The history of the Order of the Knights of Rizal go back to December 30, 1911 when Colonel Antonio C. Torres organized a 9 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 P. 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 horseback reminiscent of the knights of old known for their chivalry and exemplary life.
To provide a continuing entity and to encourage others to join tem, 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 FlameÃ±o, 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, Teodoro Evangelista, Hernenegildo B. Reyes, Santiago F. de la Cruz, Jesus E. PerpiÃ±an, Vitaliano Bernardino, Jose Ma. Paredes Claudio Teehankee, Jose S. Laurel III and the incumbent, Justo P. Torres, Jr.
In 1951 the Supreme e Council of the Order created a Committee on Legislation for the purpose of studying the feasibility of filing 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 lowerhouse, Congressman Manuel Zosa of Cebu was the principal sponsor of the measure. The explanatory note of the 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 encourage-ment as that accorded to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines by Commonwealth Act No. 111, by grant-ing to it a legislative Charier and investing ‘it with the necessary powers to enable it more fully and more effectively to accomplish the laudable purposes for which it was organized.”
” This Bill if enacted into law will also serve as a historical monument 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 these 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 measure was, signed into law by the President of the Philippines on June 14, 1951, becoming Republic Act 646.