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June 23, 1869, Carlos Maria de la Torre Assumed Office as the New Governor-General of the Philippines.

On September 1868 the people of Spain who were tired of the autocratic rule of queen Isabella II, rose in revolution and succeeded in setting up a government which guaranteed the basic human freedom.

On June 23, 1869, in the first flush of the revolution a new governor, General Carlos Ma. de la Torre y Nava Cerrada, assumed office as the new Governor-General of the Philippines. He shocked Manila’s “apostolics”. A rich Andalusian from Seville, who had joined the army at an early age and, after a brilliant military career, had entered politics as a deputy to the Cortes of 1854, he flaunted his liberal- ism with the ardor and elegance of his native region. He was soon to be seen walking about the city un- escorted, consorting with the Filipinos and half-breeds, his well-brushed beard gleaming in the tropic sun.

The Liberal Governor-General Carlos Maria de la Torre
(Image: http://www.kahimyang.com)

His arrival in Manila was most welcome by the liberal minded Spaniards, mestizos and Filipinos, all of whom hailed him as their liberator from the supposed tyrannies of the conservative and reactionary elements here.

During his term he posed and acted as a true democrat. Some of the innovations that he introduced shocked the aristocratic and haughty Spanish residents of the city who thought that the Governor had gone crazy.

The governor (1) abolished censorship of the press, (2) encouraged freedom of speech and assembly, (3) substituted imprison- ment for flogging as a punishment in the army, and (4) settled an agrarian revolt in Kabite by pardoning the rebels and organizing them into a special police force. He also turned a kindly ear to the protests of his friends among the native seculars, Burgos, G6mez, Za- mora, Vicente Garcia, Mariano Sevilla, Agustin Men- doza, Sim6n Ramirez, and others.

One evening in July 1869, scarcely a month after his arrival, he was serenaded at the Palace by local liberals, Filipinos and Creoles. The handsome old general promptly in- vited them in, an unprecedented gesture, and they drank toasts to “Liberty”.

The liberal regime of de la Torre, undoubtedly encouraged the Filipinos to discuss public issues and secure more reforms. Accordingly, the intellectuals among them, priests and laymen, constituted themselves into a commission of reformers and set as their main objectives the Filipinization of the parishes and the enjoyment of more political rights for their people as embodied in the Spanish constitution. Even the Filipino students of the University of Santo Tomas, inspired by the liberal spirit of the times, formed themselves into a patriotic society called “Juventud Escolar Liberal”.

The liberal regime in Spain came to an end in November 1870, when the Spanish Cortes reestablished the Spanish monarchy and elected Prince Amadeo of Savoy as the new King of Spain. In 1871 Lieutenant General Rafael de Izquierdo, was sent to replace Governor de la Torre. Izquierdo declared that he would govern with the cross in one hand and a sword in the other.

Lieutenant General Rafael de Izquierdo
(Image: http://www.kahimyang.com)

In his 50’s, he was a tough veteran who had enlisted at fourteen and had fought in six campaigns of the Spanish civil wars, in all the major battles of Spain’s African and Dominican campaigns, and in the liberal revolution against Isabel. He had suppressed popular risings in Valencia, Tarragona and Lerida in the peninsula.

Upon assuming office on April 4, 1871, Izquierdo immediately overturned the liberal reforms put in place by his predecessor, Carlos Maria de la Torre, and implemented harsher laws.

Sources:

Guerrero, Leon Ma. The First Filipino. A Biography of Jose Rizal. Manila: National Historical Commission, 1974.

http://www.kahimyang.com

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