Tejeros Convention : The First "Hello Garci"

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Cheating, like the "Hello Garci" style, is the worst historical fraud. Cheating in elections is as old as humanity. Even the Lord Jesus Christ was cheated by the scribes and the Pharisees in the snap elections called on the spot by the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. The governor called for a vote to choose between Jesus and Barabbas. We all know that the bandit and criminal won over the son of man. Because Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, he washed his hands before the crowd who condemned Christ to be crucified. I hope our governor does better.

In Philippine history, the first presidential elections was marred by a grand election anomaly. The rivalry between Tondo's Magdiwang faction headed by the Katipunan's founder Ka Andres Bonifacio and Cavite's Magdalo led by General Emilio Aguinaldo came to a head in the Tejeros Assembly held on March 22, 1897 or 125 years ago in what is now named General Trias, Cavite. Bonifacio lost his bid for the Philippine presidency and he nullified the election results. In turn, Aguinaldo charged him of treason, had him investigated by a kangaroo tribunal, and ordered his execution.

There were only 256 delegates to the convention. The first ballot resulted in Aguinaldo getting 146 votes or 57.03 percent of the total votes cast. Bonifacio garnered only 80 votes or 31.25 percent. Third candidate, General Mariano Trias got 30 votes or 11.72 percent. After Aguinaldo was declared winner, Magdiwang delegate Severino deas Alas moved that Bonifacio be declared vice president as the second placer. But the majority controlled by Magdalo elected Trias instead. General Artemio Ricarte was elected Captain General or head of the military. Emiliano Riego de Dios was elected Director of War.

Andres Bonifacio was relegated to the position of Director of the Interior. But Daniel Tirona of the Magdalos objected in a loud and insulting voice supposedly because the supremo was not a lawyer. That angered Ka Andres, and he therefore mounted the podium and declared null and void the results of the elections. He demanded that Tirona should apologize, which the latter refused. That prompted Bonifacio to draw a pistol and he was about to shoot Tirona but cooler heads stopped Ka Andres..Then he and his supporters walked out of the Convention Hall and went to the mountains of Naic.

Later, in history, Ka Andres's wife Gregoria de Jesus or Ka Oriang and another witness, Santiago Alvarez declared in writing that the election was rigged and the ballots were already filled up before they were distributed. Another loyalist to Ka Andres who was from Cavite, Diego Mojica, warned Bonifacio before the canvassing that the ballots were already filled. The elected officials took their oath and that was how Aguinaldo became the first president of the Philippines. He was only voted by 146 delegates. And even that number was put in serious doubt because of the testimonies of the witnesses.

Forthwith Bonifacio formed another government by issuing the so-called the Naic declaration, which formed the Naic Military Government after he issued the Acta de Tejeros formalizing his proclamation nullifying the Tejeros election. Because of this Aguinaldo charged Bonifacio of treason, had him tried by a rag tag kangaroo tribunal. He was found guilty and was executed on May 10, 1897, together with his two brothers, Procopio and Ciriaco. To add insult to injury, his wife Gregoria de Jesus was molested by the executioners.

Serging Osmeña was cheated in 1969. Cory Aquino was cheated in 1986. Miriam Defensor Santiago was cheated in 1992. FPJ was cheated too. It is up to you to judge the elections on May 9, 2022 based on what you have seen and what you have witnessed by yourselves. History is being written right now.


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