Unearthed: Emilio Aguinaldo’s telegram to meet Antonio Luna before his killing

November 26, 2018 - 5:02 PM
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Antonio Luna
Portrait of Gen. Antonio Luna (Public domain/Wikicommons)

An unearthed telegram dating back to 1899 could solve the decades-long debate about the involvement of late president Emilio Aguinaldo in the killing of Philippine-American War hero General Antonio Luna.

The document dated June 4, 1899 titled “The Extremely Important Heneral Luna Telegram, from Aguinaldo Summoning him to his Death” is set to be auctioned at the coming Leon Gallery in December 2018.

“PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR, DAGUPAN. Paging for an important meeting, therefore you are ordered to come here immediately. This is in response to your previous telegram about urgent matters to discuss. It is really an emergency,” the telegram reads.

The document was found by descendants of Luna in their family’s belongings and later decided to have it auctioned.

According to Lisa Guerrero Nakpil, consultant for the Leon Gallery, the archaic document could be proof of Aguinaldo’s role in the killing of Luna, one of his top generals during the Philippine’s war against the United States.

Historian Ambeth Ocampo, one of those who had seen the telegram, said in a column that the message was only one of the four telegrams sent to ensure that Luna would fall for a trap to take his life.

Historian Xiao Chua on the one hand gave the document credibility after Ocampo, who was familiar with Luna’s handwriting, found that it did in fact have the slain hero’s penmanship.

Another historian, Kristofer Pasion, said that the document as a primary source could prove the link between Aguinaldo and the assassination of Luna.

Ending the debate?

The generally accepted story is that Luna was on his way to meet with Aguinaldo after receiving two telegrams regarding important meetings. While approaching Aguinaldo’s headquarters in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, on June 5, 1899, he had a quarrel with some of the soldiers stationed, and was stabbed and hacked at least 30 times.

In the decades after the Philippine-American War, some accused Aguinaldo of ordering Luna to go to Cabanatuan, knowing that the latter would be attacked.

Antonio K. Abad said in a book published in 1926 that at least one of the telegrams was sent by Aguinaldo.

Gen. Venancio Concepcion, according to historian Teodoro Agoncillo’s book “Malolos: Crisis of the Republic,” defended Aguinaldo by saying that he was extremely shocked when he learned about Luna’s death.

Aguinaldo is also said to have remarked that if he wanted Luna dead, he would have had the general killed in battle and pinned the blame on the Americans instead of killing Luna near his headquarters since such a move would obviously arouse suspicion.

Agoncillo later defended Aguinaldo by saying that the late president’s role could not be proven due to there being no physical proof that he had sent a telegram to Luna.

The public’s interest in the debate about Aguinaldo’s possible involvement in the killing of Luna was revived after the 2015 hit movie “Heneral Luna” depicted the president as having ordered Luna to meet him in Cabanatuan, springing the trap set by Luna’s enemies.

Some Filipinos recently questioned the Malacañang’s decision to commemorate Aguinaldo’s 150th birthday on March 22, 2019, citing his history of being tagged in the deaths of Luna and another hero, Andres Bonifacio.