Revisiting Andres Bonifacio 4

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By Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

Speaking Out

Sunday, March 22, 2015


LAST week, I had the opportunity to attend a round table discussion on “Andres Bonifacio – Ang Unang Pangulo” held at De La Salle University. Among those who attended were Dr. Rene Escalante, head of DLSU history department, Dr. Fernie Santiago, historian Ramon Villegas, and students, mostly members of the DLSU Sociedad de Historia.

The main presentors were retired UP History Department Chair Milagros Guerrero and De La Salle Assistant Professor Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua. In an audio-visual presentation, they submitted representative samples of “newly accessed Katipunan documents” which purport to show that:

1. At the outbreak of the revolution, the secret society Katipunan was transformed into a revolutionary government.

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2. That this revolutionary government was not merely a government in name but was a working government.

3. That Bonifacio was the first president of the revolutionary government.

As early as 1993, Dr. Milagros Guerrero, Ramon Villegas and Emmanuel Encarnacion made the above declarations based on the few Katipunan documents available at that time.

Their position appeared to have been strengthened by 150 pieces of documents recently accessed from the Archivo General Militar de Madrid. These consisted of Katipunan documents which were confiscated by the Guardia Civil during the revolution and later deposited at the archives in Madrid.

It was historian and Katipunan expert Jim Richardson who called public attention to these documents thru his book “The Light of Liberty: Documents on Studies on the Katipunan 1892-1897.”

With these new discoveries, Dr. Milagros Guerrero, Professor Chua, and like-minded historians are now pursuing with more confidence their attempt to rewrite Philippine history.

In college, I learned some history fundamentals from my professor as follows:

One: History is basically a report of a past event or events.

Two: The manner the report is written can be affected by the information available at the time, the accuracy and integrity of said information, the analysis and interpretation of said information and by the bias of the writer.

Three: Since the availability of information can change over time, it only follows that history as a discipline cannot be static.

Four: History, as a discipline, must be a living, evolving thing. History, unlike dogma, can and may be rewritten.

In the college of law, I learned that one of the reliefs available to an adversely affected party is a Motion for New Trial. One of the grounds for invoking this relief is “newly discovered evidence.”

This “newly discovered evidence” 1) must be discovered after the trial, 2) could not have been produced during the trial even with the exercise of due diligence, 3) must be material and not merely corroborative, 4) must be of such weight that it would probably change the judgment, if admitted.

Once a motion for new trial is approved, the previous judgment is vacated and a new trial (trial de novo) is held.

In effect, in their attempt to rewrite history, Dr. Milagros Guerrero and Professor Xiao Chua are doing the equivalent of “moving for a new trial” based on “newly discovered evidence.”

I say that let us take a look at these newly discovered evidences. If they meet the requisites, then we as judges, sitting in the court of history, should grant historians Guerrero and Chua their “motion for new trial.”

To quote retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio V. Panganiban: “(M)agistrates xxx are not bigots or stubborn of heart. They do change their positions when persuaded by xxx reasoned arguments, verbal or written.”

We as “judges in the court of history” would be wisely-advised if we adopted the same rule.

Note: You may email us at totingbunye2000@ gmail.com.

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