Friday, November 17, 1972

Surprise! Instead of the 166-man body meeting, the meeting was of a small group of 15 people each from the Steering Council and the Sponsorship Council and 4 floor leaders to go over the amendments.

Apparently, this morning, there was an organizational meeting. These 15 people from each of the councils were appointed and they were to start meeting in the afternoon.

Noli Santos told me that he had nominated me, together with Magtanggol (Tanggol) Gunigundo, to represent the Sponsorship Council but there were objections because some delegates had said that I was too independent-minded. This was a compliment, but I told Noli that I was not keenly interested in joining this group anyway. After all, in the words of Munding, this is now lutong macao.

During the roll call of the members, however, my name was called. It turned out that I was elected a member.

Tio Juaning Borra asked for certain interpositions of phrases in the Preamble approved by the Steering Council. He said that, after all, with the exception of the change of two words—that of “independence” to “sovereignty” and the inclusion of “equality,” the present Preamble is the same as that of the 1935 Preamble. So, he urged that we might as well give credit to the authors of the 1934 Convention. We are basically adopting their Preamble, he claimed.

The note of sarcasm in many of Borra’s speeches cannot be hidden. Borra has been critical of what is happening in the Convention. Unfortunately, he cannot be too outspoken; I hear his son is presently indicted for a serious crime before the courts. How sad! This is the reason why, during the last two months, he could not give full vent to his feelings. Nevertheless, every now and then, his pent-up feelings of bitterness and frustration would suddenly burst out.

When it came to the Declaration of Principles, the committee took up the amendments section by section. When we reached Section 2, a motion was made to reject an amendment by Naning Kalaw, who was not there. The rejection was made almost with a vengeance. But the motion went further; it would reject not only Naning’s amendment but all other amendments that now or in the future may be presented.

I said that, so as not to complicate matters, perhaps the last amendment should be taken up first, namely, the amendment by substitution. I announced that I had filed an amendment by substitution.

To my great surprise, Clemente (Clem) Abundo immediately made a motion that all amendments by substitution should, hereafter, be rejected. Fidel Purisima and Valeriano Yancha, among others, showed so much zeal in joining Abundo in gagging me. I said it would not take long for the body to get my amendment and other similar amendments discussed and rejected—perhaps, only two minutes. But I wanted the body to take it up.

Abundo, Yancha and Purisima would not brook any accommodations. Pacificador, too, was vehemently against giving me the floor.

As I write this diary now, my thoughts fly out to the American Constitutional Convention and what Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania had said: “I flatter myself that I came here in some degree as a representative of the whole human race… I wish the gentlemen would extend their views beyond the present moment of time, beyond the narrow limits of place from which they derive their political origin.”

How different it was during the times of those reasonable men!

Some delegates, like Tony Almedo, urged, “Give Caesar a chance to explain.” Good old reliable Jess Matas was cheering, and so also were those solid, conscientious and progressive colleagues, Noli Santos and Pete Yap.

But the loyalists were bent on mowing down the opposition.

When I was faced with this kind of problem during my UP days, I wrote an editorial in the Collegian, quoting from the nineteenth century English liberal, John Stuart Mill: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would no more be justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, in silencing mankind.”

Far away and long ago!

Peps Bengzon was apparently in charge of the Declaration of Principles. He explained almost in a spirit of cordiality that we should not say that Caesar Espiritu’s amendment has been rejected. Rather, he said, most of the provisions have been substantially incorporated in the draft Constitution; it is only a question of phraseology.

I thought this was deception done so diplomatically. What, was it Alice in Wonderland said? “In a world of the absurd, reason is madness.”

Although Peps was quite conciliatory, I could not help but stand up to say I appreciated those words but that, in my thinking, 70 percent of the concepts in my amendment do not find reflection in the draft of the Steering Council.

Anyway, I had no regrets. I did not really expect any positive response from this group, but I did succeed in inserting into the records what I felt I was happy enough that I was able to do this.

I was surprised at how well-knit the pro-Marcos people are. How eager they are for the kill against anyone who might put a monkey wrench into their conspiracy!

Afterwards, I had a talk with Ben Abubakar and Dr. Aruego. Ben told me that it was Sen. Enchong Sumulong who had wanted to make the present members of Congress members of the interim Assembly, with the present delegates to the convention as ex-officio members. Only when the interim Assembly should constitute itself as a constituent Assembly would it be able to introduce amendments to the Constitution.

Of course these ideas would get nowhere in the Convention; the delegates are now hell-bent on being assemblymen!

I also had a chat with Dr. Aruego. He was a delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Convention. He had written The Framing of the (1935) Constitution, the authoritative book on the 1934 Constitutional Convention. (Dr. Jose P. Laurel’s notes on the proceedings of the 1934 Convention, were, of course, much more comprehensive and profound, but they are not as easily available as Aruego’s book.)

Aruego said that there is no comparison between the pressures during the 1934 Convention and the pressures now. Recto was not a traditional Quezon man; he had only been with Quezon on the “pro” and “anti” issues on the Tydings-McDuffie and the Hare-Hawes Cutting Acts. The real men of Quezon were Sotto and Cuenco from Cebu.

Although there were also some charges that the Constitution was already cooked up in Malacañang during the 1934 Convention, actually this was not taken seriously because no one believed it. Our present situation, according to Dr. Aruego, is completely different. Everything is emanating from Malacañang.

At the end of a gruelling day, Greg Tingson rode with me up to the Quezon Elliptical Circle. It is so very apparent, he said—the great difference between people with convictions and those without. “This was so conspicuously displayed during the brief meeting we attended this afternoon. While you were talking out of conviction, the rest of the delegates were bending to accommodate whatever was made necessary by political realities.”

But is this wise or right? Aying Yñiguez had told me yesterday that he is making a choice and his choice is grounded not on moral but rather on purely political considerations. “My options are within the realm of political realities and, therefore, my decisions are political, not moral.”

Are all politicians the same? Pursuing to build a bridge even when there is no river?


Thursday, November 16, 1972

Moy Buhain, that good colonel, was again at the house at about 9:00 o’clock.

He informed me that according to some rumors, the President might yet want an election next year.

I said I would not rule that out. It is indeed possible that next year the President’s popularity might zoom up again and then he would prefer to be elected prime minister rather than continue with martial law. This one year of martial law may be a leeway for him to improve society as well as his chances of staying in power. So while the indications are that martial law may take a while, it might also happen that it may be cut short by the President himself if and when he feels secure enough in his position.

Moy was somewhat apprehensive about the duration of martial law. He was unhappy over the fact that there is no specific time mentioned for the transitory government.

At the session hall, a heated exchange had taken place between Vic Pimentel and Pacificador. These two delegates started challenging each other. Some delegates stood up to prevent them from getting to each other; but I heard some other voices saying, “Bayaan mo sila. Mabuti nga!

Some delegates might just have wanted Pimentel and Pacificador to really come to blows with each other. For some reason, these two do not seem to be well liked in the Convention.

“Look at him strutting around like a peacock,” Sed Ordoñez, Pacificador’s former professor, whispered to me in contempt.

“Wrong, Sedfrey. A peacock is a beautiful bird.”

I had a brief chat with Munding Cea. He said that he cannot in conscience really lead the team of floor leaders. He said this is “lutong macao.” He said we were really instituting a dictatorship in the Constitution.

I am getting to respect Munding more and more for his decency and his respect for democratic processes.

I asked him how I could hest proceed with my plan of inserting my amendments. He said the best thing is not to speak now but to wait until the plenary session. I told him that I do not expect any discussion, much less do I entertain any thought of success. I simply want to have my thoughts inserted in the journal.

We talked about our colleagues who were in the army stockades. He said that not one of the delegates really deserves to be in prison.

The most ideological of them, I suggested, Boni Gillego, who alone among the delegates openly claims he is a Marxist, is really a social democrat. And he is patriotic, I said, and is concerned with fighting injustice, particularly the great and distressing gap in access to goods and services among our people. He mouths some Marxist terms but wouldn’t harm any one.

Munding nodded his head in agreement. “That happens to be his belief,” he said. “But he is not a violent man.”

I also chatted with Gary Teves and Aying Yñiguez. Gary said that Dr. Aruego, like me, is also doing a lot of writing now. He said it would be good for me to talk to Aruego about how the 1935 Constitutional Convention finally framed the Constitution.

Gary complained about the way the form of government has been distorted by the Steering Council. We had fought and won on the matter of changing the form of government to a parliamentary one but now, the government in the new draft is called a parliamentary one but in essence it is no longer parliamentary. It is really a very strong presidential government, with all the powers vested in the prime minister. The prime minister is now much stronger than the parliament.

“Gary, this is really a prime ministerial government,” I commented.

We noticed that Cefi Padua, Bobbit Sanchez and Joe Feria all stood up to question this on the floor. Tony de Guzman was answering all the questions almost mechanically and with great self-assurance. He was transparently showing his belief that the queries were really of no consequence; they were simply rituals to undergo.

Our idea, Gary said, was precisely because of the complexities of government, there is a great need to spread the loci of decision-making to a much wider group of people.

“Now, we have decision-making concentrated in one man. It would have been much more honest if we just made a Constitution for the duration of the martial law. He should have all these powers under the transitory provision.”

“I agree that there is need for a strong executive to hold the country together and lead it to paths of social progress, Gary,” I responded, “but it is also a fundamental principle in a democracy that all great decisions must be shared decisions.”

Gary is right. It would have been somewhat more justifiable if all of these provisions were put under the article on transitory provision—meaning, effective only during the state of emergency.

Aying Yñiguez had batted strongly for a parliamentary form of government but now he was saying he cannot defend it. “I will approve it, I will sign it, but I cannot defend it,” he admitted. “In fact, this is theoretically indefensible,” he added.

“Aying, why should a respectable guy like you, who is close to Marcos, not go to him and tell him: ‘Here in the transitory provision, we give you all the powers that you need. The rest of the Constitution shall, however, be rational with the great principle of checks and balances institutionalized.'”

He replied that this cannot be done anymore because there is really a cordon sanitaire around the President. Not even his father, Congressman Yñiguez, could penetrate this ring to see the President.

I asked him how the Americans look at this. He said that the Americans now approve of this—until such time as Marcos should blunder. He added that the government is really now embarking on a policy that would suit the needs of Americans.

Aying affirmed that the military is as strong as ever. He sensed, however, there is now a division in the ranks of the military between the old and the young. The old composing the leadership in the military, of course, fully support President Marcos. But this cannot be said of young military officers. And the President is aware of this.


Wednesday, November 15, 1972

The session hall was like a market. The revised draft of the new Constitution prepared by the Steering Council was being distributed to the delegates.

The Steering Council took over the sponsorship of its own draft Constitution. The Sponsorship Council was completely ignored.

Charlie Ledesma gave what I thought was a candid speech: “Only the starry-eyed or the most idealistic could hope for an ideal Constitution because a Constitution, by its very nature, is always subject to political and partisan considerations.”

Charlie quite impliedly admitted that this Constitution was written under much political pressure, but it nevertheless met many of the needs of the country, including what he had campaigned for as a candidate, namely, the socialization of property.

The next speaker was Arturo Pacificador who, apparently, represented the chairman of the panel of floor leaders.

I did not listen. I was furious. What about Munding Cea? Is he not the chairman? Why Pacificador?

I was already late for my German class. Pacificador started to rumble, so I left in disgust.


November 11, 1972

02431 02432

(1)

9:30 PM

Nov. 11, 1972

Saturday

Malacañan Palace

Manila

Just arrived from the Nayon Pilipino on the showing of Bagong Anyo ’72 which was a great success although the computerized slides did not work because of the lowering of power just as they were about to be used. For the show started about 6:00 PM when about everybody turned on their lights in Manila.

But nobody noticed it except those who knew that the five slides were supposed to flash simultaneously.

And by the sheer number of creations of the 42 coutouriers (from local materials it is true but lovely nonetheless) was impressive and overwhelming.

The Bayanihan dancers presented the various old costumes from which the coutoriers drew their inspiration.

And as the Bayanihan dancers withdrew, the models came in to the tune of modern music and modern creations.

I left Imelda at the Nayon still annoyed about the slides.

(2)

Nov. 11th (Con’t)

Malacañan Palace

Manila

Finalized at luncheon the draft of the constitution. Met Bibit Duavit, Tony de Guzman, Turing Pacificador, Ballane, Von Yeneza, Baby Navarro, Cesar Serapio and Gunio.

Most important is the plan to change the name of the Philippines since King Philip after whom our country is named was not such a model of a king to be proud of.

Tagalo, Manila, Rizalia, Silangan, Maganda, Kayumanggi, Maharlika were suggested. The last seems the most favored.

The recommendations of the Senate and House were rejected. This includes choosing the Vice President as President, the Senate President as Speaker of the new National Assembly, and the Speaker as Majority Floor Leader.

We put flexibility into the economic provisions by allowing the State to enter into treaties about alien participation.


Friday, October 20, 1972

The proceedings were tense; or should I say, shameful?

There were vigorous speeches against the provision by Justice Barrera, Gary Teves and Leonie Garcia. The whole Convention looked with admiration at these three musketeers who have displayed their guts by speaking against what is a foreordained provision and, in so doing, were taking the risk of incurring the wrath of the political gods.

There were many more minor skirmishes. The one thing that sticks to my mind is the fact that insofar as talking or reasoning with the majority was concerned, it was like talking to a wall. There was absolutely no way for them to accomodate another view. They were determined to ram through whatever they had decided.

Teroy Laurel made a brilliant defense of his proposed amendments to the draft. We should not limit membership to the National Assembly to the delegates who would opt to serve, as was provided for in the draft, because this was really making the thing a mockery; it was humiliating.

It would seem from the amount of applause he received and the raising of hands that followed, that the amendment was carried. Indeed, it was announced by Abe Sarmiento, who was then presiding, that the motion was carried.

But then Fidel Purisima demanded voting by tellers. This changed the situation. Many delegates would not express their true wishes because the walls of the session have many eyes: the dissenters would be watched by Big Brother!

In the voting by tellers, the result was 128 to 123 –or something like that– in favor of retaining the original draft provision which states that members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention who opt to serve in the Interim Assembly by voting affirmatively would be the only ones who would be members of the National Assembly. This is cearly immoral, unfair and unjust –but the proponents have made up their minds.

Yesterday, I casually told Ramon Encarnacion that perhaps the President would be a little more reasonable than his own lieutenants in the session hall. I overheard Bebet Duavit was willing to give 72 hours to those who were not present during the voting to signify their intention of voting affirmitavely. I, therefore, went to Duavit in order to persuade him to lengthen this to, say, two weeks, to enable those who are abroad to come back and give their decision. But Duavit said this was impossible. As it was, he was only trying to get them to agree on this 72 hours’ grace, but not as an amendment to the provision. It is going to be some kind of suspension of rules before actual voting on the amendment.

Later, I rose, anyway, to introduce an amendment to extend the time for those who are absent to be able to vote. Before I could complete my first few sentences, however, the floor leader, Munding Cea, cut me off, and on the same theme, said it would be completely unfair and unjust to preclude our colleagues who are not present from voting…

To our great chagrin, Toto de la Cruz, chairman of the Committee on Rules, stood to oppose this.

How could anyone in conscience oppose something like this? Where is our sense of fairness? But then, a people secure in their numbers and certain of their purpose can too easily forget that democracy requires tolerance!

Arturo Pacificador would not brook any moderation. Evidently following a “script”, he announced that those absent would be given 72 hours, provided they personally cast their votes in an open session. When some amendments were proposed, such as to allow voting by cablegrams and tegerams or letters, Pacificador, his porcupine hair blasphemously pointing heavenwards, arrogantly gesticulated. “If this is under question, I better withdraw my motion,” he haughtily trumpeted…

So we had to vote….

The tension in the air was very heavy during the voting. The roll call took place. There were 14 “No” votes…

Afterwards, the dominant group made a motion to have our vote considered, for all purposes, as the same vote for the second and third readings.

It seems no quarter are to be given. Like a no-prisoners taken stance in war. In other words, the majority would take what it can –everything– now; why wait?

It was indecent, of course. But decency could not wait any longer. Immediate voting was done –and it passed almost unanimously.

In one stroke, so to speak, we actually voted on second and third readings on the provision in question -and that means then that the provision is finished –passed!

What is done is done. We have failed our people… We were elected to be members of the Convention, not to be assemblymen. The grant of extraordinary powers and the ratification of all actions of the President does not seem to bother the delegates too much. The fact that ours is now a rubber stamp Convention and that the Assembly would be a rubber stamp Assembly does not really matter. What is ultimately important to them, it would seem, is that we are going to be members of the Assembly –so the next area of concern is what salaries we are going to have.

 


Monday, October 9, 1972

Barbara Howell interviewed me. She is a Christian journalist based in Singapore who is staying at the Ellinwood Guest House.

She introduced herself as the wife of Leon Howell, who was here last year. I had met him at a meeting of the Land Reform Committee of the Convention. They are journalists sponsored by the five national church bodies in the United States to undertake some kind of journalistic work over a period of three years.

These were some of the things I mentioned to Barbara: It was possible that martial law itself would last for a period of two years. However, the rising wave of fear would probably subside after a few weeks. Restrictions would probably be liberalized but curfew would still be there. And the people who would have been caught and placed behind bars at the army stockades would continue being there.

Because of the decline of lawlessness, of robberies and violence, it can even be that after some time, martial law might be accepted by the masses of people as a timely action by the government. Of course, insofar as foreigners are concerned, they would not experience the kind of apprehension that many Filipinos have. They would only know that it is now possible to walk around without having to be afraid for one’s life or pocketbook.

In fact, Barbara agreed, she got the feeling that she had a greater fear for her safety last year than when she came in a couple of days ago.

It would seem, at least for now, that many of the reforms that President Marcos is launching are laudable: land reform and the collection of firearms have, in particular, found popular support. A growing number of people are of the view that without martial law, land reform could not have been launched.

The issues of civil liberties—the loss of our individual freedoms, the gross violations of our human rights, the demolition of our democratic institutions—these seem to be clearly understood and felt only by those who are politically aware. For the majority of our people, who have historically been the object of exploitation, the denial of our individual freedoms does not figure in their lives.

Barbara’s impressions reminded me of the First Philippine Economic and Trade Mission to the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland, organized by the Philippine Chamber of Industries in 1967, which I headed. Precisely because we were foreigners in these Communist countries, we did not concern ourselves with the fears of the local people. What seemed apparent to us, and which impressed us then, was that there was more prosperity and greater discipline among the people in Russia than during the ancien regime. We were hardly sensitive to the repressions of the regime; after all, we were treated with great hospitality. Of course, not really having known freedom in their long history of oppression and domination under the Romanovs, in time the Russians have accepted their loss of individual freedom. And we, foreigners as we were, did spend a good deal of time looking over the physical manifestations of technological progress in Russian society and called them good.

But now we know what it is not to be able to speak out in our country, and not to be able to leave our country. The apparatus of repression is efficient. We are being controlled effectively. Worse, for many, the “salvaging” and disappearances of family members, or their arbitrary arrests and tortures are the price of Marcos’ sinister move to “save the Republic.”

Surprising though it may be, quite a number of businessmen now approve of martial law. Why not? An element of stability has been achieved. Peace and order is necessary for businessmen to ply their trade. For many of them, that is enough. But what peace? The “peace of the graveyard,” to quote the German poet Friedrich Schiller. It does not really matter.

The other information that I conveyed to Barbara was the possibility that there will be a transition government, that is to say, there will be no elections in 1973 but simply extension of offices of the president, vice president and the members of Congress until 1975. Apparently, from all indications, this would jibe with the growing expectations that there would be no election in 1975.

George Borromeo of Camiguin was in a joyous mood when I arrived at the session hall. The assumption, he said, is that if the transition provision is approved immediately after approval of the new Constitution in a plebiscite, we shall be sitting in as assemblymen.

This, apparently, is the word from Malacañang. So, when George sponsored an amendment saying that the members of the National Assembly shall receive ₱5,000 a month each, with allowance including equipment, transportation, travel and technical staff also amounting to ₱5,000, he was in effect giving Noli Aguilar (who was sitting beside him) and the other delegates a lot of salary starting upon the approval of the Constitution. And it will be approved, he prophesied.

I was speechless at this outburst of jubilation. “What are we in power for?” I still recall how much, in our youth, we had condemned Senator Avelino who had uttered those immoral words.

I was almost rudely interrupted in my musing by Delegate Simplicio Apalisok who sidled up to me for advice. He said that perhaps it would be good to get the imprimatur of the Palace before publishing some photos and documents of the External Affairs Committee.

I told him there was no harm in doing this. However, it should be done in a very quiet manner.

Poor Apalisok. His concern was for his monthly publication in the Con-Con really.

“You know, it was Ding Quintos who was responsible for getting the President’s signature on the ₱4.2 million budget for the Constitutional Convention,” he said in innocence. I was not sure whether he meant the regular budget or its supplement. Quintos, he continued, apparently, is in close relations with the President.

“But Bebet Duavit is the chairman of Marcos’ politburo in the Convention, with Arturo Pacificador, Toto de la Cruz, Tony Tupaz, Antonio (Tony) de Guzman, Vicente (Vic) Guzman, Peps Bengzon, Venancio (Ven) Yaneza, being among the outstanding members,” one delegate said, joining our conversation.