January 20, 2001

12:20 a.m.- Rene de Villa arrives in Mabini Hall, accompanied by now Finance Secretary Alberto “Bert” Romulo and now Justice Secretary Hernando “Nani” Perez. The first round of negotiations begins.

Rene gives me a draft resignation letter for the President, with the demand that the letter be signed and the President leave the office by 6 a.m.

“Otherwise,” he tells me, “we cannot control the hotheads in our group. Lulusubin nila ang Malacañang (They will attack Malacañang).” I answer that Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo exercise her leadership over these groups. I tell the negotiators, “I am sincere in getting the problem out of the way to normalize the situation as soon as possible.” We want no violence, just a peaceful transition, and I will exert all efforts to prevent any violence from taking place. The President has accepted that he will leave the Palace, I explain, but insists on the five-day transition period.

Rene wants to know why the President needs five days. “Why can’t he leave by 6 a.m.?” he asks. I answer: “I can only surmise that it is because (Armed Forces Chief of Staff) General (Angelo) Reyes has promised the President a five-day transition period. He would turn over the Presidency on the 24th. I was not privy to their conversation, but I can guess that the five days would be just enough time for the President to advise his family, friends and supporters of his decision to go.” The President did, after all, have a good number of supporters. I explain to the panel that he cannot be pushed to leave the Palace earlier, since he has General Reyes’ assurance.

I tell them that the President is quite certain of the five-day transition and will not easily change his mind into accepting a 6 a.m. deadline. Rene immediately  raises a concern: “What if the President organizes a counter-attack in the five days?” “Let us be realistic,” I counter. “The President does not have the capability to counter-attack. He does not have the AFP or the Philippine National Police on his side. He is not only in a corner –he is also down.”

Bert Romulo chimes in, speaking at the top of his voice. “My mandate is for you to leave by 6 a.m. Otherwise, if that is not accomplished, I cannot come back here anymore,” he tells me. For the sake of reaching an agreement, I ask all not to take a hardline stance. I explain that it takes time to convince the President, who needs time to accept things. I explain that “the President just wants to vindicate his name. The envelope (containing information on bank accounts allegedly owned by Estrada) is, after all, the spark that ignited his conflagration.” Rene answers that “vindication is not always on the day itself.” “But we have the occasion to vindicate ourselves now,” I reply. “Let us take this opportunity.” I explain that after the envelope is opened at the impeachment trial, the President can leave already –even before the five-day period is over.

I stress the three points most important to the President. One he will hand in his resignation, but to take affect five days later. The five-day transition period is crucial. If Reyes never made that assurance, he should call the President to explain that he did not assure him of the transition period. Two, there must be a guarantee of safety of the President and his family. And three, there must be an agreement to open the second envelope.  I tell them that I am “sincere in getting the problem out of the way to normalize the situation as soon as possible.”

Rene says that we should meet again at 3 a.m. I answer that we should meet at 7 a.m. since we all need some rest. But Rene tells me, “7 a.m. may be too late, since lulusubin ang Malacañang (Malacañang will be attacked) by 6 a.m.” We agree to hold a second round of negotiations by 6 a.m. The first round of negotiations ends at 2:20 a.m.

2:30 a.m- I return to the Presidential palace and enter t he small conference room where the President is waiting. With him are Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and his chief of staff Gigi Reyes, Lito Banayo, Ronnie Puno, Dondon Bagatsing and Boying Remulla. I explain what happened in the first round of negotiations. The President immediately stresses that he just wants the five-day period promised by Reyes, as well as to open the second envelope to clear his name. If the envelope is opened by Monday, he says, he will leave by Monday. The President says: “Pagod na pagod na ako- masyado nang masakit. Pagod na ako sa red tape, bureaucracy, intriga. (I am very tired. I don’t want any of this it’s too painful. I am tired of the red tape, the bureaucracy, the intrigue.)”

I had been advising the President nonstop since the day before. The President pauses and tells me, “Mula umpisa pa lang ng kampanya, Ed, ikaw na lang pinakinggan ko. At hanggan sa huli, ikaw pa rin (Since the start of the campaign, Ed, you have been the only one I’ve listened to. And now, at the end, you still are).”

Boying Remulla pulls out a letter he has prepared for the President to sign. It reads:

By virtue of the provisions of Section 11 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, I am hereby transmitting to this Office this written declaration that I am unable to discharge the powers and duties of my Office. By operation of law and the Constitution, the Vice President shall be Acting President of the President of the Philippines.

Boying explains that with this position, the President will still enjoy the benefits of Presidential immunity and can resume his Presidency when he decides to do so. Ronnie Puno supports Boying. But I oppose the signing of the letter. It would only prolong the crisis, I say, since it would not solve the political problems that are taking place.

A discussion ensues, with Lito Banayo supporting my stand. I explain that this letter is not practical under the circumstances since it would be construed as a shallow attempt to hang on. This would be particularly bad since negotiations have centered on the President’s turnover of the administration to Gloria, and this letter would be clearly construed as a sign of bad faith on our part.

Senator Enrile is silent throughout the discussion.

I step out, upset at what Boying is trying to do. I feel that this is an ill-advised and bad move, and I hope that the President will not listen to Boying. Lito Banayo follows me, “Hindi maganda yung sulat na iyon (This isn’t a good letter),” I point out to him.

Macel stays on in the room. Later, she tells me, that she noticed that Boying approached the President and Senator Enrile several times when I was away, trying to convince them about the letter. She adds, however, that she thinks that the President will not listen to Boying.

4 a.m.- Senator Enrile says goodbye to the President, and hugs him tightly.

I am constantly on the phone with General Reyes, Titoy Pardo and Rene de Villa. Rene de Villa proposes two additional points for negotiations –that during the five-day transition period:

  • The AFP and PNP would function under the Vice President as national military and Police authorities.
  • The transition process would begin immediately, and persons would begin immediately, and persons designated by the Vice President to government positions would be immediately briefed by their counterpart.

I write down the five points of negotiation.

4:30 a.m.- After having explained them to the President, it is now time for the First Lady and for the President’s children who are present –Jinggoy, JV Ejercito, Jackie and Techie– to hear about the points of negotiation.

We start preparing the draft for discussion at the 6 a.m. meeting. Five points are hammered out based on repeated phone calls between myself, De Villa, General Reyes, Titoy Pardo, who have been relaying to me feedback from the Cory Aquino and the Ramos group.

7:30 a.m- Rene arrives with Bert Romulo and (Ms Macapagal’s spokesperson) Rene Corona. For this round, I am accompanied by Dondon Bagatsing and Macel. Rene pulls out a document titled “Negotiating Points.” It reads:

1. The President shall sign a resignation document within the day, 20 January 2001, thjat will be effective on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume the Presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.

2. Beginning today, 20 January 2001, the transition process for the assumption of the new administration shall commence, and persons designated by the Various President to various positions and offices of the government shall start their orientation activities in coordination with the incumbent officials concerned.

3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, shall function under the President as national military and police authority effective immediately.

4. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, through its chief of staff, shall guarantee the security of the President and his family as approved by the national military and police authority (Vice President).

5. It is to be noted that the Senate will open the second envelope in connection with the alleged savings account of the President in the Equitable PCI Bank in accordance with the rules of the Senate, pursuant to the request to the Senate President.

We bring out, too, our discussion draft which reads:

The undersigned parties, for and in behalf of their respective Principals, agree and undertake as follows:

1. A transition will occur, and take place on Wednesday, 24 January 2001, at which time President Joseph Ejercito Estrada will turn over the Presidency to Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

2. In return, President Estrada and his families are guaranteed safety and security of their person and property throughout their natural lifetimes. Likewise, President Estrada and his families are guaranteed freedom from persecution or retaliation from government and the private sector throughout their natural lifetimes.

This commitment shall be guaranteed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (‘AFP’) through the Chief of Staff, as approved by the national military and police authories- Vice President (Macapagal)

3. Both parties shall endeavour to ensure that the Senate sitting as an impeachment court will authorize the opening of the second envelope in the impeachment trial as proof that the subject savings account does not belong to President Estrada.

4. During the five-day transition period between 20 January 2001 and 24 January 2001 (the “Transition Period”), the incoming Cabinet members shall receive an appropriate briefing from the outgoing Cabinet officials as part of the orientation program.

During the transition period, the AFP and the Philippine National Police (‘PNP’) shall function under Vice President (Macapagal) as national and police authorities.

Both parties hereto agree that the AFP chief of staff and PNP director general shall obtain all the necessary signatures as affixed to this agreement and insure faithful implementation and observance thereof

Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo shall issue a public statement in the form of tenor provided for in ‘Annex A’ heretofore attached to this agreement.

Rene Corona stresses that the envelope can only be operated by the Senate President, and not the Senate sitting as an impeachment court, “since there is no going back to the trial.”

The emissaries also insist that the resignation should be signed today, Jan. 20.

Corona says that a separate resignation letter is a deal breaker, the absolute minimum, or the whole deal collapses. Macel mentions that the turnover should be sufficient since by the acts of the President, one can see that there is an intention to relinquish his position. Rene Corona answers: “You are a bar topnotcher. You should know that a resignation has to be an unequivocal act and should be in a letter.”

The second round of negotiations ends at around 9:30 a.m.

But without our knowledge, the President has apparently signed the Remulla letter, which is transmitted to speaker (Arnulfo) Fuentebella at 8:30 a.m today, Jan. 20. A copy is transmitted to Pimentel and received Monday, Jan. 22. We are not informed of this until Sunday afternoon, when I received a faxed, signed and transmitted copy of the letter.

This is the letter of resignation of Joseph Estrada, a letter that Palace negotiators were supposed to give to the United Opposition but never did:

I hereby tender my resignation as President of the Republic of the Philippines effective January 24 2001 in the name of national unity and in order to effect a peaceful transition of power amidst divisive political unrest.

In my sincere desire to improve the lives of our people, I have been privileged to have served our countrymen from the highest office in government. I had discharged my duties to the best of my abilities and with full faith in our people. And it had been my badge of honor to be a President of the masa, the common man –for indeed, I am one of them.

Though I leave the position as President of our beloved country, I only hope that our people shall always see me as the President of the masa. And I hope that history shall judge me kindly.

It was 9:30 in the morning, Jan. 20, 2001.

I was inside the Presidential Residence, tired and weary from a night of negotiations for Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The residence looked cool and tranquil, as it had been for many months that I had been its visitor. Very few people were moving around the first floor of the residence.

My senior Deputy Executive Secretary, Ramon ‘Dondon’ Bagatsing, was seated at one of the round tables. The head of the Presidential Management Staff, Ma. Celia ‘Macel’ Fernandez, was busy at the computer.

Only 13 days ago, I took my oath as executive secretary on Jan 6, 2001 to work with the 13th President of the Philippines. And the 13th day lasted two days. When I made the difficult decision to accept the position of executive secretary, only two things were clear in my mind and heart. One, I would serve our country with all my energy, ensuring that government would always be there for our countrymen. But more importantly, I knew that this was a job that I would          perform to the best of my capacities –till the end.

Certainly, it was this disposition that carried me through those final days, those final hours, and gave me the opportunity to witness history unfolding.

9:30 a.m.- After meeting with the emissaries of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, I return to the Presidential Residence with Dondong Bagatsing and Macel Fernandez of the Presidential Management Staff. Immediately, in a series of phone calls, Gen. Angelo Reyes and I agree on the wording of two sticky issues: the provisions on the President’s resignation and a  request to open the controversial second envelope in the impeachment trial. I also clear the final wording with Senate President Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel.

9:45 a.m- (Former) Secretaries Jun Rivera (transportation), Mario Tiaoqui (energy), VG Vigilar (public works), Tony Cerilles (environment), Benny Laguesma (labor) , Quasi Romualdez (health) and Ronnie Puno (interior) arrive at the residence. The President’s friend Melo Santiago is also there.

11:00 a.m- Between General Reyes and myself, there is a firm agreement on the five points to effect a peaceful transition. I can hear the general clearing all these points with a group he is with. I hear voices in the background.

The agreement starts

1. The president shall resign today, 20 January 2001, which resignation shall be effective on 24 January 2001, on which day the Vice President will assume the presidency of the Republic of the Philippines.

Annexed is a copy of the President’s resignation letter. The rest of the President’s letter reads as follows:

2. The transition process for the assumption of the new administration shall commence on 20 January, 2001, wherein persons designated by the Vice President to various government positions shall start orientation activities with incumbent officials.

3. The Armed Forces of the Philippines through its Chief of Staff, shall guarantee the safety and security of the President and his families throughout their natural lifetimes as approved by the national military and police authority- Vice President

4. The AFP and the Philippine National Police (‘PNP’) shall function under the Vice President as national military and police authorities.

5. Both parties request the impeachment court to open the second envelope in the impeachment trial, the contents of which shall be offered as proof that the subject savings account does not belong to the President.

The Vice President shall issue a public statement in the form and tenor provided for in Annex ‘B’ heretofore attached to this agreement.

Former political adviser Lito Banayo had prepared the statement in Annex B:

I take this singular opportunity to commend His Excellency, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, for his rare display of statesmanship in effecting a peaceful transition of power amidst divisive political conflict that has beset our beloved country.

Throughout this crisis, President Estrada has shown steadfast adherence to the Constitution and its processes, with the highest consideration for the national interest.

As he leaves the highest office in the land within the gift of our sovereign people, the Filipino nation and I salute him and wish that the true patriot who brought peace to our country in this transition find peace for himself.

11:00 a.m.- Radio commentators report that Chief Supt. Romeo Maganto has allowed the anti-Erap demonstrators to proceed to Mendiola. This prompts the Presidential Security Group to arm civilians in the Palace. Sensing that this will lead to bloodshed, I immediately call Gen. Reyes to order a stop to Maganto’s supposed order.

11:05 a.m.- Loi, the First Lady, and her daughter Jackie Lopez visit the Palace chapel. After praying for fifteen minutes, they exit the Palace. It turns out to be the last act of the Estrada family at the Palace. The PSG guards immediately lock the doors of Malacañang after they leave.

11:30 a.m.- I am all set to fax General Reyes and Nene Pimentel our agreement, signed by our side and awaiting the signature of the United Opposition.

And then it happens. General Reyes calls me to say that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is President and will be sworn in at 12 noon.

Bakit hindi naman kayo makahintay? Paano na ang agreement? (Why couldn’t you wait?) Reyes answered: “Wala na, sir (It’s over, sir).” I ask him, “Di yung transition period, moot and academic na?” And General Reyes answers, “Oo nga, i-delete na natin, sir (Yes, we’re deleting that part).”

Contrary to subsequent reports, I do not react and say that there was a double cross. But I immediately instruct Macel to delete the first provision on resignation since this matter is already moot and academic. Within moments, Macel erases the first provision and faxes the documents, which have been signed by myself, Dondon and Macel, to Nene Pimentel and General Reyes. I direct Demaree Raval to rush the original document to General Reyes for the signatures of the other side, as it is important that the provisions on security, at least, should be respected. I then advise the President that the Supreme Court has ruled that Chief Justice Davide will administer the oath to Gloria at 12 noon.

The President is too stunned for words.

12 noon- Gloria takes her oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines.

12:20 p.m.–The PSG distributes firearms to some people inside the compound.

The President is having his final meal at the Presidential Residence with the few friends and Cabinet members who have gathered. By this time, demonstrators have already broken down the first line of defense at Mendiola. Only the PSG is there to protect the Palace, since the police and military have already withdrawn their support for the President.

1 p.m. – The President’s personal staff is rushing to pack as many of the Estrada family’s personal possessions as they can.

During lunch, Ronie Puno mentions that the President needs to release a final statement before leaving Malacañang. The statement reads:

At twelve o’clock noon today, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her oath as President of the Republic of the Philippines. While along with many other legal minds of our country, I have strong and serious doubts about the legality and constitutionality of her proclamation as president, I do not wish to be a factor that will prevent the restoration of unity and order in our civil society.

It is for this reason that I now leave Malacañang Palace, the seat of the presidency of this country, for the sake of peace and in order to begin the healing process of our nation. I leave the Palace of our people with gratitude for the opportunities given to me for service to our people. I will not shrik from any future challenges that may come ahead in the same service of our country.

I call on all my supporters and followers to join me in the promotion of a constructive national spirit of reconciliation and solidarity.

May the Almighty bless our country and our beloved people. MABUHAY!

As we are seated at the lunch table, the President received a call from General Reyes, who assures him that he can still stay at the Palace for another five days. But later, when the President asks me, “Ed, kailangan ko na bang umalis (Do I have to leave now)?” I immediately tell him: “Yes, Mr. President, for your safety and your family’s.”

1:30 p.m.- The sentry gate is locked.

1:50 p.m- General Diaz of the PSG calls on all detailed PSG personnel to gather in front of the residence for the send-off of the President. The President says goodbye to the people who have stayed with him until the end at the presidential residence, then turns around and leaves the staircase. I leave around this time, exhausted from the previous days’ events.

2:30 p.m.- The President leaves Malacañang and boards a barge for San Juan.

 


January 18, 2001

At nine in the morning of Thursday, Jan. 18, I received the officers and board members of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce in my office at Mabini Hall, headed by their president emeritus Jimmy Tang. We discussed how the federation could assist in employment creation especially in the countryside.

Immediately after Gen. Edgardo Batenga and Gen. Victor Mayo, deputy national security adviser, gave me a briefing on the MILF negotiations. A week ago, the President gave me the go ahead to resume negotiations with both the National Democratic Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The NDF had given a positive response and I had the initial batch of political prisoners processed for release.

I was voted by Senate President Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel to go to the Senate and attend a lunch testimonial for two policemen who had died trying to defuse the Dec. 30 bomb in Makati.

Early that morning, I had received requests for interviews from the New York Times, Time Magazine and Newsweek. The foreign press must smell something, I thought.

At around 7 p.m of Jan. 18, Finance Secretary Jose ‘Titoy’ Pardo asked me to join him in asking his five undersecretaries to hold back their resignations for a few days. I explained to him that although we understood their feelings, it would not be an opportune time to resign. Believing Titoy and I had persuaded them to defer their resignation, I left and went to Malacañang.

At around 8 p.m., the president was talking to his defense lawyers.He was consulting them on the opening of the second envelope. The President had seen the reaction of the people to the suppression of the second envelope. Feeling he had nothing to hide, President Estrada asked his lawyers to request that the second envelope be opened, despite the fact that he had already won the legal battle over that technical issue.


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.


Saturday, September 30, 1972

I did not sleep well last night, not even in this other place where I am hiding and filling out my diary for today.

I anxiously sought out Edong Angara and requested him again to ask Enrile to scratch out my name. Edong replied that while the heat is on we might as well tide things over because in any case I have nothing to worry about. “We should wait perhaps a few weeks,” he said.

I was crestfallen.

In my gloom, I had a chance encounter with Ernesto (Ernie) Rondon. I asked him if the military had not tried to arrest him. He said not. But then, when I was talking to Edong an hour earlier, Edong was very certain that Ernie was in the primary list. “In fact,” he had told me, “if I could see Ernie again, I should warn him.”

The list! Always the list! Who could have prepared this list of the damned?

There was some intermission to break the tension.

I had to read on Teilhard de Chardin for my speech in the afternoon before the United Nations Association of the Philippines. Prof. Emy Arcellana of UP spoke on the government aspect, while NEDA Sec. Vicente Valdepeñas spoke on the economic aspect of de Chardin’s works. O.D. Corpuz of UP did not appear but Mrs. Hizon of St. Joseph’s College pitched in for him and talked about education. Afterwards, I made a summary of the papers presented and my interpretation of Chardin’s general vision.

My former English professor, J.D. Constantino, T.O.C.G., of the Carmelite Order, was ecstatic about my presentation. She announced that I was her candidate for president of the UP. She told the audience that I would be excellent for president. Later, she told me in confidence that last year, when there was talk of S.P. Lopez resigning as president of the state university, she had batted for me. She addded that some people had thought that I was too young for it, but now she said she would put me up again for the presidency.

It was very gratifying. Miss Constantino and I had always been quite close. She is a highly spiritual woman.

Letty Ramos-Shahani, that very intelligent foreign affairs official, who graduated from Wellesley College and the Sorbonne, gave me a tremendous buildup in her introduction. In fact, the introduction was unduly flattering and unmerited. But the lecture was very well received. I was so happy over this that for a while, I even forgot, my problem with the military!

As I was leaving the session hall in the afternoon, I heard somebody calling me, “Caesar! Caesar!” It turned out to be Nita Lichauco, Queen of Ding’s household. Surprisingly, she appeared to be in very high spirits.

“You know, Ding is having a ball in the stockade. Everyone seems to be well-treated in the stockade,” she blurted. She thought they will grow stronger because the lights are out by 10:00 o’clock in the evening, and they have to get up at 5:30 o’clock in the morning for their exercise. The food is good and they live in the gym in several bunkers.

“What are you trying to tell me?” I asked in jest. “That Ding’s nocturnal escapades have come to an abrupt end?”

“I also saw Joe Concepcion in the stockade drinking his Royal True Orange,” Nita laughed, then continued, “Last night, the home of Father (Pacifico) Ortiz was raided; according to rumors, he would be arrested tonight.”

Didn’t Rizal write that laughter is the best means of concealing pain?

And why should such a civic-minded do-gooder like Joe Concepcion be there? I mused. He might break down. He is a boy scout. He would have some rightist tendencies, all right, but then he is a business tycoon, after all. But he is also community-service oriented, striving to be a Christian in his own way. It seems to be quite unfair.

I related the story to Rebeck later. He was also taken by surprise. How could Joecon be possibly arrested? Possibly because he has been undertaking so many opinion polls and surveys?

Our concern for Joecon was soon superseded by sad musings over our own fate.

If guys like Joecon could be taken, Rebeck said, it is quite possible that many of us will be taken, too.

Now my poor brother is almost resigned to the possibility of joining Joecon and Ding in the stockade.


Thursday, September 28, 1972

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.


September 6, 1972, Wednesday

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(1)

11:15 PM

Sept. 6, 1972

Wednesday

Malacañan Palace

Manila

Imee’s grades in ‘O’ level in England is almost perfect. English Language –1 ; English Literature; Spanish –1 ; History (Foreign) –1 ; Economics –1 ; Geography 3 ; Biology –3 ; Art –2 .

I attach the report.

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.

14 were killed in the Israeli kidnapping by Arabs as the German police ambushed the Arabs and their hostages on the way to the airport.

I have ordered our entire delegation to be pulled out and denounced the senseless brutality.

 

(2)

 

Sept 6th (Con’t)

Malacañan Palace

Manila

Last night 8:30 PM Joes Store in Carredo was blown up, by a time bomb of dynamite, killing one and wounding twenty two. I attach the report.

We lost one helicopter in Palanan, Isabela yesterday morning at 8:30 AM. It crashed into the sea because of engine failure. A Navy boat saved all the occupants. Only one (a co-pilot) was slightly injured.

Yesterday I told Rey Johnson of Caltex that the American businessmen are worried about their properties and profits while we, the Filipinos are worried about national survival. Our lives are at stake.

The message I asked them to convey to their American bosses in business and in government that we would like them to help us fight the communists. Otherwise we cannot help them.

This is the line we must follow.