What you need to know about our independence

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit Avila (The Freeman) - June 12, 2020 - 12:00am

Today is supposed to be the 122nd Independence Day of the Philippines, which for me is putting Philippine Independence Day in the wrong date because during our youth, when we still had our Reserve Officers Training Corps, Philippine Independence was celebrated when the American flag was retreated down and the Philippine Flag was raised in Luneta on July 4, 1946. This is why from our high school to college Philippine independence was celebrated with a grand parade.

Philippine independence was always observed on July 4 until August 4, 1964 when historians and nationalists urged then President Diosdado Macapagal to sign into law Republic Act No. 4166 designating June 12 as our Independence Day. First of all, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal wanted to elevate the ageing Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo because he was unhappy with the United States of America, which had nothing to do with our Independence Day.

More importantly, Aguinaldo raised the Philippine flag in his home in Kawit, Cavite, which wasn’t called illegal because anyone can put his own flag where he lives. More importantly, no nation at that time recognized the efforts of Gen. Aguinaldo when he raised the Philippine flag in his home. Hence, what he did was actually invalid. Actually, the reason why the Philippine government never acknowledged the role of Gen. Aguinaldo is due to the fact that he had killed the Bonifacio brothers following a sham court proceedings and execution. It was like putting your political opponent through a fake trial then making sure he is executed. This is why Gen. Aguinaldo was never officially named a hero of the Philippine Revolution.

This brings me to ask; can Philippine politicians change our history by enacting a law? I don’t think so. If at all, there is any date that we should consider as the official date for Philippine Independence Day, it should be on April 3, 1898 when Leon Kilat subdued the Guardia Civil along what are now V. Rama and Leon Kilat streets, and the Guardia Civil ran away to hide in Fort San Pedro where they holed up for the next four days. No such thing was ever done by the Katipuneros, but Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas was able to do this in Cebu for four days.

But since most of the people in Cebu were in total disbelief that Cebu was finally free from Spanish influence, they did not support Leon Kilat and four days later when the Spanish Cruiser “Don Juan Austria” arrived in Cebu with fresh troops. Leon Kilat and his men dispersed and later in Carcar his men made him drunk and eventually killed him. Then they turned his body over to the Guardia Civil who eventually had everyone killed. This is a story that the people of Manila never heard of and I dare say that no one ever thought of using April 3rd as Philippine Independence Day.

I only write this piece because I am one of the few journalists who give importance of what the Katipuneros under Pantaleon “Leon Kilat” Villegas has done for Philippine Independence. More importantly, I write this piece to prove to our readers and to our millennials that something happened at the crossroads of history, but our pro-Manila historians didn’t care to give it the kind of importance it deserves. Perhaps someday our politicians will be warned not to change the dates of Philippine history as it doesn’t give honor to the people who fought in those times.

* * *

Let’s get back on the issue of the Anti-Terror Bill. I heard that Malacañang said that there are enough safeguards in the proposed Anti-Terrorism Act against possible abuse, and that President Duterte would subject the measure to close scrutiny with “public interest” in mind. Meanwhile, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said there are appropriate procedures to follow under the law in terms of arrest and detention of suspected terrorists.

Roque added that basic rights remain protected under the Constitution. The courts must also be notified if law enforcers will interrogate a suspect without charges for several days. Once more, Roque defended the president’s decision to certify the matter as urgent amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

If there is anything that we should worry about, it is not Pres. Duterte, but rather who would be the next president after him. Because whoever that person may be, he could very well abuse this Anti-Terror Bill.

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