Which is the correct Independence Day, June 12 or July 4?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - June 12, 2021 - 12:00am

From July 4, 1946, the Philippines celebrated Independence Day every July 4. Effective August 4, 1964, the celebration was shifted to June 12 by virtue of Proclamation 4166, issued by President Diosdado Macapagal. Many historians and scholars still debate which of the two dates is more appropriate. Is it Aguinaldo's declaration on June 12, 1898 or July 4, 1946? Let’s go back to history and decide.

On June 5, 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed independence from the balcony of his ancestral home in Cavite El Viejo, now Kawit, The 21-page “Acta dela Proclamacion de la Independencia del Pueblo Filipino” was read by its author, Ambrocio Reanzares Bautista, on June 12, 1898. The Philippine flag was also hoisted for the first time. It was designed by Filipino ilustrados exiled in Hong Kong, and sewn by Marcela Agoncillo and her daughter, Lorenza, together with a niece of Dr. Jose Rizal, Delfina Herbosa. The Marcha Nacional Filipina was also played for the first time by the band from San Francisco de Malabon. It was composed by Julian Felipe and the lyrics were written by Jose Palma. Today, it is called the Lupang Hinirang.

That proclamation document was signed by 98 Filipinos, chosen by Aguinaldo and witnessed by American artillery officer LM Johnson. It was later ratified on August 1, 1898 by 190 municipal presidents all over the islands. The ratification was repeated in Barasoain, in the Malolos Constitutional Congress on September 29, 1898. The problem with that proclamation was that it wasn’t recognized by the international community. On the contrary, the US and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898, whereby Spain sold the Philippines to America, together with Puerto Rico and Guam, for only $20 million. That was the cheapest real estate deal in history. On March 23, 1901, Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans in Palanan, Isabela. He then swore allegiance to the USA.

From 1901 up to July 4, 1946, the Philippines was controlled and governed by the Americans In 1935, the US Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act, whereby the Americans established the Philippine Commonwealth. President Manuel Quezon was elected president and Cebu's Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. was elected vice president. The Filipinos were promised independence and the commonwealth government was a sort of transition to self-governance under the tutorial guidance of the Americans. On July 4, 1946, Philippine independence was finally inaugurated by virtue of US president Harry Truman's Proclamation 2655. President Manuel Roxas took oath as the first president of the Philippine Republic with Elpidio Quirino as vice president.

This independence enjoyed the recognition of all the members of the United Nations. In fact, the Philippines was made a founding member of the UN. Carlos P. Romulo signed the UN Charter in San Francisco, USA, on June 26, 1945, even prior to the proclamation of the Philippine independence. That means that our republic, even before its birth, was virtually recognized already by 49 states which all signed the UN Charter with Romulo. And so, I am inclined to believe that the 1898 independence was just a vision and not a reality. It was the 1946 independence that was genuinely accepted by the international community of nations. One cannot just proclaim independence without international recognition. In 1903, Mario Sakay proclaimed the Tagalog Republic. In 1986, Colonel Alex Noble proclaimed the Federal Republic of Mindanao in Cagayan de Oro. And even Lapu-Lapu declared independence in 1521 when he killed Magellan.

If all those acts of audacity were valid, then who will prevent me from coming home to Ronda, and proclaim independence for the territories of Dumanjug, Ronda, Alcantara, Moalboal, Malabuyoc, Badian, Alegria, and Ginatilan? No, I cannot make a fool of myself. Independence is much more than wishful thinking.

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