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.
On this 12th of June, we are commemorating the 118th declaration of independence by Emilio Aguinaldo. But are we really celebrating our Independence Day or the day that our national aspirations were sold out?
In 1964, President Diosdado Macapagal moved our independence day celebration from July 4 to June 12 in a bid to gain the support of nationalist elements in Philippine society after he dismantled the nationalist economic policies of his predecessor Pres. Carlos P. Garcia. Under the presidency of the elder Macapagal, the Philippines began its economic decline as the country was placed under the mercy of foreign economic interests.
Before being officially designated as Philippine Independence Day, June 12 was commemorated as the country’s Flag Day as this was allegedly the first time that the Philippine national flag was displayed in Kawit, Cavite.
However, that is not true for June 12 was not the first time that the flag was displayed. The flag 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 in-front of Aguinaldo’s sprawling mansion the following month.
So why should June 12 be not be commemorated as Philippine Independence Day?
Because our first declarations of independence actually took place between August 23 and 26 in a series of proclamations in Barrio Pugad Lawin (Balintawak), Barrio Kangkong, Barro Bahay Toro and Barrio Pasong Tamo (now all located in Quezon City) wherein Andres Bonifacio and the members of the Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK-AnB) tore their cedulas and declared our independence from Spain. These declarations are the first of its kind in Asia.
The cedula is a very important document during the Spanish time for it is akin to a passport or 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.
It must be noted that unlike Bonifacio’s total declaration of freedom from Spain, Aguinaldo’s supposed declaration of independence is totally oxymoronic.
Aguinaldo proclaimed our country to be independent but at the same time he unilaterally made it an autonomous territory of the United States by declaring her (the Philippines) to be an American protectorate, a situation that still exists today. It is clear from historical records and accounts that Aguinaldo’s June 12 proclamation is an act of substitution. He just exchanged the Spanish “Dons” with the American “Massa.”
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. This is why Apolinario Mabini, Aguinaldo’s interior secretary and a lawyer of great caliber, opposed the June 12 declaration of independence.
To make it worse, the Americans ignored Aguinaldo’s farcical proclamation of a protectorate and proceeded to invade the country to “civilize us” by precipitating the lopsided Filipino-American war (1899-1902). The war resulted in the death of an estimated 600,000 to one million Filipinos, or a tenth of our then total population of just ten million. Our country became under direct American colonial rule for at least 44 years.
On July 4, 1946; our Americans masters “gave us” our political freedom but made sure that we would be economically dependent on them. They forced us to accept the immoral Parity Rights and other implements of neocolonialism.
However, some historians are of the view that our acceptance of the Parity Rights which led to our economic dependence was actually ensured by the strategic bombings of Manila which destroyed almost all public infrastructures and the city’s light industrial suburbs in 1944-45.
Manila, it must be noted, is second only Warsaw, Poland as the most war devastated city during World War II.
So, is June 12 Independence or Substitution Day?
*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.