Statement of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, on the seventy-second anniversary of the martyrdom of Fathers Jose Burgos, Mariano Gomez, and Jacinto Zamora, Manila, February 17, 1944:

Filipino churchmen today in particular and their countrymen at large face an increasing challenge in the memory of the three martyred priests of Bagumbayan, Fathers Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora. The three priests blazed the way for responsible nationalism and racial self-respect. They set a tradition and a standard of moral leadership for Filipino leaders of the cloth to go by in sharing the responsibilities of nation-building under the young Republic.

Seventy-two years ago today, the three Filipino priests quietly met their common destiny at Bagumbayan Field. They suffered martyrdom on the garrote, for daring to voice the grievances of the Filipino people against the corruption and the injustice of certain civil and ecclesiastical authorities. Especially did they incur their hatred for advocating the secularization of the clergy in this country.

Theirs was an unequal fight for racial vindication. Their efforts threatened the supremacy of obscurantism in this country. And, in their confusion and fear, their enemies sought wildly for means to destroy the obstacles to the continuation of the established order. Blindly and without regard for justice and truth, they pinned the guilt of the Cavite Revolt on Fathers Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora. Happily for its good name, the church itself upheld their innocence.

Today the Filipino people cherish their memory, as their posterity will continue to do so, in reverence of the spirit of freedom of the will to determine their own destiny, implicit in the martyrdom of Fathers Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora. Suppressed, it may smoulder tor a time—only to flare out again with greater brilliance and vigor. Hardly were the bodies of the three martyr-priests cold in their graves, when Rizal’s voice, more insistent and more compelling, flung the challenge against injustice, tyranny and corruption. And then was heard the tramp of the Katipunan, putting to rout the combined forces of oppression and obscurantism.

We are the heirs of the blessings for which the blood of such men as Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora was offered freely as an earnest of the dignity and beauty of the life of subsequent generations. It is for us to keep the light of their sacrifice forever aflame. We should guard it with zeal, protect it with our very lives, lest our right to determine our destiny be snatched from our hands again.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library