From “Looking Back 1” by Ambeth R.Ocampo (pages 23-25)

Are gossip and rumor ever constructive? During the Revolution of 1896, Andres Bonifacio used rumor mill to “neutralize” the enemies of the Katipunan.

According to Jose Rizal, who was consulted by Bonifacio’s emissary, Pio Valenzuela, it was important for the Katipunan to enlist the support of the rich Filipinos because without money, the Katipunan and the revolution would fail.

Rizal stressed that rich Filipinos had the most to lose in a revolution, so they would do everything they could to keep the status quo: “These Filipinos will be your worst enemies if you commit the imprudence of attacking the Spaniards without the necessary preparation. When they see you without arms, they will go over to the Spanish side to persecute you, and being Filipinos, and rich ones at that, they will win your soldier over with their money .. See to it that these persons are neutral. At the very last, they must non-be in a position to help neither the Spaniards nor the Filipinos.”

Watching movies on organized crime, we have acquired a different idea of the order “Neutralize them!” I guess Rizal meant the same thing. But when Valenzuela asked exactly what he meant, he answered: “The means are born of circumstances and events.”

When Valenzuela returned to Manila in July 1896, he briefed Bonifacio on Rizal’s views and they picked Benedicto Mijaga, a katipunero, to talk to millionaire Francisco Roxas into funding the Katipunan. Just as Rizal predicted, the rich refused to compromise their comfortable lives. To make matter worst, Roxas even threatened to denounce the Katipunan, saying he would not support a revolt against Spain led by a few disgruntled Filipinos.

Disappointed with his unpatriotic attitude Bonifacio decided to implicate the rich with the movement so that once arrested and perhaps tortured, they would hate the Spaniards enough to help the Katipunan. This was a way of “neutralizing” these men, short of killing them, right?

Emilio Jacinto prepared the list of uncooperative Filipinos, had their movements monitored and their signatures forged on Katipunan papers, which stated that they were not only Katipunan sympathizers but also heavy contributors to the Katipunan fund!

Bonifacio and Valenzuela started leaving these incriminating “subversive” documents in Katipunan hideouts and safehouses, so the slightest search by the Spanish authorities would lead to their discovery. A wave of arrests followed, but the implicated men simply denied their involvement with the Katipunan. Unfortunately, the Spanish didn’t believe them and even used this as a way of extorting money from the rich “suspects”.

Francisco Roxas was executed while others were tortured. Fort Santiago was filled with hundreds of suspected Katipunan sympathizers, others were exiled to the Caroline or Marianas Islands and some, like Luis Yangco, slipped out of the Philippines after bribing Spanish officials.

What is difficult for historians today is how to tell the real sympathizers of the Katipunan from those Bonifacio merely implicated. Worse, Pio Valenzuela is one of the most unreliable primary sources on the revolution, giving conflicting versions of the same story, further complicating our history.