Diary of Augusto Caesar Espiritu

Wednesday, October 25, 1972

The discussion was on a resolution filed by Toto do la Cruz that the 166-man body designated (by who else?) to write the Constitution should authorize the Steering Council, as its ad-hoc committee, to prepare the first draft. And what about the rest of the delegates? Placed in the ice box!

During the interpellations, Toto said the meaning is that, hereafter, the whole Constitution would be written by the Steering Council, to be submitted to the 166-man body for ratification. Also, the Steering Council and this body may change any provision already approved in plenary session on second reading.

It was made plain during the interpellation that this would mean that we would be in the situation where we were during our pre-Convention meetings. In other words, the Con-Con, through the Steering Council of the 166-man body, would start all over again. All our work of the last 16 months in the Con-Con would be set aside—although they would be “taken into consideration.” All our efforts and all the expenses of the government were for naught.

I wanted to stand up and fight what I felt was a conspiracy to frustrate the people’s will. So the Convention is no longer the representative of the people. It is now a rubber stamp of Marcos!

One problem was that last night Sonny had phoned me and requested me to meet again with Toto this morning. It might be too late if I were to see him only in the afternoon.

I knocked on Toto’s door at the Sulo Hotel. Toto answered from the locked room that he was busy. Instead of opening the door to let me in, he asked me to call him up from the lobby.

Could Toto have a girl inside? Did I unwittingly disturb some romancing inside? But no, it seems more likely that he was in his room with some other Marcos boys preparing the stage for today’s golpe. Could this be the mystery room of the Rasputins where the fate of a nation is being decided?

Over the telephone, Toto told me he was busy. I could only talk to him this afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

I was quite disappointed; I had travelled to Quezon City Hall in the morning just to talk to him. Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride. Remembering that he is somewhat close to Sonia Aldeguer, one of my three closest friends in the Convention, I suggested that perhaps I could ask Sonia to send her vote by cable from Rome where she is in a nunnery and confirm it upon her arrival? He replied this would be a wise move.

I repaired to my room to phone Sammy Occeña in Davao. Sammy said he had voted already. He was firm. In conscience he could not vote “Yes.”

“Good for you!” I hung up.

I tried hard to contact Sister Digna or Sister Elizabeth to tell either one of them about my talk with Toto de la Cruz.

Last Sunday, I had advised Sister Digna to leave things as they are. Anyway, Sonia could not come home. I said she is lucky because she need not be forced to vote “Yes,” as she might be if she were around; there are rumors that she is also in the “secondary list.” But just in case Sonia might want to vote, we might, perhaps, arrange it such that she could cable her vote and say that she was confirming it upon her arrival. After all, Toto said it could be done.

I phoned Caling Lobregat to get the telephone number of Sister Digna. Caling told me she had talked to Sonia last night and Sonia said she had voted “No.” Caling suggested that we should capture Sonia’s cable and try to persuade her to change her vote to “Yes.”

I poured cold water on the idea. “I think we should respect her decision.”

I spent more than an hour trying to get Sister Digna or Sister Elizabeth on the phone but the number Caling gave me was apparently wrong. Then, I gave up—quite happy that, anyhow, Sonia had already voted “No.”

I talked to Mrs. Ferrer also to give my advice to Raul Manglapus in the U.S. to send his vote along the line of what I was going to tell Sonia. She said she would explain this to Manny Peña.

I sent word to Sonny’s secretary for him to call me up between 2:30 and 4:00 p.m. But his call didn’t come.

When I entered the session hall, Toto was already on the floor.

How could I now argue with him publicly? It was crucial for me to first, be able to talk to him about Sonny. But this was now no longer possible. I may now have to cross swords with Toto. Still, it would be difficult to come out strongly against his proposal—an outrageous proposal foreordained to pass because of numbers. What a pity! This was clearly a conspiracy.

It was unbelievable, but true. Oka Leviste said there was no choice. But I could not vote for this deliberate frustration of our will—the unceremonious junking of the decisions taken by us in the last 16 months.

This was one of our darkest hours in the Convention. I went out of the session hall during the voting without casting my vote. I was informed later that only 12 people voted against the outrageous resolution for the body to surrender all powers to the Steering Council.

There was some lame opposition to the resolution from Julian Locsin and Ikeng Corpuz. The surprising thing was that it seemed that the Sponsorship Council has been decimated. It is supposed to be the largest body in the Convention. What about the committee chairmen and vice chairmen? Why did they not utter any word of protest?

This could not be true, I told some friends. But Oka Leviste said this was true. Once more, he said that the Constitution has already been drafted in Malacañang.

In the meantime, the 12 committees on economic affairs have been meeting under my chairmanship. One might ask, what for? The answer, perhaps, is that the Steering Council might yet, hopefully, adopt most of our ideas, coming as they do from the committee chairmen, vice chairmen and representatives to the Council.

Am I being hopelessly unrealistic?

We should still go on and finish our work and then submit our draft to the body. If it is turned down—as very possibly it would be—then we could place on record that those were the provisions that we had wanted. We should then be speaking to the future and no longer to the present; the present is beyond redemption. We shall then explain to history that this was not our will and that insofar as our will was concerned, we wanted the provisions approved by our committees in the economic grouping.

It was like dying a little, I thought; the whole machinations in the Convention were making us die a little.

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