The Captain General decides he’d like to speak to Ibarra. Nonetheless, he must first meet with the friars, whom he’s reluctant to see. He makes them wait in the antechamber of Tiago’s house (where he’s staying), infuriating them with his lack of respect. When they finally do come in, he treats them brusquely, immediately asking which one is Fray Dámaso. They say Dámaso is absent because he isn’t feeling well, and the Captain General insults the truant priest. When the friars try to broach the subject of Ibarra’s excommunication, the Captain General waves them off, dismissing them before they can tell him their thoughts regarding the conflict.
Once again, the conflict between the church and state arises, as the Captain General refuses to respect the friars of San Diego. Of course, he’s more capable of mistreating priests than other governmental officials—like the ensign—because he is the highest ranking Spanish officer in the Philippines. Although the church controls the day-to-day operations of the town, there’s no disputing that the Spanish government is the overarching power structure. Unfortunately for the town, this governmental scorn for religious corruption only seems to manifests itself in personal interactions, rather than in tangible reforms.
Ibarra arrives to meet with the Captain General, who greets Ibarra very warmly, telling him that he is impressed and pleased by Ibarra’s work to improve the town by selflessly building a school. He assures Ibarra that the “unpleasantness” with Father Dámaso will cease to be a problem, for he will speak with the archbishop and have the excommunication rescinded. “Here you can’t laugh these things off in public like on the Peninsula or in the more sophisticated Europe,” he tells the young man, warning him to be more careful. When Ibarra leaves, the Captain General summons the mayor and tells him to help Ibarra reach his “patriotic goals” and to make sure the young man doesn’t face similar circumstances in the future. Meanwhile, Ibarra runs to María Clara’s room, but she doesn’t open the door. Instead, her friends tell him to meet her at the theater that night.
Although the Spanish government rarely interferes with the friars’ domineering control over San Diego, in this moment the Captain General uses his authority to pull strings for Ibarra. It is telling that he says such disputes with the church can usually be “laugh[ed]” off in Spain, since this statement solidifies the notion that, unlike the local government (with its spineless officials like the mayor), the national government has little respect for the church’s power-hungry ways.