To promote 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 were: Antonio C. Torres, Juan Flameno, Martin P. de Veyra, Jose A. del Barrio and Jose S. Galves.
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. deVeyra, Manuel Lim, Juan F. Nakpil, Herminio Velarde, Teodoro Evangelista, Hermenegildo B. Reyes, Santiago F. dela Cruz, Jesus E. Perpinan, Vitaliano Bernardino, Jose Ma. Paredes, ClaudioTeehankee, Jose S. Laurel III, Justo P.Torres, Jr., Elias Lopez, Lamberto C.Nanquil, Demetrio L.Hilbero, and the incumbent, Rogelio M. Quiambao.
In 1951 the Supreme 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 Sabado 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 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 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 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.
CHARTER EXEMPT FROM RESTRICTIVE PROVISIONS OF THE CORPORATION 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 to 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).
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.