Mabini Letters: Lecturing El Presidente

You’ve got to admire Mabini. This guy got some balls.

In 28 February 1899 he wrote Aguinaldo:

“I heard Luna is going to resign as director and commander-in-chief of Operations in Manila because the company captains who had disobeyed his instructions in the last attack on Manila went unpunished.

We already see the disastrous effects of weakness. Not only the army but also the people notice this. And for the reason that there is the belief that we do no punish the guilty, some soldiers might say that here it is nothing to obey a general, while other places such a thing is punished with death and musketry. If you will punish the companies that will disobey in the future, the people will say that you punish them because the soldiers are not from Kawit. At this rate, our soldiers will never know what discipline is.

Because you did not mete out punishment at the proper time to the soldiers of P– who committed in Polo, and because of this the local president of Polo, is now here accompanied by two persons with mangled bodied, one of whom is the chief of barrio Maisan himself, who was the victim of looting by seventy soldiers of P–. These soldiers arrested all the men of the place, beating them with the butt of their guns.”

What I like most about Mabini is his honesty and sincerity. He’s known to take complaints from the most common of Filipinos and bring it straight to the Presidents desk. This must have caused considerable inconvenience for a war time president but Mabini, understanding the implications of ignoring the peasants and towns people, always insist that their complaints and grievances be placed on the agenda.

Mabini is faulted for being a major part of Aguinaldo’s government that became so morally and politically incoherent that it collapsed under its own weight.

But history has been kind to Mabini. As our generation continue to uncover facts about his role in Aguinaldo’s government, the more we deeply appreciate the position he took up, challenges he had faced, stumbled upon and overcome along the way.

He was an outsider, a “nobody”, until Aguinaldo had him fetched from Ba-y. Aguinaldo must have been aware of his prolific and impressive resume through his masonic ties. Why he picked someone like Mabini when he was al;ready surrounded by able [Kabitenyo] men?

Why Mabini?

Was Aguinaldo trying to bring an outsider with fresh views, who does not exactly share his  philosophy and values but will  give him a different perspective on issues facing his revolutionary government?

Or was Mabini just too brilliant a man to ignore?

There is one thing that the Paralytic hero is not: He was unafraid to call what he saw, even if it meant losing the support of people Aguinaldo relied on.

Warning his president, he ends his letter with the following words of caution:

“God has given you the prestige that you enjoy so that you can use it to give peace and order to your people, and this cannot be accomplished if the abuses are not stopped. Without peace and order, you will lose the prestige you have won, because it will come to be known that we do not know how to govern.

In this calamitous times, we need military dictatorship, not to control the towns people, but, above all, to suppress the abuses of the army, and nobody can do this but you, the Chief.

If we have the people on our side, we can be sure that we shall triumph, if not today, tomorrow, or the day after. If we do not have the people with us, we shall perish. If Americans pose serious dangers for us, our own countrymen would pose for us greater ones as a result of the abuses that are committed against them, abuses that are ofen the cause of revolutions.”

This letter was written more than 100 years ago, but what Mabini said then is still true today.

I wonder if our current leaders who got us into so much trouble read Mabini…

2 responses to “Mabini Letters: Lecturing El Presidente

  • Pepe

    “If you will punish the companies that will disobey in the future, the people will say that you punish them because the soldiers are not from Kawit.”

    May tauag si Nick Joaquín dian sa cagaguhang guinauá ni Aguinaldo, eh: Cavitismo.

    • De AnDA

      Those were chaotic days in Philippine terra. His [Aguinaldo] was a small world composed of people in his circle. He played favorites, no doubt. His government’s lack of fairness, transparency and justice broke the revolutionary governments back. Its incredible how the first republic’s story has been repeated so many times. Aquino says he’s a ‘history buff’, he should know what to avoid then.

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