Chapter Commander, Panoramastr. 100
Germany 7th June, 2008
Sir Virgilio R. Esguerra, KGCR, Supreme Commander,
Members of the Supreme Council:
All Fellow Knights:
Open letter to the new Supreme Commander, Sir V. R. Esguerra, KGCR, and Supreme Council:
Illustrious Gentlemen and Fellow Knights,
Congratulations on your recent election.
Unfortunately, practically no overseas Chapters or Knights were present at the General Assembly and were thus effectively excluded from that Election. So, it is difficult to acknowledge the result of the Election as being truly representative and democratic. This is due to the present, defective election procedure. If we are to achieve international and democratic recognition of the legitimacy of our Supreme Council elections by all Knights and if we really want effective democratic structures in our Order, the present election system has to be changed, to allow all Knights (regardless of where they are located) to be represented at General Assemblies when elections and other decisions take place.
This issue was agreed to at the European Consultative Meeting in Brussels on 26th. April, 2008. At the General Assembly in January 2006, when the amended Bye Laws were adopted, it was also incorporated in those Bye Laws that this matter would be examined. There seems to have been no such examination since that date.
We hope, most sincerely, that these necessary and urgent changes will be implemented soon.
The reaction of our past leaders to the establishment of the IFKOR and the ‘pending case’ against Sir Rizal Victoria, as shown in Resolutions 003 and 006, Series of 2008, make some Knights really wonder. They ask whether Dr. José Rizal is actually alive in our Order.
That reaction is a great disappointment to many serious and committed Knights and it is not regarded as being an appropriate way of dealing with the many real problems in our Order.
You write that your “records are an open book”, but why have all the questions that I and many others asked you, in various letters and e-mails in the past, never been answered in a satisfactory way?
Your reaction reminds us of the reaction of the Chinese rulers when confronted with questions and problems they do not like, as in the present case of Tibet. Instead of seeking the reasons for the present problems, and entering into worthwhile discussions to achieve a real and lasting solution to the problems they use repression and violence (“pains of disloyalty and insubordination”) to quell legitimate questions and discussion.
The IHQ is behaving in the same stubborn way. Instead of talking with concerned, well-meaning and committed Knights around the world (there would, for example, have been an excellent opportunity for that in Paris last year, but it was wasted with vainglorious praise and “fun”) who genuinely want to contribute improvements to our Order, its structures and programmes and who are willing to invest significant time, energy and commitment, our leaders focus on “loyalty and subordination”. “Loyalty and subordination” to what exactly, is a question worth some consideration.
Whenever we have asked questions we have almost never received a proper reply. In the present situation our leaders do not seem to ask themselves why all those IFKOR people are meeting and what their aims are. Instead of going to Toronto and discussing with them, our leaders only say: “Out”! This is such a poor reaction, and not at all appropriate for an Order that takes its name from José Rizal, who kept questioning things and tackling problems through discussions. He was not interested in power, titles and ranks but individual freedom and personal responsibility, and he did not demand ‘subordination’ or even ‘loyalty’ - these words never occur in his writings - he wanted to gain people’s consent through conviction and the power of logical argument. But he was silenced by the weak, authoritarian Spanish, because he criticised, pricked and questioned them and their behaviour.
In his novels, José Rizal impressively describes nepotism and the abuse of power and what they lead to. And what is happening in our Order?
The present conduct of our leaders is seen as being completely undemocratic, unfair and un- and anti-Rizalian and resembles more the tactics of the Spanish when dealing with Rizal than the reaction of a José Rizal.
He would turn in his grave if he could see what ‘Rizalists’ (his ‘heirs’) are doing and that they seem to be mainly interested in ranks, titles, influence, prestige and power. This is deplorable and disgraceful !
“Quo usque tandem ?” – “How long will this go on?” the famous Cicero asked long ago in similar circumstances. Must we ask the same or will true Rizalists be forced into revolt, as the Filipino Nation was in 1896?
In his book ‘The First Filipino’, when referring to José Rizal, Leon M. Guerrero quotes Victor Hugo, who wrote: “It is not I who have been outlawed, but liberty; it is not I who have been exiled, but France.” Who is being ‘outlawed’ and ‘exiled’ in our Order?
In Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Hamlet’, Hamlet says: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark !” What about the ‘state’ of our Order? Anything ‘rotten’ there? Do our leaders behave like the Spanish and the friars in Rizal’s day, because they are afraid of a change and the loss of power? Who are “the villains in the pursuit of truth and justice”?
Do you think such behaviour is in accordance with José Rizal’s principles of virtuousness, democracy and self-determination, for which he died? In some of his last words Rizal writes: “I have always wanted democratic rights for the Philippines and I have always expressed myself in this sense . . .”, and “if Spain systematically denied democratic rights to the Philippines, there would be insurrections.”
What about the situation in the “Knights of Rizal”? Don’t we need an ‘insurrection’? What is it we ‘want’?
I am rather astonished by your quick reaction to IFKOR and concerning the ‘case’ against Sir Rizal Victoria, whereas we have heard nothing yet of any decision from you about the complaints and accusations against Sir Lino Paras and against Sir “Bhoy” Alcoba or the situation in Canada. Why is this so?
I do hope that our new leaders in Manila are willing and able to deal with legitimate criticism, proposals, suggestions and challenges from committed Knights and with unpleasant and painful truths not in a primitive and repressive way (like the Spanish in Rizal´s days), but in an argumentative, rational, mature and open debate and intellectual competition (like Rizal did). He once wrote to Blumentritt: “I discussed everything and doubted”, and he wrote: “We can only serve our country by telling the truth, however bitter it is. To remain silent would be to consent to the abuse”.
Are you willing to “discuss everything”, or do you rather want to “remain silent” and oppress “everything”, demanding “loyalty and subordination”?
If you are unwilling to enter into an open discussion without preconditions, all the references to and professions of Rizalian ideas, ideals and concepts are merely empty word shells, lip-service and a fake.
But if you really want to take Rizal seriously and emulate his role model then you cannot but act and behave accordingly.
I look forward to a speedy response.
With best Rizalian wishes,
Rainer J. Weber, Chapter Commander