History of the Order of the Knights of Rizal
The history of the Order of the Knights of Rizal goes back to December 30, 1911 when Colonel Antonio C. Torres organized a group of men from different walks of life for the purpose of commemorating, in a fitting manner, the execution and martyrdom of our foremost national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. Thereafter, year after year, the same group would gather to celebrate the birth and commemorate the death of Dr. Jose Rizal. During Rizal Day celebrations, this group would be seen conspicuously on horse back, reminiscent of the Knights of old known for their chivalry and exemplary life.
To provide a continuing entity and to encourage others to join them, these admirers of Dr. Rizal on November 16, 1916, organized a private non-stock corporation and named it the “Orden de Caballeros de Rizal.” The incorporators of the corporation were: Antonio C. Torres, Juan Flameño, Martin P. de Veyra, Jose A. del Barrio and Jose S. Galvez. Colonel Antonio C. Torres, who before the last war was Chief of Police of Manila, was the first Supreme Commander. The following have since then been Supreme Commanders of the Order: Martin P. de Veyra, Manuel Lim, Juan F. Nakpil, Herminio Velarde, Teodor Evangelista, Hemenegildo B. Reyes, Santiago F. de la Cruz, Jesus E. Perpinan, Vitalino Bernardino, Jose Ma. Paredes, Claudio Teehankee, Jose S. Laurel III, Justo P. Torres, Jr., Simeon C. Medalla, Condrado M. Vasquez, Sr., Filemon H. Mendoza, Angel Rizal Alvarez, Elias B. Lopez, Lamberto C. Nanquil, Rogelio M. Quiambao, Vicente P. Palmon, Carmelo T. Gempesaw, Jesus B. David, Jose D. Lina, Jr., Hilario G. Davide, Jr., Virgilio R. Esguerra, Pablo S. Trillana III and the incumbent Reghis M. Romero II.
In 1951, the Supreme Council of the Order created a Committee on Legislation for the purpose of studying the feasibility of filling a bill in the Congress of the Philippines to be enacted into law to enable the Order to secure a legislative charter, Justice Roman Ozaeta was the Chairman of the Committee with Sirs Carlos Hilado and Pedro Sabido as members. The bill seeking to give the Order of the Knights of Rizal a legislative charter was docketed as Senate Bill No. 251, with then Senators Enrique Magalona, Lorenzo Sumulong, Esteban Abada, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Camilo Osias, Geronima Pecson, Jose Avelino and Ramon Torres as sponsors. In the lower house, Congressman Miguel Zosa of Cebu was the principal sponsor of the measure. The explanatory note of Bill read as follows:
“The purpose of the attached bill is to accord to the civic and patriotic organization known as “Orden de Caballeros de Rizal” (Order of the Knights of Rizal) the same kind of official recognition and encouragement as that accorded to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines by Commonwealth Act No. 111, by granting to it a legislative Charter and investing it with the necessary powers to enable it more fully and more effectively to accomplish the laudable purpose for which it was organized.”
“The bill if enacted into law will also serve as a historical monuments to Rizal; it will constitute an official recognition by the Republic of the Philippines of the inestimable value to the nation of his teachings and examples and of the wisdom and necessity of inculcating them in the minds and hearts of our people so they may strive to follow and practice them. The authors and proponents of this bill believe that if the purposes thereof are faithfully and effectively carried out, social discipline, civic virtues, and love of justice will be fostered, promoted, and enhanced in this country, and that the Knights of Rizal as chartered entity is the most convenient instrumentality by which this desirable ends can be attained: Let Rizal’s life and martyrdom influence and guide the destiny of the nation. Let this and future generations live the Rizal way.”
Recommended for approval on May 15, 1951, the measured was signed into law by the President of the Philippines on June 14, 1951, becoming Republic Act 646.
KR CHARTER EXEMPT FROM RESTRICTIVE PROVISIONS OF CORPORATE LAW
It is patent from the wordings of Act 646 that the purpose in lifting the Knights of Rizal from its status of a purely private corporation to a “public corporation”, is to broaden its powers and exempt it from the restrictive provisions of the corporation law (now corporation code) to enable it to effectively carry out the objectives for which it was established. While it is true that the power granted to it “to make and adopt by-laws, rules and regulations” is qualified in the sense that such adopted by-laws rules and regulations should not be inconsistent with the laws of the Philippines, the qualification should be construed as empowering the corporation to adopt by-laws which are not illicit or contrary to morals, good customs, public order or public policy. (SEC. Opinion, January 13, 1969)
KNIGHTS OF RIZAL HAS CORPORATE POWERS
As a legal entity the Knights of Rizal can exercise corporate powers. Thus, it shall have perpetual succession, with power to sue and to be sued, to hold such real and personal property as shall be necessary for corporate purposes; to solicit and receive public contributions; to receive real and personal property by gift, device, or bequest; to adopt a seal and to alter the same at pleasure; to have offices and conduct its business and affairs in the city of Manila and elsewhere; to make and adopt by-laws, rules, and regulations not inconsistent with the laws of the Philippines, and generally to do all such acts and things (including the establishment of regulations for election of associates and successors) as may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of Republic Act 646 and to promote the purposes of said corporation. (Sec. 3, Rep. Act 646)
THE KNIGHTS OF RIZAL: AN ORGANIZATION
The Order of the Knights of Rizal is a civic and patriotic organization recognized by law as an instrumentality by which the teachings of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal may be propagated among the Filipino people, and others who may believe in his teachings to the end that they may emulate and follow his examples.
Aside from its being a civic and patriotic organization it is also cultural, non-sectarian, non-partisan, and non-racial.
Its ranks and insignia are recognized in the Honors Code of the Philippines as official awards of the Republic.
Sir is the title for members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal;. The sword and kneeling ceremony during dubbing states: “Vested upon the By-Laws of the Order, I dub (name of new member) – By virtue of the Order (he taps left shoulder with sword). Arise, Sir (name of new member).” (Sir Justo P. Torres, KGCR, Supreme Commander, Manila, Philippines, December 30, 1985). Some notable members of the Order, such as King Juan Carlos of Spain, former American Foreign Secretary and Nobel peace prize laureate, Henry Kissinger and other noted Filipinos who are recipients of the Order’s decoration certainly give credence and dignity to it. The Archbishop of Manila is also a member of the Order dispelling any notion that the Order could be Masonic. The late Jaime Cardinal L. Sin was honored with the highest degree of the Knighthood. He also blessed the building where the Order established its international headquarters in Manila. Other famous members include:
- H.E. Sir Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III – President of the Philippines
- H.E. Sir Fidel V. Ramos, KGCR – Past President of the Philippines
- H.E. Sir Joseph Estrada, KGCR – Past President of the Philippines
- Sir Halario Davide Jr., KGCR – Past Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
- H.E Sir Anwar Ibrahim, KGCR – Past Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia
- Sir Juan Ponce Enrile, KCGR – Senator
- Sir Edgardo Angara, KGCR – Senator
- Sir Jovito Salonga, KCGR – Senator
- Sir Salvador H. Laurel III, KGCR – Senator
- Sir Arturo Tolentino, KGCR – KGCR – Senator
- Sir Cesar Virata, KGCR – Senator
- Sir Feliciano Belmonte – KGCR, Speaker of the House of Representatives
- Sir Jose H. Laurel III, KGCR – Senator