Jan 5, 1897. 10:45AM
Manila, Philippines - Early yesterday, January 4, saw Bagumbayan field host another series of Spanish government ordered executions. Eleven men from Camarines and Bicol were summarily executed by firing squad at 7:00AM. Among the men were three priests accused and convicted of using their local ecclesiastical influence to aid the nascent Philippine Revolution. These far more subdued executions come five days after the much celebrated and attended death of Dr Jose Rizal.
The latest executions continue a series that began with the founding of the court martial courts on August 30, 1896 by former Governor-General Ramon Blanco. The handing down of death sentences has increased under current Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja. Sources within the Palace say that this is part of his broader campaign to stamp out revolutionary sentiment in the Islands. It was also reveled that in December of last year Polavieja drafted guidelines for forced resettlement of residents in various barrios. He believes that barrios have become breeding grounds, and support centers, for revolutionaries. Analysts have warned Polavieja that his continued draconian measures may backfire on the Spanish government.
The most recent executions conclude a campaign to root out revolutionary sentiment in Nueva Caceres. It began with the arrest of well-known and wealthy notary Manuel Abella. Included in the first wave of arrests was Tomas Prieto, a well-off pharmacist. Under torture, Prieto confessed that Domingo Abella, the son of Manuel, was engaged in weapons smuggling and supplying to revolutionary elements. Among the accused of weapons smuggling was Father Severino Diaz and other religious members of his parish.
The next wave of arrests began on September 19, 1896, with the arrest of Father Diaz, Father Inocencio Herrera (the cathedral’s choirmaster), and Father Severo Estrada (the cathedral’s coadjutor). Additionally, Father Gabriel Prieto of Albay, the brother of Tomas Prieto, was accused and arrested of revolutionary crimes. On December 29, the priests and previously arrested Bikolanos stood trial and were quickly ordered to be executed. Analysts were surprised at the rapidity with which the decision and death penalty was handed down. There are rumors in Bikol that the arrests and executions were part of a plot to eliminate locally influential Filipinos in civil society and the Church.
Executed yesterday were the following individuals: Manuel Abella, Domingo Abella, Camilo Jacob, Florencio Lerma, Cornelio Mercado, Mariano Melgarejo, Tomas Prieto, Macario Valentin, Fr Severino Diaz, Fr Inocencio Herrera, and Fr Gabriel Prieto.
Their families have declined to issue a statement.
Father John Schumacher and O.D Corpuz contributed to this report.
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