Thursday, November 30, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heartbeats pounded like a gong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God! I gasped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s my asthma.”

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

“Air, air,” he murmured.

I opened the windows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Eh, kung umescape kayo.” Duavit has misgivings.

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

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

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

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

Duavit promised to visit them tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“True, true,” the naughty Bobbit blurted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joecon added that Nolledo had excitedly woke up Ding Lichauco.

“Ding, Ding, si Macapagal.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, come on.”

Everyone laughed.

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

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

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

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

Raul Roco, as usual, pretended to be nonchalant.

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

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

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

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

“Forget? Tito, how can we forget?”

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

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

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

The Con-Con is over. Finished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Thursday, October 12, 1972

On the way to the session hall this afternoon, I met Roseller Lim.

Nakuha na si Guingona,” Ller said grimly.

In the session hall, I sat beside Dr. Pinggoy and we talked about George. He said that actually George was taken in Capiz but was released after one week. He confirmed that the military had captured a subversive book from George. It was entitled The Ecumenical Revolution.

I did not attend the Sponsorship Council meeting any more because I know what was going to be taken up, namely, the assignments in the subcouncil groupings. I have already been informed that I am chairman of the first grouping on economic and fiscal policies and that Joe Concepcion and George Viterbo are my vice-chairmen.

It seems that we might yet finish the draft of the new Constitution earlier than we had previously anticipated. There is now a sense of urgency to finish it. Besides, the opposition has now been somewhat decimated in the Convention. It looks like by the end of December or, at the latest, end of January, the new Constitution will be ready for submission to the Filipino people. The question is when the plebiscite will be held.

In the evening, we went to Hotel Intercontinental to visit Ely Chiongbian Johnston. I had previously made an arrangement with Emil Ong that we were going to meet at the lobby of the hotel. Later, Pabling Trillana, Dancing Alfelor and Amado (Ding) Tolentino decided to join us. Still later, (Aying) Yniguez came along. When I arrived at the hotel lobby, they were all there already. They were chatting with Sen. Sonny Osmeña.

Sonny was insisting that he has it from reliable authority that he is not in the list. In any case, he said, he is not in hiding, and so far, he has not been bothered.

I corrected Sonny—almost impulsively, “You are wrong, Sonny. You and I were both in the list; in fact, our names followed each other. Fortunately for us, this is just the second list.”

Sonny Osmeña’s jaw fell.

Just then, the famous Teodoro (Doroy) Valencia—the super-columnist—appeared. Without provocation, he proclaimed in his soprano voice the latest of his achievements. Newsman Amando (Doro) Doronila would be released soon—on Doroy’s guarantee. Apparently, Doro Doronila was picked up at the Intercontinental Hotel on the very day he had arrived from Mongolia.

Doroy also boasted that it was because he has guaranteed Renato (Tato) Constantino that Tato has not been taken into custody. He added that he was turning three former Politburo men to Camp Crame this morning. And he is also responsible (to some extent) for the release of Flora Lansang.

I do not know how much one can believe Doroy. But he does command some influence in the community. Indeed, he is the most influential of our political columnists. I have disagreed with many of his obnoxiously rightist views many times. At the same time, however, I must admit that occasionally, I conciously massage his colossal ego because I cannot help but praise him for doing a great job of taking care of his kingdom—Rizal Park.

Shortly before we entered the elevator, Adrian Cristobal, a special assistant of Marcos, came by. Adrian is a great writer, just like his brilliant buddy, Blas Ople. I consider him a friend. In fact, when he was appointed secretary of labor, shortly after the inauguration of the Con-Con, he had invited me to his oath-taking in Malacañang. Innocently, I did go to the Palace. Upon seeing me there, the “First Lady,” Imelda, pleasantly greeted me with the words: “Aba, nandito pala ang mga radikal.” “Mabuti naman na paminsan-minsan ay na-dadalaw kayo ng mga radikal, I retorted, also pleasantly. It was then I discovered that the conjugal dictatorship had considered me a radical, and by inference, an enemy of the Marcos regime.

I wanted to test my suspicion that Adrian is the ghost writer of the very well-written book Today’s Revolution: Democracy, officially authored by the “First Gentleman.”

I complimented him on the quality of the book he had written. “It’s really good.”

He did not hide his pleasure on hearing this. “Only I can contradict the assumptions in that book,” he beamed.

We proceeded to Ely’s suite.

Aying Yniguez, son of the powerful Congressman Yniguez who is a close friend of Marcos, was the main character in the meeting. He said that he has been with President Marcos quite a number of times, and that at one session, he had told the President:

“Sir, I am a communist but I am a pro-Marcos communist.”

He said that Marcos is a kind man—very human—and that is the reason why Aying does not really mind being derisively called a Marcos “tuta.

Aying feels that Cong. Roquito Ablan, who is in the stockade, is going to be very deeply involved and his prospects are not very bright. In the case of Sen. Ninoy Aquino, he said, he might be able to save himself because of his popularity.

Speculate, speculate, speculate. This is all we can do now.

“The President is leading a leftist revolution, with the rightists being utilized by him to support his leftist revolution. If the President fails, the offshoot would be a military takeover.”

Aying claims that he is a trade unionist (he is supposed to be a labor leader in Leyte), and very anti-military in his orientation.

He feels that the CIA was not initially behind the proclamation of martial law. It was only recently that they supported it. He was actually at Malacanang with his father, Congressman Yniguez, when the top CIA man in Manila went to see the President.

“I know that the CIA is operating in the Philippines, but you did not give me even the courtesy of letting me know about it,” President Marcos was supposed to have ungraciously told the CIA group, as he unceremoniously dismissed them: “Good day, gentlemen.”

Gerry Johnston, the American husband of Delegate Ely Chiongbian, felt differently. He thinks that all the major changes in the political and military sections of the American Embassy tend to show that the Embassy knew all along that this was going to happen. And this Ambassador Byroade, he said, is coincidentally the same man who was involved in some operations in Vietnam.

How strange it was to hear this from Gerry!

My own gut feeling is that a certain amount of American complicity has surely attended the imposition of martial law. Marcos would not have dared take such a drastic move without American approval, express or implied. From President Johnson, who had coaxed Marcos into sending a Filipino engineer batallion to Vietnam, winning for him a state visit to Washington and a glowing endorsement by Johnson as his “right arm in Asia,” to President Nixon, who had openly shown his support for Marcos by sending California Gov. Ronald Reagan to Manila when Marcos ran for reelection three years ago, there have been indications that the U.S. was prepared, from the start, to accept the imposition of martial law because it was upset over the growing demonstrations in Manila and its (wrong) perception was that the Con-Con was taking a strong anti-American stance.

American business in the Philippines was, of course, anything but unsympathetic.

Aying also confided to us that, according to Bebet Duavit, President Marcos supports wholeheartedly the transitory provision of the new Constitution (a rather great understatement!).

Aying then asked my help in getting a unanimous vote.

“But Aying, I might be out of the country when this happens,” I demurred.

Aying was not convinced. “You will still be here because this thing will be taken up next week already. You cannot possibly be out of the country then—even if you wanted to.”

Next week? This is hard to believe. The transitory provision would be taken up next week? Marcos would like a grateful nation to crown him next week? Certainly not! This should be taken up, if at all, next year!

It will be next year, I convinced myself before I went to bed.


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.


Tuesday, October 10, 1972

Julio Ozamis sat down beside me. At the precise moment that Tito Guingona was arrested last Friday, he said, Bobbit Sanchez was talking to him.

I am glad that Bobbit has not been threatened with arrest. At most, he may be under some kind of surveillance.

When Bobbit came in, he confirmed the report of Julio Ozamiz that he was speaking on the phone when Tito was arrested by the military last Friday. He also confirmed that he had phoned me when he learned about my being in the list two weeks ago.

It would seem that the report last week that our colleague, Dr. George Viterbo, was taken in Capiz is true. However, George was released immediately afterwards.

Why George was arrested at all is so hard to say because he is one of the most sober and level-headed delegates. His integrity is well-known, his character beyond reproach. I understand that one officer saw a book in his library entitled The Ecumenical Revolution and triumphantly announced that George is indeed a subversive.

There are now 11 delegates to the Convention who have been taken into custody. Of the 11, the two who have been released are Voltaire Garcia and George Viterbo. The nine others who are still inside are: Nap Rama, Joe Man Velez, Bren Guiao, Natalio (Talio) Bacalzo, JoeCon, Ernie Rondon, Pepito Nolledo, Tito Guingona and Ding Lichauco.

Possibly, six or seven more are in the list of wanted delegates. These are Raul Manglapus, who was able to get out of the country before martial law was proclaimed; Antonio (Tonypet) Araneta, over whom there was no reliable information as to whether he is inside or outside the country; Bonifacio (Boni) Gillego, Sonny Alvarez, Romy Capulong and Raul Roco, all of whom are in hiding; and possibly Pepe Calderon, whose house was raided by the military the other day.

The agreement was that the format of the Sponsorship Council shall be used by the Steering Council in writing the preliminary provisions. Thereafter, the Sponsorship Council will make the first draft of the Constitution. Afterwards, the group of 106 people, namely, the members of the Steering Council, the members of the Sponsorship Council and the panel of floor leaders will go over this and actually put the stamp of approval on the first draft. This will then be presented at the plenary session. This way, it is expected that the Constitution will be finished in no time.

In the afternoon, Monet Tirol invited Gary Teves, Fanny Cortez-Garcia and me to the Sulo Restaurant for a brief meeting. The major item in the agenda was what kind of speech he should deliver during the sponsorship of the articles on the national economy. Another item was what improvements we might be able to make at the last moment to the materials that were given to the Steering Council. Are there inconsistencies in these economic provisions?

From the way it looks, the improvement that can be done are to shorten the chapters on auditing, on the budget and on public works. I shall go over these tonight.

On the way to Sulo Hotel, Monet and I were talking about the arrests. He was surprised, of course, that George Viterbo was taken at all, although gladdened to know that he was later released. It may be, he said, that in the case of the others, their language had been somewhat personal and bitter. He has noticed for several years now, that Tito Guingona has really been hitting Marcos. The strongest attack was during his farewell speech as president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1968.

Monet wanted to be kind to me. He said it would be difficult to imagine that someone like me would be arrested by the military. My criticisms have been of high level, my language temperate and refined.

“Your discussions and commentaries have all been based on principles, not on personalities,” Monet consoled, “I’m sure you will not be arrested.”