Guilty Verdict of Noted Philippine Social Critic Upheld by Polavieja
In an unsurprising development on December 28, 1896, Governor-General Camilo Polavieja upheld the guilty verdict of Jose Protacio Mercado Rizal Alonso y Realondo, better known as Jose Rizal, for subversive activities and fomenting rebellion in the Spanish colony of the Philippines. This comes on the heels of a rushed and controversial trial which some local analysts deemed a guilty outcome as fait accompli from the start.
The fallout from the decision is still to be seen, but already the Spanish government is on alert for additional restiveness in Manila and surrounding areas. The revolutionary-minded Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng̃ mg̃á Anak ng̃ Bayan, or the Katipunan, led by Andres Bonifacio (a known disciple of Jose Rizal) has been active since 1892. Since August 30, 1896 the Katipunan has been in an open state of revolution against the Spanish government.
Jose Rizal burst on the Philippine intellectual scene in the 1880s with a series of stunning essays and novels deriding the Philippine Church and challenging the political and social status quo in the Spanish colony. His portrayals of friars, especially in his first novel Noli Me Tangere, drew the ire of the Church. While his stirring polemics has effectively instilled a sense of nationalism among the Filipino people of all walks of life, much to the chagrin of the Spanish government.
Rizal’s active involvement with Bonifacio’s revolution remains controversial, he has publicly stated that he does not support the current rebellion. However, analysts have noted that he has steadfastly avoided denouncing any rebellious movement which leads to Philippine independence. A close reading of his novels and essays, including his first publicly hailed poem in 1879, indicate a fervently held hope for Philippine independence and freedom. It cannot be denied that he has become the soul of the Filipino movement in the colony.
In defending the decision, Judge Advocate General Nicolas de la Pena, who wrote the guilty decision, stated, “Rizal, like all revolutionaries, has promoted the real rebellion without specifying the moment at which it was to break out.” While it was well-known that the previous Governor-General Ramon Blanco y Erenas was inclined towards leniency with Rizal, the current Governor-General does not seem to be so. Sources within the Palace indicate that Jose Rizal’s mother, Teodora Alonso petitioned the Governor-General for clemency earlier today but was denied access to Malacanang Palace.
As of writing there has been no public statement from the Rizal clan.
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