Tuesday, November 22, 2005

21st Century Lawyer Notes on the Bonifacio Trial

The common verdict of historians is that Bonifacio had a mock trial. There are various reasons cited, e.g. Andres’s counsel Placido Martinez was also a judge, the accused did not have a chance to cross-examine the witnesses against them, the prosecutor asked leading questions, etc.. I do agree with some of them. But let me add a few more reasons to show why the trial was indeed a sham.

1. There was no law against treason.

Whenever confronted with a legal problem, lawyers have a common first impulse. They check the law. And we look at the trial of the Bonifacio brothers, and we find no reference to any law or edict that defined the crime and specified the penalty charged against the Bonifacio Brothers. The Tejeros Convention was an election, but there was no governing law that defined the powers of the elected officials and governed the conduct of citizens. That’s why when the prosecutor asked whether the accused knew if there was a government there, they had to say no. Sure, there was a president, but what were the powers of the President? What was his basis for saying he could do this and that as president. There may have been a president, but surely without laws, there was no government. Where was it written that Bonifacio could not carry a gun? There was a revolution going on, everybody had to carry a gun. How could a trial be fair when there was no law on which the accused is going to be tried?

A dictatorial government would have sufficed at that point. Aguinaldo could have claimed, “I am a dictator, whatever I say is the law.” That would have saved the day. At the very least, all that he needed to do was publish his laws. “It is treason to plot against the President, and it is punishable by death.” That would have given the Bonifacio brothers and all the men under them a fair chance, for at least there was a common measure by which all those ruled could judge their conduct, and Bonifacio and his counter-revolutionary plots would have been justly punished. Yet, Aguinaldo would only think about law and governance much later on with Apolinario Mabini on his side. In the meantime, he had to charge Bonifacio with the crime of treason and sedition, when Aguinaldo himself did not define what constituted the crime of treason and sedition and the punishment for such acts. Bonifacio could have lit a cigar; and without any law but the barrel of his gun, Aguinaldo could have cried that was treason, too. What chance did the Bonifacio brothers have?

2. The Council of War lost jurisdiction on the venue of the crime.

The second point is a little bit technical. It is an elementary principle in criminal law that jurisdiction in criminal law is territorial. Simply put, a government can enforce its criminal laws only in territories were it exercises sovereignty. A murder in Japan, for example, may not be tried and punished in the Philippines. In the same way, a murder in Manila may not be tried and punished in Japan. In the case of Bonifacio, the acts charged against him were all committed in territories where Aguinaldo’s forces have lost jurisdiction, as they have fallen to Spanish hands while the trial was ongoing. Indang and Naik fell. Daniel Tirona and his lawyer candidate Jose del Rosario surrendered to the Spaniards as San Francisco de Malabon fell. What then was the basis of the criminal jurisdiction that Aguinaldo was enforcing against the Brothers Bonifacio when Aguinaldo himself had lost power over Indang and Naik where Bonifacio’s alleged crimes were committed? As a matter of fact, Aguinaldo’s government itself was on the run against the Spanish Army which at the time of the trial already exercised sovereignty over those territories. After Naik and Indang fell, any treason committed there could only be committed against, and tried and punished by the Spanish Army. Aguinaldo had lost power to try and punish Bonifacio’s crime, if indeed, there was a crime.

Given that there was no governing law and that Aguinaldo had lost jurisdiction over the crime, what was the trial for? This reminds of a common government tactic we find nowadays. Whenever a government executive wants to do something that is not popular, somebody would file a court case, and then there would be court order telling the executive what to do. So whenever there was a backlash, the executive would say, oh it’s not me, it’s the court.

Look at Aguinaldo after Bonifacio’s death. Aguinaldo could always point to the Council of War that decided on the death penalty and the generals, Pio del Pilar and Mariano Noriel, who persuaded him to reverse his pardon. I could almost hear him saying, “Don’t blame me, it’s the Council of War… it’s del Pilar… it’s Noriel…it’s….” Hail Aguinaldo! The father of legal ruse.

I was toying with the idea, what if I were Bonifacio’s counsel, what would I have said in that trial? Well, points one and two above, and then probably, a little speech that would appeal to the interest of the Council of War. The Aguinaldo magic was a myth. The early victories were getting reversed. The revolution in Cavite was about to fail. Meanwhile, Bonifacio still had clout outside Cavite. Bonifacio could still save the revolution. Bonifacio had Batangas. Bonifacio had the rest of the Tagalog region in his wings. While Cavite was falling, the rest of the nation was still at war. The Katipunan was still in place. And if the Cavitenos failed, the revolution was still on in other parts of the Tagalog region, and they could be relied upon as sanctuary for the weary Cavitenos, including the members of he Council of War. Besides, what was the risk on Bonifacio, he had not even won a battle? But he was great organizer and his organization was still in place. That’s why it was to the interest of the Council of War to let Bonifacio go and re-organize the Katipunan elsewhere outside Cavite.

I don’t know if that would have worked. Maybe not, but all that is academic now, because we already know that after Bonifacio’s death, the revolution would be dissipated, and Aguinaldo would opt for a settlement with Spain, brokered by Pedro Paterno in Biak-na-Bato.

For further reading, do check out the following books:

Teodoro Kalaw's "The Court Martial of Andres Bonifacio",
Teodoro Agoncillo’s Revolt of the Masses, Adrian Cristobal’s, The Tragedy of the Revolution, Abraham Sarmiento’s Andres Bonifacio: the Appeal, Memoirs of Artemio Ricarte, and Ambeth Ocampo’s Bones of Contention. These are all in circulation.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Trial of Andres Bonifacio Part Six: The Execution

In the morning of May 10, 1897, the Castillians were on the offensive in their quest to recover territories from the revolutionaries. Maragondong, the seat of Aguinaldo’s power, was the next in line. The Spaniards moved their cannons and pointed them towards Maragondong. Meanwhile, in the town, Mariano Noriel called for Major Lazaro Makapagal. Makapagal reported in his uniform to Noriel.

Then, Noriel handed over to Makapagal, erstwhile a secretary of the Council of War, a packet. Noriel instructed Makapagal to take four soldiers from Colonel Ritual and bring the brothers Bonifacio with them to Mt.Tala and not open the packet until he reached the mountain. Upon arrival, he was asked to open the packet and read aloud its contents to the two prisoners and obey the instructions strictly. It was to be done with dispatch, because the Spaniards were at the gates.

Good soldier that he was, Makapagal obeyed the instructions. On their way to Tala, the brothers asked whether they were going to be shot. Makapagal replied that he was just taking them away from the fighting.

When they reached the foot of Mt.Buntis, the brothers implored him to open the packet. When he complied, he found a letter,in which the following was written,

Major Makapagal,

In accordance with the order of the Council of War held at Maragondong on May 8, against the brothers Andres and Procopio Bonifacio, who have been sentenced to be shot to death, you and your soldiers under you are ordered to carry out the judgment. I am informing you that any failure to do your duty will be penalized to the fullest severity of the Spanish military law. God will take care of you for a long time.

Mariano Noriel

Procopio stood up and cried, “Naku kuyang!” Andres fell to his knees and tried to embrace Makapagal, and cried, “Kapatid, patawarin mo ako.

Makapagal then cried, “Peloton! Preparen! Carguen, Armas! When the brothers heard the cocking of the guns, they fell silent. Then Makapagal faced Procopio, and said, “Defrenten, Mar!” and pointed him to the woods, they followed a trail and there they shot Procopio.

Lazaro Makapagal then turned to Andres who went down on his knees and begged for forgiveness. “Kapatid, patawarin mo ako!” Andres said. Makapagal replied “Wala akong magagawa.

Then, Andres stood up and ran to the woods to escape. Makapagal and his soldiers followed. Near the big stream at the junction of a creek, Andres was shot. He stopped, reeled and fell dead. The soldiers then dug a shallow hole and buried Andres Bonifacio. Makapagal placed a few twigs. It was all over in a few hours.

On his way down, Makapagal met Gregoria de Jesus who asked him where he took the two men. He replied that they left them in the hills near Tala. “You can inquire from the chieftain there in whose care we left the two.

Gregoria replied, “If that is so, why do you have his clothes?

Makapagal replied, “He requested me to tell you to bring them to him yourself.

Gregoria left him and proceeded to look for her husband. She looked for them for two weeks but never found them.

Up to the present, Bonifacio’s bones have not been found.

In his memoirs, Santiago Alvarez recalls a different version of the execution as related by Lazaro Makapagal, as follows,

"After I read the order to the prisoners, Procopio wept, embraced Andres and asked, 'Kuya, what are we to do?' Andres did not say a word. He bowed his head and sobbed while tears welled in his eyes and rolled down in his cheeks. Not able to bear it, I turned my back and when I faced them again, the deed was done. My men had fired the shots and the poor Bonifacio brothers were prostrate and dead." (translated from Tagalog by Paula Carolina S. Malay published by Ateneo de Manila Press in 1992)

Next post: My legal notes on the Trial of Andres Bonifacio

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Andres Bonifacio Trial Part V: Council of War's verdict -- Guilty!

After the completion of the trial the previous day, the Council of War, its President, Mariano Noriel, and his colleagues, Tomas Mascardo and Esteban Ynfante, met and studied the records of the trial on May 6, 1897. The issues were threshed out, and the decision was voted upon as follows:

1. Andres Bonifacio knew of the existence of a Government of the Philippnes (Sangkatagakluagan) and of its location in the province.

2. Mr. Andres had no permission to hold arms and to assemble soldiers as well as take prisoners from the village of Limbon.

3. Mr. Andres together with his bothers Procopio and Ciriaco ordered their soldiers to commence rapid firing should the soldiers of the Government arrive.

4. Andres enticed the commanders of the soldiers of the Government to go over to his side together with their arms.

5. Andres gave money to the said commanders at the town of Naik.

6. Mr. Andres and his brothers fought the soldiers of the Government and the first one shot was Ciriaco and because of the shots they fired, two soldiers of the Government were killed.

7. In staying in the village of Limbon and in gathering troops , the intention of Andres as well as his brother was to rebel against the Government.

8. Andres and Procopio on account of their unfortunate deeds deserve the punishment of death.

9. The soldiers and commanders who acquiesced to the plot of the brothers Andres Procopio and Ciriaco deserve no punishment but for them to join the army that they might do what is proper in the barracks as well as in battle.

10. It would be proper to give support to the families of the two soldiers who died.

11. The said support should be demanded from Andres and Procopio, aside from the pension given to the families of soldiers who die in combat.

The statement and judgment was signed by Mariano Noriel, Sulpicio Antnoy. T. Mascardo, Crisostomo Riel and Estevan Ynfante. Mariano Noriel forwarded the records to Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo who referred the sme to Judge Advocate General Baldomero Aguinaldo who agreed with the punishment imposed by the Council. Baldomero then said that it should be Emilio who should decide.

When Emilio Aguinaldo received the verdict, he commuted it to banishment. But according to Emilio Aguinaldo, “As soon as General Mariano Noriel, General Pio del Pilar … learned of this (commutation), they called my attention and said, “if you want to maintain the stability of our Revolutionary Government and if you wish tht we should stay alive, please withdraw your edict for those brothers.” Because of this, I withdrew and assigned General Noriel to follow the verdict of the Council of War, to shoot the brothers for the good of the country.”

In the next post, the execution of Andres and Procopio Bonifacio.
(To be continued)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Placido Martinez, counsel of Andres Bonifacio, to the Council of War: Forgive him.

In part one , the Tejeros Convention, part two , Pedro Giron's testimony, part three Andres Bonifacio's testimony, now in this part, we witness the conclusion of the investigation and the trial.

On May 4, 1897, the Investigating Officer Pantaleon Garcia made a report of the proceedings and submitted it to Gen. Emilio Aguinalo, who immediately endorsed the same to Gen. Baldomero Aguinaldo. Pantaleon’s report stated, among others that based on reports, Andres was gathering soldiers in Limbon without permission and taking prisoners those who refused to join him, and in order to look into the truth of the matter, it was ordered that soldiers be sent at once to the village to reconnoiter, and when they returned they were greeted by gunfire, and they likewise answered in kind. Ciriaco was the first to open fire. Pantaleon further reported that,

“ The argument of the brothers, Andres and Procopio, that they did not know that there was a Government here cannot be accepted because of the testimony of the soldiers of Andres, who had earlier testified that there was a Government here and the Highest Executive Head was M. Emilio Aguinaldo, and besides this the aforementioned Mr. Andres testified that he was one of those conferees at Tejeros which was held there, and he induced Pedro Giron to assassinate Mr. Emilio, the President, and in truth he gave this Giron ten pesos to carry out the evil orders, so that he might come out President.

“Also induced were the officers of the soldiers here to join him, together with those he was commanding and regarding this matter those who can testify are Mr. Pio del Pilar, Colonel Ritual, and others, because they testified in the presence of many”

On May 5, 1897, Gen. Mariano Noriel called the meeting of the Council of War. The accused were present with their designated counsels, Placido Martinez and Teodoro Gonzalez, for Andres and Procopio, respectively. From the records, it seems that, no more testimonies were taken during the hearing, other than a short speech by Andres that was interrupted by the Council of War. The highlights of the hearing were the speeches of the counsels of the accused. A curious note is Placido Martinez, Andres's counsel, who delivered his defense for Andres and likewise acted as member of the Council of War.

The first to speak was the prosecutor, Mr. Jose Elises. Citing Pedro Giron's testimony, he charged Andres with plotting to overthrow the revoluionary government and the assassination of Emilio Aguinaldo -- the Supreme President. He blamed Andres for the death of the two government soliders and asked for the death penalty by musketry in a public place, five rounds each for him and brother Procopio from a distance of ten paces.

Then, Placido Martinez, Andres’s counsel, spoke for his client, as follows:

“The word to defend or protect, does not seem to apply remotely to Mr. Andres Bonifacio, on account of the evil and detestable deeds he had done, and if there is a severe punishment other than death, such may be properly be meted out to him; because to desire the assassination of our Supreme President of the Tagalog Region is just like desiring the murder of all of us; and it is obvious from this that he does not know how to sympathize with us who are of the same blood, his brothers and fellow countrymen; but it is undeniable to your exceeding goodness that we are brothers to error so that we are always supported by counsel

In this matter and in accordance with the things which happened to the aforementioned unfortunate Bonifacio when wounded, he was arrested at the town of Yndang when he was stripped of his clothes and the little that he carried with him was seized from him, it seems this is enough for the wrong he had done, and if this is not yet enough may the court listen for a while to what follows.

Is it not true that in our Kartilla or in the teaching followed by the Katipunan it is commanded that we love our fellowmen as we love ourselves?

Is it not true that our Lord Christ, although punished and killed by the Jews, asked our God the Father to forgive those who had done such to him?

And who are we, mere earthly beings, not to forgive our kind?

For the sake of all of these, I am asking that Mr. Andres Bonifacio be forgiven the transgressions he had committed, so that, if this were done, we may follow what we utter in saying “our Father” to forgive, our Gd, our sins as we forgive those who transgress against us…”

Before he ended his speech, Andres’s counsel commented on Col. Agapito Bonson’s attempts to rape Gregoria de Jesus. “…if there is truth in this (the rape attempts), I should be meted out the proper puisment, but if this is only an empty accusation, do what is proper, because this is a lsur on an officer like the said Bonson who has up to now shown stern devotion.”

Teodoro Gonzales, Procopio’s counsel, argued that Procopio should be excluded from the punishment recommend by the fiscal as Procopio testified that he induced no one, he was not a party to the plans of Andres and he did not make a stand at the time of fighting.

Andres asked that he be allowed to speak. When he was granted the permission, he repeated his earlier testimony, and thereafter, the council forbade him to go on at the request of the audience. The proceedings were thereafter suspended. The minutes of the hearing were signed by Mariano Noriel, Mariano Riego de dios, Crisostomo Riel, Estevan Ynfante, T. Mascardo, Sulpicio Antony, and Placido Martinez

In the continuation -- the ruling of the Council of War.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Andres Bonifacio Trial: I didn't fire a bullet. Aguinaldo was not validly elected.

In part one, we went through the proceedings at the Tejeros Convention. In part two , we read the testimony of Pedro Giron, the witness who accused Andres Bonifacio of paying Giron ten pesos to assassinate Emilio Aguinaldo. In this entry, we shall read the transcribed testimony of Andres Bonifacio.

I am tempted to re-write it a bit to make it easier to read, but I shall restrain myself in order that we may hear Andres Bonifacio, (codename Maypag-asa) himself in his moment of darkness:

The town of Maragondon, today the fourth of May of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven. Before the Colonel Judge Advocate and myself, the Secretary, appeared the person of Andres Bonifacio, thirty-three years old, married, native of the town of Tondo in the Province of Manila, whose office is that of President of the Revolution and head of the Katipunan, and in order to make the proper investigation, he was asked if he knew that here in this province there is a revolutionary government, and he answered that he did not know.

Asked if he knew that here in this province of Tanguay (Cavite) there is an army, he answered that he knew and that there were many officers like General Santiago (Alvarez), General Emilio (Aguinaldo), General Pio (del Pilar) and General Ricarte.

Asked if the witness had authority over the government of this province, he answered that he could not say whether or not he had because he had no information even about the founding of the said new government.

Asked if his having stopped at Limbon within the jurisdiction of Yndan (Indang) had the permission of the government, he answered that the Ministers of Magdiwang had information regarding his departure from Yndan (Indang) on his way home to Manila but on account of the absence of a guide who could show the way he had to stop at Limbon.

Asked if he had the permission of this government to assemble bolomen as well as riflemen at the said village of Limbon, he answered that because, as he had already said, he did not know of any other government, for this reason he was not able to report the assembling of his true soldiers whom he contributed here, but it was the Council of Magdiwang through its President who returned said soldiers to him.

Asked the number of his guns gathered together at the village of Limbon, he answered that he sent fifty guns here to help save the situation, but he carried none to Limbon except the seventeen Remington and the few other guns of various make.

Asked if among the said guns there were those which bore the mark of Magdalo, he answered that he did not remember the mark but he had full confidence that those were his because those who verified this were the holders of the guns.

Asked to name the person in charge of his soldiers who removed the mark, he answered that there was no one in charge.

Asked if he knew Pedro Giron, Benito Torres, Mr. Pio del Pilar and Mr. Modesto Ritual, he answered that he knew all of them.

Asked if he remembered that he wrote letters to the said gentlemen in order to have them transfer the guns to the village of Limbon and to join him, he answered that he wrote to no one on the matter being asked about.

Asked if in the days when he was at Limbon there had always been meetings and with whom he had been meeting, he answered that so far as he rembered he had met with no one outside the men who were with him.

Asked if he remembered how many times he met with Pedro Giron in order to ask him to assassinate the President of this Government, he answered that he had not conferred even once with the said person on the matter being asked about.

Asked if he remembered, too, that at Naik he gave money to the officers of the soldiers in order to transfer the riflemen to the witness, he answered that in the name of the Magdiwang and according to the promise of the Minister of Finance and the Minister of War, Mr. Diego Moxika (Mojica) and Ariston Villanueva, to the officers and men of the troops who helped in the battles at Noveleta and Malabon, said troops, as well as the so-called Balara men, were to be rewarded, for their sacrifice, the sum of two hundred pesos in the presence of many witnesses, together with instructions to the officers to whom the money was given to distribute this to the men and to inform General Emilio about it, but outside of this he had not given money to anyone, particularly in the matter being asked about.

Asked if Mr. Diego Moxika (Mojica), Mr. Ariston Villanueva, Mr. Silvestre Domingo and one named Santos were always meeting with the witness, together with his brothers, in the village of Limbon, he answered that Mr. Silvestre Domingo, Santos and Diego Moxika (Mojica), as he recalled, only happened to pass by there on their way to Buenavista, but he did not confer with them except for a few words of conversation exchanged in front of the owner of the house and except for the greetings customary among acquaintances.

Asked if at the time when the riflemen passed the village of Limbon in accordance with the orders of this province, the witness as well as his brothers ordered his soldiers that if on returning they did not stop after three shouts of those guarding the trenches being constructed, nor obey, they should be fired upon immediately, he answered that when the riflemen arrived at the house of the witness they were observed to have surrounded the said house, they were seen by almost all of the inhabitants of the village, and the officer leading the said soldiers, who was allegedly a Colonel, asked for permission to speak with him (Bonifacio) and when he (the colonel) came up the house he said he surrounded the house on account of the news he received in town that the men he was leading would be ambushed by the men of the witness at the Pass where they would go through; but when he realized that the news was false, seeing that no one was lying in waif for him there and the men were in their respective houses, the said Colonel apologized for his having surrounded the house and he was forgiven by the witness. This (incident) was disregarded by the witness, it being considered the fabrication of secret agents or of the enemy, so that the Colonel was not allowed to leave until he had sat down at their table, and when they (the Colonel and his men) said that their mission was to reconnoiter they were given packs of cigarettes and they parted peacefully; but shortly after his departure, one of the soldiers of the witness said that a trench in the outer area was closed allegedly on orders of the officer of the soldiers who had passed and that he had left instructions that no one should be allowed to go out among the soldiers of th witness. The next thing said by the man who came was that the guns of the soldiers who had gone out were seized from them, houses were entered into, and everyone said to be the men of the witness were told to come down. In this matter, in order to understand the truth of these charges and also to know the reasons for the seizure of arms and the arrest of the witness’ men, the witness ordered, through some persons who came to the place where the witness was waiting, someone to go to the said trenches which were closed in order to ask him about the reason and the matter concerning the seizure of arms and the arrest of people, and when this person did not return the witness thrice sent orders, through one named Captain Martin, a native of Silang, to Santos Nokon, and at around ten o’clock at night, Mr. Dorong Puti was sent, to all of whom no answer was given except firmness which gave no satisfaction, and the next day five Mauser shots were fired from the trenches of the soldiers of the said Colonel Yntong (Agapito Bonzon), which was not answered even once by the soldiers of the witness. Shortly after this the trenches were topped and these were surrounded by riflemen and bolomen, accompanied by the officer, Yntong, and others, when this was observed by the witness he ordered in a loud voic tohis commander who was named Benito Torres that no one should open fire in accordance with the shouts of those coming that they were brothers and to let the officers hold talks; they were allowed by the witness to approach but when they had already approached they aimed their guns at all the soldiers in the trenches and seized the arms of everyone, and after having done this, they started shouting that the shameless Supremo who had fled with our money must come out and present himself, and when the witness appeared and presented himself, he rushed and hugged the soldiers he met and shouted to his brothers that he had perpetrated no shameless deed and that he was not absconding with somebody else’s money. In answer to these words he was fired upon on orders of someone who appeared to be a commander, a thin man, but this shot only winged the witness on the shoulder and the bullet struck a man dressed in dinampol, who was standing behind the witness. This was what the witness shouted to the brothers: Look whom you are killing, your fellow-Tagalogs. This was disregarded and they continued firing at the same time until the witness fell, and when he fell he was stabbed on the throat by one of the officers. This is all that can be stated in the named of God and of the nativeland, which can be verified and attested to by the people living there, and perhaps by a few officers and men under Colonel Yntong also. Aside from this, they confiscated all the clothes they owned and the little money they had with them was seized besides and fact that Colonel Yntong tried to force the wife of the witness, according to the one testifying to this, to go up an unoccupied house with the intention of dishonoring her. Thanks to the mediation of some of the brother-officers of Colonel Yntong this did not happen. Likewise, when they were already in the town of Yndan (Indang), the aforementioned commander appeared again and tried to take by force the wife who was looking after the witness. Thanks to the pleading of the witness with Tomas Mascardo, who suddenly appeared, the wife was not taken.

Asked what the arms of the witness and his brothers were, he answered that he had one revolver which had not been lessened by even one bullet, and one poniard; regarding his brothers, in the melee he did not see what arms they had.

Asked if the witness together with his brothers fired at the soldiers of this province, he answered that the gun of the witness, the aforementioned revolver, had not been fired as evidenced the bullets in it; regarding his brothers’ arms these had been seized by the soldiers of Colonel Yntong before the shooting took place.

Asked if he know of if he had reports that even when the soldiers of this government had not yet approached the trenches being guarded by the soldiers of the witness, two soldiers were killed because of gunshots fired from the said trenches, he answered that he knew nothing aside from the two killed in the trenches, from where they were taken by those who carried them to the hospital.

Asked if the witness remembered that he was one of those who met at the Estate House of Tejeros in order to elect a President of the Archipelago, and the witness having understood the matter, answered yes.

Then he was asked if at that meeting Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo came out President; he answered that at that meeting there was confusion as everybody who was there knew and nothing came out of it except to render invalid what had been discussed there by almost all of the Ministers of Magdiwang and even the elected General-in-Chief of the Tagalog Region, Mr. Artemio Ricarte, attested to the truth in a document which states that the election was held through foul means because the true will of the citizens was not followed, so that he could not say that in this meeting Mr. Emilio Aguinaldo became President of the Archipelago.

Asked if the aforementioned Mr. Aguinaldo, because of his election as President of the Archipelago, took the oath of office, the witness, on understanding it, answered that he did not know.

Asked if he knew where Mr. Diego Moxika (Mojica) and Mr. Ariston Villanueva lived, he answered that he left them in the town of Yndan (Indang), but that he did not know the housed where they are staying.

This document was ordered closed and after reading and attesting to its truth he signed it and I, the Secretary, attest to the truth of this.



What could Andres’s counsel, Placido Martinez, add to the statement to improve Andres’s chances of acquittal?
With Bonifacio's defense, how would the Council of War decide?
(To be continued)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Part Two of the Famous Trial of Andres Bonifacio: The Testimony of Pedro Giron

In Part One of this Famous Trials Series, we had an inside view of the proceedings in the Tejeros Convention based on the memoirs of Artemio Ricarte, the secretary of the meeting during the elections. Then, we noted Andres’s efforts to nullify the proceedings with the signing of the Acta de Tejeros and the Naic Military Agreement. We concluded with the arrest of Andres and Procopio Bonifacio in Indang, Cavite.

The Government’s Story

The arrest of Andres and Procopio Bonifacio and the death of their brother Ciriaco are matters that were themselves in issue, along with the charges of treason and sedition against the brothers, in the trial that followed.

The report of General Mariano Noriel (a signatory to the Naik Military Agreement) to Emilio Aguinaldo laid down the version of the Revolutionary Government, as follows:

“Honorable and Eminent President:

“I should like to inform Your Excellency of the report given me by Colonel Agapito Bonzon, who was ordered to Indang together with our soldiers, on the matter regarding the Supremo, and this is no other than what follows.

“When he met the said Supremo, he used on him sweet words in order to convince him to accept his well-meant invitation, but in spite of this he was not able to soften the hard heart, which, besides refusing it, behaved like a real enemy and ordered his soldiers to open fire, which our side returned; for this reason, the unfortunate shedding of blood came to pass, a thing which he (Bonzon) would not have wished to happen on account of his love for the brothers; but in the pursuit of his duty, he deemed it proper to pursue this line of action and, consequently, paid with the lives of a rifleman from Imus and a boloman from Gargano (Bakood); however, they were able to kill a brother of the Supremo and the latter they left in the Tribunal of Indang in a somewhat serious condition because of the wound he had received in the throat; they were able to capture the twenty riflemen with him and a brother of the said Supremo.

Regarding this occurrence, it is up to your good judgment to determine just how grave is the erroneous and treasonable thought of Andres Bonifacio.

May the Lord God keep us safe for many years. Maguagi (Naik) twenty-eight of April one thousand eight-hundred and ninety-seven.
(From the translation of Virginia Palma-Bonifacio as it appears in Teodoro Agoncillo’s Writings and Trial of Andres Bonifacio and cited by Justice Abraham Sarmiento’s The Trial of Andres Bonifacio: the Appeal, published in 2005 by the UP Press. This is the basis for most quotations of this entry.)

Aguinaldo endorsed the case to the Council of War. Colonel Pantaleon Garcia began the investigation with Lazaro Makapagal as secretary. From April 29 to May 4, 1897, the Council of War took testimonies of the trial.

The Evidence

The inventory of guns seized from Bonifacio consisted of 28 firearms. The testimonies of the following people were obtained: Benito Torres, Nicolas de Guzman, Rafael Non, Narciso Tiolo, Julia Aguila, Cayetano Lopez, Biviano Roxas, Domingo Deulaso, Domingo San Juan, and Gervacio Santiago. Most of these testimonies, however, were remotely relevant, if at all, to the charges against the Bonifacio Brothers. The testimonies of the above witnesses did not support the allegation that the Bonifacio Brothers were plotting against the Revolutionary Government. Benito Torres testified, though, that in Limbon, Indang Cavite, Ciriaco was the first to fire against the government soldiers.

The Testimony of Pedro Giron

The testimony that stood out was that of Pedro Giron, another one of the signatories to the Naic Military Agreement that placed the revolutionary forces under the command of General Pio del Pilar. His statement based on the original transcription of Lazaro Makapagal and translated in the book of Teodoro Agoncillo was as follows:

“Barracks at Naik, the thirtieth day of the month of April of the year one thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven. Before the Colonel Judge Advocate and myself, the Secretary, appeared the person of Pedro Giron, single, twenty-seven years of age, native of the town of Baliuag, and in order to conduct the proper investigation, he stated the following:

“He was asked: If the one testifying knew that here in this province there is a Government, and if this Government had an army; having understood the question, he answered that there is a Government and an Army.

“He was asked: If Andres Bonifacio had authority here in the Province and, because of this, if the said Andres should properly have an Army; having understood the question, he answered that he knows of no authority coming from this Government.

“He was asked: How many were the guns of Mr. Andres Bonifacio and also how many were his soldiers; he answered that he does not know how many were the guns and the soldiers of Mr. Andres Bonifacio, for the one testifying, in his opinion, was being passed off as one of the soldiers of Mr. Andres, although he did not want to be one of them because he knows that Mr. Andres had evil intentions ever since the meeting held in the town of Tanza regarding the election of a President and other officials; one day, the date of which he could not remember, in the town of Malabon, Andres Bonifacio told him, Let us leave this place because the officials lead badly, so the good thing is for you to join me and you will be better off because, without fail, power would become his (Bonifacio’s), since he was the one who started the fight for freedom; one day when all the forces from the town of Tanza were already in this town, which, in his estimate, was already about twenty days later, more or less, Andres Bonifacio had the one testifying summoned, and when he arrived in the house where he was, Bonifacio said, What will become of us here? But even then, inasmuch as he was the one in power, Kapitan Emilio (Aguinaldo) would be forced to submit to him and should he disobey, he would have him killed, so on that very day the one testifying was given ten pesos as payment to kill Kapitan Emilio if he does not yield to his authority and he told the one testifying that any time, so long as he carries out his wishes, he will not neglect to give anything that might be needed; in this regard, thinking this would end in trouble, he separated from Mr. Andres and he went to Buenavista in Malabon and to Pasong Kauayan with a few soldiers of Malabon on the excuse that he was going to get a number of infantrymen who were his fellow townsmen and acquaintances in the towns of Silang, P. DasmariƱas, Malabon and Tanza; the one testifying also knows that Mr. Andres was assembling soldiers because if, as he said, our troops would be defeated, he would take them out with him, and if they would not be defeated, he would then stay here because everybody would be forced to submit to his authority, so he induced a few of the officers here to join him; in truth, the one testifying knows that a number of the soldiers of Mr. Andres were the ones asking that they leave in order to avoid trouble of any kind, but Andres would not accede to this, replying to the one who presented the proposal that if this should happen and we depart then many will say that he had taken fright and submitted completely to the authority of the few who are in power here.

“He was asked: If everything stated in his answer to the third question was known to the two brothers of Mr. Andres Bonifacio, Ciriaco and Procopio, or if they were privy to it; having understood the question, he answered, No.

“He was asked: If he knew that at the house which was occupied by Mr. Andres Bonifacio at Limbon, there had been meetings, at what time these had been held, and what had been talked about, and who were the people meeting there; having understood the question, he answered that he knows meetings were always being held, that he could not recognize these people because he is not from this place and also does not know what they were conferring about.

“He was asked again: If the one testifying knew where the food of the soldiers of Mr. Andres Bonifacio came from, and who were the persons giving them food; he answered that he does not know where it came from.

“He was asked: If the one testifying had anything more to say besides what he had already said; having understood the question, he answered that very early the previous Wednesday he was at Limbon, and at the time of the shooting between the soldiers of this Government and the three Bonifacio brothers, because of his desire that such a thing should not happen, the one testifying placed himself in the middle to influence, perhaps by his good argument and sweet persuasion, Ciriaco Bonifacio who not only refuse to be restrained but also discharged his gun, causing the death of the two soldiers of the Government; in this regard he thought they could not be pacified and he shouted, Brothers, we are not enemies; find out who are the ones who do not want peace. This examination was ordered stopped, so that after it had been read to him and certified, the Judge Advocate then signed and also the one testifying, and I, the Secretary, attest to the truth of this. Between the lines: one day: at Limbon:


For the part of the accused, Procopio Bonifacio testified, among others, that he was not resisting and was in fact surrendering his firearm. He was not aware of the existence of the Revolutionary Government, and learned of it only from passers-by.

Gregoria de Jesus, Bonifacio’s wife, testified likewise, that Colonel Bonzon’s men started the fighting on April 26. No meetings took place. She did not know that there is a President of the archipelago. She also testified that Col. Yntong Bonzon attempted to abuse her.

How did Andres Bonifacio answer the charges against him? How did his counsel Placido Martinez defend him? In the face of this evidence, how did the Court Martial justify its decision?

(To be continued)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


(Part One)

Did Andres Bonifacio order Pedro Giron to assassinate Emilio Aguinaldo for ten pesos? Did Emilio Aguinaldo get lawfully elected as President of the First Republic? Could Bonifacio have committed treason against a government that was repudiated by an overt act of the same persons who who participated in its creation? It has been more than a century after Andres Bonifacio’s trial, and we still ask the same questions. To commemorate the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio on the 30th of this month, I am posting the multi-part series on the Trial of Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan. More background material on Andres Bonifacio may be found here.

The Tejeros Convention

We begin our story on March 22, 1897. Cavite was liberated by the victorious but divided revolutionary forces, the Magdalo Wing, led by Baldomero Aguinaldo, and the Magdiwang Wing led by Mariano Alvarez. The Tejeros Convention was called originally by the Magdiwang faction to find out how the Magdalo controlled towns could be better fortified, as the Spanish Army began retaking the towns liberated by the revolutionary forces. The meeting took place in the Tejeros Estate, and first presided over by Jacinto Lumbreras.

Severino de los Alas rose at the start to the session to question the agenda. Wouldn’t it be better to determine first the kind of government existing in the country as upon that government would depend whatever defense might be needed? Lumbreras replied, it was a non-issue. The country is ruled by the supreme council of the Katipunan. Andres Bonifacio, founder of the Katipunan and head of the Supreme Council, spoke and supported Lumbreras. The “K” in the KKK means Kalayaan (Liberty). De la Alas argued, the “K” in the flag is irrelevant to the issue. Is the country a monarchy or a republic? That is the question. Bonifacio replied that the Katipuneros recognized the principles of Union, Fraternity and Equality. Clearly, the government of the Katipunan was a republic.

At this time, the hotheads appeared to be steaming, as Antonio Montenegro spoke to support de las Alas, and in a louder voice claimed that unless some definite understanding was arrived at, the insurgents were mere groups of tulisanes or much worse, brutes. With glaring eyes, Santiago Alvarez stood up, and addressed Montenegro: “We insurgents of Cavite especially of the Magdiwang government recognize and obey the government established by the Katipunan; if you wish to establish any other kind of government more suited to your fancy, retire to your province and conquer territory from the Spanish government as we have done here, and establish there whatever government you like, and no one will interfere with you. We Cavitenos do not need anyone of your caliber as an instructor. “

A commotion ensued. The session went on recess with the Magdiwang guards of Alvarez assuming a threatening attitude against Montenegro’s group. An hour later, heads have cooled down. Andres Bonifacio called the meeting to order. Lumbreras did not want to preside, because the agenda had been changed. Artemio Ricarte (Vibora) took the minutes of the continuation of the meeting.

Andres Bonifacio agreed to the call for the election of a new government on one condition: all must recognize the principle that they respect and obey the decision or vote of the majority. Everyone agreed, and the first elections of the First Republic took place.

The Elections

Before taking a vote, Andres Bonifacio called the attention of the electors to the fact that whoever should be elected by a majority vote should be respected and obeyed, whatever his social status and whatever his degree of culture might be; that is to say even though he should be a casillero (toilet cleaner).

In the following elections, Emilio Aguinaldo was voted President over Andres Bonifacio and Mariano Trias. Santiago Alvarez suggested that Andres Bonifacio be considered the Vice-President having garnered the second highest number of votes as President. No one commented on his suggestion.

The elections continued with Vibora getting elected as Captain General. He protested claiming he was not qualified. But his protests were ignored as the voting continued, this time no longer by balloting. Instead, those who favored any person for a position were made to stand on one side, and those who favored other persons were made to stand on the other, in order to shorten the process as night was falling. Elected in this manner was Emiliano Riego de Dios, Director of War.

Thereafter, the elections for Director of Interior proceeded with Andres Bonifacio getting more people to stand on his side over Mariano and Pascual Alvarez. In the midst of the acclamation for Andres, Daniel Tirona spoke, “The position of Minister of Interior is a very important one and should not be occupied by a person who is not a lawyer. We have in our province a lawyer Jose del Rosario; hence we must protest against the election of the persons elected and acclaimed.” Then he cried “Let us vote for Jose del Rosario, the lawyer!”

Bonifacio rose to his feet and said, “Have we not agreed that we shall obey the will of the majority, whatever might be the social position of the person elected?” He asked Daniel Tirona to repeat what he said or apologize to the assembly for the insult offered to the person elected for up to that time none of those elected was fitted by the reason of his culture for the position to which he had been designated. Tirona hid himself among the crowd, as Bonifacio drew his gun on Tirona, but Vibora seized Bonifacio’s hand and the incident passed without further ado. As the people were about to leave the room, Bonifacio declared, “I, as President of the session and also as president of the supreme council of the Katipunan as you all know, declare this assembly closed, and annul everything that has been done therein.” He then left the room followed by his group. (The above was based on the memoirs of Artemio Ricarte a.k.a. Vibora)

The Acta de Tejeros

The following day, Bonifacio, Mariano Alvarez, Vibora, Diego Moxica and forty four others signed the Acta de Tejeros. declaring among others, that the elections held the day before invalid for lack of legality as the ballots were prepared by one person and distributed to unqualified persons to ensure majority.

That night, however, Emilio Aguinaldo took his oath of office in Sta. Cruz de Malabon.

The Naic Military Agrement

On April 19, 1897, Bonifacio led the signing of the Naic Military Agreement, which placed the entire revolutionary army under General Pio del Pilar. The agreement was signed by 44 generals and leaders including, General Pio del Pilar and one Pedro Giron. Full text of the Agreement may be found here.

Aguinaldo arrived at Naic and caught up with Bonifacio, Gen. Pio de Pilar and Gen. Mariano Noriel. Bonifacio with his two bothers then tried to make their way to Batangas, where a rival government had been set up for him to lead. In a letter to Emilio Jacinto dated April 2, 1897, Andres claimed that the Batangas provisional government was placed under his orders.

The Arrest

On April 26, 1897, Aguinaldo ordered Bonifacio’s arrest to Colonel Agapito Bonzon for “treason and other acts inimical to the safety and existence of the fledgling Republic.”

On April 27, 1897, the three Bonifacio brothers were captured in Indang, Cavite. Ciriaco was killed, and Andres and Procopio were taken to Naic for trial. Bonifacio was carried in a hammock, his left arm shot and neck wounded with a dagger. Soon after, Naic fell to Spanish hands, thus Aguinaldo moved his government to Maragondon where the trial of Andres and Procopio was held.

What really happened in Indang? What were the charges against Bonifacio? What were the evidence?
(To be continued)

Part Two

Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
La Vida Lawyer Notes

Thursday, November 10, 2005

How will Gloria play her cards in the event of a diplomatic crisis?

Six US servicemen on "R and R" in Subic. A young lady in a karaoke bar. A van driven by a Filipino driver. The servicemen and the lady get inside the van. She emerges later almost unconscious and cries rape. The six servicemen say she was a prostitute. What do we have here? Stuff that could trigger a diplomatic crisis for Georgie and Gloria. I would leave the arguments to the lawyers and the activists, and indulge instead in a useless speculation on what's to happen next.

Scenario 1. The six servicemen are allowed to leave the country before trial begins. Georgie tells Gloria, "I'm sorry Gloria, we don't trust your system."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 2. The six servicemen stay in the country, but the trial drags on beyond the one year deadline under the VFA because the judge is always sick. Sometimes, its the fiscal who gets sick, sometimes its the stenographer. And the case is archived as the six servicement leave for Japan. Georgie tells Gloria, "It's your fault, your judge is too slow."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 3. The six servicemen stay in the country, tried for one year, get convicted and sentenced to die. Georgie tells Gloria. "Absolute pardon or you will have coup. Your system sucks."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 4. The six servicemen get acquitted. Georgie tells Gloria, "Let's put this behind us. This should not ruin our long standing relationship, in general, and the VFA, in particular."

How will Gloria react?

Scenario 5: The complainant withdraws her complaint, and the six servicemen leave. Georgie tells Gloria, "it wasn't rape after all. I don't want a repetition of this episode in the future. You should give ID cards to your prostitutes."

How will Gloria react?

How I wish in each of these scenarios she would stand up to that smirk and give him a smack in the face, "This is about justice. George. The dignity of our women and the sovereignity of our laws."

Unfortunately, she is on national security mode, which means I will not get my wish. Instead, she'd probably send Mike Defensor again to make sure things get fixed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Who are the People in your Neigborhood? Meet Mr. Congressman

We needed a bridge for a local barangay. So, we approached the congressman. This is how the conversation went.

"Sorry Padre. I cannot give you your request on that bridge that you need. Our CDF has shrunk to PHP 40 Million. That's not as good as the good old days." Mr. Congressman (Mr. C) said.

I nodded, feigning understanding of what he meant, but giving him the look as if to ask, how do you plan to run in the next elections then?

Mr. C added, "Although, out of the PHP 40 Million, they said PHP 20 Million is for "soft" projects and the other PHP 20 Million for "hard" projects. The local executives are far better than the congressmen these days. They have better funding than congressmen."

I asked, "What do you mean soft and hard?"

Mr C. said, "Hard means actual projects that could be gauged. Soft means funding support for NGO's, foundations and the like. Yung soft pwede mong pitikin kahit kalahati. Sabihin na nating S. O. P. is 50 percent. So out of the PHP 20 Million for soft projects I can get PHP 10 Million. It's still low but not bad.

I gave him the dumb look I give to talkative witnesses on cross-examination. "Pitikin? Fifty percent S.O.P. ?" I didn't know crooks knew poetry.

He continued, " But considering all the people who come to me for money, that PHP 10 Million could be easily spent. Just the other day, the barangay captain of B______ came to me asking for PHP 15 thousand pesos for travelling expenses of his daugther who is supposed to attend a seminar somehere. How do you think I could get out of that extortion try? I told him I'd shoulder half if he shouldered the other half. That bastard, for all I know, he needed only PHP 7,500, and was just trying to make money on me.

I nodded yes, what did the old proverb say "Galit ang magnanakaw sa..?" So much for the bridge.