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Rosario Batangas Philippines

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rosario of Batangas 1951-1989

Chapter VII
Under The Third Philippine Republic
Political Episodes of the Era
Other Significant Developments

Political Episodes of the Era
Mayor-elect Angel Arias did not become mayor of Rosario. He was scheduled to attend a pre-Christmas party in the town plaza in the evening of December 23, 1951. While still in front of his residence - then located just across the BTCo (BLTCo) station, now the BATELEC Office - he was mowed down by carbine fire by a gunman hidden between the parked BTCo buses. This happened despite the presence of a company of soldiers from a Battalion Combat team stationed in the town proper.

Vice-Mayor Elect Jose E. Agoncillo was sworn into office as mayor in January 1952. On February 22 (2 months after the death of Mayor-elect Arias) former Acting Mayor Cuartero was slain in barrio San Carlos in the residence of Juan Soriano, while mediating a case there.

Mayor Agoncillo replaced Gaudencio Manigbas as chief of police with guerrilla Captain Esteban de Guzman (alias Captain Little). Early in 1954, a political move by the Liberals - then in power - was made to oust Mayor Agoncillo from office.

First -councilor Fortunato Inandan was sworn into office by Malacañang on February 16, 1954, as acting mayor of Rosario. For a few days Rosario had tow mayors. On this issue, Agoncillo prevailed. Hardly five (5) months later, in the evening of July 9, 1954, Agoncillo's chief of police Captain de Guzman, was shot dead in midtown. Charged for murder of Capt. de Guzman were former Police Chief Gaudencio Manigbas, two policemen, and some former guerrillas from Macalamcam.

The trial of this murder case was a provincial sensation. Governor Leviste gave, full support to the widow of Capt. de Guzman, in the prosecution of the case. The defense panel was headed by a Liberal stalwart, Atty. Meynardo Farol, a relative of former Mayor Farol. The accused were all convicted and meted death penalty, but later reduced to life imprisonment. Finally they were all pardoned!

Mayor Agoncillo had Felicisimo H. Luna appointed as chief of police after Capt. de Guzman's death. In the election of 1955 Mayor Agoncillo was re-elected along with the election of the 1st lady ever elected councilor of Rosario - Miss Isabelita Comia.

Chief of Police Luna resigned his position before the election of 1959, to run for mayor. On Mayor Agoncillo's attempt for 3rd term, he lost to his former Chief of Police, Felicisimo H. Luna

Mayor Luna was successively re-elected until the 1980 election. He was mayor for twenty two (22) years (1960-1982), when he succumbed to illness on November 14, 1982. In his last bid for re-election during the Martial Law election in 1980, nobody ran against him anymore.

Politics has become a serious preoccupation in Rosario starting early in the 1950’s. It had resulted to violence and deaths of political leaders, the politicians themselves, and even their family members, until 1990.

In the earlier shooting incident, in the 1960’s, Barrio Capt. Teodoro Guno, better known as Kapitan Doroy, escaped death but he was badly wounded. He had to go into hiding for sometime in Kalumala, Santa Teresita.

In 1969, the residence of Chief of Police Ireneo Bautista in Bagong Pook was shot at by vehicle-riding gunmen.

In 1970, the son of Juan Asa a former candidate for mayor, was killed in an ambush in their own barrio of Puting Kahoy.

On March 21, 1971, Mayor Luna himself narrowly escaped death, with his driver, when his car was ambushed in Ermita, Manila. A policeman escort died, while, another was crippled. Mayor Luna’s arm was badly injured.

The imposition of Martial Law in the country by President Marcos in 1972 momentarily put a stop to the violent politics in Rosario. The protagonists seemed to have come to their senses. In the election of 1980, nobody ran against Mayor Luna anymore. The position of vice mayor was contested only by re-electionist Vice-Mayor Felimon Magracia and Brgy. Captain Doroy Guno. Guno was supported by ex-Mayor Agoncillo. Re-electionist Magracia won by a slim margin.

On November 14, 1982, Mayor Luna died suddenly of illness. Vice-Mayor Magracia succeeded to the office as mayor. In Magracia’s place, Antonio T. Luna, the son of the late mayor, was appointed as vice mayor. There was peace in Rosario throughout the Martial Law period.

After President Marcos was deposed by the People’s Power Revolution in February 1986, better known as EDSA I – the new dispensation replaced the municipal government officials of Rosario in April 1986 with a new set, headed by ex-Mayor Jose E. Agoncillo as OIC Mayor, and Kapitan Teodor Guno as OIC Vice-Mayor.

Among the ten (10) OIC Sangguniang Members appointed were: a retired division superintendent of schools, Galo M. Manalo; a rural bank manager, Patricio R. Zuño; a former vice-mayor, Jaime S. Bagting; and former councilors, Jose M. Guerra and Daniel Endaya. The ABC president, Lope I. Cordero; and SK Chairman, Francisco S. Calingasan, were retained in their positions. The 3 other members were also select residents of the town: Emma Z. Urrea, Felixberto Barbosa and Eugenio Batilo.

The new set of officials were assume their respective offices on April 25, 1986. Before OIC Vice-Mayor designate, Kapitan Dorol Guno, could take his oath of office; he was shot dead in the Rosario Cockpit – in broad daylight before many people – during a ‘pintakasi’ on April 23 – just after the town fiesta. His son, Joselito Guno was appointed OIC Vice Mayor. This is another of the unsolved murder cases of the town.

In the congressional election of May 11, 1987, former Judge Jose E. Calingansan was elected congressman – the first from Rosario. His cousin, OIC Mayor Jose E. Agoncillo, had to resign to run for mayor in the election of January 18, 1988. The congressman’s daughter, Mrs. Marife C. Barrera, was appointed OIC Mayor, making her the first woman of Rosario act as mayor. His son-in-law, former Vice Mayor Antonio T. Luna, and former Mayor Felimon T. Magracia both run for mayor, Luna won together with his running mate, Rolando R. Sevilla. In this election, a lady candidate topped the results for councilor, or SB Kagawad, in the person of Miss Elizabeth Marquez.

Just after twenty two (22) months in office, Mayor Luna was also assassinated inside the Rosario Cockpit arena in the afternoon of December 9, 1989. A bodyguard of the mayor was also shot dead. One of the assassins was slain in Brgy. Sta. Cruz by responding policemen.

The political vendetta did not end with the assassination of Mayor Antonio T. Luna. Two months after the death of Mayor Luna, his elder brother, Brgy. Capt. Julianito T. Luna, was also shot dead in the front yard of his home in barangay Namunga, on February 8, 1990. These two deaths also remained unsolved.

Other Significant Developments
During the period of unsettled political peace in Rosario in the 2nd half of the 20th century, there was some other significant developments. The Batikan Club, which was organized in 1951, provided the social aspect of celebrating the annual town fiesta. It had grown to be involved in more meaningful and responsive civic organization.

The local government offices which up to 1958 were located in temporary quarters – on the old pre-war dispensary building and in a make-shift building – now had a new municipal hall built during the last term of Mayor Jose E. Agoncillo. The Rosario Municipal Hall was from the pork-barrel fund of then Speaker Jose B. Laurel. It was then one of the finest municipal halls in the province.

The Rosario Rural Bank, Inc. was the first rural bank established in the town. It was incorporated in December 1961, with the Laurels of Tanauan as among the lead incorporators. Today, this bank has become a branch of the President Jose P. Laurel Rural Bank, Inc. Late in the 1960, the bank directors, saw the need to reconstruct the church building of the Parish of the Holy Rosary. They initiated a fund raising campaign that lasted for several years to help build the church.

At about the same period saw saw the rise of the town’s first private ten bed hospital, of Dr. Juanito M. Caguimbal. In 1968, it was expanded to become the Caguimal General Hospital accredited with the Medical Care Commission (now PhilHealth), where SSS and GSIS members were able to avail of the benefits of the Commission.

Around and in the poblacion, subdivisions were opened led by Villa Felisa, the Sto. Rosario and the Rodelas Subdivisions.

There was a noticeable growth in the town’s population, trade and industry. Gradually, the Filipino merchants of the town took over the retail trade which before was controlled by the Chinese. The Chinese community shifted to the manufacturing and while sale industries. The rest were integrated into the mainstream of the Filipino society becoming more Filipinos than Chinese.

The growing commercial activities of the town necessitated the relocation of the public market to a more spacious place. The open space allotted for public use (required under PD 957) by the Rodelas Subdivision, a residential-commercial subdivision was large enough intended to be the next market place. The municipal government built a new market on this open space. Market vendors refused to transfer to the new market, the entire old public market was mysteriously burned down one midnight in 1969. Business came to life in the new public market and the Rodelas Subdivision became the commercial center of the town.

The town’s cattle market operation, a major source of municipal income, was not only neglected, but ill-managed. Cattle dealers sometimes fear for their personal safety. Some reported to be even practically maltreated by some town officials. Rosario finally lost the market to Padre Garcia, which developed to become the biggest cattle market in the country.

By 1979, Rosario was among the lowest class municipality of the province – a fifth class municipality.

With the advent of the 1980’s, domestic investors came in to invest in the multi-million peso agri-business enterprises. The more notable among these are the Luz Farm Inc. of the Sarmientos in barangay Pinagsibaan, and the Puyat Pig Development (Phils.) in barangay Sta. Cruz.

Many others followed establishing their commercial piggery farms in several barangays of the town. While the fees and taxes they paid improved the municipal government income, the wasted from their farms polluted the town’s stream and river systems, making them biologically dead.

Early during this period, too, the 1st two barangay high schools of the town were established. These were the Tulos Barangay High School and the Baybayin Barangay High School. These were made possible through the efforst its two native sons: Mssrrs. Aurelio A. Adelantar and Galo M. Manalo. They were both division school officials of Batangas. Initially, these high schools and others that followed, operated through tuition fees. Later their operations were nationally funded. They became known as national high schools.

In 1984, the first private elementary school of the town – the Sto. Niño Formation School was established by Mrs. Araceli A. Calderon.

This post is the second of a series of three posts covering Chapter VII - Under The Third Philippine Republic of the book Rosario of Batangas: Its Origin and Developments, 2008 Edition. Reprinted by permission of the author, Conrado T. Reyes.

Read related articles:

Chapter VII - Under the Third Philippine Republic
First Independence Day Celebration
Early Post War Developments
In Calm Political Atmosphere
The "Araw ng Rosario"

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