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Opinion

Today in the Past

- Samson Lucero -
Today, April 18, 1591, Pope Gregory XIV frees all slaves in the Philippines.

One of the best achievements of Spain in the Philippines during the early years of her colonization was the abolition of slavery.

The laws of the Indies, especially those promulgated in 1526, 1541 and 1588, prohibited and penalized slavery in all Spanish colonies.

However, these laws were not effectively carried out and Philip II issued a royal decree dated August 9, 1589, ordering the emancipation of all slaves in the Philippines.

This decree was strengthened by a bull of Pope Gregory XIV, issued at Rome on April 18, 1591, which threatened to excommunicate those persons who would not liberate their slaves.

In his royal decree, August 9, 1589, Philip II instructed the governor-general: "It is advisable to remedy this... and I therefore commit it to you, and order you that, immediately upon your arrival at the said islands, you shall set at liberty all those Indians held as slaves by the Spaniards."

By 1609, the liberation of Filipino slaves, as ordered by the King and the pope, was a fait accompli.

Thus said Dr. Morga: "The Spaniards used to make slaves out of natives whom they had bought and others whom they had captured in certain expeditions during the conquest and pacification of the islands. This was stopped by a brief of his holiness and by royal decrees.

Consequently, all of those slaves who were in the possession of the Spaniards and who were natives of these islands, in whatever manner they had been acquired, were set free, and the Spaniards were forever prohibited from holding them as slaves or from capturing them for any reason, or under pretest of war, or in any other manner."

Thus, the institution of slavery was officially abolished in the Philippines much earlier than in Russia (1861), the United States (1863), and other Western countries.

DECREE

DR. MORGA

ISLANDS

PHILIPPINES

POPE

POPE GREGORY

ROYAL

SLAVES

SPANIARDS

UNITED STATES

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