The Delegate and the President: Contrasting Diaries on Martial Law

President Marcos, Secretary Enrile, and generals in the Presidential Study, Malacañan Palace

September 23 marks the 41st anniversary of the proclamation of martial law by President Marcos, although Marcos himself insisted on September 21.

The Philippine Diary Project has two diaries that give contrasting views on martial law. The first is the diary of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the second, the diary of Constitutional Convention delegate Augusto Caesar Espiritu.

The options for Marcos were laid out quite early on. On January 26, 1970, after he was attacked by demonstrators after delivering his State of the Nation Address, Marcos wrote, “We must get the emergency plan polished up.” in his diary entry for January 28, 1970 (just a few weeks after his second inaugural) he summarized his options as follows:

I have several options. One of them is to abort the subversive plan now by the sudden arrest of the plotters. But this would not be accepted by the people. Nor could we get the Huks, their legal cadres and support. Nor the MIM and other subversive [or front] organizations, nor those underground. We could allow the situation to develop naturally then after massive terrorism, wanton killings and an attempt at my assassination and a coup d’etat, then declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus – and arrest all including the legal cadres. Right now I am inclined towards the latter.

By February 1, 1971 he had come up with “democratic revolution” as a term to provide ideological cover for his plans.

February 20, 1972 and February 22, 1970, he was getting military used to developing contingency plans for emergencies.

February 24, 1970, support of Ilocanos was being rallied.

February 28, 1970: Marcos was toying with lists of people to arrest:

We must finalize the list to be arrested if there is massive sabotage or assassination. I assess the plans of the communists to include these activities by the middle of March.

In January, 1971, Marcos claims that his allies were imploring him to impose emergency rule (see January 13, 1971):

The congressmen close to me, Cong. Cojuangco, Frisco San Juan, Ali Dimaporo, Jose Aspiras, Navarro, Lucas Canton, Roque Ablan all proposed for the use of my emergency powers. “We cannot understand why you are so patient. Do not wait until we are completely debilitated and the people is against us. It will be too late. One swift blow and we remove the cancer from our society,” they all said.

I could only answer that it may be sooner than we think…

With the opposition already warning of martial law in full-page ads (see January 20, 1971) he was systematically putting together a coalition to support the eventual proclamation of martial law:

January 27, 1971: intellectuals to provide ideological cover; January 23, 1971 and January 28, 1971: big business and friendly media; January 30, 1971: local government leaders.

By February 1, 1971, he had come up with the term “democratic revolution” to provide ideological cover for his plans.

On May 8, 1972, Marcos again returned to drafting scenarios and arrest lists:

… After the meeting I directed Sec. Ponce Enrile, the Chief of Staff, Gen. Espino, Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Ileto, PC Chief, Gen. Ramos, PA Chief, Gen. Zagala, Air Force Chief, Gen. Rancudo, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Tomas Diaz, IV PC Zone Commander, Gen. Encarnacion, Asst. Chief of Staff, J-2, Col. Paz, to update the contingency plans and the list of target personalities in the event of the use of emergency powers.

I directed Sec. Ponce Enrile to finalize all documentation for the contingency plans, including the orders and implementation.

A couple of days later, on May 12, 1972, he would chuckle about his divide-and-conquer strategy with the opposition.

On June 4, 1972, Marcos seems to have concluded that his options through the Constitutional Convention had reached a dead end:

But from my point of view the Concon has become useless. Anything they will approve now will be rejected by the people in a plebiscite.

August 31, 1972 shows lobbying efforts well underway with Americans (officials and in business).

It is in the fateful month of September, 1972, that the two voices –Marcos writing down his version of history-as-it-happened, and Espiritu, writing of events in the Constitutional Convention and the creeping feeling of things coming to a head– provide a kind of contrasting conversation. Here are their entries, on the dates that both happened to write in their diaries on the same day:

September 5-6

The Ban Marcos Resolution –also known as the Anti Dynasty Resolution– comes up for a vote in the Constitutional Convention. Espiritu recounts the parliamentary tactics of the Marcos bloc in the convention:

In the afternoon, there was a continuation of the speeches in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution…

Later in the afternoon, the “anti” speeches were heard. The period for the opposition began with former Central Bank governor, Miguel Cuaderno, firing the opening salvo.

The pro-Marcos delegates are smart. They have been using people like Cuaderno and former UP president, Vicente Sinco, with all their prestige and known independence, to “deodorize” their position. But because of their advanced age, these venerable delegates did not really wield much influence in the Convention.

Cuaderno said that it would be unfortunate for the Convention to involve itself in the preelection fight between two major political parties. He said that he regarded the proposal to ban the incumbent president as the last attempt of the presidentialists to retain the vestiges of the presidential system in the new Constitution. (Cuaderno is, like Aquilino (Nene) Pimentel, Raul Manglapus, Joe Feria, Sonny Alvarez, Rebeck Espiritu, Godofredo (Goding) Ramos and me, a parliamentarist.)

Cuaderno was followed by former foreign secretary, Felixberto Serrano, who delivered one of his rare speeches in the Convention.

I have been wondering why such an eminent man like Serrano has not been active in the Convention. He has not participated in much of the discussions. Of course, he belongs to the Garcia (Marcos) bloc, but it would still be interesting to hear his views.

Lindy Pangandangan also spoke against the resolution, followed by ageing President Sinco, who has not only been president of the University of the Philippines and dean of the UP College of Law, for one generation, but was also an authority on constitutional law. He was, in fact, the mentor of quite a number of delegates in the Convention.

But he is quite a very old man now. The pro-Marcos group is shamelessly using him. To use a much-quoted term of Nap Rama, he is being used as one of the “deodorizers.”

For his part, on that day, Marcos only writes about reviewing contingency plans and grumbles about his critics; it’s on the next day that Marcos writes about the ConCon vote –he views the proceedings as a loyalty check:

The Concon voted down the ban Marcos resolution by 155 votes against 131. Some of those who pose as friends voted against us. Carlos Ledesma, Angara (Johnny Ponce Enrile’s partner). Tiling Yulo was absent. Ditas Teodoro and Elizabeth Chiongbian voted by teller but these were not recognized.

Macapagal delivered a bitter vicious attack against us. So did Rama. But Sotero Laurel and Cuaderno spoke in our favor.

September 7

On this day, Espiritu has a conversation with ConCon President Diosdado Macapagal, on options for the convention not to get caught up in Marcos’ perceived game plan to extend his stay in office beyond his term; and it is here that what would eventually become the clincher for approving the new Constitution –assuring delegates who voted for it, seats in the new National Assembly– first gets mentioned:

This morning, I had a full hour’s chat with President Macapagal. Majority Floor Leader Edmundo (Munding) Cea and Vice Pres. Abraham (Abe) Sarmiento were with us part of the time. I was telling Macapagal that he had delivered a mesmerizing speech yesterday in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution. In fact I heard it said, by some delegates, that that was his finest hour.

I also suggested to Macapagal that there are perhaps two options for us. The first is to just simply freeze the ball and let the Convention work as slowly as possible so that the plebiscite on the new Constitution may only be done after the expiration of Marcos’ term in 1973. This would really, in effect, ban the incumbent. In fact, Convention secretary, Jose (Pepe) Abueva, has also suggested the same thing.

Another possibility, I said, was to declare a recess until January 1974.

We then talked about the transition government resolution filed by Oscar (Oka) Leviste and Antonio (Tony) Velasco. To my great surprise, Macapagal said what was almost unbelievable to me up to then—that this resolution might pass.

For some delegates, the point is, the ban-dynasty provision has already failed anyway; Marcos would surely win. Therefore, we might just as well postpone the election and hold over the positions of elective officials. The bonus is that we, the delegates, would be there in the first parliament. This is the substance and spirit of the Tony-Oka transition government resolution.

Marcos, on the other hand, continues to obsess over Ninoy Aquino and ends his entry:

This afternoon I spent in finishing all papers needed for a possible proclamation of martial law, just in case it is necessary to do so.

September 8

Espiritu does character sketches of fellow delegates, looking into their motivations and changes in ideological position; Marcos dwells on Ninoy Aquino and closes with ordering yet another review of contingency plans for Manila.

September 9

Espiritu looks into news reports on who, actually, constitutes the Marcos bloc in the convention; Marcos –for the nth time– finishes the paperwork for martial law:

Sec. Ponce Enrile and I finished the material for any possible proclamation of martial law. 6:00-7:30 PM. Then TV-Radio interview by KBS, Rey Pedrahe and Emil Jurado 8-9:00 PM.

September 12

As Marcos focuses on intelligence on the Communists, Espiritu gently pokes fun at fellow delegates who’ve had to disguise their taking orders from Marcos.

September 13

Espiritu continues to discuss the Ban Dynasty resolution, and proposes delegates should also ban themselves from serving in the next government (this becomes ironic, later on, when the new Constitution is approved on the basis of sweeteners, including offering ConCon delegates automatic membership in the new National Assembly):

We agreed that during the discussion on the transitory provision, we should support the move to ban all elective officials, including ourselves. This would show to the world that we are not motivated by personal hatred for President Marcos, but rather that we are for democratizing the political process.

Marcos selects September 21 as the date for martial law:

At the rate the tension and hysteria in [Manila] continues, I may have to declare martial [law] soon. Many people are not leaving their houses.

Threats to bomb and blackmail is rampant. KBS and the Daily Express were told to raise ₱200,000 otherwise there would be a bomb for them. This was conveyed by a certain Policarpio, a KBS labor leader. He probably cooked it up.

So I met with Johnny Ponce Enrile, Gen. Tom Diaz, Col. Montoya, Col. Romy Gatan, and Danding Cojuangco this evening at Pangarap and we agreed to set the 21st of this month as the deadline.

September 14

Marcos holds a meeting in Bahay Pangarap where he asks the military if they have any objections to his plan to impose martial law:

After golf, at 9:00 at my room at Pangarap while taking breakfast, I told the SND, C of S, Major Service Commanders (Gen. Ramos, PC, Gen. Zagala, PA, Romando, PAF and Commodore Ruiz, PN) Gen. Ver and Gen. Paranis that I intend to declare martial law to liquidate the communist apparatus, reform our government and society, then have the Concon ratify our acts and the people can confirm it by plebiscite and return to constitutional processes; but that I needed at least one year and two months; that this would be a legitimate exercise of my emergency powers under the constitution as clarified by the Habeas Corpus case by the Supreme Court last January; that we need to cure the ills of our society by radical means (I mentioned corruption, tax evasion, criminality, smuggling, lack of discipline, unequal opportunities) so we must keep our moves clean and submerge self-interest.

I asked for any objection to the plan and there was none except for the observation of Gen. Ramos that the closing of the media should be done by a civilian minister supported by the military, and Gen. Gen. Rancudo who wanted missions definitely assigned to each branch of the service.

For his part, Espiritu writes about bomb rumors, including the possible bombing of the Constitutional Convention:

The bomb scare has been sweeping Manila in the past few days. Rebeck tipped me off on a rumor that the Convention would be bombed. He said this could not be mentioned in the Convention Hall because the delegates might panic. Even Raul Manglapus, he said, was preparing to leave at about 4:00 p.m.

September 18

Espiritu goes to the ConCon (holding session in Quezon City Hall), only to arrive in time for a bombing:

As I was alighting from the bus at about 3:50 p.m., Ruth Manoloto, wife of my friend Ric at Knox, was getting nervously on the bus. Upon seeing me, she yelled, “Caesar, huwag ka nang magtuloy sa Con-Con. Umuwi ka na. Binomba ang Con-Con ngayon. Umuwi ka na.”

People were starting to flee. Romy Capulong was pale. The blast was at the sala of Judge Lustre on the 6th floor, he murmured…

Apparently, this was what happened: At the precise time that Jess Matas was being interpellated, a big noise was heard. The soft-spoken Jess then politely said, “Excuse me, but could you please speak louder because there is so much noise outside?” He had hardly finished his sentence when there was a sudden explosion at the comfort room of the 14th floor. The delegates docked and flew to the other side of the session hall to the stairway. The women screamed. And pandemonium ensued…

Panic was in everybody’s face. The venerable Justice Jose Ma. Paredes came out scampering like a frightened rabbit. His eyes popping out, the gentle old man blurted, “This is the justification of your resolution for a recess. We have reason for a recess.”

This bombing incident made martyrs, to some extent, of the delegates. And at this stage, some martyrdom may be necessary to gain sympathy from a public that is fast losing its patience. The people are losing confidence in the Convention. After more than a year, it has not yet finished its task…

The corollary question is—who could have done it? To me, no moderate—whether of the right or of the left—would have done this. I am inclined to believe that not even the radical left would want to sow terrorism; this would alienate them from the population. The only group, to my mind, that would have some motive for bombing Quezon City is the Marcos group itself.

That night, Marcos puts forward his view on the bombing and the action taken: finalizing plans for martial law, and again broaches the selection of a date, September 21:

The Concon and the sala of Judge Lustre of Quezon City trying the subversives were bombed by unidentified person this afternoon at 3:40 PM. It caused extensive damage and injured about thirty people.

Two of the subversives were almost able to escape.

This is apparently the answer of the subversives to the raids on their headquarters in Manila, Quezon and Pasay last Sunday morning at 4:30 where about 48 were arrested including Cabardo, a former PMA cadet who is tagged as the Visayan NPA head…

We finalized the plans for the proclamation of martial law at 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm with the SND, the Chief of Staff, major service commanders, J-2, Gen. Paz, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Diaz and Metrocom commander, Co. Montoya, with Gen. Ver in attendance.

They all agreed the earlier we do it the better because the media is waging a propaganda campaign that distorts and twists the facts and they may succeed in weakening our support among the people if it is allowed to continue.

So after the bombing of the Concon, we agreed on the 21st without any postponement.

We finalized the target personalities, the assignments, and the procedures.

Our communications network will center in Malacañan as before.

September 20

Marcos meets with the military who provide him with a recommendation to use emergency powers:

This afternoon General Staff with the SND and the Chiefs of the major services came to see us to submit the Assessment of Public Order wherein they recommend the use of “other forms of countering subversion/insurgency should be considered.” This means they recommend the use of Emergency Powers including Martial Law, formally. Envelope No. XXXV-B.

Then we gave an interview where we kept silent on Emergency Powers but spoke of listing Arrival (?) syndicates in the Order of Battle of the communist armed elements, the Self-Reliant Defense Posture as it relates to internal threats, expenditures, additional armaments and personnel etc.

I was surprised to hear Sec. Melchor say he was now in favor of Martial Law although he was against it a year and a half ago. And all Sec. Abad Santos said was, Let us not talk about it publicly.

I asked Sec. Melchor to submit a study and recommendation in writing and to prepare to use his American contacts to see the U.S. does not oppose us.

September 21

Martial law doesn’t happen on this date. Instead, Marcos receives a delegation of friends, skirts their question, and lobbies the Americans as paperwork is finished:

Delayed by the hurried visit of Joe Aspiras and Meling Barbero who came from the Northern bloc of congressmen and senators who want to know if there is going to be Martial Law in 48 hours as predicted by Ninoy Aquino.

Of course Imelda and I denied it.

But Johnny Ponce Enrile, Gen. Paz, Gen Nanadiego, Kits Tatad and I with Piciong Tagmani doing the typing finished all the papers, (the proclamation and the orders) today at 8.00PM.

Amb. Byroade came to see me at 11.15 AM and was apparently interested to know whether there would be Martial Law. He seemed to favor it when I explained it is intended to primarily reform our society and eliminate the communist threat. But he suggested a proclamation before the American elections may be used by MacGovern, the Democratic Presidetial candidate as proof of the failure of the foreign policy of the present president.

September 22

No martial law yet; Espiritu attends a seminar in the evening, where he is taken aback by the militancy of some Christian groups. For his part, Marcos, writing at 9:50 p.m. cites Enrile’s ambush as the kick-off for proclaiming martial law –yet mentioning Congress hasn’t adjourned suggests why no proclamation could take place during the day:

Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack-Wack at about 8:00 pm tonight. It was a good thing he was riding in his security car as a protective measure. His first car which he usually uses was the one riddled by bullets from a car parked in ambush.

He is now at his DND office. I have advised him to stay there.

And I have doubled the security of Imelda in the Nayon Pilipino where she is giving dinner to the UPI and AP as well as other wire services.

This makes the martial law proclamation a necessity.

Imelda arrived at 11:35 PM in my Electra bullet proof car to be told that Johnny had been ambushed, it is all over the radio.

Congress is not adjourning tonight as the conference committee on the Tariff and Customs Code could not agree on a common version. They adjourn tomorrow.

I conferred with Speaker Villareal, Roces, Yñiguez and Barbero who are going to Moscow and they are ready to leave on Sunday. So they are decided to finish the session same.

September 23

Espiritu finds out in the morning, that Martial Law has been imposed:

It was strange, I thought. There were no newspapers and no radio broadcasts in the morning.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Korean, Moonkyoo Kang, and Pura Calo, a Filipino, who were jointly running the ALDEC, visited me at my house and asked me how I felt. I told them that I was quite disappointed last night with the SCM in that in trying to set a new reading of the gospel, they seemed to have given a Christian organization, the Student Christian Movement, a neo-Maoist strain. I believe in a theology of liberation, I hastened to add; but liberation in Christ, not through a forcible overthrow of government.

“Obviously, you have not heard the news,” they exclaimed. “Martial law has already been declared.”

I nearly fell off my seat!

Martial law declared? Impossible!

“Yes, it is true. That is the reason why there are no newspapers and why radio stations are not in operation.”

Forthwith, I rang up my friend, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, to find out if this were true. Titong was out of the house but his wife, Rosie, said this is probably true. She added that Defense Minister Enrile was ambushed yesterday afternoon. By whom?

I told her that I was, in fact, preparing to address the meeting of the Christians Concerned for civil liberties at the St. Joseph’s College today. Rosie advised me to stay home and not attend the meeting.

I immediately tried to reach my friends—Sonny Alvarez first, but Sonny’s phone was busy. Next, I tried calling up Sonia Aldeguer but I was not successful either in contacting her.

I got Pres. Pro-Tempore Sotero (Teroy) Laurel on the phone. Teroy confirmed that the news is true. He had it from good authority: from his own brother, House of Representatives Speaker Jose Laurel. He added that two of our fellow delegates have already been arrested, namely, Nap Rama and Joe Mari Velez. Teroy suggested that we just meet more or less socially but that in the meantime, we should lie low.

I called up Raul Manglapus; we have to plan on what we should do next.

I was informed that Raul had left for the U.S. a couple of days ago.

Next, I tried calling up Raul Roco, but Raul was out of the house. Fearful for his safety, I rang up the home of his father-in-law, Congressman Malasarte. I was able to get his wife, Sonia, who said that Raul had “gone out.”

I rang up Alejandro (Ding) Lichauco, but Ding’s phone was busy.

I went to the Convention Hall. The streets were almost deserted. By late morning there were still no newspapers, no radio broadcasts. In Quezon City, I saw two cars of soldiers with one civilian on the front seat in each of the cars—obviously taken into custody.

There were some soldiers at the checkpoint near the Quezon Memorial Circle, but the soldiers didn’t molest anyone.

At the Convention Hall, there was a note of hushed excitement, frustration and resignation. Now the reality is sinking into our consciousness. Martial law has been proclaimed!

Rumors were rife that our most outspoken activist delegates, Voltaire Garcia, Joe Mari Velez, Nap Rama, Ding Lichauco and Sonny Alvarez have been arrested. I met Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva and he informed me that this was what he had also heard.

The whole day, practically, was spent by us tensely waiting for some news. All sorts of rumors were floating around.

It was repeatedly announced that President Marcos was going to give an important message at 12:00 noon. Twelve o’clock came and went, and there was no news; there was only an announcement that this was going to be made later. At 2:30 p.m., a new announcement came: this would be done at 3:30 p.m. Then it was announced that due to the fact that documents were still being looked over by the President and that TV sets were still being installed at Malacañang, the message of the President was going to be later, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The people could hardly wait. At 7:00 p.m., over the radio, during dinner with the ALDEC seminar participants, we heard President Marcos explaining the grounds for declaring martial law as well as the general orders given to the secretary of national defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and to Press Sec. Francisco (Kit) Tatad. Tatad’s big face popped out on TV. He read for more than an hour, in what seemed to us sinister monotone, the full text of the presidential proclamation.

“Big Brother is watching us,” exclaimed one of the participants while looking at Tatad’s face which filled the TV frame. But this is not 1984! George Orwell showed up too early in the Philippines.

Tatad was continuously pouring out words that seemed to seal the fate of our people. We sat there and listened in mingled fear and confusion.

For his part, late that night, Marcos expresses moderate satisfaction with how things have turned out, though some irritation with how foreign media has covered it:

Things have moved according to plan although out of the total 200 target personalities in the plan only 52 have been arrested, including the three senators, Aquino, Diokno and Mitra and Chino Roces and Teddy Locsin.

At 7:15 PM I finally appeared on a nationwide TV and Radio broadcast to announce the proclamation of martial law, the general orders and instructions.

I place them in Envelope XXXV-C

I was supposed to broadcast at 12:00AM but technical difficulties prevented it. We had closed all TV stations. We had to clear KBS which broadcast it live. VOP and PBS broadcast it by radio nationwide.

The broadcast turned out rather well and Mons. Gaviola as well as the usual friends liked it. But my most exacting critic, Imelda, found it impressing. I watched the replay at 9:00 PM.

I have amended curfew from 8-6 to 12-4.

Arms bearing outside residence without permit punishable by death.

Kits Tatad read the proclamation, the orders and the instructions after my talk.

Have started checking on Zone Commanders. Gen. Encarnacion of the IV does not seem to have been systematic. He still talks of some people like Mayor Cabili criticizing the proclamation of martial law as premature although grudgingly extending cooperation under Gen. Order No. 3 for all offices to continue functioning.

Talk to Imee and Bongbong. London newspaper had it I arrested the opposition, no mention of communists.

And called up Sec. Romulo and Amb. Romualdez before them. New York Times at least was sure handed and spoke of martial law after the attempt of assassination of my Secretary of National Defense.

September 24

Espiritu is reduced to talking political theory and the legal literature on martial law with a judge; Marcos for his part, detects a possible avenue of attack against martial law and swiftly closes it off, in an informal (verbal threats) and formal (a string of new decrees) closing off of the Supreme Court as a venue for challenging martial law:

Diokno, Chino Roces, Max Soliven etc. have filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Supreme Court.

I asked Justices Claudo Teehangkee, Antonio Barredo, Felix Macasiar and Felix Antonio to see us. They insisted that the government should submit to the Supreme Court for the Court to review the constitutionality of the proclamation of martial law, Proclamation No. 1081.

So I told them in the presence of Secs. Ponce Enrile and Vicente Abad Santos as well as Sol. Gen. Estelito Mendoza that if necessary I would formally declare the establishment of a revolutionary government so that I can formally disregard the actions of the Supreme Court.

They insisted that we retain a color of constitutionality for everything that we do.

But I feel that they are still image-building and do not understand that a new day has dawned. While they claim to be for a reformed society, they are not too motivated but are too bound by technical legalism.

I have amended both Gen. Orders Nos. 1 and 3 to assume all powers of government including legislative and judicial and clearly excluded cases involving the constitutionality of my acts from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

I met the cabinet to emphasize the program to reform our society.

And I signed the decree (No. 1) to promulgate the law on the Reorganization of the Government…

September 25

Espiritu recounts attempts to figure out if fellow delegates are OK; and rumors sweeping the capital:

In the meantime, rumors have spread that Mayor Estrada has been shot by Metrocom troopers. Erap shot? But he cannot die; he is not supposed to. He wins every gun battle in the movies, doesn’t he?

Activist UP pastor Jim Palm and Asia World Student Christian Federation Sec. Moonkyoo Kang appeared at the gate. They invited me to join them for coffee with Louise Palm and Pastor Dave and Cory Sobrepeña over at the Nordik Restaurant.

Dave recalled, as we sat down at the Nordik, that Cecille Guidote was crying while watching the dance at the Cultural Center with them because Cecille was preparing to appear on TV very soon with Joseph Estrada. She said that “Erap” has been shot and is dead.

We were quite grim. Jim’s usual levity was gone.

We moved for dinner to the Taza de Oro. Upon our arrival at the Taza de Oro, we saw (former Governor) Wency Vinzons, Jr. who told us the same dreadful news: Joseph Estrada is dead! Wency also said that he had heard from his sister that Soc Rodrigo, who had earlier resisted arrest, died that afternoon at the hospital.

There were all sorts of rumors. Grim ones.

We were in gloom. Soc Rodrigo was a good man… or lay brother, if such a one could exist. Didn’t Mabini say that the true man of God is not only he who wears a soutane?

For his part, Marcos continues with his effort to stare down the Supreme Court –and expresses satisfaction with how everything has turned out:

Met Justices Fred Ruiz Castro and Salvador Esguerra on a consulta.

I told them frankly that I needed their help and counsel because we must keep all the actuations within constitutional limits.

Justice Castro asked permission to ask a blunt question, “Is this a coup d’etat?” and I told him that it is not but it is the exercise of an extraordinary power by the president for a situation anticipated by the constitution.

Justice Esguerra said immediately that he feels that it is a legitimate exercise of martial law.

And apparently reading my mind, he said, in the Merriman case, Justice Tannay had issued a writ of habeas corpus for a man who was detained on orders of President Lincoln. And President Lincoln just disregarded the judicial order. And Justice Tanney said, “what can we do, we are confronted by a superior authority?

I then concluded that there must be no conflict between the two separate departments of Justice and Executive for it would be embarrassing to both.

I believe that they are both of this persuasion.

The public reaction throughout the Philippines is a welcome to martial law because of the smooth, peaceful reestablishment of peace and order and the hope of a reformed society. In fact most everyone now says, this should have been done earlier.

I attach the report of Boni Isip about the same result of a survey conducted by Liberal Party Leader Gerry Roxas.

It is indeed gratifying that everyone now finds or discovers I am some kind of a hero!

There is nothing as successful as success!

September 26

Espiritu recounts discussions among delegates as to how long martial law might last –and the continuing threat of further arrests:

“How long would the detention last, if it should come?” There was a faint note of desperation in Ding’s voice. “Tito Guingona has told me that martial law would last forever.”

Ding, in his agitated state of mind, was losing his rationality.

“Don’t believe Tito. After the government shall have caught the people it would like to catch, martial law would probably be lifted. And you could always read and write in the stockade,” I comforted him.

“But what if it should last for a year?” His voice trailed off.

“No, I don’t think it would last that long. Besides, you are not guilty of any crime.”

After about 30 minutes of our conversation, I said as a parting remark: “In the remote possibility that you are taken, Ding, send an SOS. I may be able to help you in some way.”

“Yes,” he replied sadly.

I left Ding and went to Bobbit Sanchez and Caling Lobregat.

Ten tense minutes passed. Suddenly Caling came to me and bent towards me.

“Ding has just been taken by the military.”

“What?” Unnerved, I slumped on my seat.

Sig Siguion-Reyna came to me and whispered that he was with Defense Minister Johnny Enrile, his brother-in-law, last night. These people mean business, he said. While he was with Enrile, they talked about a news item that Roquito Ablan was seen at Forbes Park. Sig said that Enrile himself ordered his soldiers: “Well, let’s put him immediately in the stockade, otherwise the people might say we are playing favorites with these people. We must get him in immediately.”

Likewise, when he was with Enrile, there was a phone call from President Marcos asking Enrile whether Mrs. Gordon, the mother of delegate Dick Gordon, was in the list. Enrile answered that she was in the first list but that he had already taken out her name. Enrile told Marcos he didn’t know why she was arrested by the military in spite of the fact that her name had already been taken out of the list.

But who prepared the list of politicians, student leaders, newsmen and dissenters to be arrested? It could not be Enrile because he knows me quite well. He knows I’m neither a Communist nor a man of violence; simply a practicing Christian who believes in the need for democratizing wealth and economic power in a society whose hallmark is that of distressing social and economic inequalities. Indeed, if we should really want to achieve development, we have to institute radical changes in our social structures, even as we should work for far-reaching changes in the structures of the world economy.

Sig warned us that there are many people in the list, and that the arrests have only started. He has also heard over the radio that according to President Marcos, mere speculations and rumors are punishable.

“In other words, do not speculate, do not spread rumors, do not think.”

Pabling Trillana interrupted our talk. He told me in a subdued tone that he had just signed a manifesto passed on to him by Tito Guingona.

“What was it about?” I asked.

“The manifesto opposing martial law, similar to the Diokno manifesto I signed and passed around four days ago.”

“You must be careful,” I advised him like an elder brother.

He became visibly afraid. He pleaded with me to talk with Tito Guingona and persuade him to try to “hold” the document that he had signed.

I continued advising Pabling Trillana. This is not the time for these things. We are now under difficult conditions.

He repeated his plea for me to talk with Tito.

I went to Tito. He was tense. He showed me the manifesto. He asked me to sign it, but I demurred.

“In fact, for your own safety, you should not release that,” I chided Tito. “Mrs. Trono has just told me she was worried about you because you are in the ‘list.’”

Mrs. Trono, although a Marcos supporter, showed genuine concern. “Guingona is innocent and is a good man. To all of you, young people who are innocent, please keep quiet. What can you do?”

Here was a rabid Marcos partisan—a political enemy—now showing sympathy for us. The springs of human compassion are indeed inexhaustible!

“Ninoy Aquino is so powerful but where is he now? What can you do? And you, Caesar, please don’t get involved. You with your transparent idealism, you should be serving your people, not be languishing in jail. And please tell Guingona not to get involved.”

I related all these to Tito, but he seemed ready for martyrdom. “We might as well express our last words before being taken in.” There was a note of bravado in his tone of voice.

“But there is no sense trying to be a martyr by courting detention. And what do we achieve? If we have to speak out, and risk our lives, let us do so. But let us be sure of our objective. Let us act at the right moment.”

“After all, we would just insert it in the records. He would not read it before the Convention.”

“Tito, you are a patriot. You and I are about to be arrested. Should we also get our friends involved?”

Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

And Marcos addresses the same question –in the process showing he doesn’t seem set on what he will eventually do: padlock Congress, as he expedites the “approval” of a new Constitution:

Spoke to the separate unit commanders and the major service commanders at the ceremonial hall: The proclamation of martial law is a constitutional exercise of power; it is not a coup d’etat nor military take over, it being a legitimate exercise of power, the government is a constitutional government, the reforms are necessary to win the battle because this battle is not just the battle with guns but the minds and hearts of our people, that reform will counteract subversion which is the bigger battle; that the use of media a legitimate necessity.

Then finished the decree of reform and the abolition of the PSC and removal of GAB chairman Montano.

In the afternoon I gave the first interview to Tillman Durdin of the New York Times and later to the UPI Vic Maliwanag and Pat Killen.

They asked how long it would last –I will keep it only as long as necessary- “To dismantle the communist apparatus” and this includes the reforms I envision.

For a corrupt government cannot long last -or a sick and criminally infected society.

“I hope before the end of my term.”

The Con Con and Congress continue. The power of the President merely augments the deficiencies.

September 28

For Espiritu, the dreaded announcement finally arrives –he is on the list of those to be arrested:

The note on my desk said I should ring up Sig Siguion-Reyna. It was 6:00 o’clock p.m.

Another note was marked “Urgent.” I should call up my brother Rebeck.

I called up Rebeck first. He informed me that Beth Mateo, Bobbit Sanchez’ secretary, had called him up to say that I was in the “list” and that, according to Bobbit, I should call up Sig.

I called up Sig.

“Where are you?”

“I am at home.”

“Well, why don’t you come over?” Apprehension was apparent in his voice.

“Is it serious, Sig?” My voice trembled. “If it is, may I request you to contact immediately Johnny Ponce Enrile. We are good friends and he knows me very well. It is very important that he be notified.”

Rebeck decided to meet me at Sig’s office to give me company. Sig was waiting for me. It was quarter past seven o’clock. He had a forced smile on his face.

He immediately took us to his room. Then almost solemnly, he said that he had gone to the session hall and that one of his primary reasons for going there was to see me. He then told me that last night, he was at the house of Enrile and while they were chatting, Sig was casually looking over the military’s thick list of the persons to be arrested. Suddenly, he saw—because he was farsighted—my name and that of (Senator) Sonny Osmeña’s in the secondary list.

It must be really serious. This is it, I gasped.

I was now getting to be unhappily resigned to the idea that I might be arrested and detained by the military. Are we not all of us—atheists or believers—really fatalists at heart?

I asked him if Enrile knew that my name was there.

Sig did not know, but he made me promise that I would never mention to anyone that he was the one who told me. But he was emphatic that my name was there.

“I saw it very clearly: Espiritu, Augusto Caesar.”

“I should like to see Johnny.” I was getting anxious.

Sig said that it would be quite obvious he was my informer if he took me to Enrile. Although they are brothers-in-law, Sig did not want it said that he has betrayed Enrile’s trust.

The only advice he could give me, he said, was for me not to sleep in my house tonight. He said that in any case he promised that whether he saw Enrile or not today, he is going to see him if and when I am “picked up.”

“Not after I am picked up, Sig… before!” I shrieked.

I repeated that Enrile and I are quite good friends; we have known each other for more than 23 years and he personally knows I have not done anything wrong.

Well, Sig said, the problem with Enrile at this time is, he would not recognize any relations or friends.

He was not too reassuring but he tried to demonstrate that he is a real friend.

I asked Sig’s opinion on the advisability of my seeing Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos. Eddie Ramos knows me, too.

Sig thought that General Ramos would be tight-lipped. He is a soldier; he only obeys orders.

“Do you think I can see Johnny?” I repeated, as in a trance.

Sig repeated that it was untimely for him to take me to Enrile. He felt it would be quite difficult to see him, anyway, because of so many security men around his house.

Then I asked if perhaps I could talk to Estelito (Titong) Mendoza, the solicitor-general, who is one of my really closest friends. Sig thought that there is very little contact between Titong and Enrile. In any case, he thought that the key man here is Enrile, not Titong Mendoza, not Eddie Ramos.

I asked Sig if, perhaps, Edong Angara could help.

Ah, yes, Edong, he replied. I could ask Edong’s help because he was also at Enrile’s house last night.

Sig can be such a terrible rightist at times that I get exasperated with him. Nevertheless, I am somewhat fond of him; he is actually a good friend. I am grateful.

Sig and I are both nonpoliticians. We had first met when we were campaigning for the Con-Con in Caloocan. The vice-mayor of the city wanted to have us greet some people he had gathered together. Sig and I rushed to shake the hands of the people, hardly looking at their faces. Just like politicians, we just shook hundreds of hands in thirty minutes flat when, to our embarrassment and dismay, Sig and I suddenly discovered we were shaking each other’s hand! We have since been associated in some business activities.

How many seconds did it take me, in my bewildered state, to negotiate the several hundred meters distance between Sig’s office and Edong’s?

The ACCRA (Angara Law Office) partners were all there at the office: Edong, Teddy Regala, Ave Cruz, Jose Concepcion and others.

Still panting, I walked into their conference room.

“Oh, you are still out?” they laughed in banter. “We thought that you would now be at the stockade.”

They were, of course, speaking lightly, but their words only added to my apprehensions.

I asked Edong whether he had heard anything about me.

“You are in the list.” He was forthright. But he added that I was only in the secondary list. He was not sure whether Enrile had said that he was going to scratch my name out or that my name was going to be withheld.

I asked him whether we could see Enrile. He dialed a certain number and very soon, he was talking to Enrile’s wife, Cristina. Apparently, Edong is really in direct contact with Enrile.

“I might as well tell you that Caesar Espiritu is here beside me. We are thinking of going to see Johnny because Caesar is in the list.”

He asked whether he could talk to Johnny over the phone. Afterwards, he hanged up because he said that Johnny was on the other line. Then he said we should see Johnny later on.

After a while, he decided that perhaps it might be better for him to go ahead to Johnny’s place; he would call me up from there.

After another 30 minutes, Edong was on the phone. Enrile was meeting with some generals, and, therefore, we would not be able to see him. He consoled me, however, with the news that he had talked to Enrile. Enrile had said that I should not worry because he was going to “withhold” my name. He kept assuring me that if Johnny Enrile said I should not worry , then I should rest assured.

I was not quite sure about what “withhold” means.

“Ed, it would even be better if he could scratch out my name,” I pleaded.

I am not sleeping in the house tonight.

Marcos pens talking points on the justifications for martial law –and points to October as the crucial month (they would stretch until January, 1973, when he finally got a new Constitution to his liking, accepted by the Supreme Court, and thus giving him legal cover for padlocking Congress):

The legitimate use of force on chosen targets is the incontestable secret of the reform movement.

Restrained force will bring about the New Society.

And the Reformation is coming about without any obstacle.

Gerry Roxas wanted to be invited to meet with me. But the Liberal leaders all want to join up now that martial law is a success.

For that matter, everyone now wants to be identified with the Reform Movement.

Freddie Elizalde who has been a critic has come (brought by Adrian Cristobal) to offer a plan of indoctrination of the masses.

But we already have such a plan. And this must be indoctrination by participation –inflexible justice and actual involvement.

The reasons for change can be articulated later.

I have asked Armand Fabella to organize a Think Tank.

Then I will organize a group of men to follow up projects.

Johnny Gatbonton and T.S.J. George of Far East Review interviewed me at 1100-1:20 am.

We do not want another Vietnam nor another mainland China. If the Communists did not succeed in its plot to overthrow the Republic, the economy would have collapsed anyway because of the paralyzation of the government and business.

Received the lists of the Customs and BIR men to be dismissed tomorrow. Prepared the request for the judges to resign.

I am preparing the Educational Reform Act.

October will be the critical month. The Communists and criminals may be able to regroup.

We have to attend to criminality (keep it down) and food prices, repair the roads up to October.

For the rest of their diary entries, check out September, 1972 in the Philippine Diary Project.

Additional Readings:

Last year, I tweeted a minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour (as much as possible) reconstruction of the events of September 22-23, 1972. Here is the story as it can be pieced together from various accounts:

 

Accounts of arrests also appeared in a series of interviews conducted and published by Cynthia SyCip after Ninoy Aquino’s death. Here are some excerpts.

Teodoro M. Locsin, publisher of the Philippines Free Press:

Q: I understand you were detained together with Ninoy?

A: Yes. They picked me up in my home at Dasmariñas Village and took me to Camp Crame and that was where I met Ninoy, Chino Roces and the rest of those who were arrested. It was an honor to be arrested, of course, if we were not arrested, we would look stupid. So, there we were in Camp Crame… then we were fingerprinted and photographed with numbers like the criminals.

After that, later in the day, they took Ninoy and the rest of us to Bonifacio in a truck. There, we were stripped naked. Maybe they wanted to check whether we had scars or not so that we could not say later that they inflicted it on us. I do not know the reason.

For a while we were kept separate. Chino and I were kept in one building. Ninoy and the rest were kept in another building some distance away. We would meet about 5 o’clock in the afternoon when we would have our exercise. We were given one hour.

Later, we were put together in a one-story building.

Because of the difference in our ages, I really belonged to a previous generation, I really thought of him as a young man. Therefore, we got to be so friendly and so close and we formed deep friendships. We talked, we assigned to ourselves certain tasks, I cleaned the bathroom, Chino killed the flies… Ninoy was there, talking, reading, but there was nothing remarkable about him then…

We were all there, nine of us, and we were very independent-minded people with opinions about everything… you would think we’d get into fights but we never did. Instead we became as close, if not closer than brothers. Each one did not think only of his thoughts and feelings but of the others… not one harsh word, not one argument. That is why I told Ninoy and Mari Velez that we were undergoing a rich spiritual experience we would never otherwise had known inspite of the pain of separation from our families and being prisoners. I would not have missed it for the world… Ninoy was there, he tried to sing his favorite song then which was not “Impossible Dream” but “My Way”, but he just couldn’t carry the tune. So one day he told me, “Teddy, will you teach me how to read poetry?” and I tried but he lost interest… We really learned to be very very fond of each other, but still I thought of him as a young man and I had not much to say to him.

Q: What was remarkable about Ninoy in prison?

A: Well, I’ll tell you… The remarkable thing about Ninoy was that, confined as he was with us, he seemed to know what was happening all over the damn country. I think he was more informed than most people outside. He worked out a system of getting messages in, getting messages out… One day, we woke up one morning to find our small building surrounded completely with barb wires. We thought “Ah, this is it, we’re gonna get shot” but nothing happened. But I raised the question, “What if there’s a fire? We’d all get roasted.” So, we took it up with the Commandant and eventually they removed the barb wires. Possibly that was because there were rumors that we were attempting to escape…

Q: Was it true that you were planning to escape?

A: No we could not try to escape. We were there for only 71 days. They released us, except Ninoy and Pepe Diokno… So I was released. The night before my release our warden came to the building where we were being held and said, “Mr. Locsin, you may leave tomorrow to attend the wedding of your son,” which was December 1st, and I said, “What happens if I go out? Am I supposed to come back?”. He said, “Yes, you can come back but you have several days of enjoying yourself outside.” And I said to him, “I don’t want to go out. It has taken me 70 days to get used to this place, to begin to get used to prison, I don’t want to start all over again to begin to get used to living outside. Thank you.”

But the next day three or four Generals came, brought with them Scotch, and I asked then, “Are there any charges against us?” They said there was none. Then I asked, “Why are we being held, give me some reason…” He said, “Well, it is for your own good because we don’t know how your followers will react.”

Anyway we were released… except Ninoy and Pepe. When I was there with Ninoy I said to him, “I do not know if you agree but the demonstrations against Marcos led by leftists who were waving banners of revolution gave Marcos an excuse to declare martial law. That was all he wanted. And afterwards when he declared martial law the leftists disappeared.”

Ninoy said, “I agree that those demonstrations handed martial law to Marcos on a silver platter.”

After I was released he was made to go through the horrible experience at Laur. One Christmas season he was allowed to go out and stay at his home at Times St. and my wife and I went to visit him several times and I told him that I was very shocked, disgusted, and felt so bad that the Filipino people did not seem to care. There were no demonstrations against martial law. Nobody gave a damn. The businessmen were happy. Nobody seemed to value liberties. I said, “What kind of a people are we?” There was even that fellow Senator Mansfield, who is ambassador to Japan now, who was supposed to be a historian and a liberal man but who was reported to have said that the Filipino people consisted of forty million cowards and one son-of-a-bitch. It was very hard not to agree with him.

But Ninoy said, “Teddy, don’t take it like that because you will remember what Rizal said, that a man who would lead his people must learn to forgive them.”

Jose Mari Velez, broadcaster and at the time, Delegate in the 1971 Constitutional Convention:

Q: What about later when you and Ninoy were arrested. I understand you were one of those with him when he was detained at Camp Bonifacio in 1972?

A: Yes, we were all arrested on September 23, which was a Saturday morning. I was arrested supposedly on charges of rebellion, sedition, and insurrection. That was the charge in the warrant of arrest but Mr. Marcos never brought us to trial so I don’t know… Ninoy was arrested at midnight at the Manila Hilton, Senator Diokno was arrested at about one o’clock, Chino Roces, well, he was not at home, Soc Rodrigo at about three o’clock, and I was arrested at about four o’clock in the morning. In any case at about six o’clock that morning we were all together at the Camp Crame gym which was then being boarded up… I mean you could see that they were preparing it for more people who would come in and by noontime there were quite a number of us inside, but, of course, Ninoy was the bubbly one. Even inside he was greeting everybody. Of course, he was greeting everybody because he was the first one there and he saw everybody come in. The first thing he told me then was, “So, they got you. Welcome to the club”. That’s more or less how he greeted us.

Q: Were you genuinely worried that first day you were arrested?

A: Oh yes, all of us were worried. You gotta be worried anytime you’re picked up in the middle of the night by the military. And don’t forget, Ninoy was a senator, I was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Technically, we were all enjoying so-called parliamentary immunity, so it was a period when in effect the constitution was being suspended and it was quite a step for Mr. Marcos hoarding everybody into jail. So naturally, we were all worried. I guess we were all seeking strength and consolation in each other’s arms. Generally it was really not knowing what was going on. We didn’t know. We were told that it was martial law but none of us had a copy of the proclamation of martial law. You could see more or less the quality of the people coming in. It was really the opposition. One of the more chilling incidents was that on that same day in the afternoon the Sergeant came in and read the list and said “Will all of you follow me” and he starts out with “Senator Aquino.” Now, we asked the Sargeant what it was for and he said, “I dunno, sir,” that’s how a Sargeant usually answers, you know. The thing was that, when the list was read, and since it began with Ninoy, it sounded like a “death list”. Some of us really thought that it was a list of people who were going to be executed. Since I am talking of the first day of martial law, you can imagine how we felt. In other words we were all removed from Camp Crame gymnasium and put in a bus and we were brought to another place inside Camp Crame. They said that we were being transferred somewhere else. Then we were in effect transferred to Fort Bonifacio.

Another ConCon delegate (and former Free Press writer) Napoleon Rama, recounted the events as follows:

This is what happened. We were playing ‘balot’ in the house of Chino Roces. We were about 3 or 4 people there. At 8 o’clock in the evening Chino arrived.

Chino said, “You know, I’ve got it from the horse’s mouth, there’s going to be martial law tonight”. Doming Abadilla was with me and he said that it was another of Chino’s ‘kwentong kutsero’. So, we ignored Chino.

At 10 o’clock, we watched television. The news then which was flashed on T.V. was this alleged ambush of Juan Ponce Enrile. But when they said that the scene of the ambush was inside a subdivision we started reconsidering Chino’s news.

I said, “Chino, that is an indication that there may be martial law… they’re rigging the events.” I’ve been following Marcos’ strategy of creating incidents and I thought this could be one of the excuses for declaring martial law.

At 11:30 we got a phone call from Mrs. Diokno who was crying over the phone saying that they have arrested Pepe Diokno. She was calling from a neighbor’s house because their telephone was cut. She said that martial law has been declared.

Five minutes later, Cory Aquino called up. She told Chino that Ninoy has been arrrested.

Thirty minutes later Mrs. Maximo Soliven also called up. So, I said, “I think if Soliven is arrested, they will also arrest me. You, Chino, will also be arrested.” Then the Manila Times called up and said that the Marines have closed all the operations and invaded the place.

I said, “Chino, I think we are going to be arrested.” He said “Yes, ok, let’s go out of this place. Let’s go to Central Luzon or to Baguio.” “You’re crazy Chino. They have all these guards posted on all the raods and on all of the highways,” I said.

We called Gerry Roxas and he confirmed that they had already declared martial law. We went to the house of Gerry Roxas. Five minutes later we learned the soldiers had come to arrest Chino. The wife of Chino called us up at Gerry Roxas’ place. She said, “They are all here, looking for you and ransacking the whole place.” Later, Chino decided to just go to Camp Crame and surrender. He got some sandwiches and he put them in his pocket. He wanted to walk alone. Gerry said, “No, I’ll accompany you.”

I came home about 2 o’clock and before I could reach the stairs there was a very loud buzzing and there were soldiers with long guns who came in.

When we were there at Camp Crame, there were about a thousand of us, Ninoy was the one who would greet us and would try to console us. He would say, “Never mind, you’re in good company, join the club.”

At about 10 o’clock General Nanañiego arrived. He said, “Alright, I’m going to call your names and these people will please come forward”. He was calling the name of Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Mitra, Chino Roces, etcetera, myself… there were ten of us.

I said, “What are they going to do?” Ninoy said, “This is it. We’re going to be sent to Luneta to be shot.” Soliven was very depressed and told Ninoy, “Son-of-a-bitch, why do you talk like that?”. We were taken out and sent to another place which was the air-conditioned quarter. That was still in Camp Crame.

Ninoy was whistling and was happy as he told us, “You know what? there’s a bathroom in the other side of that building. I’m going to take a bath.”

Of course Soliven was angry, “You are a son-of-a-gun Ninoy… We are here, you know we are going to be killed and now you are making a joke of this thing.”

Ninoy said, “I have to take a bath. At least when I meet my Creator, I am clean.” That was the kind of fellow he was. He was unafraid. But I thought he was telling jokes to cheer up people. He was concerned about us.

Then we were taken out of Camp Crame at about 2 o’clock. We took a big bus, a Metrocom bus, and we had about 10 escorts, and so, we had this motorcade… everybody was looking at us…

Ninoy said, “If we reach Buendia and we turn right, we are going to Luneta to be shot, you can expect that.”

Somewhere in EDSA near Guadalupe there was this traffic and we were stopped. People were curious, cringing their necks and watching us. We rode in a big bus with big windows and some recognized us.

I was seated beside Ninoy and he said, “Look at our people. They know that we’ve been fighting for their rights, that we’ve risked our lives and that freedoms have been taken away from them, and yet, they are not doing anything… Look at them, they’re just watching us, curious, so, I don’t think there’s hope for the Filipino.”

His statement then was different from what he said later that the Filipino is worth dying for. Almost contradictory… but I could understand Ninoy’s feeling. Many of us there were trying to do something for the country. Because of this they arrested us. Ninoy half-expected, I think, that there should be some disturbances or reaction from the people, some kind of demonstration. But there they were just watching us not doing anything, so Ninoy was depressed.

When later we were brought to Fort Bonifacio we tended to agree with Max Soliven. Soliven reiterated his theory that Mr. Marcos had taken a measure of the Filipino people and found them wanting. That is why Marcos had the nerve to declare martial law and just abolish these institutions of freedom. He knew, according to the theory of Max Soliven, that the Filipinos would not do anything about it…

Joaquin “Chino” Roces, publisher of the Manila Times:

Q: I understand you were arrested with Ninoy when martial law was declared in 1972?

A: Yes. We were arrested and there were sad times and happy times of our life in detention. In a way I am glad that I had the opportunity of getting to know those who were with us in detention. I am proud to have known them and proud to have had the opportunity of being with them.

I remember a time when Ninoy was with us in jail and there was some sort of a movie. We were outside, the two of us, and I saw in one corner. He was crying. So, he was by himself a little away from the group. So, I approached him and told him, “Ninoy, what’s the trouble?” He told me that one of his men was taken and was tortured. Ninoy was very sad about it and he said that he would have rather been the one arrested and tortured. That was one particular time when I learned that Ninoy cared for people.


Thursday, November 30, 1972

On the day of the signing of the Constitution, the headline of the Daily Express was “FM tells the Military: I want Free, Open Discussions on Charter Provision.”

What lie! What double-talk! Hitler seems to be alive again! But many people were somewhat comforted by these pronouncements of President Marcos. Being allowed to open the window of freedom somewhat after having been deprived our civil rights for more than a month now, is great.

We do not really value our freedom until we are deprived of it. Then we understand why throughout the ages, men have fought for their freedom as an important ingredient of human dignity.

An air of excitement was in the air at the session hall. The delegates, in spite of everything, seemed to exude a sense of history—whether a famous or infamous one, the future will tell.

The roll call of delegates for individual signing of the Constitution in English and Pilipino was somewhat unruly. President Macapagal kept on banging the gavel, asking the delegates to sit down.

Sig Siguion-Reyna whispered, “Macapagal should have shown this force a little bit earlier, not now; I myself thought that he should have at least presided over our meeting last night if only because it was the last session, but, sadly, it was Vice Pres. Abe Sarmiento who did.”

There were some congressmen who had entered the hall. Speaker Villareal was there, and so were Congressmen Sanchez and Caram and Solicitor General Titong Mendoza (UP Law Class ’52) who had phoned the Con-Con that I had been taken into custody by the military. Yesterday, Titong told us he had a conference with Justice Undersec. Taling Macaraeg (Class ’52) about my arrest. Taling’s suggestion was for Titong to guarantee me and take me into his custody.

Sig Siguion-Reyna learned last night that our colleagues in detention are to be released for one day today during the signing of the Constitution. He said he wanted to make sure of this so he had relayed the message to President Macapagal.

True enough, before we could finish our conversation, Nap Rama, who is detained at Fort Bonifacio, dramatically appeared at the session hall. He is no longer sporting the same macho hairdo. Rather, his hair is somewhat dishevelled and bears the untypical look of not having been creamed for sometime. How un-Nap-like! He also sports a mini-mustache now.

Two minutes later, Joe Mari Velez, also an inmate of Fort Bonifacio, appeared. Unlike Nap, Joe Mari is wearing a thick mustache curved sideways at the edges. He came in a blue t-shirt, looking quite healthy.

Nap Rama’s usual swagger seemed to have deserted him. After only two months in Fort Bonifacio! Joe Mari, on the other hand, looked defiant.

Joe Mari immediately told me that the news in his camp is that I have also been taken. He gave me the unnerving information that if I have not yet been arrested I would be—very soon.

I could hardly catch my breath. I thought my ordeals are over.

Both Nap and Mari expected me to join them soon—and in the isolation stockade of Fort Bonifacio, not in the relatively more comfortable Camp Crame stockade.

My heartbeats pounded like a gong.

Nap said that they had long expected me to be detained because their information was that I was marked by the military from the beginning as an enemy of the regime.

He talked about their own ordeal. In the first two days, the military had really sought to break them. The soldiers had put barbed wire fences higher than their windows all around their barracks. Poor Nap does not know until now precisely what he is being apprehended for.

Nap sounded desperate. Like the others, he seemed resigned to the present political situation. He will cooperate, if necessary, if this would give him back his liberty.

I inquired about his SSS loan and the reported foreclosure of his mortgage. “Yes,” he replied sadly. He has received a telegram saying he has ten days within which to pay the loan or else his house will be foreclosed. That is why his house is now for sale.

Nap did not sound bitter but he was clearly on edge. He said that it is ironical that the same reforms that we have been fighting for seem to be now under implementation by the martial law regime.

I inquired about Teddy Locsin. Teddy, Nap said, is quite bitter. Teddy says that he had fought so much for these reforms and now the military has put him in prison rather than awarding him a medal for his crusade.

Romy Capulong was with me while I was talking to Nap.

Nap gave us the shocking information that our meetings at Pepe Calderon’s place had been completely monitored by the military.

God! I gasped.

Could it be that some delegates went there with tape recorders in their pockets? After all, Romy said, in some of the meetings there were 30 or 40 delegates in attendance.

Still, I could not imagine how anyone in our Independent-Progressive group could have betrayed us.

Romy thought that it was possible that either one or two delegates who were present during one of our meetings could have done it; after all we also have counter-infiltration on the other side.

Out of sheer curiosity, I asked Romy who they were, and Romy said, “I don’t want to tell you because it might poison your mind and especially because it may not be true. But someday I will. One of these is a woman,” he said tantalizingly.

I overheard a delegate saying that Joe Concepcion and Tito Guingona were in the Steering Council room on the 13th floor and that they were waiting for President Macapagal.

“You better go down already,” Joe Feria told me. “I am just fetching Macapagal.”

President Macapagal was, for a while, busy entertaining Speaker Villareal, who had come in shortly before 11 o’clock. In the meantime that this was happening, Titong Mendoza came along looking for a copy of the new Constitution.

While Titong and I were in Macapagal’s room, I noticed former Central Bank Governor Cuaderno lying on his side on the couch, writhing in pain. Nobody seemed to be looking after him; nobody seemed to mind.

I was alarmed. I ran towards the governor and fell on my knees.

“Governor, is there anything wrong? Are you sick?”

“It’s my asthma.”

“Shall I call a doctor?” I asked. I gathered from his murmur that a doctor has been sent for.

“Air, air,” he murmured.

I opened the windows.

The doctor took long in coming. I thought it was heartless of many delegates to see him there and not to do anything to help him. Of course, they had other excitements today, but….

Then came the Convention doctor; we were not sure, however, of his competence. I was hoping that a physician delegate would come. Then Tony Velasco, himself a medical doctor, came in.

I went to the session hall looking for Dr. George Viterbo; I trust him most.

Two minutes later, Tony Velasco was in the session hall, doing what everybody else was doing—asking for the autograph of delegates. He asked me to sign his copy of the proposed Constitution. “But what, about Cuaderno? What have you done?” My concern was great.

“Oh, it is only asthma. The doctor is taking care of him. The medicine has already been brought in.”

President Macapagal was already with the detainees when I arrived. Tito Guingona and Joe Concepcion, among others, were asking him to make representation on their behalf with President Marcos.

President Macapagal kept on saying, “Yes, yes, yes, I will take it up.”

“I think tomorrow is the best time to discuss this,” I chipped in. “President Marcos will be in a good mood; this will really be good for national unity.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Macapagal nodded in agreement.

Joe Concepcion wanted Macapagal to do more than this. He kept on asking whether or not they would be allowed to see President Marcos tomorrow. Macapagal said he could get another clearance for them. Of course, he would not talk to the President about any single one of them. He could only ask that all delegates be invited—including those under detention.

The detainees present were Joe Concepcion, Tito Guingona, Ernie Rondon, Bren Guiao, Pepito Nolledo and Natalio (Taliox) Bacalzo. Nolledo was standing at the back, somewhat lost!

Joecon whispered to me that the one in most pathetic condition among them is Nolledo. He seems to be on the verge of a breakdown.

Ding Lichauco is, likewise, not in good shape. He has contracted pneumonia and was taken to the hospital this morning. He is in a pitiful state. He has no children and his wife, Nita, is now alone.

Macapagal bade the detainees good-bye. “You know it’s good to meet with you… even just to be together for a while,” he said. “But I must now go up and attend to the Convention.”

Bebet Duavit arrived as Macapagal was leaving. “Here is the man who can help you,” he said as he left.

We all finally got Duavit to promise that he was going to talk to President Marcos. When the detainees told him that Macapagal had already talked to Marcos, he dismissed Macapagal: “Wala ‘yan.” Macapagal is too proud to talk to Marcos. He only sends letters. He does everything in writing. He said that as past president of the Philippines, he should be in a position to talk to President Marcos for the detainees. Bebet intimated, the detainees should not expect Macapagal to be able to do much for them.

President Macapagal’s ego is monumental, Duavit added. When he and Macapagal were with Flores Bayot, one of Marcos’ assistant executive secretaries (who was in the session hall yesterday; Sed Ordoñez, in fact, was asking me why? What was he monitoring?), Duavit said he had told Bayot, “You tell your President that my President is arranging with the postman for the delivery of the Constitution in Malacañang.” Duavit saw Macapagal’s face light up, he was all smiles, and he seemed to have grown two inches taller.

Duavit promised to talk to President Marcos tonight and follow it up with another talk tomorrow morning.

Joecon and Tito Guingona asked Duavit to tell Marcos that they can help in the implementation of the program of the New Society.

Duavit promised to try to persuade Marcos again, as he had done in the past, to release them. President Marcos had, in fact, told him at one time that Duavit should talk to the military and tell them that he would guarantee them.

But Duavit expressed reluctance to guarantee anyone. “Baka naman e-escape kayo,” he said sheepishly.

“Why not divide the responsibility?” I suggested. “You guarantee X, Ven Yaneza guarantees Y.

            Eh, kung umescape kayo.” Duavit has misgivings.

Tito Guingona then spoke up. “Yes,” he said, “political amnesty is the best.”

In the beginning, the detained delegates present had all come from Camp Crame only and so Tito, Joecon and the rest talked about amnesty for them… because they were presumably not charged with as grave crimes as the detainees in Fort Bonifacio.

But later, Nap Rama from Fort Bonifacio dropped by. They then agreed that the amnesty should include all delegates.

Bren Guiao tried to pin down Duavit on whether he would visit them. How else would they know the result?

Duavit promised to visit them tomorrow.

Later, as we were leaving, Joecon lingered around to talk some more with Duavit. Duavit then said he would tell President Marcos that it would be good for the Rizal delegates to be released because they would especially need to get “Yes” votes from Rizal—the oppositionist district.

What a paradoxical figure this Duavit is! So much a lackey for Marcos, yet warm, possibly even affectionate towards his colleagues—even to those in the opposite side of the political spectrum. Is he a good man at heart—who is possessed? If so, he needs an exorcist! Or is he a marionette? What is he really?

Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw and I invited the detainees for lunch at the Sulo Hotel. Later, Romy Capulong and Raul Roco joined us. Still later, while we were eating, Ric Sagmit came by and spent a while with us, particularly with Bren Guiao.

Everyone has his own story. Bren Guiao said that on Saturday night, he had dinner with Tito Guingona, but Tito did not tell him then—and Bren turned towards Tito reproachfully—what he, Tito, may have already known.

Tito was with General Rialp. Tito had asked Rialp if he was in the list. They went over the list alphabetically. “Letter G… Guiao, etc., no Guingona. You are not in,” Rialp had confirmed.

But in the meantime, the name of Guiao had already been read aloud and Tito did not warn him!

When Bren phoned his house Sunday morning, he discovered that about 40 Metrocom troopers had surrounded his house. So he did not know what to do. Finally, he decided to talk over the phone with the commander. The commander said he was being invited for interrogation. So Bren answered, “I might as well meet you in Camp Crame.”

He thought he would be interrogated, then released immediately, but when he got into the Camp he was not allowed to get out anymore.

Romy Capulong and Raul Roco’s houses were raided at 10:00 o’clock on Saturday—the very first day. Romy and Raul would have been ahead of Guiao in the stockades were they not able to run out of their houses earlier that day.

It was on the sixth day—on Friday—as Tito was talking with Bobbit that he, Tito, was arrested.

Taliox Bacalzo said he was interrogated at the stockade for his radio broadcasts going back to 1949 (sic).

The detainees still kept their sense of humor in spite of their obvious anguish. They were complaining of each other’s behavior, like little children. First, they picked on Pepito Nolledo.

Joecon said that in the first two nights, Nolledo would suddenly go up to his fellow prisoners and ask, “By the way, are you a spy?”

Bacalzo swore that one night, Nolledo came to his bed and stared at him for three minutes without speaking. He (Bacalzo) got scared. After three minutes, Nolledo asked Bacalzo, “Brod, are you a spy?” Bacalzo was terribly shaken!

There was a near fight in the camp. Nolledo was at the lower bunk while the hard-hitting columnist Louie Beltran was on top. One day, Beltran’s watch got lost. He searched everywhere, swearing and cursing as he went. Finally, he found the watch in the bag of Nolledo. Apparently, the watch fell down from the upper bunk and fell right into the open bag of Nolledo.

Nolledo was peeved by the remarks of his friends about him.

“Joe Concepcion’s behavior was worse than mine. He was always crying during the first two days” he attacked.

Joecon blushed. When his children came, one of them rushed to him and cried, so he started wailing also, he explained.

Joecon said that one of the worst things that can happen to a man is to lose his freedom.

I was reminded of my note to Raul Roco on his birthday a couple of weeks ago—that we are prone to take our liberty for granted; it is only when we are denied it that we realize the real value of personal freedom.

Joecon, who is a close friend, then turned towards me and said complainingly that he now realizes who his real friends are…. I did not even visit him!

Of course, they all know that I was interrogated; that I was in the secondary “list,” that were it not for my long friendship with Enrile, I could have been in the stockade with them.

Joecon admitted that the officers of his corporations have been going there for meetings with him every week. I had also learned from Vicente (Ting) Jaime, that Joecon has been getting passes because his mother is sick. Also, at one time, he had procured a pass to attend a board meeting of his company.

The detainees feasted as on nectar and ambrosia. In no time, we had cleaned up the plates. We horsed around for a while in an atmosphere of complete carefreeness.

This was the first time they have had a good meal in weeks. Also the first time that they were in an air-conditioned room.

Tito Guingona complained that the terrible thing in the stockade is like being in a sauna, he said; the gym is as hot as hell!

I asked then why Conception Industries did not install an airconditioning unit there. Of course, Joecon said, if they would allow it for two months, he would have it done. But the gym was so huge.

I told Joecon I did not recognize him because he no longer looked like a bouncing baby. He had lost at least five kilos. Besides he was not wearing his famous two-way transmitter in his belt anymore.

He said that he was dictating on his Philip machine but even that was taken from him. And he was heartbroken because his two-way radio is no longer allowed.

Bobbit Sanchez came later and said that he had talked to Duavit for some few minutes more after we had left. Duavit was supposed to have said he was going to see the President today and tomorrow and the detainees should have an answer one way or the other in 15 days. In any case, Bobbit said, possibly, after the ratification of the Constitution they would be freed.

Joecon wailed “No, no, no, that is too long. Tell us if it is 15 days, it is 15 days. Then at least we can hope. Magpapasko ba naman kami doon?

Joecon then proceeded to mention that he knew someone who was going to commit suicide during the first few days because of the loss of his liberty.

Bobbit reported that Joe Mari Velez refused to be included in the proposed amnesty. He left him in the session hall waiting to be called because he wanted to deliver a speech. Even if there is hardly any audience anymore.

But, he said, the session was already over last night, he would certainly not be allowed to speak. Indeed, it is foolish and senseless waiting to speak when the session is over.

Bobbit said that Joe Mari said he would stay in the stockade even if it meant staying indefinitely. Joe Mari is very bitter.

One of the delegates whispered that part of the bitterness lay in the fact that Voltaire Garcia had voted “Yes” in the transitory provisions when he could have voted “No” because he was only under house arrest (after he had already been released from the stockade).

In fairness, however, I knew that Voltaire fell ill in the stockade; I had seen how pale and thin he was when I met and embraced him upon his release.

“I am worried about Voltaire”, I had told Ding afterwards.

“So am I,” he said. He had watched Voltaire as he entered to vote.

Raul Roco said that we should really understand that the environment of Joe Man and Nap Rama in Fort Bonifacio is different from that in Camp Crame. In Bonifacio there is a group of defiant people like Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Chino Roces, Teddy Locsin. This is the reason Joe Mari is defiant; he has been influenced by his environment.

Taking a cue, Joe Mari made a doomsday statement. Based on their reading of history, he perorated, they would either be executed or they would one day seize political power.

“Correct, correct,” Bobbit Sanchez nodded in assent.

“Except that Nap Rama seems to have a different frame of mind,” I teased. “Nap has acquired a Camp Crame mentality. He has shed his Fort Bonifacio mentality.”

“True, true,” the naughty Bobbit blurted.

Poor Nap flushed and we laughed freely. What was it Thomas Gray had written in his Elegy in a Country Churchyard?

            We look before and after
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught…

Nap quickly recovered his composure and took over with a vengeance. Last night, at 12:30 past midnight, he had received a call from President Macapagal. Awakened by the call, he abruptly got up. This is it, he thought. I’m going to be executed. He fell on his knees to pray.

Of course I remember that Nap was a seminarian. I could imagine him reciting his Hail Marys:

Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with thee….

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour…

Joecon butted in. He recounted how President Macapagal had called him up after the call to Nap. The result was that he had hardly slept because Macapagal talked for three hours—until 3:30 in the morning. Either Macapagal was incoherent or he was just too sleepy, Joecon confessed, but he didn’t understand what Macapagal was talking about. That was why he rang up Joe Feria to find out what this was all about.

Joecon added that Nolledo had excitedly woke up Ding Lichauco.

“Ding, Ding, si Macapagal.”

Ding jumped out of bed. “Nasaan ang punyetang Macapagal?”

Nolledo explained that Macapagal was on the phone talking to Joecon. Several minutes later, Ding got up again and shouted, “Nasaan siya? Nasaan ang punyetang Macapagal?”

Joecon explained that it was Macapagal who was arranging for this one-day freedom and they should be grateful.

All the delegates then started their litany of complaints against Ding, his picayunes and foibles. Affectionate complaints against a comrade in suffering?

Ernie Rondon quipped that Ding Lichauco is so used to royalty he had decorated his bed with different varieties of blankets so that his bed looked like a royal bed.

They were all afraid to get near him, they said, because he is irritable. (Not to mention the fact that he was a boxing champion at Harvard?)

            Katakot-takot ang punyeta at punyetero,” Joe Concepcion and Taliox sighed. “Talo pa si Quezon.”

They were picking on Ding now, but all of them respect him as a patriot, a nationalist, one of those rare guys who really have the courage of his convictions. At the back of their minds they all knew this and respect Ding for it. But this did not deter them from getting more and more juvenile.

“I am one of Ding’s friends but many times I can not talk to him.” I was now contaminated by their degenerate mood. “Do you know that at one time, when I was with Joe Romero at CEPO, Ding appeared? Upon seeing his friend, Joe, without any provocation, he said: ‘Romero, if the revolution should succeed, your head will roll.'”

“I’m sure he was kidding,” I added, “but do you know how Joe took it? He was visibly unnerved.”

“But wait.” I was not yet through. “Upon seeing me also there, he went on with his offensive: ‘Also your head, Caesar.'”

“But enough of his good qualities. Let us talk of his foibles.”

Little Bobbit was a teen-ager again, in his barkada mood.

“Okay,” one of the detainees said. “Do you know that whenever Ding received his food, he would eat without making any gesture of sharing it with the rest of us?”

“This is only a cultural pattern; after all, he had spent seven years at Harvard, where this is the norm,” I was now defending Ding.

Still, barbarian Taliox from the wilderness of Cebu could not understand this. In a burst of mischief, he said: “But then when somebody else is eating I notice that Ding would even steal some cookies from this somebody.”

“Oh, come on.”

Everyone laughed.

Poor Ding. These friends had to make merry. And they just happened to pick on Ding because he was not present. They seized the opportunity of making fun of him because they would otherwise have been afraid to say these things to his face.

In the process, our friends forgot their sorry plight—for a moment, at least. Indeed, for a moment, they were like little children. And the rest of us, too.

My heart went out to these friends. They were a pathetic sight. We had fun, of course, while it lasted. It was really a celebration—a celebration of their temporary freedom. And I was happy that we made them happy, thanks to Joe Feria and to Naning Kalaw, who had taken the initiative to organize this dinner.

Our eyes were moist as we escorted them back to the long line of Constabulary guards who were all heavily armed, as if Joecon and Taliox, Bren and Pepito and Tito too—these harmless peacemakers—would not run away at the explosion of a bawang firecracker.

Raul Roco, as usual, pretended to be nonchalant.

“At least, these guys do not have to pay for their gasoline,” he said. He had the look of a shyster as he laughed. Typical.

Tito Guingona, however, looked so forlorn. He was a study in brooding silence. He was desolate.

“Everyone is in revelry, Tito,” I comforted this man who has been a sincere and gallant partner in our struggle for decency, fairness and freedom. “You alone seem so despondent.”

Tito lifted his eyes and spoke his parting words: “Do not forget us, Caesar.”

“Forget? Tito, how can we forget?”

Our hearts went out to our colleagues as the soldiers came forward; they were to be returned to the stockades.

“Do not lose hope!” Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw and I chorused as we waved at them.

Not lose hope? Did we really mean what we said? But today, the 30th of November, 1972, did we not really lose hope ourselves? On this day of infamy, did we not bury our dreams?

The Con-Con is over. Finished.

“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith,” Paul had written to Timothy. But as for us, did we tight the good fight, really, or did we simply capitulate?

The Constitution has been bastardized. Authoritarianism has been legalized—but surely not legitimized! Where is that acceptance by the population of rulers imbued with superior moral, intellectual and political capabilities which Antonio Gramsci says, is the hallmark of legitimacy?

Up to now, our democracy, at best, has been a fragile one. But even this as yet imperfect—because clientelist and elitist—democracy has been cruelly snatched from us by this coup from above. Will the political institutions of this fragile democracy someday be restored, perhaps even nurtured to ripen into an authentic democracy? But democratic institutions can only be sustained if they are part of a democratic culture; even free institutions may not create a free society. Can we look forward to a time when the next generation may be able to cure the defects of a facade democracy and really see a participatory society with the incandescent idea enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence—that all men are created equal—at least approximated?

But even these reflections should be set aside for now. At the moment, one anxiously wonders whether this dark night of repression that has descended upon all of us will last for a long period? Or is this going to be a mere aberration in our 70 years of constitutional development—a nightmare whose memory will vanish soon enough?

But vanish it, perhaps we should not. For if we fail to remember our past, pride will dominate our politics and history.

I now close this diary of the Con-Con which depicts the strands of a complex fabric of contradictions—of indecency, bad taste, dishonor, betrayal, cowardice—compounded by some acts of selfishness, too, even of sparks of courage among a few.

Our actuations in the Con-Con reflected vividly the tragedy of man in his pride and his vulnerability.

I remember that 27 years ago, the philosopher Karl Jaspers had addressed his fellow Germans in searing terms, whose words I can not now exactly recall: “We did not go into the streets when our Jewish friends were led away; we did not scream until we, too, were destroyed. We preferred to stay alive on the feeble, if logical ground that our death could not have helped anyone… we are guilty of being alive.”

I feel guilty of being free; thousands are in the stockades, some of them tortured. And two of the “super-radicals” at our Asian Leadership Development Conference (ALDEC)—with whom I had some violent quarrels on the night that martial law was declared—have been shot and killed, I heard.

Could a certain respect for higher principles above our own personal existence have saved our people from so much pain and suffering? Don’t ethical and moral dimensions in political decision-making count anymore?

Should not our people—perhaps the next generation, who knows?—not confront our national guilt someday?

Will this story of guilt and betrayal someday be unravelled and the judgment of history brought down upon our heads? I, for one, hereby vow that at the very first opportunity, when the dawn of freedom shall have brightened again the skies of our darkened land, I will have this diary read by our people. They have a right to know how their delegates performed and behaved at the Con-Con during the decisive last three months of its tragic life; our development, whether for progress or retrogression, is blurred enough by too much anonymization.

Withal, some halting doubts assail me as I close the Con-Con story: What if martial law was not declared? Could the Con-Con have framed a Constitution that would have brought about basic changes in our social structures, minimized inequality in wealth and political power? Could we have conquered massive poverty among the people or accelerated growth that would ameliorate the harshest aspects of poverty of the present and bears the seeds of decreasing inequality in the future? If those of us who call ourselves democrats have had our way in the Con-Con, could we have ushered in a more just society, a more participatory polity?

I do realize even as I close this diary that this is one of those great “ifs” in history. Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder: Could the Con-Con really have effected a social revolution through constitutional means in response to the desperate need of our people for greater social justice, if only some of us, myself included, had stood up for the harder right instead of the easier wrong?

Of course there is no way to test the big decisions of history, as the Czech writer, Milan Kundera, says, because there is no way to go back and see what the opposite choices would have brought. Indeed, how can we know for certain that those of us who had experienced detention or been suppressed in the exercise of our freedom of expression during the Con-Con would not follow after the footsteps of our oppressors if it should happen that someday it may be our turn to wield political power? Would we not, then, precisely fulfill the role set by Paulo Freire in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed?

I do not really know what to think of these things; perhaps I can never know. Indeed, often in life we have to face serious and difficult questions where no one really knows the answers. But it does not really matter, as Max Frisch has once said; the important thing is to raise the questions nevertheless. Then, in the end, everyone must answer in his own way. Some, no doubt, would answer with their own lives.

Manila. Three hours past midnight of November 30, 1972.


Wednesday, November 29, 1972

Headline at the Express: “Delegates Approve Final Charter Draft. Signing Tomorrow.”

The paper repeated its report yesterday that the delegates approved the charter draft without any dissenting vote. But this was a patent lie. How could such a deliberate misleading of the people be done by the Express?

The Bulletin Today headlined “New Charter Draft Passed.”

In both papers, on the front page were big items: “FM Warns of Insurgency by Rightist Elements,” the Express said. The Bulletin talked about “Peril from the Right.”

In the afternoon, I returned to Camp Aguinaldo. When I entered, I saw Gerry Barican, a UP student activist, being questioned by an officer. Gerry asked me if I was a visitor. I said “Yes.” Having said this, I felt it was awkward to stay longer. I decided to go and meet Colonel Miranda who had signed the summons for my interrogation.

I was shown into his office.

It was a fairly young man, somewhat tall, in casual polo shirt, with an honest, pleasant face, who stood up when I entered.

“I have come to introduce myself. I am Caesar Espiritu.”

“No, I should be the one to introduce myself to you because I know you.”

The officer told me that we belong to the same church. He said that at one time he had read that I was the speaker at the Cosmopolitan Church, but he was not there when I spoke.

This must have been Independence Day 1971, when there was a combined service of several churches in Manila and I was the speaker.

I told him that I had already been interviewed and allowed to leave. I added that I thought that the basis for the investigation was my letter that had been taken from Rev. Haruna.

He showed surprise that I knew that my letter had been taken.

“Well,” I said, “I know somehow about it.” I added that after a few days, when the letter did not come back, I presumed that the Army had mailed it.

He laughed.

“I thought it was not important and that, therefore, it should have now been received by the addressee,” I was being facetious.

“It got stuck here.” He laughed heartily.

“Well, since you are a professing Christian, I can more easily explain to you what I was telling your investigator yesterday,” I said.

“I am somewhat active in ecumenical Christian movements, not only nationally but internationally. In the last few years, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican, after Vatican II, have become more and more liberal and progressive. I am in continuous touch with them. My views have been inspired by these contacts.”

I told him that I was vice chairman of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), with headquarters in Geneva, from 1964 to 1968. Although I am no longer a member of the Student Christian Movement in the Philippines, when WSCF people come around from Geneva or Tokyo, they look for me. Thus, when a preparatory seminar of the Asian Leadership Development Center was held here by the Asia Committee of the Federation, they naturally asked me to help in the arrangements. At the end of a ten-day preparatory seminar in the Philippines, as the delegates proceeded to Tokyo for their four-week seminar proper, I sent out three letters through the participants. It was the third letter that was captured from a Japanese pastor.

“Why did you send out letters through friends?”

“Simply because mails are much faster from Tokyo or Hong Kong than from Manila,” I said. “So naturally, I do send many of my mails through friends who pass through Manila.”

There was another officer who was listening in as we talked. As I kept on looking at him, he moved forward to join us.

“I know of no subversion that I have committed except subversion of the status quo, with all its injustices and oppressions.” I was warming up, encouraged by their apparent lack of hostility.

The two officers encouraged me to talk and gave me the impression that they were in agreement with what I was saying. It was getting to be a monologue. But then I could hardly stop. I remembered how St. Paul nearly converted King Agrippa. I wanted to make use of the opportunity to tell them of the imperative necessity of instituting fundamental changes in social structures. I spoke of the need to protect human dignity and to foster greater equality, to struggle for justice both nationally and internationally.

Colonel Miranda interrupted and asked me if I had heard of Silliman University. He said the university is having difficulties in looking for a president.

Why did he bring up the subject of Silliman University?

“We thought you would be the president of Silliman,” he said. “That was what we had heard way back in early 1961.”

“I was quite young then. I think I was offered the presidency of Silliman because of the TOYM award I received in 1961 in the combined fields of economics and education.”

“You would have been the youngest university president in the country.”

“But Dr. Jovito Salonga, who had just been elected congressman at the time, had counselled me that it may not be wise for me to accept the presidency, because, in his own words, I would be away from the ebb and flow of events, which are centered in Manila.”

The problem, I thought, was that some people in the military were, in the 1960s, suspicious of new ideas. During those years, I was held in suspicion for quoting Arnold Toynbee and Bertrand Russell on the need for greater achievement in man’s relations with his fellowmen, as well as on the need for actively searching for peace. “To be able to look into the eyes of a human being and see in him the flattering image of yourself,” or something to that effect was what Norman Cousins had thought was the urgent purpose of education.

I had an article which was excerpted from my Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard which came out in the Chronicle magazine. I came out against the “Anti-Subversion Bill,” which was then in the process of being passed by Congress. I had written this immediately upon my arrival back in the Philippines after four years of studies in law, politics and political economy at Harvard, even mentioning that when I was in London, I had heard lousy Commies orating to their hearts’ content at Hyde Park, with overzealous anti-communists heckling them. My LL.M. essay was entitled “The Legislature and Control of Political Heterodoxies” and my Ph.D. discourse was on freedom and national security.

Harvard is famous for its defense of freedom, I told Colonel Miranda; it is a great institution, and it is concerned with greatness, and we alumni are proud of her achievements.

The other officer’s name is Major Arceo. He was quite sharp. He said that they distinguish between advocacy of violence and the expression of ideas. He said that my views are well-known. They have never doubted my integrity and my loyalty to democratic institutions.

“Your name was never in our list,” they said. “You have never advocated rebellion or subversion. Your interview now is mere routine.”

“Why then did you say in the summons that this is an investigation interview in a case of subversion in which I am involved?”

“It’s just a slip.” They were on the defensive now.

I told them I had asked for one hour to arrange my things, send cables, have my clothes packed, etc.

Colonel Miranda threw his neck back in laughter.

“Really? No, we had never meant to get you. We have never doubted you at all.”

But why am I here, I kept on thinking.

Then I added that I did not know of any political subversive in the Convention. I said that the nearest to a Marxist, if any, would be Boni Gillego. But then, I said, he would be the most harmless Marxist one could meet. In fact, I think he is a democrat with a social conscience; I don’t think he would hurt a fly, I said emphatically.

They nodded in a noncommittal way. An awkward silence ensued.

“Where is Boni Gillego?” They broke the silence.

“I have no idea.”

Colonel Miranda asked me if I had seen Sonny Alvarez. I had hardly answered “No,” when he turned to Major Arceo.

“I understand that Sonny Alvarez was seen at the Intercontinental two weeks ago.”

“By whom, by our people?” asked Arceo.

“No, by some other people.”

“Perhaps he did not know that he is wanted,” Arceo suggested.

“Why should he be wanted?” I asked. “Alvarez is a good man. He believes in the need for minimizing injustice in society just as I do. He is involved in our struggle to democratize our social and economic institutions,” I said in rapid succession.

Another awkward silence followed.

“Some of the officers in the military were my students,” I changed the subject.

“Who?”

“Gen. Guillermo Picache, Gen. Crispino de Castro and some colonels and majors and captains, too.”

“How was General de Castro?”

I told them that when General de Castro was still a colonel, he was my student in the Master of Laws course. One day, as I was conducting a pre-bar review class, Colonel de Castro burst in and excitedly said, “I need your help.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Confidential,” he had smiled.

I approached him.

“I have been asked by the military to answer Recto’s speech which was delivered yesterday. But after one year with you, I have become pro-Recto.”

We laughed.

I told the two officials about two Serranos, both captains, who were my students. One of them was the late Boni Serrano, of Korean War fame. I made them understand that as a professor I have been democratic. Democracy means essentially diversity of ideas, I said.

They agreed. Major Arceo kept on assuring me that the military understands these matters and does not arrest people simply because of their ideas.

“There is a difference between advocacy and expression of ideas,” he said. “We are familiar with your writings, you have never advocated the overthrow of the government.”

“Why am I here then? Was it because I have taken views contrary to those of President Marcos? Was it because I stand foursquare against the violations of human rights by the military?” I asked in succession.

Again they were on the defensive.

“Every promising young man in the country has a file in the NICA. In fact, even President Marcos has a file. The NICA follows up all the activities of all promising people in the Philippines,” Arceo answered reassuringly.

“But insofar as you are concerned you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” he added.

“We have never suspected you. As far as we know, you have never been in the list,” Col. Miranda confirmed.

We parted in friendly terms. They were courteous and respectful. And intelligent, I thought, not the witch-hunting type.

But by what luck, what chain of circumstances kept me from being denied my freedom? Did I ward off being detained—again by the skin of my teeth?

Surely, I was wanted. Did I outtalk them? Did God touch their hearts? This was my second lease on liberty!

I felt both triumphant and unnerved. It was a sobering influence.

Or am I under the illusion that I had won the battle? Was not the military successful in instilling fear into my heart and overdone caution into my actuations? Damn it, I just want the military off my back!

Several delegates rushed towards me when I entered the session hall. The news had spread.

What transpired in the interrogation? Was I going to be detained? Senator Liwag, Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw, Bobbit Sanchez—these were among the friends who met me with concern for my safety as well as for theirs.

Johnny Remulla—even him—felt sorry for me. He told me that this noon, he was at the office of Solicitor-General Titong Mendoza and Titong had already heard from my classmate Joker Arroyo that I was taken into custody yesterday. “In fact, they were speculating,” Johnny added, “that your best friend and classmate Titong would be your prosecutor and Joker your lawyer.”

I was taken completely by surprise. How could this news have travelled so fast?

“Titong confirms that you have absolutely no communist leanings,” Johnny Remulla said. “But Titong said, of course, Caezar is a human rights activist and civil libertarian and has been espousing the need for greater justice in human relationships and of active solidarity with the poor. He is a practising Christian and this is the influence of his faith.”

I met Tony Tupaz at the aisle and asked him how come even Titong already knew about it. He did not answer the question directly; instead, he informed me that he even told Speaker Cornelio Villareal yesterday that I had been arrested.

These days I don’t know whether to believe or not anything Brod Tony Tupaz says; nevertheless, I still consider him a friend.

The Speaker was concerned, according to Tupaz; he immediately phoned President Marcos about it.

It is more likely that Nimia Arroyo of the Manila Times, who was covering our session, was the one who had spread the word around. Nimia is a loyal friend, a former staff member of mine when I was editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian at UP. She must have phoned her brother, Joker, a human rights lawyer and my classmate. Nimia saw me being taken by the military; we had looked into each other’s eyes as I was being led away by my military escort.

I sat down with Sedfrey. He told me that he was with Sen. Jovito Salonga yesterday and that he had told him that I was arrested. He said that Jovy Salonga was very much concerned about me.

But then I had calmed down. I kidded some of the guys that I had just taken my oral examination and that I think I passed the exam with the grade of “meritissimus.”

The delegates were milling around until 6:00 p.m. Apparently I did not miss anything by arriving late from Camp Aguinaldo. Nothing was happening. Everyone was killing time, waiting for the printed copies of the Constitution to arrive. Finally, at 6:00 p.m. we dispersed, without having done anything.

We returned at 8:00 p.m. There were no printed copies available either but Munding Cea then made a motion to go through with our nominal voting.

But of course, this is anticlimactic. Everything is just a formality. The real voting—on second reading—took place two days ago. The perversion of the Constitution has already been done.

Fourteen people voted “No.” The most sensational vote was that of Nene Pimentel who was standing before the microphone waiting for his name to be called. When his turn came to vote, he started to deliver a speech….

“Because of the adulterous…” his voice trailed off as presiding officer Abe Sarmiento banged the gavel. “Your vote,” Abe ruled. “What is your vote?”

Nene Pimentel continued to explain his vote but Brod Abe ruled that he should make known his vote first. Pimentel shouted, “I refuse to vote on this travesty of a Constitution…”

I heard later on that this was shown on TV.

Everyone is full of admiration for Nene’s guts, So am I. Now we are all the more afraid for him.

Some Independent-Progressive delegates who had wanted to vote “No” decided to vote “Yes” when they saw me being returned to the session hall by a soldier. They were clearly intimidated.

“Raul Manglapus has exiled himself abroad. Tito Guingona is in the stockade. And you came in escorted by a soldier. How do we vote now?”

“I cannot really give you much advice. Vote according to your conscience. I would vote ‘No’ if there is no danger of so doing, ‘Yes’ if there is,” I counselled lamely.

My Independent-Progressive group was downcast. Defeat was in everyone’s eyes.

Johnny Liwag was among the first to capitulate—he who had made so many speeches in our group meetings in the last few days on how “the blood of our children would be upon us.”

“Yes!” his voice had resounded in the session hall.

The rest followed suit.

Jess Matas’ voice faltered as he meekly voted “Yes, with mental reservations.” Then he threw himself on his chair to commune with his soul.

Everything went on so fast. It was so evident that the majority was really “steamrolling” the approval of the Constitution, even on third reading, which was really no longer decisive.

Still, many who have voted “Yes” on roll call today vowed that they would not show up for the signing of the Constitution tomorrow.

“We’ll get lost,” I proposed.

“Yeah, let’s get lost,” whispered more than a dozen sad voices.


Tuesday, November 28, 1972

The Daily Express said today, in an article written by Primitivo Mijares, that the draft Constitution was approved last night without any dissenting vote.

But this was a blatant lie. I had voted “No”; so did quite a number of others.

It is not without reason that my friend Tibo Mijares has jokingly called himself “the Goebbels of Marcos.” There is an element of truth in this.

I was almost lost in my ruminations on the sad fate of the Con-Con when I entered the session hall. As I did so, someone handed me an envelope.

I looked at the man. His face was somewhat familiar. He started getting out the letter inside the envelope and showing it to me. I noticed that it was from the Armed Forces. With some trepidation I began to read:

HEADQUARTERS
5th Military Intelligence Group, ISAFP
Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City

M56P

24 November 1972

Subject :        Summon for Investigation

To :                 Dr. Augusto Caesar ESPIRITU
6th Floor, Ramon Magsaysay Center
1630 Roxas Blvd., Malate, Manila

Pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 of the President of the Philippines in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dated September 21, 1972, and pertinent implementing General Orders and Letters of Instruction, you are hereby invited to appear before the Office of the Group Commander, 5th Military Intelligence Group, ISAFP at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on 24 November 1972 for investigation/interview in a case of subversion of which you are involved.

Your immediate compliance is hereby enjoined.

(Sgd.) MARIANO G. MIRANDA
Lt. Colonel PA
Group Commander

The dreaded moment has come at last! I was being “picked up”—as I had half expected for some time now!

I immediately thought of getting in touch with Johnny Ponce Enrile through Edong Angara. Edong was not yet in, neither was Sig Siguion-Reyna, Enrile’s brother-in-law. I asked Cecing Calderon for Johnny’s telephone number. He said Pepe Calderon has the number of Johnny at his house. He gave me Pepe Calderon’s number. I tried calling up Pepe but his phone did not ring at all. I spent more than 15 minutes trying to get Pepe. Then Cecing started to assist me.

Tony Tupaz passed by. I asked him for the telephone number of Edong Angara. He tried to remember the number.

“Why?” he asked.

I told him I had received an “invitation” from the Armed Forces.

“This is probably just an interview,” he dismissed it forthwith.

I showed Tony the paper. “Well, it is only an interview, it is not a warrant of arrest,” he started. But then he kept on reading the summons… “for investigation/interview in a case of subversion.” He got alarmed.

Bakit ‘subversion of which you are involved?’ Masagwa ito,” he got worried. “Masagwa ito” he repeated.

I asked for the number of Johnny Enrile but he didn’t know. He said I should talk to Edong Angara; he is the one who can help.

“In the possibility that I am taken in, will you do something on the Malacañang front?” I asked.

“Of course, I will go upstairs, Brod.” Tony tried to reassure me.

I called Romy Capulong aside and took him to President Macapagal’s room. I asked him if he knew the phone number of Johnny Enrile and he said that he has no direct line to Johnny. As I was talking to Romy, Cecing Calderon, who had been trying to do something, came in and said, “Nandiyan na si Edong.”

I called Edong aside and led him to the office of Macapagal. I showed him the letter. The first thing that he noticed was that it was dated the 24th of November. Today is the 28th. He asked me if I had made any speeches lately. I answered in the negative.

I started thinking that this might have something to do with my letter that was taken by the military from Haruna. Yes, that international seminar of the Asian Leadership Development Center (ALDEC)!

Edong was locked in thought. Then he started tracking down Johnny. In five minutes, Johnny was on the line.

“I am here at the Constitutional Convention. Nandito si Caesar Espiritu. Meron siyang summons for investigation dated November 24 but he received it only now.”

“Do you want to speak to him directly?” Edong turned to me, handing me the receiver.

Sige na, ikaw na.” I was in no position to discuss this matter coherently.

They had a short conversation.

“Johnny said that this is just an interview; there is no need to worry,” he consoled me.

Upon my reentry to the session hall, I told Rebeck about it. He advised me to report to the military officer as soon as possible. He warned me that even if it is only an interview, this may take two days. He said many of those who have been interrogated stayed for two days.

I quickly collected the clothes and papers to bring with me to the stockade. I tried to call up the house but there was no answer. Just send a note, Rebeck counselled.

Rebeck coached me on how the questions were directed to those he knew had been previously interviewed and who were subsequently released. The general sense is that the military wants to elicit assurance of voting for the draft Constitution and willingness to help in the building of the “New Society.” He advised that I should take the posture of willingness to help in the approval of the Constitution.

As if in a trance, I went with the soldider who gave me the letter, he with the familiar face.

But he was friendly. He tried to put me at ease. He started telling me in confidence that one of the interrogating officers was a former student of mine.

He introduced himself: Sergeant Rosales. He has been one of our security guards at the Convention for 16 months.

Small wonder, I knew his face. And he showed great respect towards me.

When I arrived, I was introduced to an officer who, later on, told me that he is First Lt. Conrado Gerzon.

He started by saying that the report about me said there was a letter written in blue ink. He then read the name of the addressee and the salutation. I was quite amused. He said the letter was taken from Mr. Haruna.

“Yes,” I said, “I knew Mr. Haruna. He is a Japanese pastor working at the YMCA in Japan.”

I told him that I have many international contacts who come in and out of Manila and that I have the habit of sending letters through them.

He asked me why such code names as Sascha and Karina were used in the letter. Also, why did I write that “some of the brightest and most patriotic citizens were being arrested and that I, too, might be arrested?” The military was puzzled and so he was asked to “confront” me with these.

“In the first place, you are admitting that this letter was yours,” he continued his interrogation.

“Yes.”

“Did you know that it had fallen into the hands of the military?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you not take it from the military?”

“It was not important, it was routine.”

“What was Sascha?”

I laughed. The lieutenant started murdering the German names and words written in my letter.

“Karina?”

“This is Karen in Danish, Catherine or Katharine in English, Katrina in Russian, Katherina in Central Europe. These were the editors of my two books we were putting out, Economic Growth in World Perspective and The Responsible Society.”

My interrogator was somewhat awed by all of these.

“While I am a Filipino and I consider the Philippines my primary country,” I said, “I also think of the U.S., West Germany and Switzerland as some kind of second countries. My friends in these countries are by the dozens. It is normal for me to have good contacts in these countries just as I have good friends in our own country.”

“I thought so,” he said albeit a faint note of suspicion in his voice betrayed his inner thoughts.

“Why did you write that about 13 people have been taken by the military and that one of your brilliant friends was taken that day? In fact, according to your letter, you were advising him, in case he was going to be taken in, not to run away, but to give up peacefully because his chances of survival are better inside the stockade than if he were to be in hiding.”

And why was I writing as if I, too, were expecting to be arrested?

“You put yourself in my shoes. Every day two or three of your close friends are arrested. Wouldn’t you feel apprehensive too? In fact, the whole Convention has been shaken by the arrest of these delegates. Frankly, everyone is somewhat afraid of being taken in.”

“You continued in the letter that international communications have been cut off but that you would send a message, ‘FREE’ or ‘IMPRISON.’ Why?”

“Well, I have been critical of both Marcos and of martial law,” I said. “I’m a Democrat. I believe in individual freedom and human rights. Wouldn’t you feel the same apprehension if you were in my shoes?”

“Yes, I would be,” he said with a show of sympathy. “For a while, I was confused about the air of apprehension in the Convention,” he added.

“Look at the date,” I pursued my psychological offensive. “The letter was written two days after martial law but it was not until one week later that this fell into the hands of the military. This means, I just gave the letter to the Japanese as a matter of routine knowing he was leaving for Tokyo a week or two later.”

Looking somewhat convinced, he grinned and asked me rather sheepishly whether I have taught at the Far Eastern University. I answered in the affirmative. “For several years.”

“I think I was your student.” His whole demeanor had changed.

I was not sure what I should say.

“I was thinking you were familiar but it seemed you have grown older since. Yes, you must have been my student for one year.”

“I think for two years,” he corrected me in his monotone.

I tried hard to put a glint of recognition into my eyes. “Ah, yes, I remember you, but of course, you are much older now.” My mind was in a whirl. I searched for a clue.

“I had two years of law school under you but I did not finish my studies.” He was quite subdued now.

“I am going to say in my report that it was a routine letter that you were writing to your editors in Europe,” he shifted back to the subject of interrogation.

We talked about my friends who have been taken in. I mentioned the names of Lichauco and Guingona. His face lit up when I mentioned Lichauco.

“Is he the one you mentioned as brilliant?”

“Yes,” I said, “he is the one. He was sitting beside me the day he was taken. And he is not a subversive, he is not a Marxist. He is just a nationalist—an anti-imperialist.”

“I am also a nationalist,” I confessed, “and a democrat. That is the reason I’m frequently held under suspicion.”

“Our society is so much in the right,” I lectured. “It is so much easier in our society to be a conformist than to retain one’s integrity. But there is so much injustice in society. We need to alter structures of power, institutions and of economic benefits. We need to be on the side of the poor and the weak.”

“The only difference is that Lichauco is more outspokenly anti-imperialist than me,” I continued. “But I, too, believe in national integrity. I do not like our foreign policy which Recto has called a foreign policy of mendicancy. I believe in justice and equality for all nations, and for all people in our country.”

I told my interrogator about my travels. “I’m invited to something like five seminars, workshops and conferences every year in Europe. In a way, I might be called a nationalist internationalist.”

“Oh, yes, Sir, I remember you were travelling a lot.”

“Yes, I have been attending seminars on international development as well as on human rights.”

“And I believe, Sir, that you are a Recto follower,” my interrogator is now deferential.

I responded by saying that Lichauco was influenced by Recto even more, and so have many of other young people.

He said casually that Lichauco would be interrogated tomorrow.

I cautioned him that they should remember that I consider Lichauco a patriot although I do not agree with all of his views.

Earlier, before my interrogation, Roquito Ablan, an assemblyman who reportedly had access to Marcos’ bedroom, came along with a visitor’s tag. I was surprised.

“Hello, Brod!” he boomed.

“Hi, Brod,” I answered. “Are you the kitchen-in-charge here? Or the detention mayor?”

I thought of Sed Ordoñez’ earlier story about Ninoy Aquino having been ousted as kitchen-in-charge at Fort Bonifacio. But apparently I made a mistake. Roquito is not under detention.

“I’ll see you in the interim Assembly, Brod.”

“I’m not sure about that, Brod.” I chuckled.

He briefly spoke to me in Ilocano and I answered him in Ilocano. He then warmly waved good-bye and breezed away.

Ammoyo gayam ti Ilocano (so you know Ilocano),” Gerzon said approvingly.

            Bassit (a little),” I replied, then casually proceeded to speak again in English and it was then he said he is from Nueva Ecija.

“Oh, you are my provincemate. Rebeck is your delegate.”

“Yes,” he responded, “Rebeck is my delegate; I come from Cuyapo.”

Our conversation lasted for 45 minutes. In the end, he said that was all. He “invited” me to return tomorrow so he could introduce me to his commanding officer.

“Of course. Would 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock be okay?”

“Oh, anytime at your convenience.” He was casual and deferential.

We were getting to be teacher and student again.

The session was about to adjourn when I returned. There were fireworks because Ambassador Quintero was going to speak.

Tony Sison, chairman, explained the action taken by the Committee on Privileges with respect to the investigation of the famous Quintero expose of Marcos payola in May 1972. He reported that his Committee had found “no scintilla of evidence to prove the charges of Delegate Quintero.” (Quintero had charged that he kept on being sent money in envelopes by Marcos to vote along certain lines.) Sison then moved that all the persons mentioned in the expose, including the first lady, Imelda Marcos, be exonerated of the charges against them and that the case be deemed terminated.

The motion was approved overwhelmingly. This is, indeed, the world of the absurd!

Quintero tried to stand up. He was very angry.

But he was not allowed to speak. By then partisanship was running so high. The delegates had lost their reason.

The session ended almost in an uproar.

Delegates Bongbong and Jaime Opinion were very angry too—at Quintero. Do executioners really get angry with innocent victims?

“They had very guilty feelings,” Rebeck commented.


Monday, November 27, 1972

The headline of the Daily Express today was “Second Reading Vote Today on Draft of Proposed Constitution.” The subheading is “Charter Reflect Spirit of New Society.”

I had a brief chat with Johnny Remulla and Jun Davide.

“There is no more oppposition in Cavite,” Johnny declared triumphantly. “Governor Bocalan is in the stockade while Senator (Tatang) Montano is out of the country. Tatang Montano was one of those to be arrested on the first day of martial law for smuggling and/or gunrunning.”

That left Johnny, indeed, the virtual ruler of Cavite.

I had thought that today we could start with our interpellations. I was about one of the few more interpellators who could not be accommodated yesterday because we adjourned early. However, when the session started in the morning, Roy Montejo moved that all other interpellations on the draft Constitution be submitted in writing to the Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 28 for insertion in the journal.

I whispered to Sed Ordoñez, who was sitting beside me, “They have just killed my interpellation.”

I then dictated my interpellation to my secretary, Olive:

“We have divided the provisions of the new Constitution into those that are meant to be transitory in character and those permanent and enduring. I understand that the transitory provisions are meant to be merely provisional—that is to say, in the interim; that because of extraordinary circumstances certain powers are vested in certain officials. Is this the rationale for the concentration of executive powers which, ordinarily, we would not write among the permanent provisions during normal times?

“The members of the committee have been instrumental in convincing the majority of delegates that a parliamentary system of government is desirable for this country. The transitory provision, according to the draft Constitution, shall effect priority measures for the orderly transition from the presidential to parliamentary system of government. Does this mean that after the transition period, we shall then revert to the parliamentary system?

“If so, why the grant of extraordinary powers to the prime minister after the transition? Should these powers not be effective during the transition period only? Why should all the powers of the presidency be vested in the prime minister during normal times? Why not limit this grant of extraordinary powers during states of emergency? Again, why should veto powers be given the prime minister during normal times?

“As a corollary, there has been a diminution of the powers and responsibilities of the National Assembly under the draft being presented to us. I grant that during periods of emergency the power of Congress or of the Assembly may be greatly weakened, the reason being that these are abnormal times. But why, after normalcy shall have returned, should the National Assembly be allowed to pass only bills of local application? And what can be the justification for the deletion of the traditional immunity from arrest of its members during normal times?

“In the same manner, let us talk about civil rights. In the long history of constitutionalism, the most fundamental problem is that of striking a balance between national security and individual liberty. During normal times, however, democratic politics have tended to give greater weight to the fundamental liberties of citizens—not only of freedom of thought and speech, press, and worship but with all those freedoms that make human life human—the freedom to work and play, the freedom to laugh, the freedom not to be afraid. I find the predilection for being obsessed with national security understandable during abnormal times—during states of emergencies. But should we institutionalize the doctrine of national security and correspondingly diminish our vigorous support of civil liberties in the permanent provisions of the Constitution—after the national emergency shall have been over?

“Finally, we have a thick draft of the Constitution consisting of 92 pages. I find no more than eight pages given to the provisions on the national economy. And yet all of us agree that problems of national economy are among the most compelling problems of our people, and that indeed, the mediocre performance of the economy may put at risk the survival of our fragile democracy.

“What is our grand design for development? Is it not necessary to work for a fundamental restructuring of the world economy and a radical restructuring of social, political and economic institutions internally if we have to achieve development?

“And most important, is not social justice the overarching goal of development with which economic growth and self-reliance must be integrated to enable our people to attain a higher quality of life? Make their lives more human under the stresses and opportunities of growth? In other words, how do we effect radical changes in social structures so as to liberate the poor and the weak in Philippine society from their age-old bondage? What plan do we have for social reconstruction?”

Consummatum est,” I said as we filed out of the session hall at 9:40 p.m. today.

“Consummatum est,” echoed several delegates behind me, among them, Jess Matias and Erning Amatong. “We have just put the last nail in the coffin,” Erning said.

The elevator was getting to be full and I was the last one to enter. I asked quite innocently, “Where are we going?” A voice from behind said, “Very appropriate question—’Where are we going?’—Where else but down?” And still another delegate spoke: “Caesar, why do you ask such a question? Of course we are all bound to go down.”

The delegates were taking in stride the tragedy that has just struck. Filipinos are adept at double talk and the use of humor to hide their wounded feelings. Yet the note of fatalism cannot be hidden from their remarks.

The draft Constitution for the Republic of the Philippines was approved on second reading by a show of hands. Several of us—many from our Independent-Progressive group—abstained or voted “No.” But naturally, it was approved just the same.

But let us review the events of this day of infamy.

The day started with Delegate Yuzon proposing to change the first sentence in the Declaration of Principles to “The Philippines is a social and democratic Republic.” He made a very eloquent plea for acceptance of the amendment, arguing that the present wording, “The Philippines is a republican state,” was too tame to suit the progressive orientation of the new Constitution.

Of course, even the German Basic Law speaks of Germany as a social democratic state.

But responding on behalf of the committee, Ikeng Corpuz contended that the amendment would lead to confusion. The Yuzon amendment was lost, but I went over to Yuzon, anyway, to congratulate him for his progressive views.

The amendment of Naning Kalaw, which expresses the sentiment that those who have less in life should have more in law, was inserted into the records. Actually, President Magsaysay had made this as his slogan in the 1950s, the centerpiece of his social amelioration program. The poor guy did not realize that his legal adviser, Prof. Enrique M. Fernando, had taken the idea from Prof. Thomas Reed Powell of Harvard Law School. Insofar as our countrymen are concerned, this slogan is inextricably linked to Ramon Magsaysay; didn’t I see it inscribed at the Magsaysay Center at Roxas Boulevard?

At about 11:13, while we were still in the midst of amendments, Vic Guzman moved for the previous question on the entire draft of the Constitution.

That was not only foolish; it was sordid. Many delegates were furious.

I do not know what was in the mind of Vic. Of course, none of the amendments would be accepted. Nevertheless, he—along with the majority that completely overwhelmed us—could have manifested a spirit of moderation, of fair play, let alone generosity.

“Worse than the executioner is his valet,” Mirabeau had said during the French Revolution. How appropriately exhibited in our Con-Con!

When we started discussing the Bill of Rights, Sed Ordoñez rose on interpellation. He asked if the Bill of Rights was supposed to be operative. The answer of Tony Tupaz was “Yes.”

But was it not in conflict with the transitory provision?

“No, the Bill of Rights would be effective, subject to the transitory provision,” was the deceptive reply.

Double-talk!

“This is a fundamental matter—that of the civil liberties of citizens,” Sed warned. “We should not gloss this over.”

Tony Tupaz reiterated that the transitory provision would not nullify our civil rights; rather our civil rights would be subject to the transitory provision. Tony did not bat an eyelash as he solemnly affirmed his devotion to individual freedom.

In effect, our rights are guaranteed so long as they are not in conflict with the transitory provision, that is to say, with the decrees of the President. In other words, the President may suspend all our rights because we gave him that power in the transitory provision. Das ist klar (that is clear), my German friends would say.

Ramon Diaz has been around since yesterday. Presumably, he is only here to vote “No.” He had abandoned the Convention more than two months ago, right after we lost on the resolution providing for no reelection for the President. In fact, when I saw him, I said, “Ramoning, it is good to see you around; I mean, it is good to see you personally although it would have been better if I were seeing you elsewhere….”

“Yes,” he said, “it is tragic.”

Lolo Baradi and I exchanged some pleasantries in the hallway. Baradi, until the end, professed loyalty to Marcos. Yet…

“I tell you partner,” he said, “this New Society will fall unless the economy is able to pick up. What about the unemployment situation? I was talking with some of my clients and their attitude is not to move. The President has told the businessmen to cooperate, not just to wait and see—but why will the businessmen move when all they hear from the President are decrees: ‘Do this!’ ‘Do that!’ ‘Don’t do this!’ ‘Don’t do that!'”

I looked at this kindly old man quizzically. Here is a good friend of President Marcos disagreeing with what is happening and yet not being able to express openly his true feelings.

During the meeting with the businessmen, he commented, the President should have taken the opportunity to have some dialogue with them. What the Apo did was a monologue.

“Yes,” Lolo Baradi continued in a whisper, “the country will not prosper until we stop these decrees—’Do this!’ ‘do that!’ ‘don’t do this!’ ‘don’t do that!’ business.”

What a pity that men can have good thoughts but have their lips sealed, I thought.

I kept on waiting to pursue my amendments. I wanted to put on record my amendments on the Bill of Rights. Of course, Naning Kalaw has already presented so many amendments which have been recorded. I wanted to read my amendments on the Bill of Rights into the journal.

At 4:30 p.m., Vic Guzman stood up again and presented his motion to vote on the previous question.

What a terrible pest! Why the mad rush? Why not give everyone a chance to present amendments? Of course, these would all be voted down but nevertheless that was the very least that should be accorded the minority—the vanquished minority—us. The sporting idea of fair play, if not the generosity of the victor, is absent.

I thought of a strategy. I went to Edmundo (Munding) Cea and President Macapagal. I suggested that if we should run out of time, the floor leader, Roy Montejo, should move that all the amendments properly filed and not discussed on the floor should become part of the journal records. They agreed.

Munding was happy enough. But I suggested to him that it would be good to wait until the last moment to say this. In the meantime, we should still continue with our amendments.

President Macapagal was somewhat vigorously suggesting the same thing to Munding. “We should give everyone a chance to present his amendments,” he said.

“The amendments would be refused hut at least everyone should be given a chance,” I added.

Even President Macapagal was finding the proceedings repulsive. “Yes,” Macapagal echoed. “At least give them a chance so that people would not say we have railroaded everything…. Let us be somewhat democratic about this.”

We went through the whole ritual of having one amendment after another presented to the body refused by the committee, and overwhelmingly disapproved or withdrawn by the proponents. Whenever it was an amendment which would be quite difficult, a recess would be called by the committee members—Tony Tupaz, Tony de Guzman, Peps Bengzon, etc.—and then they would talk to the proponents. It was almost unbelievable—the way this would be followed by withdrawals of amendments by the proponents.

I started swapping jokes with my neighbors, “Madali palang magpa-withdraw.”

“How?”

“Two words are uttered by the committee people: ‘Isusumbong kita.'”

“Maybe it is not only ‘isusumbong kita,’ maybe it is ‘ipapa-stockade kita.'”

We laughed. Our laughter was tinged with sadness.

How come everybody, no matter how vehement about his amendment in the beginning, later on acceded to the request for withdrawal after a little conference?

“We are in a bullet train—five hours to Osaka,” I said in a loud voice.

“Yeah, make it three hours so we can go home,” echoed another voice.

We shook our heads in disbelief. Out of so many proposed amendments falling by the wayside, only one amendment was passed. This was a proposal by Sensing Suarez on search warrants and warrants of arrest. Under the committee draft, a search warrant and warrant of arrest shall be issued only upon probable cause to be determined by the judge or such other responsible officials as may be authorized by law after examination, etc. The amendment was to delete “or such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law.” In other words, only a judge may issue a search warrant or warrant of arrest under the Suarez amendment. Of course. Surely, not police officers!

The amendment was unexpectedly approved on a vote of 96 to 87.

We were jubilant. How grateful we are even for little blessings. The first amendment approved in two days! I was one of the many who congratulated Sensing for this.

Sensing told us the reason he stood up to thank the members of the committee after the voting was that the committee members also voted in favor although it was formally refused for the committee by Tony Tupaz.

Later, I joined Joe Feria, Bobbit Sanchez, Naning Kalaw, Lilia Delima and Cefi Padua at the terrace.

“What is your stand now?” Jose asked me.

“As of now, if the voting were nominal, I would abstain. If it is by a show of hands, I would abstain or vote ‘No.'”

Lilia then said, “Please reconsider. It is important for us to vote ‘Yes.’ The majority would only be too glad to have us out of the Assembly. They would only be too glad to see us taken to the stockade. Do you know that during the voting on the transitory provision, they were urging me to vote ‘No’ so that I would not be in the Assembly? Why should we play into their hands?”

Most of us decided to abstain or vote “No” if it is going to be a show of hands—with the exception of Fr. Ortiz, Justice Barrera and Nene Pimentel who, we know, are already firm in deciding to vote “No,” in any case.

Our little group was hoping that the voting would be by a show of hands.

Bebet Duavit was at the next table. He agreed with us. Nominal voting should only be on third voting.

We wanted it this way so that our little group could at least abstain if we may not be able to vote “No.”

As we were talking, Raul Roco strolled towards us with an air of nonchalance. He was whistling.

“Are you having any problem?” he asked laughingly. “Why do you have problems? I have no problems.”

“Sit down.” We put Raul on the chair.

He then told us that he had spent many hours of discussion with two “moral counsellors” and both of them had advised him to vote “Yes.” It was meaningless to vote “No” anyway. The important question was what possible harm could there be in voting “Yes?”

“Obviously, we have different loyalties. We have loyalties to our families, our committees, our country, but what harm does it do to vote ‘Yes?’ There could be harm in voting ‘No.'”

I related to this group—the remnants of our once proud Independent-Progressive bloc—the interview with Sakharov which I had read the other night. When asked finally whether they thought that their efforts—which have been putting him, his wife and his family in very great danger—would produce any significant change in Russian politics, Sakharov answered that he did not expect any such changes at all. Then why continue exposing himself and his family to danger? Because for them this is not a political struggle. It is a moral struggle: “We are dissenting, because we have to be true to ourselves.”

Raul Roco straightened up and looked straight into our eyes.

“The time to be true to ourselves has passed—that was during the voting on the transitory provision.”

There was a deafening silence.

Raul confided to us that one of the priests—with a foreign name which I cannot recall—told him it was like the question of Laurel and Abad Santos during the war. But then, Raul said, the analogy is not very accurate. The enemy was clear and specific during the Japanese time. The lines are quite vague this time. Who are we to say that this or that is the enemy?

We asked whether as a condition for the removal of his name and that of Romy Capulong’s from the wanted “list,” he was supposed to vote “Yes.”

“No,” Raul answered. “There was no discussion, there was no such condition. But it was assumed…. it was assumed.”

He laughed. Nervously.

We were all downcast, depressed.

Soon we were voting on the entire Constitution.

Sed Ordoñez stood up to move for nominal voting. As was to be expected, his motion was lost. The majority insisted on voting by a show of hands or by standing up.

Should I vote “No” or should I abstain? I could not possibly vote “Yes.” But what might I expect if, indeed, I voted “No?”

Before I could think through my dilemma or banish my fears, voting was called. Those who were voting “No” were asked to stand up.

I found myself instinctively standing up—to join the “No” voters. In half a second, Joe Feria joined me. But before we could fully straighten up, a sudden loud roar of approval burst out. The overwhelming majority of the delegates had obviously voted for the ap­proval of the Constitution!

We now have a brand new Constitution. A Marcos Constitution. Authoritarianism has been institutionalized. The lapdogs of the dictator were delirious with joy.

I remember that the British Prime Minister Gladstone had called the American Constitution “the most wonderful work struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Our brand new Constitution is the opposite; it is the most despicable work struck off at a given time by the warped brain and purpose of man, to his lasting disgrace.

What is really this new Constitution that we have approved? It was not the draft Constitution approved by the Convention as such, a couple of months earlier. For all purposes, this is a new Constitution that has been framed by a Convention that has changed its stripes. The watershed was reached during the proclamation of martial law. From then on the Convention has been a transformed Convention. Several delegates have even turned against their own provisions—willingly or under duress.

Of course, the most “scandalous provision,” to use the phrase of (Senator) Jovito Salonga, is that of the transitory provision. It is objectionable on several points: (1) we have constitutionalized a dictatorship; (2) we have affirmed all the proclamations, decrees, general orders and letters of instructions of the President; (3) we have made ourselves, as delegates, beneficiaries of this Constitution by making ourselves assemblymen.

We shall become assemblymen—just like that!

The second feature—the legalization of the decrees of the President, was just somewhat improved upon by the amendment of Ikeng Belo to delete “are hereby confirmed, ratified as valid and binding,” etc., etc.

Part of the objections are contained in my interpellation which will be submitted tomorrow—because we are given until tomorrow to submit our written interpellations. Our oral interpellations have been cut off.

Bobbit Sanchez represents the same 2nd district of Rizal that Bebet Duavit represents. Bobbit informed us that it is now official knowledge in the Convention that Duavit is the high priest of Malacañang in the Convention. He receives instructions from Malacañang and transmits these during the proceedings.

Bobbit Sanchez confirmed that Duavit is presently thinking that only those who would vote for the Constitution on second and third readings should be allowed to be members of the Assembly. And we have just now not voted in favor. We have voted against. We are not going to disgrace ourselves. Whatever else life would bring or deny, one thing is absolutely certain: that we should not break faith with ourselves; that in our own eyes, our honor remains bright.

Duavit spoke. We should bear in mind, he said, that the rules of the Convention have been suspended.

What is the import of the rules being suspended? It is that the majority can do whatever it pleases, precisely because there are no rules.

But this is a perversion of democratic politics. Majority rule demands that the majority should prevail, it is true, but there are two conditions attached to these: that minority rights are not suppressed in the meantime, and that some day the minority might be the majority. In fact, the rationale for a written Bill of Rights in a democratic polity is to ensure that certain basic principles are insulated from the passing whims and caprices of majorities and officials.

Bobbit Sanchez, who seems to be able to gather much intelligence, gave the information that the other thing that Duavit is trying to accomplish is to undo the Suarez amendment, which restricts the issuance of warrants of arrest and search warrants to judges.

It was 9:18 p.m.—quite late in the night—when Duavit quietly, almost innocently asked Vice Pres. Abe Sarmiento, who was presiding, whether the rules have been suspended. He received an affirmative answer. He then quickly proposed to amend Section 16, Article 9, by adding on line 6, the words “unless the National Assembly shall provide otherwise.”

On behalf of the committee, Tony de Guzman accepted the amendment. Three seconds later, Abe banged the gavel to signify that the amendment was approved.

It was 9:19 p.m. No one was paying attention. Many delegates were still coming in.

Duavit then murmured some words. Was he uttering some magical incantations? He seemed to be proposing something… to amend Section 3, Article 4, by inserting the words that were deleted by the Suarez amendment on who may issue a warrant of arrest, “or such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law.”

Tony de Guzman accepted the amendment—which only a few people heard—in five seconds flat.

Chairman Abe Sarmiento asked if there were no opposition. A small, little figure swiftly darted towards the microphone and cried, “Objection!”

It was Bobbit Sanchez. Bobbit of course. Our gallant knight.

“We vote,” said an unruffled Abe. “Those in favor, raise your right hands. Those opposed…. Approved!” He banged his gavel.

It was 9:20 o’clock.

Ano ba ang pinag-uusapan?” one delegate innocently asked. He could have come from Mars.

Joe Feria was shaking his head in disbelief.

Ano, ano?… ito ‘yong amendment ni Suarez? Maganda ‘yon a. Hindi ba inapprove na natin?” Eli Johnson asked likewise in innocence. She could have also come from another planet. Creatures from another planet could have already conquered Earth, and she did not know it.

“This is terrible, terrible!” Rebeck exploded.

Yan ang sinasabi ko,” Bobbit threw his arms sidewards in a gesture of despair. He was grim. What can one really say to this? Like the dancing bear in Heinrich Heine’s Atta Troll, we are a people who love making speeches about freedom but secretly enjoy being in chains!

Many delegates started asking what had happened. All in one minute. But Abe was already far away on another item in the agenda. The railroad team had worked so efficiently. There was no discussion, no explanation.

Our Independent-Progressive coalition likes Abe but many delegates get exasperated when at times he becomes too cooperative with the establishment.

What is the meaning of the latest action? The clear meaning is that now it is not only the judge who may issue a warrant of arrest as provided for in the present Bill of Rights. It may be such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law. And law may be a decree. Which means, by a decree the President can ask any colonel or major or any other government officer, say, a chief-of-police, to arrest anyone.

It was not until some 15 minutes later that the full impact of the most recent action of the Convention was realized by most delegates. But by then everything was finished.

Cicero Calderon said that Duavit had phoned Malacañang about the earlier deletion of the phrase and that President Marcos was very angry over the deletion.

The Convention is really finished.

Two centuries ago, Vauvenargues said that the greatest evil which fortune can inflict on men is to endow them with small talents and great ambitions.


Sunday, November 26, 1972

We had session this morning from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. I missed church to go directly to Quezon City Hall. Instead of a speech in opposition, I briefly said that the Constitution, as it was being presented, could stand some improvement so that it may compare favorably with other modern Constitutions in the world. But for the moment, the sense of my opposition was embodied in my amendments by substitution to the whole articles on the Declaration of Principles and on the National Economy. It was for this reason, I said, that I was asking that my amendments be inserted into the records.

It was granted.

The substitute Declaration of Principles was the one previously worked out and approved by the committee headed by Raul Roco. The members of the committee are really about the most progressive in the Convention. I, myself, have given more time to this committee than possibly, to any other one, including my Economic Committee.

I submitted the consolidated draft on the National Economy worked out by the chairman, vice-chairman and sponsors of the 13 economic committees, tinder my chairmanship—on behalf of the Sponsorship Council. I had later on integrated the provisions myself, pursuant to the request of the members of my sub-council.

Afterwards, there was a speech by Manong Raquiza. The gist of his speech is that we should not copy many provisions in the Bill of Rights of the United States Federal Constitution; the U.S. is the most crime-ridden country in the world (sic).

Raquiza is full of praise for martial law. The whole problem is that most of the delegates, knowing him, are not certain about his sincerity. He is a nice guy, all right, but the problem is that the delegates do not take him seriously because he does not seem to speak with conviction. He is the quintessential politician.

I had a brief chat with Sed Ordoñez and Gary Teves. Sed stated that in his interpellation yesterday of Roding Ortiz, precisely he was talking about the effectivity of the Bill of Rights. Is the Bill of Rights suspended during the period of martial law?

My major problem about this new Constitution, I told Sed, is that many of the provisions might conceivably be acceptable during this state of emergency, but a few years from now, when normal times shall have been restored, how could we continue with so many provisions in this Constitution tailor-made for a state of emergency?

I decided, therefore, to interpellate the rebuttal speakers. I raised three questions. One has to do with the powers of the prime minister and the emasculation of the powers of the National Assembly which might be acceptable during times of emergency but not during normal times.

The second thing has to do with the Bill of Rights, with such concepts as general welfare, national security, etc. I would say that in the balancing of national security with individual freedom, the latter should weigh more heavily during normal times even if during periods of emergency, national security might very well be our obsession.

My third question dealt on the national economy. There is really no indication as to the goals that we might want to achieve. We have no grand design of development for the country, no real philosophy undergirding the provisions we are discussing. The delegates writing this Constitution do not really have a clear idea as to what kind of economic reforms should be incorporated therein.

But what did I get for this interpellation? Cold shoulders from the railroading majority!

Gary thought that either one of us who might be able to speak again could ask the question of whether or not the transitory provision is supposed to provide an orderly transition of government. If so, if and when we shall have reached that point where the transitory provision would no longer obtain, whether we can expect the parliamentary government to be restored.

When Atoy Barbero came by to see what I was doing, I told him that the concentration of powers in the prime minister might be better placed under the transitory provision. Atoy was frank. He answered that actually that was the original intention but that, in the meantime, the President had personally transferred this provision to the Article on the National Assembly.

I asked Atoy why the President thought that even after his regime the Philippines would need a strong prime minister, and why we have weakened the National Assembly so much during normal times. Why may the Assembly press only bills of local application? And why do we not provide for immunity from arrest of members of the National Assembly during normal times? And don’t we believe anymore in checks and balances in the government?

“I cannot answer you,” was his laconic reply.

Sed Ordoñez said that he had seen our friends at the stockades last week. It was the second time he has visited them. I asked him what the general condition of our friends is and he said there was a general feeling of despair.

The detainees at Fort Bonifacio have formed some kind of an association and have elected Ninoy Aquino their detention mayor. There are some ten people at Fort Bonifacio.

It is not true, Sed continued, that Ninoy is in Corregidor. Sed saw the son of Soc Rodrigo, who is the roommate of Ninoy Aquino. He said that Ninoy was formerly in charge of the kitchen, but the detainees have deposed him and made him the detention mayor of their group.

This is the way these unfortunate leaders have been spending their time.

I had requested Bobbit’s secretary, Beth Mateo, to help me send some food to the delegates in the stockades. Bobbit said that I could send some things through the secretary of Tito Guingona at Nation Savings Bank or through the secretary of Bren Guiao. I know Bobbit has sent balut to them. Beth Mateo had told me so at the UP yesterday. I should like to be able to send those guys some things, especially considering the fact that both Bobbit and I are not in a position to visit them. We are in the list of delegates for “picking up” in the second round.

I mentioned to Sed and Bobbit that I had heard that Manong Raquiza had a hand in the preparation of the first list of delegates who should be detained. That was what I had gathered from—was it Joe Feria? I told them that I meant to ask Manong Raquiza whether or not this was true.

Sed looked at me with some concern. “If the list were longer, you would have been in the list.”

“But ‘they’ would soon be drafting a longer list,” Bobbit said mournfully.


Saturday, November 25, 1972

A few of us met at Pepe Calderon’s house for our small prayer meeting. This was necessary because of the kind of dilemmas that we have been facing. Moreover, it is really true that in spite of our supposed religiosity, most of us, perhaps, if not all of us, have not really allowed God to illumine our minds in this Convention. Did not Isaiah say that they who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength?

Present in this small group were Fr. Ortiz, Joe Feria, Cecing Calderon, Totoy Nepomuceno, Pepe Calderon and me.

Ortiz said that it is now too late to turn back. There is no bucking the head wind now and it seems too soon to scent the deluge if it should come. We are really caught in a dilemma.

Joe Feria prayed hard for divine guidance because, he says, presumably the problem is that we have already rationalized our own positions and now we talk about seeking God’s will on this matter. It is difficult to accept certain things when our minds are no longer open to God’s will. Based on our understanding of human history and of all past experiences of many nations, we are now creating a dictatorship in this country and we are participants in the seeming betrayal of the people. Yet it may be that God has a purpose beyond our will and understanding at the moment. What if God is saying to us that we have failed and He is using Marcos now to effectuate the kind of reforms which we had failed to do?

This is the kind of torturing doubt that is in the mind of Joe Feria.

Joe was asking for some kind of a miracle, some kind of a direct answer from God, something like a bolt of lightning, as it were, in the coming two days.

But God does not only work in such ways. God works in many ways—even using human reason as well as individuals as channels of his will. Joe seems to be living in the days of the Old Testament.

Cecing said that since our God is a God of history, he should know the consequences of our actions and we should be accordingly guided.

Totoy was more or less concerned with what our role should be now. He is also concerned with the fact that there are no more leaders in the opposition in the country today. Does God want us to pass this by? Does God want us not to take any role here? Docs not God expect us now to make the fullest sacrifice because this is what is expected of us as Christians in this country?

I prayed for our colleagues in the stockades and for those who are in exile abroad. But above all, I asked for guidance and for courage so that God may be able to use us. “It is really a very great dilemma we are in; enlighten our minds so that we can discern Your will, and grant us the courage to obey,” I prayed.

This was an emotional moment. Was God hearing our supplications?

We exchanged some thoughts. Ortiz felt, that it is necessary that there should be at least some kind of symbolic opposition to the Constitution.

But supposing it turns out that this Constitution would carry the country forward to greater progress? Even then, it would not be treasonable on our part if we should have voted “No” or abstained.

We have different circumstances, Father Ortiz said. In a way, he is lucky that he has no family to worry about. If it should become necessary for him to stay in the stockade he would still be useful there.

Cecing Calderon said that he has again talked with Toto and Toto said that now a new condition shall be imposed, namely, that a delegate should vote on the new Constitution both on second and third reading in order to qualify for the National Assembly.

Cecing was quite convinced that his brother, Pepe, and I do not really have much choice.

He related what happened when he went to Nueva Vizcaya last week. At the airport, the military had to check the names of people who could take the plane to Nueva Vizcaya. They did not find the name of Cicero Calderon, but the names of Pepe Calderon and Joe Concepcion were there. In fact the military men had asked him if his name was Joe Concepcion.

Poor Joe Concepcion. Or poor Cecing Calderon.

In the case of Caesar, he said, everyone knows the military is just looking for an excuse to get him. He has long been a thorn in the neck of Marcos. Under the circumstances, he thought, it is quite difficult for Pepe and me not to vote “Yes.”

But Joe Feria is right. The important thing is not going to the stockade or being in personal danger. Ultimately, the important thing is the country.

Echoes of Froilan’s idea. And how easier said than done. Do we have the courage of our convictions?

“He who would come after me must take up the cross and follow me,” Jesus said. But was it not Simon Peter who had vowed, “Even if it should cost my life, I shall never leave you”? But the cock did crow three times, after he denied his Lord.

But the other problem in our minds is the consequence of our signing the Constitution, if we should so decide. Could this mean we are recommending the approval of the Constitution?

Cecing repeated to us that he had confronted again Toto de la Cruz, with whom he has a certain warmth of relationship. (Toto was a participant of the Asian Labor Development Education Center when Cecing was director of the Center at the UP.)

He said that Toto has reaffirmed that in order to qualify for the Assembly, one must have to vote “Yes” to the entire Constitution both on second and third readings. That is why he, Cecing, could not go home to Dumaguete. But he repeated that the cases of Pepe and me, are different; we should only vote “No” if we are prepared to spend the next months in military prison.

This kind of talk instills more and more fear into me. What should a man do?

We proceeded to the session hall—confused, downcast.

I talked to the floor leader, Taning Fernandez, on how I could insert my amendments into the records. The proper thing for me to do was to speak in opposition and then manifest my intention to have my amendments inserted in the journal, he counselled. I therefore registered for amendments.

I have mentioned to Aying Yñiguez that this was what I was going to do and he said this was the proper thing to do. I had also mentioned this to Atoy Barbero, and he had agreed.

In spite of the fact that we usually vote differently, I have a good working relationship with Aying and Atoy—two Marcos stooges who are friendly with me. I can speak out my thoughts to them and they to me, although still, for the most part, our ideas are poles apart.


Friday, November 24, 1972

Ikeng Corpuz was actually sponsoring the Constitution when I entered. Ikeng was talking about his having worked for several days on the Constitution. Ikeng came up to me later with the complaint that I have abandoned them during the discussion of the economic provisions. I replied that this is a useless exercise.

Noli Santos later on commented that the problem with Mang Ikeng is that he tries to make you feel he is on your side when actually he is simply a consummate politician, without any definite stand on issues.

I felt that nothing would happen today. The only thing to do now is to present some amendments. There is really no use debating with the majority because we cannot possibly win.

Bebet Duavit presented a resolution fixing the date of the plebiscite. This was, of course, quite irregular. It indicates that the whole thing has been preplanned—”scripted”—as some people would say.

Iniong Santillan stood up to question the anomaly. How can we talk about fixing the date of the plebiscite when at this stage, we don’t even know whether the Constitution might be approved? There is no harm, Duavit replied. But everyone felt that the reality is that according to the scenario, the Constitution will be approved as is and that the plebiscite would be held at a given date.

Judging by the overwhelming approval of the resolution by the delegates, it would seem now that most of the delegates are looking forward to the passage of the Constitution as well as their assumption of office as assemblymen of the Republic. If there were a good number of delegates before who were not in favor of the draft Constitution, there are less of them now. And part of this comes from what I think is the “come-on” to the delegates, namely, the attraction of being members of the Assembly. It was an immoral thing to some of us before, but now that it has sunk into the minds of some delegates that they are going to be assemblymen, I think that many of those who had hitherto been wavering have now resolved their doubts in favor of being assemblymen—so we should hang up and finish the Constitution.


Thursday, November 23, 1972

Our dwindling group went to the house of Pepe Calderon at noontime to assess the situation. There, Cecing Calderon (Pepe’s brother) told us that according to Toto de la Cruz, we should be around on Monday because Monday will be the second reading on the Constitution. This is the most crucial voting, the decisive one. The third reading will only be a formality.

Cecing was warned by Toto not to be absent because it seems that one of the conditions that would be imposed was that to be a member of the Assembly one must vote on second and third reading—in addition to the requirement already imposed that only those voting affirmatively for the transitory provision would qualify.

The initial plan was for Pepe Calderon to be absent while his brother Cecing would be present and would abstain. Totoy Nepomuceno was thinking of abstaining. Bobbit and I were thinking of voting “No.” Naning Kalaw was thinking of abstaining. Joe Feria did not tell us what his thoughts were.

Cecing thought that considering the fact that most of us have already voted “Yes” on the transitory provision, it would be natural for us to vote “Yes” now, too. However, Bobbit Sanchez argued that to vote “Yes” is practically to recommend the Constitution and it is really very difficult to recommend it because there are problems particularly on the provisions concentrating the executive powers on the prime minister.

I gave Joe Feria a lift when we returned to Manila. He broached the idea of a smaller group of us meeting next Saturday morning for a prayer meeting. I approved of it. Perhaps we have not really been a prayerful group of delegates in spite of our daily rituals of invocations. We should really make a sincere effort to ask for God’s guidance on this very crucial issue. I thought that we should really be certain that we have the courage to do what God expects us to do at the moment.

Is God coming down to save us?