Sunday, August 8, 2010

The assasination of the Spanish Governor General Bustamante

The Catholic Church in Philippine have a potent influence in society. Since the Spanish colonial era up to the present time (like the 1985 EDSA People Power revolt)  the Catholic Church have proven it's ability to influence political events and swaying the public / the "masa" to it's will and political agenda.

Two centuries ago, the Catholic Church provoked a parallel  People Power revolt against Governor General Fernando Bustamante y Bustillo. Bustamante was killed by a mob of friars and their supporters.

Dela Cuesta the Archbishop of Manila
He was appointed as Archbishop of Manila on 1706 and was consecrated in Mexico on August 12, 1707. As archbishop, he tried to enforce the episcopal visitation upon the order of Pope Clement XI but was opposed by the friars. As a result, he was forced to wait for their reports to Rome.

Dela Cuesta came in conflict with Fernando Bustamante, the Governor-General at that time. When dela Cuesta sided and defended an official that was being persecuted by Bustamante, dela Cuesta was detained in Fort Santiago.

Dela Cuesta the Archbishop of Manila

On October 11, 1719, angry friars led by the Order of Friars Minor Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians instigated a siege on the Palacio del Gobernador Governor's Palace as a show of support for the imprisoned archbishop. In the terror and confusion of the palace guards, the now defenseless Bustamante and his son was murdered by the friars. Dela Cuesta was released afterwards

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Philippine Islands, by John Foreman

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at

Title: The Philippine Islands
Author: John Foreman

The Spanish Governor Fernando Bustamente Bustillo y Rueda (1717–19) adopted very stringent measures to counteract the Archbishopʼs excessive claims to immunity. Several individuals charged with heinous crimes had taken church asylum and defied the civil power and justice. The Archbishop was appealed to, to hand them over to the civil authorities, or allow them to be taken. He refused to do either, supporting the claim of immunity of sanctuary. At the same time it came to the knowledge of the Governor that a movement had been set on foot against him by those citizens who favoured the Archbishopʼs views, and that even the friars had so debased themselves as to seek the aid of the Chinese residents against the Governor.

José Torralba , the late acting-Governor, was released from confinement by the Governor, and reinstated by him as judge in the Supreme Court, although he was under an accusation of embezzlement to the extent of ₱700,000. The Archbishop energetically opposed this act. He notified to Torralba his excommunication and ecclesiastical pains, and, on his own authority, attempted to seize his person in violation of the privileges of the Supreme Court. Torralba, with his sword and shield in hand, expelled the Archbishopʼs messenger by force. Then, as judge in the Supreme Court, he hastened to avenge himself of his enemies by issuing warrants against them. They fled to Church asylum, and, with the moral support of the Archbishop, laughed at the magistrates. There the refugees provided themselves with arms, and prepared for rebellion. When the Archbishop was officially informed of these facts, he still maintained that nothing could violate their immunity. The Governor then caused the Archbishop to be arrested and confined in a fortress, with all the ecclesiastics who had taken an active part in the conspiracy against the Government.

Open riot ensued, and the priests marched to the Palace, amidst hideous clamourings, collecting the mob and citizens on the way. It was one of the most revolting scenes and remarkable events in Philippine history. Priests of the Sacred Orders of Saint Francis, Saint Dominic, and Saint Augustine joined the Recoletos in shouting “Viva la Iglesia,” “Viva nuestro Rey Don Felipe Quinto.”

The excited rabble rushed to the Palace, and the Guard having fled, they easily forced their way in. One priest who impudently dared to advance towards the Governor, was promptly ordered by him to stand back. The Governor, seeing himself encircled by an armed mob of laymen and servants of Christ clamouring for his downfall, pulled the trigger of his gun, but the flint failed to strike fire. Then the crowd took courage and attacked him, whilst he defended himself bravely with a bayonet, until he was overwhelmed by numbers.

From the Palace he was dragged to the common jail, and stabbed and maltreated on the way. His son, hearing of this outrage, arrived on horseback, but was run through by one of the rebels, and fell to the ground. He got up and tried to cut his way through the infuriated rioters, but was soon surrounded and killed, and his body horribly mutilated.

The populace, urged by the clerical party, now fought for the liberty of the Archbishop. The prison doors were broken open, and the Archbishop was amongst the number of offenders liberated. The prelate came in triumph to the Palace, and assumed the Government in October, 1719. The mob, during their excesses, tore down the Royal Standard, and maltreated those whom they met of the unfortunate Governorʼs faithful friends. A mock inquiry into the circumstances of the riot was made in Manila in apparent judicial form. Another investigation was instituted in Mexico, which led to several of the minor actors in this sad drama being made the scapegoat victims of the more exalted criminals. The Archbishop held the Government for nine years, and was then transferred to the Mexican Bishopric of Mechoacan.

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