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Resident Commissioners Benito Legarda and Pablo Ocampo of the Philippines, photograph, ca. 1908

Resident Commissioners Benito Legarda (left) and Pablo Ocampo (right) were both born in Manila and held high positions in the Philippine government before their appointment to the U.S. House of Representatives. Though they could not vote in the House, they were strong advocates for their respective causes of free trade and Philippine independence.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Resident Commissioners Benito Legarda and Pablo Ocampo of the Philippines, photograph, ca. 1908

Filipino Representation in Congress

Under the Treaty of Paris that ended the Spanish American War, the United States purchased the Philippines from Spain. In 1902 American forces suppressed a Filipino independence movement, and Congress passed the Philippines Organic Act to establish civilian control. Among other provisions, the act authorized two Filipino resident commissioners to represent the Philippine government in the U.S. Congress. The first resident commissioners began their terms in 1907. Congress replaced the Organic Act with other legislation in 1916 and 1934 to allow sovereignty for the Philippines and granted it independence in 1946.

As delegates from the Philippines, we come to this country full of faith and hope in the justice and generosity of the American people. We believe that what we ask is just, and that we have as much right to demand the same treatment as that accorded to other territories under the starry flag.

Resident Commissioner Benito Legarda, Speech in Cincinnati, March 13, 1908