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)