THE act of declaring independence is essentially an assertion of freedom and common will by an aspiring people against a colonizing power. However, not all declarations of independence are successful as in our case.
On Tuesday the government will commemorate the 114th Independence Day declaration by the dictatorial regime of Emilio Aguinaldo. But are we really celebrating Independence Day or the day that our national aspiration was sold out?
President Diosdado Macapagal moved our independence celebration from July 4 to June 12 in a bid to gain the support of nationalist elements for his administration as he dismantled the nationalist policies of his predecessor Pres. Carlos P. Garcia. Before being officially designated as Philippine Independence Day, June 12 is commemorated as the Flag Day as this was allegedly the first time that the Philippine national flag was displayed in Kawit, Cavite.
Actually June 12 was not the first time that the flag was displayed. It made its first showing in the battle of Alapan in Imus, Cavite on May 28, 1898. That was 15 days before it was dramatically unfurled and waved infront of Aguinaldo’s sprawling mansion the following month.
Historically speaking, our people’s initial declarations of independence took place between August 23 and 26 when Andres Bonifacio and the members of the Kagalang-galangan Kataas-taasang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) tore their cedulas and declared our independence from Spain in a series of proclamations in Pugad Lawin (Balintawak), Kangkong, Bahay Toro and Pasong Tamo (now all located in Quezon City).
The cedula is a very important document during the Spanish time for it is akin to a passport or an official identification card or document today. Tearing it during the Spanish colonial era is punishable under the crime of sedition as this is an act of renunciation of Spanish dominion over the Philippines.
Unlike Bonifacio’s total declaration of freedom from Spain, the first of its kind in Asia, Aguinaldo’s oxymoronic proclamations made our country “independent” but at the same time a protectorate of the United States, a situation that eerily exists until today.
Under international law, a protectorate is an autonomous territory protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity which was what Aguinaldo wanted for the Philippines and why his interior secretary and a lawyer of great caliber, Apolinario Mabini, opposed the June 12 declaration.
The Americans ignored Aguinaldo’s proclamation of a protectorate and proceeded to invade the country to “civilize us” by precipitating the lopsided Filipino-American war (1899-1902) which resulted in the death of an estimated 600,000 to one million Filipinos, or a tenth of our total population then, and our subjugation for at least 44 years.
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The Americans gave us our political freedom in July 4, 1946 but made sure that we would be economically dependent on them through our forced acceptance of the Parity Rights and other implements of neo-colonialism.
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