent date the number of men confined in Bilibid who had been
sentenced and were awaiting capital punishment was 100.
. As General Davis mildly states the situation (Report, 190.3, p.
31): "Americans in the Philippines have not so far been an unmixed
blessing to the native inhabitants". We have, in fact, destroyed the
public buildings of the country, inflicted continuous crop losses
during a period of six years; ravaged and burned large sections of
territory; produced conditions leading to the death of most of the
farm animals and to serious human and animal epidemics; brought
foreign trade to an unprofitable condition by our tariff legislation;
inaugurated a tremendously expensive government for the benefit of
foreign officeholders; established a partisan judiciary; crowded the
prisons and deported or sent to the gallows the best and most
patriotic of the native leaders.
Senator E.W. Carmack, December 1904