Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Rizal's Executioner

Camilo Polavieja y del Castillo, Marques de Polavieja (1838–1914)

 Regarded as a villain in Philippine history for ordering the court martial and subsequent execution of Jose Rizal, Governor General Camilo de Polavieja had a brilliant career as a military man. He became Governor General of the Philippines in a turbulent time replacing Gov. General Ramon Blanco y Erenas. He is known to be favored by the friars. It was also said that when Dona Teodora pleaded for Rizal's life, she walked in bend knees in a stair in Malacanang and meeting Polavieja who coldly said to her ; He cannot spare the life of this rebel while young Spanish men are dying in battlefields in the hills of Luzon". Another version says that Dona Teodora and a daughter were simply shooed away from the gates of the palace. Polavieja never won the war to pacify the Philippines. In fact,  parts of Cavite were still in rebels hands when he resigned due to bad health (palusot?). He went home to Spain becoming War Minister for a short period in the government of Francisco Silvela in 1899. He also became active in politics heading a group whose platform centers in the renewal of Spain after the so called disaster of 1898 (when Spain lost her colonies). He was even part of a planned coup d etat to restore order and the prestige of nation. In one of his sorties around Spain, he passed by the city of Gijon, at that time a known place for liberal thinking and anarchism and was met by public protest causing his early departure. It is even said that the streets were flooded with leaflets containing Jose Rizal's "Ultimo Adios". 

On January 1914, Camilo Polavieja died of Hepatitis. He is mentioned in Philippine history as Jose Rizal's executioner and nothing more.

Polavieja in Mexico 1910. As head of the Spanish delegation commemorating the "Centenario" of Mexico 1910. (Aurelio Escobar Castellanos Archive)

Polavieja's funeral 1914

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