A Mindanao House leader yesteday sought to rename the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) from Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo to General Antonio Luna, stressing the latter is the most brilliant and capable Filipino general in their time.
As the nation celebrates National Heroes’ Day today, Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel filed House Bill (HB) No. 4047, which seeks to change the name of the AFP’s headquarters in honor of Luna.
“Camp Antonio Luna in the Municipality of Limay in the Province of Bataan, which is home to the Office of the Director of the Government Arsenal under the Department of Defense, shall hereafter be known and referred to as Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,” Pimentel said.
The measure seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 4434 – the 1965 law that changed the name of Camp Frank Murphy to Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo.
In his bill’s explanatory note, Pimentel pointed out that Luna “has been described by historians as the most brilliant and capable of the Filipino generals during the Philippine-American War.”
Luna was Chief of Staff of the Philippine Revolutionary Army for 134 days during the Philippine-American War until his brutal assassination on June 5, 1899. He was only 32 years old.
“Luna deserves greater recognition for his patriotism and military prowess,” Pimentel said. “Our bill seeks to honor and accord ‘The Fiery General’ the nobler distinction and prominence that he rightfully deserves.”
“We are counting on our bill, once enacted, to rouse all Filipinos, especially our soldiers across the three military branches – the Army, the Air Force and the Navy – to emulate and live up to Luna’s positive qualities, particularly his strong love of country and exceptional military skills,” Pimentel said.
Luna had been widely credited for bringing “guerrilla warfare” into play way ahead of China’s Mao Zedong and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, Pimentel pointed out.
Pimentel also cited Filipino revolutionary leader Apolinario Mabini’s estimation of Luna: “If he was sometimes hasty and even cruel in his resolution, it was because the army had been brought to a desperate situation by the demoralization of the soldiers and the lack of ammunitions: nothing but action of rash courage and extraordinary energy could hinder its dissolution.”
Luna was hailed even by the best U.S. military officers during the Philippine-American War, Pimentel said.
Pimentel mentioned James Franklin Bell, a U.S. Army captain, who said that Luna “was the only general the Filipino army had.”
Bell received the U.S. Medal of Honor for actions during the Philippine-American War. He later rose to major general and Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
Pimentel also referred to Frederick Funston, a U.S. Army colonel, who called Luna “the ablest and most aggressive leader of the Filipino Republic.”
Funston was promoted to brigadier general for cleverly engineering the capture of Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela.
Like Bell, Funston also received the U.S. Medal of Honor for actions during the Philippine-American War, and later rose to major general of the U.S. Army.
According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, Luna, in his last will and testament dated March 31, 1899, wrote: “1. I leave whatever I have to my mother. 2. If they will kill me, wrap me in a Filipino flag with all the clothing with which I was dressed when killed, and bury me in the ground. 3. I wish to state freely that I would die willingly for my country, for our independence, without thereby looking for death.”
Pimentel stressed that his bill “in no way seeks to reduce Aguinaldo, the first President of the Philippines, and the Chief of Staff of the Philippine Revolutionary Army after Luna’s assassination.”
“Aguinaldo has been fittingly honored over the years, especially with the 41.4-kilometer Emilio Aguinaldo Highway,” Pimentel said, referring to the network of primary and secondary public roads passing through the busiest cities and municipalities of Cavite.