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Biography of José Basco y Vargas (ca. 1730-1805)


Marino and Governor Spanish of the Philippine Islands, born in Ronda (Andalusia) to 1730 and died in Malaga in 1805, who exercised their mandate between 1778 and 1787. During his Government were introduced in the archipelago major economic reforms in the context of the Spanish policy of the Enlightenment, which Basque is considered its best representative in the Philippines.

Born into a prominent family Granada, José Basco made a brilliant military career in the Royal Navy, on reaching the jobs of Alférez de fragata (March 1754), Alférez de navio (December 1757), frigate (April 1762), and Deputy Lieutenant of ship (September 1767). He participated in the contest against England (1759-1763) aboard the Aquilon, taking part also in the site and surrender of Havana (1762), where he was taken prisoner. Then he obtained the command of a jabeque in Tetuan campaign, and promoted to Lieutenant of a frigate (1774), commanded a ship of this type which joined the Pacific fleet, based in Manila.

Appointed Governor general of the Philippines by King Carlos III, he took possession of the position of the hands of his predecessor, Pedro Sarrio (July 1778). Cordial character, but at the same time energetic, the new Governor soon showed a determined determination in fulfilling unimpeded function which entrusted to him, which requested and obtained the maximum military leadership of the colony despite opposition from the audience. His first actions in front of the governorate were targeted to prevent possible attacks by the Moors in the South of the archipelago. Thus, increased the strength of the regular army he sent to strengthen the fortifications of the capital and simultaneously intensified diplomatic relations with the sultans of Mindanao and Jolo.

Following the instructions from the Peninsula, published (1778) Regal regulations establishing various liberalization measures of the economy, including the lifting of commercial export and import tariffs, while in may 1779 another order exempted from the payment of taxes to the textile industry of the Islands. The Royal Decree ordering the Foundation of an economic society of friends of the country, following the model of the associations that have arisen in the Peninsula and the American colonies for the promotion of economic activities took effect in may 1781. That same year began to implement another fundamental reform: the establishment of the State tobacco monopoly, which gave the Philippine Government's own resources to not so depend on the real located sent from Mexico and even generated a surplus in the local Treasury. Under his rule also the Royal Philippines company (March 1785), intended to grab the transoceanic trade with Spain, and the branch of the Bank of San Carlos (1783) saw the light.

In keeping with his profile of enlightened ruler, some other reforms carried out by Basco and Vargas headed to increase the well-being of the people. Thus, exempted from payment of taxes and personal allowance to employees of the tobacco monopoly; He created schools on islands where didn't exist before; and expanded studies of the University of Santo Tomas. In foreign policy, he joined the Spanish sovereignty the islands of Batanes, located to the North of Luzon, by which he was awarded the title of count of them. However, it also had to cope with two internal insurrections in Ituy and Paniqui. Apparently, their continuous discrepancies with the audience, coupled with a deterioration in health, led him to ask the Crown for his takeover of the Government of the archipelago, which occurred in November of 1787 - cargo fell back temporarily to his Lieutenant Pedro Sarrio-. In view of its excellent management, the King exempted José Basco of the mandatory trial of residence, although he finally resigned to this privilege.

Back in Spain, in 1789 he was promoted to the rank of Commander of Marina (squad leader) and was awarded military and civil Governor of Cartagena plaza in April 1794. He later served the same function in the Puerto de Santa María and Lerida.mah


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