Independence

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Then President Diosdado Macapagal declared June 12 Philippine independence day in 1962, 16 years after it had been celebrated every July 4th, when, in 1946, the US “granted” the country independence. Few objected at the time, in apparent agreement with Macapagal that the June 12th, 1898 declaration of independence in Kawit, Cavite, which led to the establishment of the First Republic in 1899, was the appropriate date rather than July 4th.

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Independence

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JUNE 12, 1898, the date when, 115 years ago, Emilio Aguinaldo declared Philippine independence from Spain, was marked this year with the usual speeches, flag-raisings, floral offerings and other rites by officialdom.

The usual vin d’honneur took place in Malacanang, with Benigno Aquino III toasting the “continued partnership” between the Philippines and the countries represented by the foreign dignitaries present so that they may “always endeavor to promote peace, amity and unity for the advancement of humankind.”

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Dunces and dupes

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WITH the usual irony was June 12 marked this year in a country hardly aware of its history. Benigno Aquino III spoke at Barasoain Church in Malolos, Bulacan, where the First Philippine Republic was inaugurated on January 23, 1899, less than a year after Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed Philippine independence in Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was at the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan. Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas was in Kawit, while Vice President Jejomar Binay was at the usual flag-raising at Manila’s Rizal Park.

Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Mr. Aquino’s presence at Barasoain and that of other officials in the iconic sites of the Philippine struggle for independence was “one way of imbibing the historical significance of these places.”

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Revolution

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Most Filipinos think that, as the expression from US political lore goes, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is so unpopular she couldn’t win an election as a dog-catcher. Her numbers validate that view, the most recent being a whopping 46 percent disapproval grade and a 48 percent mistrust rating, according to Pulse Asia. If her numbers were any lower she could shake hands with the devil. As ratings go these numbers favorably compare only with those of the late Idi Amin when he was president of Uganda; not even the much-despised George W. Bush was as mistrusted.

No matter. Apparently Mrs. Arroyo thinks she can win an election – but not as president, which in 2004 she amply demonstrated she couldn’t, but as a congresswoman in the Second District of Pampanga, of which the Macapagal hometown, Lubao, is a part.

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