History and the need for political change

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - November 29, 2019 - 12:00am

Today should have been our National Heroes' Day a national holiday to celebrate and pay homage to the heroes of our nation who died in the defense of our country. However like many so-called national holidays in this country, like our July 4th Independence Day, it was changed to June 12. So today is no longer our National Heroes Day as it has been moved to the fourth Monday of August. However they cannot change the fact that today is the birthday of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan. The only nationwide organization that fought against our Spanish rulers.

While many Cebuanos of that era probably did not know who Andres Bonifacio was, as we had our very own Katipunero in the person of Leon Kilat whose real name was Pantaleon Villegas who came from Bacong, Negros Oriental. During in Battle of Tres de Abril, (the 3rd of April) he routed the Guardia Civil in what is now V. Rama Avenue and held Cebu City for four days, while the Guardia Civil retreated inside the thick walls of Fort San Pedro.

Alas in those four crucial days, Leon Kilat did not get the support of the Cebuano population simply because he wasn’t really that known in Cebu, and secondly, he was fighting for the Katipunan, an organization few Cebuanos at that time knew existed. Also, that week in 1898 was Holy Week in Cebu, so no one really expected Leon Kilat to win the day, but he did!

Four days later the Spanish cruiser “Don Juan Austria” with troop reinforcements arrived in Cebu and bombarded the area near Fort San Pedro releasing the Spanish troops holed out inside the fort.

The rebels of Leon Kilat withdrew to the different towns in Cebu, while Leon Kilat retreated to Carcar. In the evening, his men led by his aide-de-camp, Apolinario Alcuitas, got him drunk and killed him in his bed on April 8, 1898 and offered him to the Guardia Civil in the hope that the Spaniards would give them leniency. To the contrary, the Spaniards had all the rebels killed. But finally the Cebuanos realized that the revolution that Leon Kilat brought to the city was real and some of Leon Kilat’s generals, like Gen. Arcadio Maxilom, managed to capture some towns in the province such as Toledo and Balamban.

If only Leon Kilat had not been betrayed by his men, a few more weeks of waiting would have given them a greater victory as on the evening of April 30th, nine ships of the Asiatic Squadron of the US Navy led by Admiral George Dewey on board his flagship “Olympia” sailed into Manila Bay and on the morning of May 1, 1898 the Battle of Manila Bay was fought and won by the Americans and suddenly the Philippines had a new colonizer.

So back to Andres Bonifacio. While he is credited with founding the Katipunan, he was also the political rival of Gen. Emilio Aquinaldo who, in the end, had him killed along with his brother Procopio. This was nothing but a kangaroo execution. Aguinaldo did that to eliminate his political enemies. So a good question to ask these days is whether or not our politics has changed. Of course the answer is simple; killing political opponents continues on to these days.

This is why I hope Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte will call for a Constitutional Convention in order to usher the needed change in our kind of politics. The whole trouble with the Filipino people is that they worship and adore their politicians, even if these politicians use their stint in government to enrich themselves. This is why I like nations like Finland or Denmark where their politicians do not even have an official car and are paid only like a corporate officer.

One important change that I would like to see is for our president and vice president to be elected in tandem. Unlike today, Duterte belongs to another party while Vice President Leni Robredo belongs to the Liberal Party. This is the reason why Robredo spends most of her time discrediting the president, despite the reality that he is extremely popular even three years after he was elected. So let’s learn from our history and convince the president to usher in a Constitutional Convention. vsbobita@gmail.com

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