BUT despite the reports that Ablen was on the run, the Americans began to realize that there would be no peace in Leyte unless he was found. So they focused their energies in looking for him and fielded their spies in places suspected to be his hideout. But Ablen proved to be elusive.
In February 1904, a detachment under Lt. Juan Flores at Dolores, a barrio of Ormoc, encountered a band near the foothills of Ormoc while on patrol. There was no report on casualties.
Also at this time, the presidente of the town, whose father had been assassinated, was warned in a letter dated in Cebu, that he might go the same way if he was not careful. Pablo Tan, who was out on bail, was re-arrested and brought to Tacloban. Tan was a rich Chinese businessman suspected of aiding the pulahans and was earlier incarcerated. Except for these reports, there was not much activity recorded.22
Then in February 5, 1904, Juan Tamayo's band struck between Jaro and Tunga. Signal Sergeant Zeigler and a policeman were killed in an ambush. At that time he was accompanied by Pvt. Hunt of the signal corps, 4 municipal police and 30 carriers (cargadores). Tamayo's group numbered numbered 18, armed with bolos, 1 Remington, and 6 revolvers.
In retaliation, government forces arrested two alleged members of Tamayo's group said to be implicated in the killing of Sgt. Zeigler. The two were subsequently executed by Jaro policemen "while trying to escape from them on the way to Tacloban." A councilman of Barugo and many others were also sentenced by the court of first instance for their participation, while several others were awaiting trial.
From Governor Peter Borseth's point of view, this was proof of the capability of the constabulary and municipal police to handle any disorder within the province and punish offenders. Borseth believed that at this time, Juan Tamayo was the only leader not killed or captured. His spies told him that Tamayo had followers from Jaro, Carigara, Barugo and Ormoc. When pursued by insurmountable odds, Tamayo accordingly would instruct his men to hide their arms, and he would travel alone or with one companion. There were several instances when he was almost captured but somehow he managed to elude his captors.23
Constabulary third district director Wallace Taylor labeled him a "revolutionist" who was continually agitating the people. He was killed by Presidente Astorga of Zumarraga, Samar in July 9, 1905 while recruiting. 24
Like his predecessor, Borseth loved to brag that the constabulary and the police, which acted as the enforcers of the American dispensation, were clean and above board in their dealings with the local populace. In his report to the Philippine Commission, he said "there was no misuse of power or discourtesy by the constabulary or the police" and that there was "harmony between the police and the municipal authorities".
He also observed that the "majority of the leading classes were most eager and loyal to advance in peaceful pursuits with government." It was therefore to the best interests of the new colonizers to appoint members of these classes to strategic positions in the government.
But he also admitted that "there were a few agitators in the province who would like to see an independent Filipino government immediately." He was quick to add that "these are generally men who are seeking notoriety unattatinable by other means."25
They were easily offset by appointing officials who would be willing pawns both in promoting the American economic interests as well as in the campaign against the pulahanes who, by this time, were being labeled "ladrones" (thieves).
The Americans could not however maintain the 51 towns created under the Spanish regime. The US-backed government was concentrating on reconstructing municipal tribunals (buildings) and maintaining a large number of troops.
Moreover, practically all the towns had voted to give their officials maximum salaries allowed under the law. On the other hand, taxes were not collected properly, and corruption was prevalent everywhere.
So Gov. Grant in his time already proposed that the 51 towns be reduced and consolidated. With the ongoing military campaign, paying the salaries of municipal officials was very difficult. In October 3, 1902, Gov. Grant wrote that he was receiving complaints from municipal officials that their salaries were not being paid from one to six months.26
When Peter Borseth assumed his post as Leyte governor in 1904, Grant's proposal to reduce the number of towns from 51 to 34 was implemented. Municipal elections were held, but very few were able to vote. In the 34 municipalities, only 4,637 were able to cast their votes out of more than 350,000 population. The American democratic example did not work as expected. If the colonizers were trying to make a showcase here, they failed miserably. 27
Still the municipal elections held in December 1905 in the 34 towns appeared to be more enthusiastically participated. Gov. Jaime de Veyra's report did not say how many participated but there were 18 protests filed, while there were 51 counter protests.
At least these protests showed the existence of political rivalries and the emerging political parties. The election in Babatngon was even annulled. But given the generally abnormal conditions still existing in Leyte in 1905, officials were uncertain whether it was right to elect representatives to Philippine Assembly.28