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Dr. Jose Rizal's Trial Defense





By Kaye Ricamora


Honorable members of the board of judges, distinguished members of the audience, good day to all of you. I am not here to play games nor talk nonsense about this case. But I am here to fight for Dr. Jose Rizal whom I believe is innocent. When Dr. Jose Rizal Mercado y Alonzo, was accused of being the leader of the revolution, I came to ask myself, were there really two leaders of the revolution?

I have studied his case and found nothing that could incriminate him of being connected to the revolution, more so, the leader of it. Rizal is innocent as he is and I want all of you to remove all prejudices in your minds right now for I will prove his innocence at all cost.

The first two evidences you have presented in this court are the documented proofs that of letters showing Rizals connection with the Filipino reform in Spain, the implications of Rizal in the Propaganda Movement in Spain , and that and that of which contains his sentiments of the deportations to be vital in the encouragement of the people to hate tyranny.

In the letter, Rizal wrote that the deportation are good for the Filipinos for they will encourage the people to hate tyranny. If you examine this content closely, it is really appropriate on the Filipinos side of this story. It is a well-known fact that most Spanish officials and friars had treated the Filipinos like sub-human species of the animal kingdom. Thus depriving them of their rights as human beings and as creations of God. A few examples of these incidents as cited in Rizals diary and letters to friends and family are namely the following: (1) the exposition of the Igorots in Madrid where they were treated and shown in front of Spaniards, mocked and made fun at, just like animals; (2) the excessive land taxes given by the friars to Rizals family as well as other Calamba folk, and that upon refusal of payment and the signing of the land petition, were ejected from their homes forcefully. And now this, I, you, and Rizal knows that being a Filipino experiencing all those Spanish injustices at that time, you would say "this is the last straw!" Although he encouraged the people in his writings to hate tyranny and the deceptive teachings of the friars, but he also wrote something and I quote "The Philippines will remain Spanish if they enter upon the life of law and civilization, if their rights as inhabitants are respected, if other rights due to them are granted, if the liberal policy of the government is carried out without treachery or meanness, without subterfuges or false interpretations." This means that he never disapproved of the Spanish Colonialization but he only requests through his connection to the Filipino Reform movement in Spain that Filipinos, as Spanish subjects, be given equal rights as Spaniards. This is the reason why he joined the Filipino reform movement in Spain. However, this was cut short due to division and other differences between the members. He was also a member of the propaganda movement for he has always been connected with the Filipino reform movement in Spain for he has been a contributor to its publication. It was in this way that he was able to educate the people through his writings. He educated them in a way that they were being informed by Rizal what is really going on inside the Philippines as a colony of Spain. Nothing more and nothing less. However it was short-lived due to some arguments by Rizal and Pilar and the division and disunity of the Filipinos in the reform movement. And this would also imply that Rizal had joined the group not because of the prestige that it would bring him as a writer but for the betterment of his country. Here is an excerpt from a letter of Marcelo which proves that Rizals plea for the election of a president for the movement. I quote "Yesterdaywe treated Rizal and company to merienda. Rizal wants to tie down La Solidaridad to the Filipino colony here. I was against it" And with this letter, we could furthermore prove that Rizal no longer had any connection with the propaganda movement in Spain.

The next three evidences presented are those of documented letters showing Rizals connection to the Freemasonry movement in Spain. The first letter was that of honoring Rizal for his patriotic services. The second was to solicit aid from an unidentified committee, which could be the Masons, for his patriotic works. And the last was the recommendation of the establishment of Masonry, to help the cause of the Filipinos. We all know that Rizal joined the Freemasonry not because he was abandoning his faith, but to be his shield as he was fighting against the friars who used Catholicism as their shield, to be able to fight for the cause of his people. I quote an excerpt from a letter from M.H. del Pilar saying "Spanish Masonry serves as a means of propaganda. [But] if the Masons over there are trying to make Masonry an instrument of action to achieve our aims, they are sadly mistaken. What is needed is a special organ designed specifically for the Philippine cause. Its members, or some of them, may be Masons, but it is imperative that the organization itself should be independent of Masonry. It seems that this is what the L.F. [Liga Filipina] is going to bring about"

In the first letter, Rizal was honored for his patriotic services in his country through his writings and works. It is a well known fact that all noble deeds deserve recognition and the Freemasonry recognized that in Rizal through all of the things he has done for his country.

The second was a letter asking for aid in his patriotic work from an unidentified committee which could probably be the Freemasonry due to his affiliation with the group. This clearly shows that Rizal, even with his popularity, was insufficient in funds and people who could back him up in his cause. He knew that this committee could help him in his undertakings in whatever way they can. For if not, why in the world would Rizal write to them about this matter?

The last of these letters were that of a recommendation of the establishment of a special organization, independent of Masonry, to help the cause of the Filipinos. It was stated in del Pilars letter that if the Filipinos were thinking of using the Freemasonry movement here in the Philippines, they were wrong. This was true for most of the members of the Freemasonry in Spain were Spaniards and didnt actually know what was happening in the Philippines, that the only thing they know is that the friars are deceiving the people and maltreating them as well. And this was the right time that he (M.H. del Pilar) suggested that Filipino Masons organize a group separate from Freemasonry that the only aim is do what is good for the suffering motherland. And this suggestion itself didnt come from Rizal but from a fellow reformer addressing it to another reformer. The only reason maybe that Rizals name was attached in this plot was that because the only person the Spanish government could only pinpoint someone who was linked to Freemasonry like him. But still these allegations could not really prove that he was the leader of the revolution!

The next four evidences that were revealed in this court was documented letters that describe Rizal as the man to free the Philippines from Spanish oppression; one saying that the Filipino people look up to him as their Savior; and two poems containing verses and lines emphasizing of the liberty and the liberator of the motherland and teaching the Dapitan schoolboys to sing that they know how to fight for their rights.

The first two documents state that Filipinos look up to Rizal to free them from the Spanish oppression. This is true for he opened their eyes to the truth of what was really happening around them in the Philippine soil. He could not deny in his writings that the people were tortured as well as treated like lower classes of mammals in the genus Mamalia. It was true that in everything he wrote, it was evident that there was racial inequality suffered by the Filipinos. A few concrete examples of these are his two novels namely: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

It was only in his writings that he showed the friars and corrupt government officials the rotten fruits reaped from their deceptive, unjust, and unlawful (in terms of human rights is concerned) means of running the Philippines as a colony of Spain. However, the Spanish friars and government officials, thinking that they were more superior to the natives, let their pride rise to the heavens proclaiming that these writings of Rizal were insolent and disloyal to the Spanish Sovereignty.

Much more with these two poems written by Rizal and I quote a few verses pertaining to the first one about the liberator, the oppressor and the oppressed, "Ah! That is my country, She is a slave oppressed, Groaning in the tyrants grips; Lucky shall he be, Who can give her liberty!" Spaniards who may read this may think of this as another writing that would instigate the revolution. Of course, those Spanish authorities would retaliate saying that it is another "one black propaganda trying to destroy the good name of Spain" Tell me how can a poem full of love for the motherland be a black propaganda? And much more how could initiate a revolution when it only suggests that the sons of the nation free her from the oppressors mighty grip? This was Rizals point in using education, and not revolution, to liberate the people because through it they could read between the lines. It was always stressed out in all of Rizals writing that the Philippines would be set free once all her children would be educated and could find a peaceful means to do this and not let any one of her childrens blood shed for an unworthy cause.

Another one of his poems which he wrote while in Dapitan contains the following excerpt: "We are children, we are the latest born. But our hearts beat high, and tomorrow we shall be full-grown men who will know how to defend our hearth and homes. We are children, yes, but nothing daunts us, neither wave nor storm nor thunder. With strong right arm and unclouded brow we shall know how to fight in the hour of danger. Our hands shall take up in turn those instruments of sovereign Reason, the sword, the pen, and the spade."

If you read even just part of the poem "Hymn to Talisay" you could find out that Rizal is teaching the children that while young they should learn to defend themselves against anyone who tries to oppress them or their loved ones. I quote what Rizal once wrote about the prudence of the Filipinos, "The Filipinos are all very prudent, and that is why our country is going on the way she is" And in another article he wrote he expressed his great disappointment on those who just keep their mouth shut on such a grave issue such as oppression, "That if the Filipinos do not fight for their rights then they are not worthy to be given liberty but should go on being slaves the rest of their lives" (At least thats how I understood it). And this is what Rizal is trying to inculcate in the minds of these young men who take on his turn when the time comes in liberating and maintaining freedom in his motherland. Theres nothing very revolutionary about it, unless you as a reader have a malicious interpretation of it in your mind.

The next three evidences presented are those documented Transcripts of Speech from Tik-Tik and Pingkian in a reunion of the Katipunan.

In Pingkians speech, a cry was uttered, "Long live the Philippines! Long live Liberty! Long live Doctor Rizal! Death to the oppressor nation!" In the same Katipunan reunion, the Katipuneros shouted, "Long live the eminent Doctor Rizal! Death to the oppressor nation!" It only shows that these people have finally realized and that they have finally opened their eyes to the truth of what was really happening. It maybe that they have opened their eyes and ears to the issues affecting them but they just remained blind and deaf and just let it pass aside. But it was only through the eminent Doctor Rizal that it was opened wide enough for them to see everything right through the core of it. However, this is still circumstantial evidence not enough to convict him of a crime of starting the insurrection. Although it may be true that the Katipuneros were crying out his name but it doesnt prove that he is a member of the revolutionary group. It is obvious that they cry out his name in pure devotion, that is because it is the only way they could ever show their gratitude to the person who has shown them the way to the truth. *Because if it were true that he was the leader of the revolution, then Bonifacio and the rest of the Katipunan would have listened to him when he told them that "now" was not the right time to fight because of the insufficiency of arms and funds as well as the people were not yet educated.

The next two evidences exhibited were that of two documented letters that of Rizal preparing a safe refuge for Filipinos who may be persecuted by the Spanish authorities; and that informing an unidentified correspondent of the arrest and banishment of Doroteo Cortes and Ambrosio Salvador.

About the first letter, he (Rizal) said that he has made a project where in he and the rest of the Filipinos would benefit-it was the Borneo project. It was in this virgin, British-owned land he planned to move the landless Filipino families to this place which he called "New Calamba". Although there were some who objected to this idea like Hidalgo, one of Rizals brothers-in-law.

Most of all, he was able to negotiate this successfully with the British government. And with this, a few of his compatriots in Europe approved of the project.

If Rizal was such a rebel and enemy of the government, how come he asked the permission of Governor Despujol about putting up his Borneo project who declined in the implementation of the project because of the reason that " the Philippines lack laborers"?

And one more thing, how come upon the disapproval by Governor Despujol, he abided by it and didnt pursue it anymore after the "trade"? This only proves that even if Rizal doesnt like the way the Spaniards handle the government, he still abides by authority in order to avoid anymore trouble with the government.

About the informing of an unidentified correspondent of the arrest and banishment of Doroteo Cortes and Ambrosio Salvador, it only shows the remorse of the writer that the Filipinos find themselves as victims of an ever increasing tyranny. The writer owes the deportation to the friars who see as the two mentioned latter as "friends" of Rizal. Does this also imply to the brothers-in-law of Rizal who were wrongly deported because they the husbands of some of the latters sisters? Does this also mean that anyone who is connected or considered a "friend" of Rizal should watch out because you might be deported unlawfully without any due process of law? If this is the case then what the Spanish authorities have initiated their own war towards the revolutionists! They have only proven Rizals ideas of injustices in the Spanish government and religious orders.

The last of the evidences that were filed against Dr. Jose Rizal was that of a documented letter censuring his (Rizal) banishment to Dapitan.

It was true that his deportation was unjust and moreover, quite unlawful. And most of all, when he was brought to Dapitan through the steamer Cebu, he was heavily guarded as though he was a very dangerous felon.

But were the charges brought against him to have such a deportation? That his works were showing disloyalty to Spain and were "frankly anti-Catholic" and "imprudently anti-friar"? That there were handbills, entitled Pobres Frailes, found in one of the packages where in the accusations published against the customs of the religious orders were found? That the novel, El Filibusterismo, was dedicated to the three "traitors" (Gom-Bur-Za) and he wrote in view of the vices and errors of Spanish Administration? That all his efforts and writings were pursuing to tear away from the Filipino breasts the treasures of our holy Catholic faith?

I, myself, question these accusations and reasons of his deportation to Dapitan. How could they say that all his works showed disloyalty to Spain when there were things he wrote showing that he didnt like the Philippines from being separated from Spain? Dont you think it would be against his own principles if he was anti-Spain but dont want to separate from it?

The second is that of the Pobres Frailes. What is wrong with questioning religious order if you see its discrepancies? If the friars are so defensive about the way they handle the church then let it be that they are guilty of deceiving the people from the real truth and beauty of the Catholic religion. This would only help the people synthesize what they really see if these are really for God or for the good of some good-for-nothing friars.

About the dedication of the El Filibusterismo to the three traitors namely Gomez, Burgos and Zamora, it was only in this book that he showed the vices and wrong doings of the Spanish administration. How there was clear inequality between Spaniards and Filipinos. And he also dedicated this novel to them because it was his promise to avenge their unlawful execution. He didnt avenge them by the use of guns or bloodshed instead he was avenging them through making their consciences, if they have, for the injustice they have committed. For if Rizal were the leader of the insurrection, he could have asked Bonifacio to assassinate the friars who were accountable for the execution of the three martyr Filipino priests.

And the last reason is the most lame of all. Why? Because they (the corrupt friars who try to fatten themselves with the money which is supposed to be for God and his church) are afraid that once the Filipino people found out that these priests were just using Gods name in order to have the power and the finances, "the treasures from the Filipino breasts in which Rizals writings and efforts want to tear out from the holy Catholic faith", to do whatever they want without anyone stopping them. However, can we blame Rizal if this is what he sees in the way the friars run their "rotten churches" as described by his brother, Paciano.

Therefore I conclude that there is nothing that links Dr. Jose Rizal due to circumstancial evidences and events and letters which were given malicious meanings by the prosecution.

I firmly believe that if Rizal considered entering the rebellion then the Philippines would have been less bloodshed, it would have been an earlier independence for the Philippines. Everything would be planned with great precision especially that Rizal has learned the cultures of multiple nations including Spain. And he would have known in his numerous travels the best war strategy that would be suitable for the weaknesses of the Spanish battalions.

But no, he didnt do that for he believed in peaceful reforms devoid of bloodshed and that education is the best key in liberating his suffering motherland. All I plead now is that the court gives Dr. Jose Rizal Mercado y Alonzo a fair trial and we can only plead - NOT GUILTY. The defense rests.