MIND DA NEWS: Independence: Declared, Taken Away, Given Back

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 June) — One of the questions asked and discussed every year around this time is: What is our Independence Day – June 12 or July 4? This will be asked and discussed every year. This will not end so long as we refuse to see and call a “spade” the “spade” that it is.

Attribute it to Filipino pride. We have refused to recognize and accept the truth of our history: Philippine Independence was declared by Gen. Emilio Aquinaldo on June 12, 1898; the Americans, instead of recognizing it, took it away; Filipino nationalists worked for the return of Independence which was finally given back on July 4, 1946.

June 12 and July 4 commemorate the same Independence Day – the first, its founding; the second, its return. Which day to celebrate as our Independence Day, it’s our option. President Diosdado P. Macapagal, on May 28, 1962, issued Presidential Proclamation No. 28 declaring June 12 as Philippine Independence Day instead of July 4 the Philippine Independence Day since July 4, 1946. Starting 1964, July 4 was renamed Philippine Republic Day by virtue of Republic Act No. 4166 [August 4, 1964].

PP No. 28 and RA No. 4166 did not change the history of Philippine Independence. That on June 12, 1898, Aguinaldo rightfully declared Philippine Independence after winning this from Spain no one can change. That the United States took that away no one can deny. That Filipino nationalists led by Manuel L. Quezon struggled and succeeded to have that Independence recognized all must acknowledge. That America recognized and returned that Independence on July 4, 1946 no one can erase from history.

Let Philippine historical documents speak:

First: The Malolos Constitution is entitled “1899 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines” [English translation of the Spanish original] to affirm the Independence Aguinaldo declared on June 12, 1898.

“Title I: The Republic; Article 1: The political association of all Filipinos constitutes a nation, whole state shall be known as the Philippine Republic.” (Bold, italics ours)

Second: The 1935 Constitution is entitled “1935 Constitution of the Philippines” with Article XVIII as “Special Provision Effective upon the Proclamation of the Independence of the Philippines”.

Section 1, with five subsection, states: “Upon the proclamation of the President of the United States recognizing the independence of the Philippines –” (Bold, italics ours)

Parenthetically, however, there was a not-so-pleasing trade-off. Section 1(4) states: “The Government of the Philippines will assume all continuing obligations of the United States under the Treaty of Paris with Spain ceding the Philippine Islands to the United States.”

Article XVIII is entitled “The Commonwealth and the Republic” with Section 1 stating: “The government established by this constitution shall be known as the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Upon the final and complete withdrawal of the sovereignty of the United States and the proclamation of Philippine independence, the Commonwealth of the Philippines shall thenceforth be known as the Republic of the Philippines.(Bold, italics ours)

The President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, signed the 1935 Constitution. By that, the United States recognized the independence of the Philippines as a fact in 1935 and proclaimed that fact in 1946 recognizing the independent Philippines as the Republic of the Philippines.

It took America 48 years (1898 to 1946) to fully recognize the Philippine Independence declared by Aguinaldo. The Americans were too proud to admit it committed a moral error in taking away that independence. This did not sit well to some in the U.S. Congress and media, but to no avail. It just supported the political struggle of the Filipino nationalists for independence while avowing that it was nurturing democracy” in the Philippines for that independence.

There is only one Philippine Independence and one Republic of the Philippines. That we have supported PP No. 28, s. 1962 celebrating the “declaration” is our choice. But that does not invalidate or degrade the other end of history – the “recognition” as enshrined in Articles XVII and XVIII of the 1935 Constitution.

Let there be no issue about our option in celebrating June 12 as our Independence Day. The real issue is what we have been doing with our Independence. Cavalierly, we have the options to tidy it up to regain our premiere position in Asia or to continue messing it up and bewailing our fate.

[Author’s Note: Mind da News, the alternate of COMMENT, is a comment on current news. The author may be contacted at patponcediaz@yahoo.com.]