Late 16th-century accounts such as Miguel de Loarcas and an
anonymous manuscript now referred to as the Boxer Codex say that
traditional Panayanon government was headed by the Datu, who, as
head of a sakup, was the judge in matters of dispute, the protector
and defender, and a feudal lord. His subjects were called sinakpan,
whose property he appropriated when they died. Any of the datus
sons could claim succession; hence, warfare could erupt among brothers
competing for the throne. Or the disgruntled brother of a newly
installed datu could start his own sakup.
A class of warriors called timawa owed fealty to the datu. Their
main function was to protect the datu, including tasting his wine
for poison. They accompanied him on raids and were on familiar terms
with him. They themselves were descendants of datu, the first-generation
timawa having been the illegitimate sons of the datu and slave women.
Often the Hilt of the "Talibong" or machette distinguished
the rank of the holder and identifies him as head or official official
of the sinakup. The rest of the sinakpan were the oripun, who economically
and politically supported the datu and timawa, as the latter two
did not engage in agricultural or industrial activity.
Legislative decisions by the datu were done publicly and with the
guidance of the ponu-an, a council of elders knowledgeable in matters
of custom law. Although law was handed down by tradition, amendments
could be made with the consensus of the other datus. The datu decided
on a case after listening to the sworn testimony of the conflicting
parties. All crimes, including murder and disobedience to the datu,
were punishable by fines, which could be paid for with servitude.
Folk history considers the Maragtas Code, also known as the Sumakwelan
Code, as the earliest legal system. It covered aspects of human
behavior and relationships, such as property rights, inheritance,
contracts, and family relations. Village criers, called umalahokan,
rang a bell to call the people to a gathering place where the datus
message was announced. To this day, the system of calling the townspeople
to assembly is practiced in the rural areas. The punishment for
the violation of laws was varied: humiliation, forced labor, shipping,
drowning, and burning.
Aklan province was created under Republic Act 4979. It is classified
as a fourth-class province according to income. A governor, vice-governor,
and a provincial board administer the province. Aklan has one seat
in Congress. (RRs Philippine Almanac 1990:136-137).