MARIANO TRIAS Y. CLOSAS (1901-1905)

TO GENERAL Mariano Trias belongs the distinction of being the first politico-military governor of Cavite (June 15, 1898) and the first civil governor of the province (1901-1905) under the American regime.

The appointment of Trias as the first civil governor of Cavite was a tactical move by the Americans to secure the early restoration of peace and order in the province. The Americans tried to exploit the military prestige of Trias, who was second only to General Emilio Aguinaldo in the first revolutionary government (March to November 1897), and in the Biak-na-bato republic (November to December 1897).

But peace and order conditions in Cavite, the traditional seat of insurgency, never improved. After the surrender of General Miguel Malvar on April 16, 1902, Macario Sakay, a Katipunero from Tondo, Manila, continued the resistance against the American regime. Sakay set up the “Supreme Government of the Tagalog Archipelago” somewhere in the Sierra Madre with him as president and commander-in-chief. The Sakay government had a constitution providing for a supreme government and council of ministers. In May 1902 he issued a manifesto calling on all Filipinos to desist from rendering allegiance to the United States. For four years he led a guerrilla movement against the Americans.

In Cavite the Americans resorted to large-scale arrests and detention of civilians, “including women and children,” provoking strongly-worded editorials by Fernando Ma. Guerrero in his fighting paper, El Renacimiento(The rebirth). Angered by the attacks, the American-controlled Philippine Constabulary filed a libel suit against Guerrero and his publisher, Martin Ocampo. After seven months of crowd-packed trial, Guerrero and Ocampo were acquitted by judge Manuel Araullo of the Manila Court of First Instance.

Undaunted, the American government in Manila appointed an American military officer as governor of Cavite after and end Trias’s term in 1905.

[Sources: (1) Teodoro A. Agoncillo and Milagros C. Guerrero, History of the Filipino People. Quezon City, Malay Books, 1970; and (2) Souvenir magazine commemorating the first centenary of Fernando Ma. Guerrero, 1873-1973, May 30, 1973.]