Exactly 150 years after he was born, Philippine revolution hero Andres Bonifacio has been proposed to be the country’s national hero instead of the widely distinguished Jose Rizal.
This developed after Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna party list filed House Bill 3431 which declares Bonifacio, the founder of the revolutionary group Kataastaasang, Kagalanggalangan Katipunan ng mga anak ng Bayan or KKK to fight the Spanish colonizers in the 1800, as the National Hero.
Bayan Muna noted that while Rizal was able to put across the need for changes and the country and influenced intellectuals to fight for reforms thru his writings, Bonifacio was likewise an intellectual impassioned by the need to change the oppressive and exploitative system not merely by writing about it but also by acting on it thru the Katipunan or KKK.
“The difference, in so far as contribution to society is concerned, lies in the ability of Bonifacio to translate Rizal’s writings into a language understandable to the Filipino masses, as well as transform and develop them into practice. Because of his actual participation in the KKK, Bonifacio was able to mobilize thousands of Katipuneros in a revolution that ended the regime of Spanish Colonization which eventually led to the Filipino nation’s independence,” Bayan Muna lawmakers said in their measure.
“Bonifacio’s heroism inspires in us the patriotism and nationalism that is resolute and uncompromising which the people and especially the youth must learn and imbibe,” Bayan Muna added.
Further, Bayan Muna cited that there has never been a legislation declaring a national hero, but only a number of proclamations that gave recognition and honor to a few historical figures for their contribution to society such as Bonifacio and Rizal.
Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first President of the Philippines, issued a decree on December 20, 1898 declaring December 30 of every year a day of national mourning in honor of Rizal and other victims of the Philippine Revolution. The Taft Commission, the legislative body created by the American government, named a Province after Rizal to honor him.
The Philippine Legislature, on the other hand, came up with Act No. 2964 issued on February 16, 1921 that made November 30 of each year a legal holiday to commemorate the birth of Bonifacio. The Philippine Legislature also issued Act No. 2760 in 1918 authorizing the erection of a monument to the memory of Bonifacio.
By 1993, a National Heroes Committee was created through Executive Order No. 75 to “study, evaluate and recommend Filipino national personages/heroes in due recognition of their sterling character and remarkable achievements for the country.” Soon, after a series of meetings, the Committee has come up with a list of candidates to become the National Hero.
The Committee Report was submitted to the Department of Education, Culture and Sports in 1995, but there has been no action yet to this day. LLANESCA T. PANTI