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Lessons from Gat Andres’ death

/ 09:33 PM May 12, 2013

On May 10, 2013, while candidates, supporters and media were busy with the campaigns and elections, the Bonifacio150Committee commemorated the death anniversary of Andres Bonifacio. There is a lot worth remembering about the shortened life of our great hero.

Gat Andres was a victim of cheating in the elections held at Tejeros, Naic, Cavite (Mar. 22, 1897). There were pre-filled ballots, and the number of voters suddenly swelled.

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Before the election proper, Gat Andres, the presiding officer by virtue of his being the Supremo of the Republika ng Katagalugan, stressed that all should respect the outcome of the counting. But when Gat Andres was elected as minister of interior, Daniel Tirona objected, stating that Gat Andres was not fit for the position because he lacked the educational background. Many protested, there was chaos, and Gat Andres as presiding officer declared the elections void (the next day he formalized it in Acta de Tejeros, Mar. 23, 1897).

On Apr. 27, 1897, the “elected president” of the Tejeros convention, Emilio Aguinaldo, ordered the arrest of Gat

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Andres for planning his assassination and attempting a coup d’état.

The group of Gat Andres was then camped at Limbon, Indang, Cavite, on their way to meet up with other Katipunan forces in San Mateo. Gat

Andres greeted the arresting team cordially, thinking that they were comrades after all. But then the arresting forces suddenly started shooting. In the melee, Gat Andres’ brother Ciriaco died, and Gat Andres himself and his other brother

Paciano were seriously wounded.

The brothers were imprisoned, held incommunicado and were not given medical treatment for their wounds. After a spurious trial, the brothers were sentenced to death. On May 10, 1897, Gat Andres and Procopio Bonifacio were executed at Mount Magpatong, Maragundong, Cavite.

Gregoria de Jesus (Ka Oriang), wife of Gat Andres, searched the mountain and rivers for the remains of her husband and brother-in-law for “a month, without anything to eat except raw bananas.” She failed.

Nonetheless, Ka Oriang and the pro-Bonifacio forces continued the revolution. On the other hand, only weeks after the execution, many leaders of the pro-Aguinaldo forces, mostly rich professionals and big landlords, started to surrender. Just a few months after he signed Bonifacio’s death sentence, Emilio Aguinaldo signed the Pact of Biak-na-Bato (Dec. 14, 1897), which signified surrender in exchange for monetary indemnity and voluntary exile to Hong Kong.

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The lesson of Andres Bonifacio’s death is to choose leaders who will live up to Gat Andres’ thoughts and deeds on justice and the struggle for national sovereignty with revolutionary fervor.

—JULIE L. PO,

Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino,

and convenor, Bonifacio150Committee,

[email protected]

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