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.


Saturday, November 18, 1972

The special 34-man body met. Erning Amatong asked me to sit beside him because anyway, many of our ideas coincide. He was sweet.

But Fidel Purisima sat beside us, too. The harmony was broken. He told me that there are 15 members from the Steering Council, 15 from the Sponsorship Council and 4 from the panel of floor leaders in this Committee.

During the discussions, I introduced an amendment in the article on Civil Rights to abolish the death penalty. Bert Misa opposed it. Roger Panotes has a similar resolution. Cefi Padua wanted to support us halfway by saying that the death penalty shall not be imposed unless otherwise provided by law.

Naturally, we were defeated. The idea of introducing humaneness into our legal system could not be understood by the delegates.

In the course of the ages, man has done away with some of his brutality, I said in my speech. In the past, we hanged criminals and burned witches at the stake. But now we have grown more civilized. We understand the sacredness of human life. Besides, we say the modern penal system is based primarily on the reform of erring individuals and the protection of society. It is no longer primarily aimed at punishing or destroying criminals. And besides, did not Apostle Paul write, “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord”?

I added that Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s best-known hangman who had dispatched 400 people in his career, remarked after his last execution: “The death penalty never once acted as a deterrent.”

We lost miserably, in spite of my oratory.

Dr. Aruego wanted an amendment by deletion to omit the provision on habeas corpus because he says the same matter is mentioned among the powers of the prime minister. By mentioning this in the Bill of Rights, this would leave open the possibility of interpreting this as allowing other agencies to suspend, likewise, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

I do not agree with him. The Bill of Rights is an enumeration of the individual’s rights against the government as an institution and against all majorities and officials—in fact, against society. Nevertheless, Cefi Padua seemed to have been swayed by Aruego. Of course, they lost miserably too, even as I have often lost miserably.

Vic de la Serna filed some good amendments. One of them has to do with providing periods for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Naturally, they were quickly voted down without any discussion simply because he was not there. And, the way things were running, these would have been quickly shot even if he were around.

There is a provision that free access to courts shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty. This was amended initially so as to read, “Free access to courts and other government agencies shall not be denied to any person by reason of poverty.”

This was readily accepted. And it is a good amendment. I noticed, though, that the decision to accept or not to accept seemed to be coming merely from Tony de Guzman, who was presiding, in representation of the Steering Council.

Then I introduced an amendment to add: “The State shall provide free and adequate legal assistance in all cases when, by reason of indigence, they are unable to defend themselves or enforce their rights.” Actually, this came from the original civil rights report.

In my explanation, I said that most of us, during the election campaign, had felt that the lack of legal assistance was one of the major grievances of the citizenry. There is inequality in the administration of justice. There is need for the poor to be given equal rights with the affluent.

“We were not insensitive to this,” Tony de Guzman interrupted. He brushed aside my explanation.

“I only wish to strengthen the sensitivity of our delegates,” I responded lamely.

Serging Tocao stood up abruptly. He was enraged. “I do not understand why we are discussing this. This is not a right. We are supposed to be talking about rights. This is an obligation.”

I immediately rejoined: “A right does not exist in a vacuum. There are no rights without correlative obligations.”

Peps Bengzon intervened, saying this was not necessary. This was a matter for legislation.

Roding Ortiz also opposed—but on legal grounds. He said that this was already provided for in the Ombudsman article.

We lost in the voting. But even Ikeng Corpuz, who was presiding together with Tony de Guzman, voted in favor of my amendment.

There was some measure of success, however, because I garnered some seven, eight or nine votes, which is big enough by my present standards. These days I am modest in my ambitions. As one of the “vanquished” in the Convention, I have been so used now to getting only two, three or four votes in the Committee. Today, there seemed to be a sizeable number of people who agreed with me. Nevertheless, I lost.

But I shall not be deterred. I shall appeal in plenary.

Finally, as I was leaving, I heard Ikeng Corpuz say that we are now taking up the amendment on social and economic rights. I heard him announce that the authors are Teroy Laurel, Noli Santos, Caesar Espiritu and others. He said that Laurel and Santos were not there so he asked me if I would like to sponsor the amendment.

This was what differentiated prewar Constitutions from the modern Constitutions of democratic nations, I said. The ideas of social progress and of social and economic rights find emphasis in postwar democratic Constitutions. In fact the UN documents to operationalize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are two—the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. There are also the ILO Conventions.

Peps Bengzon intervened: These ideas are spread in the different provisions in the new Constitution. My response was that they are so scattered as to be ineffective.

A call for a vote was made. I lost miserably.


Tuesday, November 7, 1972

Gary Teves was depressed. “This is a rightist Constitution that the Steering Council has produced,” he complained.

Ben Campomanes commented that only one provision—that of central monetary authority—was included from his committee report. But even that, Gary said, was meaningless because the other important provisions on the economy were not there. Besides, what was important on the central monetary authority was the constitutional officers.

Their fears have a basis. There is a decisive relationship between economic development and democracy. Daunting economic problems, highlighted by mediocre economic growth, have brought down some elitist and facade democracies in Latin America, which had reeled from the weight of tremendous inequalities in wealth and political power.

“There is no improvement over the 1935 Constitution. We are trying to change the system,” Gary lamented, “and the only thing that the Steering Council has contributed is the transitory provision, which is very, very rightist.”

A climate of frustration and resignation is spreading among the delegates over what the Steering Council has been doing. It seems that all hopes have been given up of forging a Constitution that shall really be reformist in character.

Erning Amatong sadly said that the tragedy was that each time we gave in a little, the majority would grab more and more.

I felt sorry, too. Erning is one of the straight guys who was wavering on how he would vote in the transitory provision. He had voted “Yes” on the understanding that we might all hide when the time for the signing of the Constitution comes.

“We are just saving ourselves from being arrested now,” I had assured him. “And we shall never take the oath (of office as members of the Marcos-controlled Assembly).”


Saturday, November 4, 1972

I went to the session hall again to submit my amendments to Article XIV on the national economy and the patrimony of the nation. This time, my amendment is no longer one by substitution. Rather, I went through the different paragraphs and made my own individual deletions and additions to the draft of the Steering Council. Likewise, I made my amendment to the article on the National Assembly insofar as the provisions on budget and appropriations are concerned. In both cases, the work was really very, very hastily written. I included some coauthors. In the amendments on the budget, I added the name of Estoy Mendoza. I am sure he would be happy. On the provisions on the national economy, I put in the names of my idealistic friends Gary Teves, Erning Amatong and Dolf Azcuña.

The Steering Council was meeting on the 13th floor. Tony de Guzman was presiding. There were two bottles of whiskey going around.

The meeting was somewhat raucous. The voice of the chairman boomed over the microphone as the privileged delegates discussed the new draft Constitution item by item. According to the Herald lady reporter who has been attending the Convention sessions, it was terrible the way the delegates were earlier treating so lightly the provisions of the fundamental law-in-the-making.

I felt sick watching the discussions. It was as if my colleagues now in power were drafting some rules and regulations for a village fiesta, not writing a Constitution for a nation. These now are our powerful people, these members of the Steering Committee, equivalent to the Seven Wise Men in the 1935 Convention. But I saw the faces of zealots rather than of wise or reasonable men.

“There are many respected personalities in the Convention, how come only a few of them are in the Steering Council?” the reporter asked.

I gave the lady a blank look.

In the evening, I went to the Carmel Church in Broadway. The papers have announced today the death of the mother of Pon and Mel Mathay. Pon saw me as I was coming in. I saw Mel coming out with, of all people, Estelito and Rosie Mendoza.

“We don’t see each other often anymore,” Rosie said.

“Let us get together,” Titong greeted me. “Preferably at your home where the walls have no ears.”

It was really a curious situation—ours—because Titong has really been one of my very best friends in the last 24 years. But now he is solicitor-general—and it is his duty to prosecute those under military custody. I’m thankful to God that I have been free. But if I should be arrested, wouldn’t it be ironic if it is my best friend who will have to prosecute me?


Friday, November 3, 1972

Fanny Cortez-Garcia was desperate. She was with Ben Campomanes in her office and they said that the economic provisions in the new Constitution drafted by the Steering Council are terrible. There is no definite pattern, and no understanding of the implications of the provisions that have been incorporated. Many important provisions have been left out. Meanwhile, the deadline for submission of amendments is today, Friday.

Fanny was a former director of the influential Research Department of the Central Bank.

Ben Campomanes suggested that we meet at Fanny’s place. He informed us, however, that Gary Teves was in the province. I told him that Gary Teves knows what we have been doing in the committees. “That’s good,” he said, “you can even speak Gary’s mind.”

Which is true. Gary and I have been close. We implicitly understand each other.

I ate at the Quezon City Hall in order to save time. I immediately drafted a substitute amendment for the whole of Article XIV on the national economy by incorporating all those that we have approved during our meetings of the different committee chairmen, vice chairmen and sponsors.

I called up Fanny at 12:45 p.m. She was also going to rush to the session hall to meet with the sponsors. I suggested that she gets some Signatures from the members of the Sponsorship Council.

What I did upon finishing the draft which consisted of several pages, was to put in the names of the people who have been meeting with me during these last few days. Among them were Gary Teves, Erning Amatong, Adolf Azcuña and Julianing Locsin. I also included the names of Fanny Garcia, Monet Tirol and Ben Campomanes, among others. I told Mauro (Lolo) Baradi and Ikeng Corpus about this and they offered to sign as coauthors of my amendment. Pete Valdez said he was signing for camaraderie’s sake. He did not know what it was all about, but this was for him a simple case of trust in me.

It was unbelievable, though, the way the whole thing is being railroaded by the Steering Council. Why should we be given only this day to draft the amendments? Knowing it has the power and the full backing of Malacañang, the Steering Council has now really been urgently imposing upon us its own terms—practically dictating to us. What kind of delegates do we have in this Convention? How can anyone really draft amendments in one or two days’ time? I, myself, heard about this only from Fanny at 11 o’clock a.m.

I told Fanny that my understanding was that today, the Steering Council would present to the 166-man body its draft and thereafter we would have ten days from today within which to introduce our amendments. In other words, my understanding was instead of today being the last day for amendments, it is or should be the first day of a ten-day period of amendments. This would be the more reasonable thing to do.

But are we dealing with reasonable men?

This is it—today is the last day. The Steering Council has spoken. We must obey! I had two hours to write my amendments.


Thursday, October 19, 1972

I presided over the meeting of the Sponsorship Council, sub-council I, on Economic and Fiscal Affairs. Erning Amatong and Ikeng Belo came along. Serging Tocao thrust himself into the meeting on the ground that he is the assistant of Justice Barrera in the sub-council. He talked about the format of the Constitution. I had to cut him short because our discussion was limited to the major provisions. Ben Rodriguez also came after a while although he is not a member of the sub-council.

The main thrust of Belo’s proposal was to remove “numbers” in the Constitution. We should not talk about 60% or 70% Filipino ownership in agriculture and natural resources, in public utilities, in retail trade, etc., vis-a-vis foreign ownership much less 100% Filipino ownership.

Under the draft provision, agriculture and natural resources should be owned wholly by Filipinos (100%), with 30% ownership by foreigners (70% Filipino ownership) allowed under certain exceptions; all other corporate enterprises in the other reports would be owned 60% by Filipinos. Belo wanted it the other way around—namely, that no nationality requirement be mentioned at all in the business activities except only in agriculture and natural resources. The requirements there would be left the way they are presently provided for in the present (1935) Constitution.

However, he would liberalize it further by providing that although they should be 60% Filipino-owned, the legislature may, by 2/3 vote, increase or decrease the Filipino ownership.

My personal contribution was on the controversial provision on foreign investments. I got the group’s endorsement of my formulation—that foreign investments from any country shall be welcome insofar as they are in harmony with the development plans and policies of the country.

When the Convention opened 16 months ago, there were three distinct factions of delegates: (1) the pro-Garcia or Nacionalista-affiliated or supported candidates which later on constituted the nucleus of the pro-Marcos bloc in the Convention; (2) the pro-Macapagal or Liberal-leaning bloc; and (3) the Independent-Progressive bloc, at least 50% of whom are delegates who have never been in active politics and who profess non-partisanship in their approach to Constitution-framing.

The pro-Garcia (ultimately pro-Marcos) bloc, had a distinct plurality over the pro-Macapagal bloc in the Convention, hence the election of President Garcia, initially, as president of the Convention. (It was only after President Garcia had passed away early during his term that the Convention elected former President Macapagal to succeed him.)

The pro-Macapagal Liberal bloc, on the other hand, had some plurality over the Independent-Progressives, which was a coalition of three factions headed by Raul Manglapus, Tito Guingona and me.

Our Independent-Progressive bloc held a meeting at the home of Pepe Calderon of the pro-Macapagal Liberals. By this time, the pro-Macapagal bloc—their remnants anyway—were, for all practical purposes, in coalition with the few survivors of our Independent-Progressive bloc.

Inasmuch as Erning Amatong and I had arrived early, we got Cecing Calderon to talk about something else: to tell us what he had gotten from Liberal senators, Gerry Roxas and Jovito Salonga, to whom he had gone this morning.

Roxas had told Calderon: “I have already given out my thoughts to Alfelor and Trillana and Nepomuceno and that is to vote “Yes” if only because the situation is so fluid and we would not foreclose our options by voting “No” now. If we voted “No” now on the transitory provision, we would definitely not be in even if the situation should later warrant our being there. After all, if necessary, you may yet opt not to sign the Constitution, or not take your oath or take your seat in the National Assembly,” Roxas had said.

On the other hand, according to Calderon, Salonga had said that he would like to take a long look at this. In Salonga’s opinion, history would judge the proposed transitory provision in the new Constitution to be the most scandalous provision he has ever read in any Constitution. We should emphatically reject it.

Our other friends arrived—among them, Senator Juan Liwag, Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw, Totoy Nepomuceno, Fr. Ortiz, Cefi Padua, Joe Feliciano. With the eight of us, plus the Calderon brothers, we were ten in all—seven Independent-Progressives and three pro-Macapagal Liberals.

This is all that is left of our combined pro-Macapagal and Independent-Progressive blocs.

The phone rang. It was for Liwag. As he put down the receiver, he announced that Romy Capulong was coming.

Everyone was taken by surprise. Romy is a fugitive. He is in the “wanted” list and is in hiding. We all got somewhat tense.

“Is he not wanted?” Joe Feria asked apprehensively.

Cefi Padua was visibly nervous. “Don’t let him come here,” he twice suggested to Cecing.

Part of our anxiety lay not only in the fact that Romy was “wanted” but that, also, we were meeting in the home of a man who was supposed to be under house arrest.

Romy Capulong walked in, an embarrassed smile on his lips. In spite of our apprehensions, we were all very pleased to see him. Of course, he had been in close contact with Liwag because they are close. I myself was very pleased to see him. In fact, I had precisely thought of asking the members of our group to try to find ways of being able to assist him and Raul Roco financially. I was ready to pass the hat around.

I asked Romy how he was doing financially. Not very well, he said. So I then started asking for contributions. I could not immediately include Sonny Alvarez in our calculations because I do not know Sonny’s whereabouts although he is very much in my mind.

Romy told us some Catholic nuns have been taking care of him and Raul Roco. They gave him asylum in some retreat house. Evidently, according to Romy, some elements of the clergy are very much opposed to what is now happening. They are taking the posture of passive resistance.

It is some members of the Iglesia ni Kristo, Romy was made to understand by the nuns, who became the informers of the military before the proclamation of martial law. The whole INK church, according to them, was utilized by the military to get at critics, leftists and subversives. Of course, this did not jibe with the story that on the day of martial law, more than ten Iglesia ni Kristo security guards and two PC soldiers died at the gate of the Iglesia ni Kristo headquarters at Commonwealth Avenue during a scuffle at which recoiless rifles were used by the troops.

Liwag then gave again an impassioned speech against the transitory provision.

He said that someone who had run (and lost) for the Constitutional Convention was in tears the other day. This man said that he had missed the historic opportunity to prove his loyalty to his people; if he were a member of the Convention now, he would be voting against the provision.

The import of Liwag’s words is that it would be patriotic to vote “No.” Yet, when he was pressed, he seemed evasive and he refused to categorically answer how he would vote. Was the articulate and brave senator trying to hide his fear of being arrested?

Fr. Ortiz kept on saying that while he is thinking of voting “No” he also wants to be sure that there is really no useful purpose to be served by voting “Yes.” In other words, may not being in the Assembly be an opportunity for service to the people? So long as there are possibilities for doing good in the present government, he, too, is not exactly averse to serving.

Joe Feria and Naning Kalaw seemed to have changed positions somewhat. While yesterday Naning was almost ready to vote “Yes” and Joe almost for “No,” today Joe Feria is almost for “Yes” and Naning almost for “No.”

We asked Romy Capulong how he would vote if he could do so, i.e., if he has not gone underground. He said he would vote “Yes.”

Romy added that there was some hopeful news—that the President was fed up and also disappointed with his own “tutas in the Convention. His news was that Marcos did not really respect them. It may even be that the President would not be averse to getting people in the government who are more respectable even if they are not his own men.

A drowning man, it is said, would clutch at a piece of straw. But surely, also, one can see the rainbow through the rain?

Romy apparently was convinced that this is true.

As we were going out after our adjournment, Romy’s upbeat mood was not yet exhausted. “So Mr. Feria and Mr. Espiritu, you get prepared to be drafted; it may be that the President will send for you and ask you to join him in his administration.”

Totoy immediately shared Romy’s optimism. The president really respected our group more than his own lapdogs. He said it would be quite important to Marcos to give respectability to his decisions. In fact, he is very certain that none of us would be touched any longer because it is very important for the President that we give him our support.

Since yesterday, Totoy has shown inclinations to vote “Yes”—following the line of reasoning of Gerry Roxas. Cefi Padua, of course, is sure that his name was in the list. He seems ready to vote “Yes.”

The pressures were heavy on all of us. We take our freedom for granted; it is only when it is endangered that we realize that it is freedom, as Harold J. Laski has said, which can give final beauty to men’s lives.

Cicero Calderon is prepared to take a job offered by the International Labor Organization to be regional consultant in Bangkok. This gives him a very good excuse not to join the Assembly. I assured him that from what I remembered, the moment anyone has his appointment papers to work for an international organization, he may be able to leave the country. The question is if the voting were done before he could leave the country.

He said that if the voting were done before he could leave the country, he would vote “Yes.”

Cecing was emphatic, however, that for some of us, particularly me, there is really no choice: we should vote “Yes.” Twice he said, “Caesar is under duress; he would have been arrested were his name not taken out of the list by Johnny Ponce Enrile.”

Pepe Calderon discussed the pros and cons and said that the Metrocom troopers who came to his house were really sent by his political enemy in Nueva Vizcaya. In fact, his daughter twice saw one of the bodyguards of Leonie Perez, together with the Metrocom troopers, in both instances. He could not see why, given this opportunity, he should not be in the Assembly so that at least he would not be oppressed by his political opponents.

Liwag again continued his powerful orations against the transitory provision. But when pressed, he was still very vague and would not give his decision. He said that the only moral decision was a “No” decision. “If we vote ‘Yes’ it would only be because we are rationalizing or justifying our desire to vote ‘Yes'”, he said. But in the end, he still did not give us his own firm decision.

Liwag was lost in his ambiguity and indecision. Our Hamlet was clearly wrestling with his conscience.

Jose (Joe) Feliciano very forcefully attacked “the institution of a dictatorship in the country.” After the impassioned speech, he ended almost in a whimper.

“But these are abnormal times. We are under martial law. We have to take care or our own lives. Therefore, it is impossible to vote ‘No’. We have to vote ‘Yes.'”

Finally, we made a decision to have a written explanation on our vote. Without any discussion, it seemed to be understood that this would be an explanation to a “Yes” vote, particularly because Totoy, who was the one among us most openly for a “Yes” vote, volunteered to prepare the draft. Significantly, no one voiced any objection.

The fear of being arrested was now triumphing over the desire to refuse any traffic with the dictator. Is this then the way submission is finally secured from brave souls?… “But as for me,” Patrick Henry had orated before the American War of Independence, “Give me liberty or give me death.” But that was a long time ago. We all have forgotten this.

Was our little Independent-Progressive bloc—what was left of it (the others have either deserted us or have been bought by Marcos; a few are in prison and some are abroad)—inevitably drifting into an inevitable “Yes” decision? So it seemed!

On the verge of a betrayal? Or so cowed that the primal instinct of survival is fast overcoming the still small voice that had once reigned in their lives?


Sunday, October 15, 1972

I gave Sisters Fely and Elizabeth, at the Sacred Heart headquarters, the list of delegates who have been so far apprehended by the military. They were classified into those in the primary list and those in the secondary list.

Among those in the primary list were Nap Rama (already apprehended), Boni Gillego (at large), Raul Manglapus (abroad), Sonny Alvarez (at large), Tonypet Araneta (abroad), Joe Mari Velez (already apprehended), Romy Capulong (at large), Ding Lichauco (already apprehended), and Raul Roco (at large).

Among those in the secondary list were: Pepito Nolledo, Natalio Bacalzo, Tito Guingona, Joe Concepcion, George Viterbo, all of whom have been arrested and detained. A few others like myself, my brother Rebeck, Nene Pimentel, Naning Kalaw, Erning Amatong and Lilia Delima have so far been only under surveillance. We did not know whether Sonia is in the list. Of course, Lilia wondered how Sonia could possibly be in the secondary list when she has been in Rome for quite a while now.

What kind of a State is this that regards its citizens first and foremost as security risks?

Sonia wanted to know whether she should resign from the Con-Con or should not come back anymore. I advised the nuns that perhaps she should not make any decision yet; the situation is still fluid. She should stay abroad until I am able to let them know of new developments.

The problem is how to convey all these to Sonia. Sister Elizabeth told me that when she returned from the U.S. two days ago one American lady with her was detained at the airport because she was carrying some films and apparently the military is suspicious (even) of films. So Sister Elizabeth is going to course the message through her sister in New York, or possibly, through the Papal Nuncio’s office. Sister Fely showed apprehension over my situation and said that she was going to pray for me.

From the Sacred Heart headquarters, I proceeded to the Manila Hotel, to the luncheon meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines where Dr. Manuel Lim was going to preside. Defense Sec. Johnny Ponce Enrile was going to be the guest speaker. It would be good to meet him; I want an assurance straight from the horse’s mouth!

I was registering at the Petal Room when Johnny passed by. I greeted him. He returned my greeting cordially.

At the end of his speech, I remembered with a start that I have a teargas pistol in my house.

I have always dreaded firearms. The only weapon I have given myself in the past ten years is a teargas pistol that is supposed to paralyze but I have, in fact, forgotten about it until then. Come to think of it, I have not seen my teargas pistol for so many years. I do not even know where it is.

Fearfully, I inquired from Johnny Ponce Enrile whether or not teargas pistols were supposed to be surrendered also.

Johnny smiled at this innocence. No need to surrender teargas pistols, he replied with a twinkle in his eyes.

In the Con-Con, we were fearing for our lives and our liberty. Understandably, for the businessmen gathered there, the most pressing problem is when they would be allowed to travel. Johnny said that they will be allowed to travel, but these businessmen must convince the Department of National Defense that their trip is really necessary and legitimate.

At least there is a promise that travel could be allowed. Of course, this is not good enough for some businessmen who want to pursue their business interests abroad, unfettered by clearances and checkups.


Wednesday, October 11, 1972

Malakas ka pala, tinanggal pala ang pangalan mo sa ‘wanted’ delegates.”

Cicero (Cecing) Calderon said that Sig Siguion-Reyna had told him that my name has been removed from the “wanted” list. He said he himself had been exerting; efforts to see Enrile and that he actually saw him on behalf of his brother, Pepe Calderon. Actually, he said, Pepe was not in the list. However, his political enemies had somehow contrived to get Pepe’s house searched for hidden weapons. In fact, he said, Enrile has these people now under investigation.

Anyway, it’s good to know that Pepe is not in the list.

            Malakas kang talaga, he repeated as he walked towards his seat.

When I sat down, there were talks, according to Pabling Trillana, that Raul Roco has been arrested and detained. I anxiously asked him for his source and he said it is Ben Rodriguez. I sought out Ben because I am very worried about Raul. Ben is quite convinced that Raul Roco is now in the stockade.

Joe Feria told Lilia Delima and me that two nights ago Raul Roco and Romy Capulong, who are in hiding, had surreptitiously dropped by his house to hear the latest developments.

Feria also said that he has seen the list of the 12 “wanted” people from the Convention supposed to be arrested. In the list are Sonny Alvarez, Tonypet Araneta, Romy Capulong, Voltaire Garcia, Boni Gillego, Bren Guiao, Ding Lichauco, Raul Manglapus, Nap Rama, Ernie Rondon, Raul Roco and Joe Mari Velez.

Another list has also been seen personally, Lilia said, by Tony Alano from Babes Navarro. (Babe’s father, Congressman Navarro, is chairman of the House Committee on National Defense.) The list contained 32 names.

Babes Navarro remembered some of those in the list: the 12 already mentioned, plus 20 more. Among those 20 are Bacalzo, Guingona, Concepcion, Nolledo and Viterbo, all of whom have already been arrested; Delima (the only girl), Occeña, Badoy, Sanchez, the Espiritu brothers, Pepe Calderon, Kalaw, Father Ortiz and Amatong.

Lilia Delima believes that this list of 32 is quite accurate. So there is reason, Lilia stressed, for us to keep quiet and not force the issue.

What did the brothers Berrigan say during the Vietnam War? I remember it was something like this: They came for someone across the street and we did not raise a finger to stop them. Next they came for our next-door neighbor and we didn’t scream. Then they came for us.


Thursday, September 7, 1972

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.

Incredible, I said. How can such a self-serving resolution pass? I remember now that Antonio (Tony) Tupaz had told me that definitely this would pass. I had dismissed the idea quickly then. But last night, Pepe Abueva was telling me that this just might pass really, for all we know. Macapagal sadly confirmed this: “Yes, that might even pass.”

This now seems to be a serious matter—where before, only Oka Leviste and Tony Velasco believed in it. But, of course, the come-on is irresistible. Who wouldn’t want to be in the first parliament—without even having to fight it out in an election contest?

 Macapagal did not know that Gary Teves and Adolfo (Adolf) Azcuña all along have been voting independently. Macapagal was quite surprised by what I said about Gary, because Gary’s uncle, Senator Teves, and his father, Congressman Teves, were allies of Marcos. I said, “Oh, yes, all along he has been with us.”

I like the kid. He is sincere and competent; I feel that young people like him should be encouraged and supported. He has voted independently of the way Congressman Teves and Senator Teves have been voting in Congress.

The other politician’s son who has surprisingly been consistently voting with us is Adolf Azcuña. The voting record of Adolf has really been progressive and independent. In fact, although he is an assistant attorney at the Bengzon law office, his record is poles apart from that of Peps Bengzon. In Adolf’s own words, some six months ago, his vote was 85 percent of the time different from that of Peps. Now, again, on the ban-Marcos resolution, he voted with us. He did not have second thoughts about his true colors.

Of course his local political rival, Ernesto (Erning) Amatong, is not very certain of Adolf s persuasions. Is he really independent of his father’s influence, this son of Congressman Azcuña? Nevertheless, Erning is a fair man and he has acknowledged to me that he is impressed by Adolf. He agrees with me that Adolf has been showing himself to be a sincere and independent-minded and conscientious young man.

Erning Amatong, as expected, voted with us. He is an old reliable, really. So did Vincenzo Sagun.

At noon, I went to the meeting of the Independent-Progressive bloc at the home of Pepe Calderon to discuss our options.