Monday, January 18, 2010

Joseph "Erap" Estrada Answers Plunder Conviction & Food Security Issues Head-On

Excerpts of the GMA-7 November 2009 Presidential forum (Tagalog parts translated into English)

PRETTY smart and very straightforward answers from former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada. Herein, he confronts the perpetually hot issue of his Plunder conviction with an un-trapo-like honesty. The comebacking politician also defends his performance during his unfinished first term with regards food security.

On his claim of innocence re plunder/theft of government money:
Estrada: Nothing was proven. Nothing was proved with regards [the issue] of my supposed theft of government money, not a single centavo... My conviction pertains to jueteng. That jueteng [money] ....was deposited in the Muslim Youth Foundation, of which I was not a beneficiary. Its Board of Trustees were ...UP professors. So that was clean.

They needed to convict me. That is why they created  that court to convict me. That special court--the first time a special court was created. And that court was created to convict me.  In fact, when I was convicted, two [Sandiganbayan] justices were immediately promoted to the Supreme Court.

So that was my only conviction. And that I supposedly received commission from one corporation, the BW. But the [one who stood as] witness said I wasn't given the money, it was given to Jaime Dichavez, not to me.

Assuming... that the jueteng and the commission to me, they are called private money, ... not goverment money. That's the two counts I was convicted [for]. Those citing the 7171, re government money--none, I'm cleared.

So [if that were true], I wouldn't have the courage to face the Filipino people and run [for president] again if I did steal, if I were guilty.

Look at the conviction, just the two counts. But with regards graft and corruption, every contract I approved was scrutinized. A Task Force was established by the Department of Justice consisting of six lawyers...who scrutinized everything ... but they didn't see any contract tainted with anomaly.  If there were even just one [anomaly] seen, it would have made headlines....

On poverty level during his first term:
Erap: In 1997, just please recall that there was an Asian Economic Crisis.... when i assumed office, our agricultural growth rate was zero-zero. I was able to raise that [agri growth rate level] to 6.6%. Such is documented. And inflation rate was 12%, I reduced it by 3.0%.

 And our GNP, I was able to increase it up to 3.6%. This is documented, professor. You can check it with the Department of Finance.

So what are you claiming that.. .... and I concentrated on food security. Re agriculture, from 0-0 growth, raised to 6.6 [percent].

[My administration] just came from the Asian crisis. And I was able to turn the tide. We were able to overcome the [effects of] the Asian crisis. That is on record, Prof. Monsod if you can go out of your way to find out from the Department of Finance.

On Bro. Eddie Villanueva's question re dealing with the "perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and of massive gargantuan, unabated corruption":

Erap: There should be intense investigation and after the...[conclusion] of the investigation, there should be...  "certainty of punishment," which is what's important. There are many people in government that escape prosecution because their cases are [allowed to be] fixed... even extrajudicial killings....

On the part of GMA-7, including Mel Tiangco, the TV station seemed much more civil and less bias here than during the interview they conducted right after Estrada's announcement to seek the presidency once more time.  Said issue was touched on in an earlier Sobriety for the Philippines article:

Fallen Young Red Fighter Kemberly Jul Luna - Within the context of the EDSA 2-Arroyo/Ramos-CPP-NPA connection

THE death of 21-year-old Kemberly Jul Luna caused quite an uproar in the activist and leftist circles. Jul was a popular, charming, merry, and yes, beauteous, true-blue scholar ng bayan with multiple talents and interests from the Mindanao State University (MSU). She died a comrade, a member of the New People's Army (NPA), the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), during a days-long battle with the military in Sitio Bulacao in Valencia, Bukidnon last December. Her tragic, principled (or ideological?) death made me ponder on the current state of the communist movement in the Philippines.


Called "Kimay" by friends, she was a high school valedictorian from Tubod, Surigao del Norte who enrolled in AB English at MSU. True to the calling of her age, she initially lived what the Philippine Daily Inquirer described as "bon vivant lifestyle" marked by late-night parties. Despite, she still managed sustained academic performance and a host of campus cultural activities. Intelligent, active, party-goer, yet socially involved, Kimay was once a leader of the Catholic Center Campus Ministry and member of the Kalimulan cultural dance troupe until she embraced the leftist perspective.

In February 2008, she became an active member of the League of the Filipino Students. Supposedly, that was the time Kimay "shed herself off of all the petty-bourgeois individualism." By the first semester of school year 2008-2009, she was chosen as adhoc chairperson of MSU's opposition party, STAND-IIT.

Came second semester and she did not enroll as she completely turned to a very radical path. According to STAND-IIT spokesperson Mark Jason Tan Cesar, "She wanted to serve the poor and she was very resolute. She told us that she wanted to work with the peasants in the countryside. There was no stopping her.”

October of the same year, she bravely took part in uncovering the impact of militarization and indiscriminate aerial bombing of war-torn Tagoranoa village in Poona Piagapo in Lanao. She then engaged in full-time work organizing peasants as she reportedly joined the province-wide KASAMA-Bukidnon organization January of 2009.

Young, Scholar of the Masses, NPA, Dead

In August 2009, she informed friends that she left KASAMA-Bukidnon, saying only that has developed greater love for the peasants with every passing day she lives among them. She became an NPA.

Kemberley was reported missing in mid-December 2009 by human rights group KARAPATAN-Bukidnon Chapter. When her body was found days later, it was already much decomposed and dumped with those of seven other alleged NPAs in the forest of Brgy. Concepcion.

CPP-NPA & 'National Liberation'

Columnist Herman Tiu-Laurel laments and questions Kemberley's death, saying that "She follows a long line of fallen young warriors over the past five decades which include several of my own friends and comrades. Is this still the right way to fight for national liberation?"

For its part, the Communist Party of the Philippines released a press release saying:
Her martyrdom is extolled as well by the peasant masses whom she intimately lived with and served as a Red fighter and medic of the NPA until her last day... Her life of tireless work and selfless sacrifice for the downtrodden will forever be etched in the hearts of those she loved, worked and died for.

Unholy Mix: CPP and EDSA 2

I'm not exactly endorsing the path July chose to take. I do respect her decision because the depth of her patriotism led her to offer and sacrifice her youthful, promising, beautiful life in pursuit of her conception of 'national liberation.'

However, the organization she embraced, the CPP-NPA, the Communist Party of the Philippines of the present time, to my mind, showed itself too flexible principle-wise when it took part in EDSA II--what a foreign media outfit described as "the opportunist coalition of church, business elite and left....". I expected better from Jose Maria Sison's group, as I remember questioning back then why they would even consider joining forces with those of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and former President Fidel Ramos whom then-President Joseph Estrada wanted charged for the Centennial Expo and other corruption scandals.

While I don't subscribe to any form of totalitarianism, whether left or right, or religious, I've harbored respect not only for the personal conviction and sacrifice of its members but, as well, for the underground organization's principles. Back in 1985-86, the Philippine communist movement was chided for its decision not to support or join the EDSA I (original) "People Power" Revolution. The 'culprit' was its strict adherence to its principles such that the movement was unwilling to compromise enough to accommodate the unified opposition led by Corazon "Cojuangco" Aquino and Salvador "Doy" Laurel.

Arguably, the CPP-NPA should not have merely stayed at the sidelines during the historic 1986 Edsa 1. Definitely, to my mind, the Philippine Reds should NOT have shifted to opportunist mode during Edsa 2 which aimed for nothing but oust the not-entirely-clean but, nonetheless, relatively patriotic and nationalist Estrada.

By taking part in the ouster of the pro-masa and genuinely elected Erap by coalescing with unquestionably fascist and elite elements, the local communists have indicated their dangerous adoption of what can be seen as counter-revolutionary strategy and anti-populist mind frame at will.

Gloria Arroyo, Part of Joma’s Foresight?

Then again, is it possible that the CPP-NPA calculated that a Gloria Arroyo presidency would be more conducive to their goals? Way back before Gloria was able to grab the presidency, she was without question already a fascist, even imperialist agent.

Along with then President Ramos, Senator Arroyo was responsible for Philippines' membership in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade-World Trade Organization (GATT-WTO) in 1995. She was also the principal author of what has been called "the most environmentally-hazardous law of the land," Republic Act 7942 or the 1995 Mining Act, which permits foreigners a hundred percent ownership of the country's mines.

Compare Gloria to Estrada, who, despite the latter's agreement to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), nonetheless braved neo-imperialist foreign interests by removing sovereign guarantees on government contracts. Did CPP-NPA leader Joma Sison figure that replacing the rather 'uncouth' but popular and pro-masa Estrada with 'fascist' Gloria Arroyo could speed up their brand of national liberation struggle?

2008 Mindanao War: Gloria, Kimay & Joma

It's been speculated that Arroyo virtually cooked up the October 2008 war in Mindanao to present an excuse to declare Martial Law in the country and extend her term scheduled to end in June 2010. Her administration signed the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) with Muslim rebels while well aware that such dismemberment of the Republic won't be allowed by the Christian community not only in Mindanao but in the capital. According to an October 2008 Malaya editorial, the MOA-AD is an "elaborate charade... [apparently designed] to provoke the MILF into going back to war as what is happening now" after the Supreme Court TROed the agreement.

A few months after seeing first-hand the horrors wrought on Davaoenos by the Mindanao war , Kemberly advanced from full-time peasant organizing to become an NPA. Wonder if Joma Sison foresaw Gloria's Illegitimacy would turn the 2001 power grabber into a devil-may-care megalomaniac, thus inadvertently serving as a hopefully effective NPA recruiting machine?

The last paragraph in the January 8, 2010 CPP press release on Kemberley Jul Luna's death reads:
Let us pay tribute to Kimay by amplifying the call for student, youth and other activists to join the New People's Army. As the people's revolution gears for greater advances, there is a growing need for more youth and students and activists from the other sectors to sign up as Red fighters, combine with the peasants and workers and contribute to carrying out the tasks of people's war with unprecedented vitality.

EDSA II - Part of Joma's Foresight, or Plain Mob Crazy?

It is a fact that the Arroyo administration is credited with the most number of salvagings, desaparecidos, and human rights violations in Philippine history, largely targeting the activists and socialists. Has the Philippine Left been had by Arroyo and Ramos when its members supported the EDSA 2 ouster of Estrada?

Or did Joma, et al. chose to avoid a more progressive administration to advance its “people’s war”? I’ve long harbored the suspicion that why Joma’s group went against Erap and took the side of the clearly fascist (or more fascist) Arroyo and Ramos was because Estrada’s ‘bakya‘ or masa appeal presented a strong competition in winning the masses, whose support they need in order to further their war style towards national liberation.

Of course, I could be wrong. I hope I’m dead wrong.

Then there’s the possibility that neither applies for the 2001 Edsa coup. If I remember accurately, broadcaster Korina Sanchez-Roxas commented back in early 2001 as to what could have possibly brought about Edsa 2, saying something like “It’s as if a cloud of something descended upon the people who took part in it.” It is not entirely impossible that the Edsa II people simply went mob crazy. So crazy they went the side of Centennial-Expo-defensive Eddie, ‘Tabako’ Eddie....



Baguisa, Pedro. Philippine Communist party PKP-1930.

In Memory of Kemberly "Kimay" Jul Luna: Iskolar ng Bayan and Freedom Fighter (July 23, 1988 - December 15, 2009). Arkibong Bayan Site. 8 Jan. 2010.

Ofreneo, Rene and Malaluan, Nepomuceno. Threat Economics. 12 Nov. 2007.

Philippines: CBCP should reject Arroyo along with her Mining Law, environmentalists say.

"The road map to war." Malaya. 23 Aug. 2008.

Tiu-Laurel, Herman. Infowar vs national mental rot." The Daily Tribune. 11 January 2009.

Tupas, Jeffrey. "A life of passion for poor remembered." 07 Jan. 2010.


Friday, January 01, 2010

The Devaluation of a Hero & Promotion of a Counter-Hero: Where's Andres Bonifacio in the 5 Peso Coin? Make it P2.00. [Bonifacio series III]

 FROM being the face of the P5 bill/coin to sharing half the theme of the P10 bill, the Philippine's other national hero, Andres Bonifacio y de Castro, has suffered a devaluation over the last few decades. Corollary to the Supremo's apparent (and unofficial) demotion is the promotion of his revolutionary nemesis, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. From having absolutely no presence in neither bills nor coins, the country's supposed First President responsible for the Proclamation of Philippine Independence and, as well, the killings of at least two nationalist heroes, displaced Bonifacio from the No.2 spot in Philippine money.

Supremo Andres Bonifacio

Gat Andres Bonifacio was the founder of the Kataastaasan Kagalang-galang na Katipunan nang manga Anak nang Bayan (KKK), a secret revolutionary society aimed at liberating the Philippines from the yoke of Spanish colonial rule. Open to prospective members from both the peasantry and middle class, it made use of Masonic rituals to give the society an atmosphere of sacred mystery.

First Philippine President?

The Supremo has also been referred to in history as the Philippine's First (Revolutionary) President.  While certain historians have tried to downplay or dispute his formation and leadership of the earliest national government by and of the Filipinos, there have been clear evidence that Andres Bonifacio was Filipinos' truly first President.

After the Katipuneros launched the uprising against the Spaniards,  hero set out to transform the secret national organization into an open and de facto revolutionary government. The founder of the Katipunan became the president and formed a cabinet composed of men he trusted, including Emilio Jacinto, Secretary of State; Teodoro Plata, War; Aguado del Rosario, Interior; Briccio Pantas, Justice; and Enrique Pacheco, as Secretary of Finance.

Surviving official letterhead communications dated 1897 point to Bonifacio's various designations that include being the "Supreme President, Government of the Revolution."Perhaps the most telling proofs come from non-partisan sources of his period.

Nineteenth century Spanish historian Jose M. del Castillo, in his 1897 work "El Katipunan" or "El Filibusterismo en Filipinas," describes the first national elections in the Philippines from which Bonifacio emerged as the President, and Plata, Jacinto, del Rosario, Pantas and Pacheco as cabinet officials. This is corroborated by the February 8, 1897 issue of the international publication "La Ilustracion Espanola y Americana" in its article about the Philippine revolution and which featured an engraved portrait of "Andres Bonifacio, Titulado 'Presidente' de la Republica Tagala," clad in a dark suit and white tie.

Noble Courage

At any rate, that Bonifacio is the "Father of Philippine Revolution" is undisputed, and his courage legendary. During World War II, his name even was even used by American propagandists to inspire anti-Japanese resistance. His persona was even adopted as a strong theme in the Hollywood World War II movie, "Back to Bataan," which starred John Wayne and Anthony Quinn.

History of Philippine Notes and Coins

The Philippine peso dates back to the Spanish colonial period with the royal decree confirming the creation of the first public bank, Banco Espanol-Filipino de Isabel II (later the Bank of the Philippine Islands) and giving the same the authority to print paper money. The first Philippine bank notes, collectively termed PF or peso fuertes or "strong pesos," were issued on May 1, 1852.

In the next few decades, PF paper money and, later, coins gradually replaced Mexican coins then in circulation. The original PF bank notes carried the portrait of Spain's Queen Isabella II, after whom the bank was named.

During the short-lived First Philippine (Revolutionary) Republic, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo issued new currency called Republic Filipina Moneda de un Peso as a way of asserting the country's independence. Printed were five-peso and one-peso bank notes and three variations of 2 centavo coins backed by the natural resources of the country.  

Under the American Occupation, Bank of the Philippine Islands or BPI retained the right to issue bills and coins although no longer on a non-exclusive basis. Pegged to the gold exchange standard, the peso became known as "Philippine Currency" or "Peso Conant."
In World War II, the Japanese colonizers introduced currency known as Southern Development Bank Notes for Philippine use. Banks and local governments also issued their own crudely-made "guerrilla pesos" designed for redemption with silver pesos after the War. The Japanese-sponsored government of President Jose P. Laurel, however, prohibited the issuance and possession of guerilla currency.

In 1944, notes printed with "Victory" on the reverse side were printed at the United States Bureau of Engraving and Printing. They were designed to be used upon the expected return of US Gen. MacArthur.

Central Bank of the Philippines

As the Allied Forces triumphed in World War II, the Philippines was granted independence from American colonial rule come 1946. On January 3, 1949, the Central Bank of the Philippines or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) was created, empowering it with the exclusive authority and power to issue currency.

In 1949, the Central Bank first issued Victory notes, which were overprints of the pre-WW II-liberation notes. Its first official banknotes, though, were issued two years later and called the English series. Filipinization began with the Pilipino Series. Subsequent series replaced the previous: Ang Bagong Lipunan series (ABL); New Design; Flora and Fauna series; New Design series; BSP series.

English series - 1951; coins 1959
Pilipino series - 1967; coins 1967
Ang Bagong Lipunan series - 1973; coins 1975 (Flora & Fauna coins 1983)
New Design series - 1985; Flora & Fauna coins improved version 1992
BSP series - 1998

Andres Bonifacio Devaluation

Philippine banknotes and coins wholly featuring national figures, symbols, sites, and flora and fauna began with the creation of the Central Bank. With regards heroes and heroines, the rule, albeit unwritten, has mostly been that the historic figures appear on the front or obverse side in descending order of importance beginning with the lowest peso denomination. The rationale is that the greater the hero/heroine, the more his/her face should be /propagated in denominations with greater circulation, which are, of course, the lower-valued notes and coins.

This apparent trend began with the Pilipino series where Jose Rizal has for a long time been the face of the P1 bill, and continues up to the present (P1 coin). Thus, Rizal, the acknowledged official national hero, is currently on the obverse of the P1 coin while the largest banknote, the P1,000 bill, carries patriots Chief justice Jose Abad Santos, Gen. Vicente Lim and Josefa Llanes Escoda.

Bonifacio in Philippine Money

A rather recent and glaring deviation from this trend has victimized no less than Gat Andres Bonifacio, Also referred to as the "Great Plebeian," he happens to the Philippine's "other" national hero. According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts:
Aside from Rizal, the only other hero given an implied recognition as a national hero is Andres Bonifacio whose day of birth on November 30 [Bonifacio Day] has been made a national holiday.

P10 design, BSP series

In the latest P10 bill design, the BSP series (1995), Bonifacio was lumped with Apolinario Mabini. The leftward profile of Mabini is at the far right adjacent to the serial number of the face of the bill while that of Bonifacio is positioned right next to him.

At the back are found a close-up view of the Barasoain Church and a smaller image of the "Blood Compact of Katipuneros" with a dividing spherical broad (brush) stroke in between. The design of the bank note's obverse side is reflected in the cupro-nickel P10 coin with Bonifacio at the forefront and Mabini behind him.

The BSP series issued in 1995 represented a devaluation for Bonifacio because the Supremo was the face of the Philippine five-peso bill for nearly two decades (1967-1985) under the Pilipino and Ang Bagong Lipunan series.  He was consistently next in line to Rizal, featured in P1 bill (Pilipino series) and P2 bill (ABL series).

Even under the New Design series when the P2 and P1 paper money were demonetized, Bonifacio retained his importance: his image continued to be minted on the obverse of the P2 coin  (under the improved Flora & Fauna round P2 coin design) while Rizal continued to be on the P1 coin.

 Mabini, also referred to as the "Sublime Paralytic," has consistently been on the P10 bill (and later, coin) beginning with the Pilipino series (1967). He is often considered as the "Brains of the Revolution," possibly for his role as the right-hand man of Aguinaldo and his role in effecting the revolutionary government. While Mabini is undoubtedly an illustrious hero and patriot, he doesn't have the national hero status of Bonifacio.

Bonifacio and Mabini Themes as Separate Historical Animals

Beyond representing a devaluation in terms of money-related "circulation"--so to speak--of the recognition of Bonifacio's heroism, the current BSP design of the P10 banknote/coin is historically incongruent. The themes of Bonifacio and Mabini are unmistakably separate periods of the Philippine Revolution for independence against colonial rule. The clear dividing line is the execution of Bonifacio upon Aguinaldo's order, and highlighted no less by the Philippine-American War which came much later.

Before the BSP series banknotes were first printed in 1998, only Mabini (front) and Barasoain church (back) occupied the P10 bill. The use of the Sublime Paralytic and the Barasoain Church, being one of the prime movers and the proclamation site, respectively, of the Malolos Republic (First Philippine Republic), has been a consistent design of the P10 bill under the Pilipino series, Ang Bagong Lipunan series, and New Design series (in the English series, the theme formed the design of the P1 bill).

It is not to be denied that Bonifacio and Mabini knew each other. Gregoria De Jesus, Bonifacio's widow, even recounted a talk between her late husband and Aguinaldo about Mabini. However, they are not officially associated as Mabini was not a part of Bonifacio's set of Katipunan officers; the "Sublime Paralytic" only became part of the power circle when he was summoned by Aguinaldo, who had by then already eliminated Bonifacio and taken over the leadership of the revolution.

It can be argued, of course, that Katipuneros' blood compact and, thus, the revolutionary movement, served as the foundation of the "Malolos Congress" and the First Philippine Republic. However, such an argument begs the unpalatable question: How did Mabini react and, later, morally justify Aguinaldo's coup against, and elimination of, Bonifacio?

Bonifacio & Jacinto?

If there is a hero that perhaps historically deserves to be joined with Bonifacio, it is Emilio Jacinto, the "Brains of Katipunan." Jacinto was Bonifacio's confidante and author of Katipunan's moral code, the Kartilya. His principled loyalty to Bonifacio extended even after the Supremo was deposed and murdered: he continued to fight the Spanish soldiers while refusing to join Aguinaldo's forces until his death in April 1899.

This theme actually had a precedent--under the English series design of the Philippine peso when Bonifacio and Jacinto were actually together on the face of the P50 (Mabini was in the P1 and Rizal on the P2). Jacinto is undoubtedly a patriotic hero with exemplary revolutionary morality, as reflected in the Kartilya. Bonifacio, the Philippines' other national hero, however, deserves no less a solo place in a bank note or coin right next to Rizal.

Aguinaldo's Symbolism & Appearance in Philippine Money

Gen. Aguinaldo only began his appearance in Philippine currency in the P5 bill under the New Design series during the mid-1980s. His solo profile was on the face of the banknote, while the "Declaration of Independence" in Kawit, Cavite was on the reverse side. The coin equivalent of this denomination also carried his profile. In the current BSP series, the P5 bill was demonetized but the coin continues to bear his profile.

It is perhaps understandable that the theme of Aguinaldo had to finally, if belatedly, make its appearance in Philippine money as it represents the country's assertion of independence from Spain. The image of the proclamation of Independence at Kawit represents a nullification of America's protracted claim that there was no Philippine-American War.

For a long time, the US justified its imperialistic turn-of-the-19th-century annexation of the Southeast Asian archipelago by claiming that the Philippines was no nation and was still a Spanish colony when it was 'ceded 'via the 1898 Treaty of Paris. Aguinaldo's presence in Philippine money can thus well symbolize the post-Bonifacio phase of the Revolution against Spain and the country's assertion of independence and first attempt at self-governance as a liberated nation.

Aguinaldo & Mabini Instead

If Mabini needs to be joined by another figure, it should be no other than the President he served, Gen. Aguinaldo. This is because their roles in Philippines history are actually inseparable.

Aguinaldo can well join Mabini in the face of the P10 bill, along with the images of Kawit's Independence Day side by side with Barasoain Church on the back side should give a faithful recounting of the events of 1898 and early 1899. Compared to today's anomalous P10 Bonifacio-and-Mabini design, such a theme of the continuum of the Declaration of Philippine Independence, and the subsequent Proclamation of the First Philippine Congress/Republic, which took place in Barasoain Church, would be much more historically real.

Bonifacio's Devaluation Came with Aguinaldo's Promotion?

It is worth noting that the apparent devaluation of Bonifacio in Philippine currency took place after the "EDSA I Revolution" and the ouster of Marcos. With all Apo Ferdie's human rights violation, and even having an Aguinaldo descendant as his Prime Minister (Cesar Virata), Bonifacio's place in Philippine money was well secure.

Aguinaldo began appearing in Philippine money at the twilight of Marcos' administration.  However, Marcos ensured Bonifacio's promotion closer to Rizal by having the Supremo assume face of the decagonal P2 coin with the 1983 release of the Flora and Fauna coins (apparently under the ABL series).

The point is: does Aguinaldo's promotion need to come at the expense of Bonifacio's demotion? From being the face of the P5 bill and later, the P2 coin, Bonifacio was relegated to splitting the P10 bill/coin with Mabini.

Aguinaldo and his Kawit theme were already accommodated in the P5 even with the seeming effect of relegating Mabini's position in the pantheon of Filipino heroes and patriots. Why should Bonifacio, a national hero, be effectively relegated by Aguinaldo's historical rehabilitation via Philippine money?

Aguinaldo's Rehabilitation

It should be emphasized that Aguinaldo was never on any Philippine money until the New Design series. Despite the fact that he took over the leadership of the Revolution after having Bonifacio killed, bringing  it to near success against Spanish forces, he was not deemed worthy enough to grace any bill or coin for over 80 years following the Malolos Republic or 20 years after his death (February 1964). His mid-1980s appearance in Philippine money seemed to signal the start of the rehabilitation of his stained name in Philippine history.

At least three reasons explain Aguinaldo's shady or suspect role in Philippine history.

1.    Top of the list is Aguinaldo's execution order on Bonifacio, not infrequently interpreted as murder within a planned coup.

Two versions of the Killing of the Supremo: Firing Squad & Hacking

Bonifacio seems to have been tricked by the Magdiwang chapter of Cavite's KKK into joining the Tejeros Convention where he was elected Interior Secretary and Aguinaldo, the President.The Katipunan leader was sport enough to accept his lesser position but was enraged (or deliberately made enraged?) when Caviteno Daniel Tirona humiliated him by questioning  his qualifications and even suggesting some lawyer was better fit to handle the position he won. 

A shooting incident was avoided and Bonifacio left. When he and his brother were taking breakfast while on their way back, they were captured and later executed by Aguinaldo's men on May 10, 1897 in a mountain in Maragondon, Cavite.

2.    Just three months since the start of the Phil-Am War, Aguinaldo had another valiant revolutionary killed, Gen. Antonio Luna.

The assassination of this very effective military strategist on June 1899 appears to confirm the theory that Aguinaldo had Bonifacio eliminated for no other reason than for him and his elitist group to take over the leadership of the Katipunan. According to Juan Nakpil:
"(D)riven by his patriotic fervor, he (General Antonio Luna) did not conceal his desire to be the head of the cabinet with the portfolio of war to prevent the autonomists or pacifists from controlling the government of the republic....

"They slandered him of wishing to wrest the presidency from Emilio Aguinaldo, and for that purpose they invited him to enter the rattrap of Kabanatuan to enable the very ones whom he had disarmed for cowardice in different war actions to deal him the deathblow...

"When General A. Luna was dastardly assassinated on the stairs of the Convent of Kabanatuan and already fallen on the ground, the mother of Emilio Aguinaldo looked out the window and asked: "Ano, humihinga pa ba?" (Is he still breathing?)"

3.    Aguinaldo refused to fight his captors to death.

On March 23, 1901, American soldiers posing as prisoners of the traitorous Macabebe scouts were led to the whereabouts of the President then on the run. Instead of choosing heroic death over capture as a way of sustaining the morale of his soldiers still valiantly fighting the new colonizing forces, Aguinaldo became a cooperative US Prisoner of War.

Unsurprisingly, his capture led to a succession of surrender of a number of Filipino guerilla leaders. They include the man responsible for the death of US Gen. Henry Lawton, Gen. Licerio Geronimo (surrendered barely a week right after Aguinaldo's capture).

4.    Only nine days after American colonizers got him, Aguinaldo swore fealty to US flag.

His easy capitulation to the American imperialists was supposedly made under plea that his life be spared. His allegiance to Uncle Sam also caused the Anti-Imperialist League to drop him as their 'poster boy' or rallying symbol for their opposition to the annexation of the Philippines. Aguinaldo's swift betrayal of the First Philippine Republic sharply contrasted with Mabini's adamant, repeated refusal to swear allegiance to America, earning the latter the punishment of exiled in captivity in Guam.

Aguinaldo's Possible Regret

In fairness to Gen. Aguinaldo, his controversial support of the Japanese forces during World War II has been interpreted by some as an expression of regret or dissatisfaction over America's annexation of the Philippines (which he, of course, did not fight to the end). Moreover, while on his deathbed, he supposedly expressed regret, if not apology, for what he did to Bonifacio. His dying confession or apology is not officially accepted or hardly mentioned but this piece of information was broached no less by certain history professors from the University of the Philippines.

The General's Less than a Hero

In promoting Aguinaldo via the combined familiarity and symbolism of Philippine money, real or more principled heroes like Bonifacio (and Mabini) have suffered undue demotion before the obtaining national consciousness. While Aguinaldo surely deserves some credit for being a revolutionary leader, his greed-for-power-driven murderous acts, colonial vacillation, and even gullibility that allowed the swift entry of American colonial forces in the islands, definitely makes him no bigger than the Supremo.

Fact is, Aguinaldo is barely considered a hero even today when the reality of the Kawit Independence and the Malolos Republic are a staple in Philippine history textbooks. In his later years, he seemed to have regretted his controversial revolutionary acts, which should merit for him kind understanding from students of history. However, the murders he authorized, if not actually planned, and his swift oath of fealty to the American flag following his capture have forever etched for him a place lower than that of genuine Filipino heroes.

Return Bonifacio to the (revived) P2, or P5 coin

It is historically and logically disconcerting to have the Bonifacio and Mabini themes together in one bill or coin. The incorporation of the disparate themes in the P10 bill/coin must have elicited bewilderment among the more astute students of history, which this author thinks she is one of. When the said banknote first appeared, I was in disbelief, yearning to ask what Mabini could have thought of the execution of Bonifacio in an apparent Aguinaldo coup d e tat mode.

It is even more disconcerting to promote Aguinaldo at the expense of national hero Bonifacio. To honor Aguinaldo more than the Supremo, or even over Mabini (or arguably, even over Jacinto and Gen. Luna) in the field of Philippine currency is to adulate vacillation/capitulation to foreign powers, murder and power grab (no wonder Gloria Arroyo's EDSA II coup d e tat over Joseph Estrada was tolerated?).

If the intention was not to demote Bonifacio while promoting Aguinaldo before the public consciousness, shouldn't the BSP have simply maintained the P2 coin? How difficult or problematic would having a P2 coin be anyhow, given that the almost valueless c5 and c10 coins, along with the P1 Rizal coin, have been kept? Question is, was the P2 demonetized so as to find an excuse to demote the Great Plebian, patriotic Father of the Philippine Revolution, in the consciousness of present-day Filipinos?

It would be a lame excuse for the BSP to claim that Bonifacio's devaluation into sharing the face of the P10 bill/coin was unintended and merely a result of the demonetization of the New Design P2 coins. Why demonetize the denomination in the first place (all previous series were demonetized in 1998)? If the government can continue to mint practically value-less 5 and 10 centavos coins that public utility drivers prefer not to accept, why not the P2 coins with the Supremo's face?

New Series - Hoping for Bonifacio's Restoration

There is no question that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has "the sole power and authority to issue currency, within the territory of the Philippines." However, under what direction or authority are the BSP officials rehabilitating Aguinaldo's image too much and/or demoting Bonifacio's place in history and national consciousness via circulating Philippine money?

The BSP is said to be preparing a new design series for release this year. The upcoming design is said to constitute a major overhaul of the country's banknotes and coins. Will Bonifacio be restored to his proper place in Philippine currency? I say let the public be consulted in the design process. Vox populi, vox Dei.



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Andres Bonifacio: 1863-1897. United States Library of Congress.
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Back to Bataan. (2009, December 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:46, December 31, 2009, from
Constantino, Renato. Veneration without Understanding. Third National Rizal Lecture, December 30, 1969. 13 January 2008. PinoyPress Site.
Guerrero, Milagros, Emmanuel Encarnacion, and Ramon Villegas. Andres Bonifacio and the 1896 Revolution. In Sulyap Kultura. National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 1996. NCCA Site. 16 June 2003.
Mabini Finds Champions; Anti-Imperialists Demand Release of Filipino Statesman. Messrs. Adams, Schurz, Smith, and Welsh Hold That His Detention at Guam Is Illegal. Special to The New York Times. 24 Dec. 1902,
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Photo Credits:

"Ang Wakas ni Andres Bonifacio" ni Carlos Valino Jr., Nanalo sa  1963 Andres Bonifacio Centennial Art Contest, mula sa Tragedy of the Revolution
English Series Notes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Pilipino Series Notes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
Ang Bagong Lipunan Series Notes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
New Design Series Notes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
BSP Series Notes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

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