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Who owns this city? Editorial for October 3, 1908

Who owns this city?

October 3, 1908, Saturday–The answer is found part in our first page cartoon. The religious corporations own a big slice of it and the irreligious corporations the rest. Between the two the common people stagger under the burden. For the pious exemption of the churches from all taxation we have to thank our dearly beloved Mr. Taft, who for some years past has been paving his way to the White House via the Vatican, and for the exemption of the soulless corporations from civic control we have to thank a renegade municipal board false to their true masters, the people, and loyal to the people’s oppressors, the street railway and light company and the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific.

It has been said that the public gets as good a government as it deserves. Here it has been a case of “the public be damned” and the presumption is the public deserves to be damned. Certainly in the United States, subjected to the same iniquitous impositions we have labored under here, something would have happened. There would have been more than muttered imprecations and weak-kneed protests. Take the case of the Escolta, for instance. How long would any city there have suffered its main thoroughfare to be trifled with the way ours has been here? How long would any people have stood the criminal scandal of Calle Azcarraga where the street railway company and the city engineer seem to have gleefully conspired to block traffic and torment the public? How long would the taxpayers have endured the godless and arbitrary impost of four pesos a month for light they never consumed? How long would they have stood those pitfalls and rotten blocks with their menace to man, cart, and beast? How long would they have remained silent under that luxurious Luneta fill outrage with a treasury beggared for funds and the poor people wading up to their thighs in mud and scum, the poor “submerged tenth” in behalf of whom El Renacimiento has been lifting up its voice and lifting it in vain?

It is high time the faithless incompetents were cleaned out, and that the city had representatives that would represent. With the exception of Alcalde Roxas, who seems to have gone to sleep lately, there is not one member on the board in whom the public has the least confidence, or who deserves the public’s confidence. It is high time the public assert itself and that we show who owns this city.

Bryan and Filipino hopes of Independence

What about Filipino independence should Mr. Bryan be elected President of the United States, as now seems not improbable? This question has doubtless been asked by not a few Filipinos, and it will no doubt be disappointing to those who desire immediate independence to be informed that even if Mr. Bryan becomes President he will not be able to give it. In the United States laws require the assent of Congress, and as, owing to the manner in which the senate of the United States is constituted, it is assured that the majority in it will continue republican during the four years of Bryan’s administration, should he be elected, it is also assured that no law providing for the immediate independence of the Philippines will be approved by the upper house. Therefore, while Bryan has expressed the opinion that the Filipino people should have their independence within five years, it would be impossible for him to give it within that length of time. The only hope of independence which the people of the Philippines can expect from Bryan must be based on the chance of his being elected this time and then four years later being elected for a second term. A second democratic victory at the polls would presumably insure both the house and the senate being democratic, which would then give Mr. Bryan an opportunity to realize his desires in regard to the Philippines and their independence. Even should Bryan be elected, therefore, the Filipinos who desire immediate independence would be almost as far from it as ever.