Some some regarding the execution of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal.
As we commemorate the 114th year of our national hero’s execution in Luneta, there are some curiosities to that moment we long to know, but perhaps, unwilling to ask.
For instance, the reason why Jose Rizal refused to be blindfolded and demanded that he face his executioners.
A few or even rare among us knew that only one bullet, from the guns of the firing squad, actually ended the life of the Filipino martyr that further embroiled Filipino revolt.
And lastly, the fact that history repeats itself. Like the martyred Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and the Revolutionary Supremo Andres Bonifacio; Rizal was executed by a fellow Filipino. Furthermore, no one knew who actually pulled the fatal trigger that killed these three heroes.
All three men were tried by a military tribunal and sentenced to death for rebellion and sedition.
The court-martial of Rizal commenced in the December 26, 1896. Before the verdict was handed down, Rizal knew from the start he was already prejudged and that the hearing was actually a moro-moro.
By 6:30 in the morning of December 30; Rizal wearing black suit, black neck tie, black hat and white vest began his march to the field of his execution in Bagumbayan (Luneta) from his prison cell in Fort Santiago.
He was accompanied by his Military appointed counsel Lt. Taviel de Andrade on one side, and Fathers Estanislao March and Jose Villaclara, on the other side.
Holding a Rosary with his right hand, Rizal was tied from elbow to elbow as his group walked behind four advanced guards armed with bayonets.
Historical accounts states that six to 8 Filipino volunteer troops composed the firing squad designated by the Spanish authorities to kill Rizal.
A descendant of one of the executioners, Adolfo Pastor Quetcuti related that only one of the rifles was loaded with a live bullet and the rest are blank slugs. This is to ease the guilt of Rizal’s executioners who knew he was innocent. Another group of peninsular troopers also stood behind them as an additional measure.
Rizal refused to be blindfolded and insisted that he face his executioners to no avail. Rizal wanted to show he is not a traitor and that he was willing to die gloriously for his country. Dr. Felipe Ruiz Castillo who took Rizal’s vital sign and pulse rate before the execution was amazed to find out that the national hero was indeed unafraid die.
Upon hearing the squad commander’s shout of “Fuego,” Rizal quickly twisted his body to face the firing squad. He fell face up at the skies and his head slightly inclined upwards to catch the rays of the rising sun in the east and uttered in his final breath: “Consummatum est” (It is finished).
In 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo as one of his first Decrees marked Rizal’s Death Anniversary to commemorate the accomplishment of his struggles instead of the National Hero’s Birthday in June 19.