Friday, November 17, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the loyalists were bent on mowing down the opposition.

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

Far away and long ago!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, November 14, 1972

The Daily Express reported this morning that a move to change the name of the Philippines to the “Republic of Maharlika” is snowballing among the 166-man body of the Special Committee of the Constitutional Convention.

Of course, it is not true that it is snowballing; most delegates have never heard of this move. Nevertheless, I have a strange feeling about this. This feeling of uneasiness has been heightened by my reading of Don Carlos by the great German poet and dramatist Friedrich Schiller. I even saw the play in Munich. Don Carlos was the “incompetent” son of Felipe II. Why should this country be named after an undistinguished King of Spain? They were the Spanish branches of the Habsburg line in Vienna. We were indirectly a part of the Habsburg Empire—of the Holy Roman Empire of the Germanic Nations, with Vienna as the capital, which existed from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.

I do not know whose brainchild this is. I am sure it must have come from Malacañang. But who in Malacañang started this? I would suspect that a nationalist like Adrian Cristobal, or, even, possibly also Blas Ople, might be behind this. In any case, it might be a good idea. Indeed, some 30 of us rather eccentric personalities—I must admit—were promoting the adoption of a new name for the country—Rizalia—in the Convention. Our real leader here is Don Salvador Araneta with people like Justice Paredes very actively involved. As might be expected, there has been a resistance to this on the part of student activists, on the ground that our national hero, Rizal, was an elitist. Many activists would rather promote the status of Bonifacio, having come from the masses. They would downgrade Rizal.

I remember that even the annual Rizal lecture two years ago by Renato Constantino at Fort Santiago dwelt on this. In any case “Maharlika” is a beautiful word except that Marcos has prostituted it. It now symbolizes not only Marcos’ guerrilla outfit during the war but his authoritarian rule as well.

Greg Tingson, an evangelist, is proud of the fact that there are daily invocations in the Convention. He says there is divine guidance prayed for everyday.

However, I feel funny about these daily invocations. Is the righteousness of a nation to be gauged by the number of invocations? If so, we are a very righteous people! But why does God seem to be answering our prayers the wrong way? Could it be that He has gotten tired of seeing us perform the daily prayers recited by rote by a people who do not have the faith of even a mustard seed?

I feel that the ultimate fruit of our religiosity should lie in Christian discipleship, in fighting injustice and oppression of all kinds, in working for human liberation.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good,” the prophet Micah has written. “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

One provision that is a distinct improvement in the Malacañang version of the Constitution is the restoration, to some extent, of Pilipino as the official language of the country, together with English. The wordings are quite intricate but, nevertheless, it is a compromise which, at least, puts the national language on a status equal to that of English.

Pinsan Manolo Cruz said last week that this is his special contribution to the Steering Council. If this were true, he has rendered service to the cause of our national pride. I love English and I’m sure it will stay as an official language here, but I would have been very much ashamed if the Constitution should say that the official language of the Constitution is English only.

I went to the session hall this afternoon only to find again the same situation that has existed since Thursday of last week. There is no session. The Steering Council is not yet through with its revision.

This is getting to be an impossible situation. No one seems to know what is happening. Tio Pindong Calderon is a member of the Steering Council but he could not find the other members of the Council. Presumably they are meeting in some hiding place. This means he may not be in the inner circle of the Steering Council.

I asked Dr. Leido of Mindoro what he knew and he said that he was also in the dark.

Later, Vic Guzman joined us and told us that he had visited the delegates at the Camp Crame stockade last Sunday. He said they were all okay, except that Tito Guingona was complaining that they have already been cleared by the military, so why wasn’t the Convention doing something to free them?

This is a valid question. Why doesn’t President Macapagal do something about these delegates? After all, he is the president of the Convention and these are his people!

Dr. Leido opined that it is because President Macapagal belongs to the minority party. Although he is quite unhappy about this situation, he does not relish the idea of having to see President Marcos.

But I countered that under the circumstances it is his obligation, morally if nothing else, as president of the Convention, to take some initiatives. Are we just going to abandon any delegate who may be taken in?

While we were discussing this, Virgie (an employee of the Con-Con) came to tell us that Mangontawar Guro was “picked up” by the military yesterday at the session hall. The alleged charge is gunrunning.

We got rattled.

I mentioned that according to Francis Zosa, the delegates in the stockades have not been allowed to vote. Dr. Leido was surprised. He said that, according to the terms of the resolution, there was no expiry date given for those absent to vote. Vic Guzman urged us to do something—possibly oust the members of the three-man committee?

Even Dr. Leido, who is an old Nacionalista and a supporter in many ways of Malacanang, thought that the disqualification of delegates in the stockades from voting was bad. “We should sink or swim together,” he said.

Later, I asked Monet Tirol what he knew about when the Con-Con would meet in plenary. He said he is not in the know either, but there are good chances that by tomorrow the Steering Council might be able to meet to finish its new draft.

I asked him what he knew about the spreading rumor that the delegates might be ex-officio members of the Convention together with the incumbent senators and congressmen. He replied that the Steering Council had a meeting with the leaders of Congress and that Senator Puyat had proposed that the present senators and congressmen be made members of the interim Assembly with the Convention delegates as ex-officio members. He thought that Puyat was apparently also interested in being the Speaker of the interim Assembly.


Thursday, November 9, 1972

In the morning, Col. Moy Buhain (aide-de-camp to Speaker Villareal of the House of Representatives whom I had periodically served as economic adviser) dropped by to talk to me about the latest draft of the Steering Council. Obviously, he had already seen Speaker Villareal since our last talk. We were speculating on what will happen to the leaders of the country in the new political setup.

I told him that my understanding is that the President has a timetable to have the new Constitution approved by the middle of January so that Congress may no longer have to convene.

“What about Vice President Lopez? Right now he is in limbo. And what about (Senate President) Puyat? The other senators? And the speaker?”

“Theirs are problems as yet unresolved,” I replied. “Under the scenario under preparation, however, all of them would be members of the National Assembly. And there is a good chance, from my reckoning, that the President might want to have Speaker Villareal be the Speaker of the new Assembly,” I added.

Insofar as Lopez is concerned, it may be that after a while, the President would give up his post as president under the new Constitution. Already he has removed what few powers the president has left in our draft Constitution. Why did he have them transferred to the prime minister, as Atoy Barbero was telling me yesterday, so that all the powers are now vested in the prime minister? One possible answer is that he might then offer the presidency to Vice President Lopez, we conjectured. After all, under the Marcos Constitution, the president will now be elected by the Assembly and no longer directly by the Filipino people.

I went to the session hall in the afternoon. Some 40 delegates were scattered all over the session hall, chattering and flitting like birds lost in the wilderness.

No one seemed to know what was happening. The delegates were just whiling away their time. The reason? The Steering Council has decided that it was not ready to meet the 166-man body until Monday, four days from now.

Now, everything is the Steering Council! The Steering Council of 34 people decides everything while the rest of the 316 delegates are left guessing on what is happening, whiling away their time in speculations and small talks.

Greg Tingson, the famous evangelist, came to me, apparently bothered. He said, “Caesar, you and I profess Christian precepts. How shall we defend our actuations in this Convention?”

I was visibly troubled. Should we or should we not be in the provisional Assembly to be able to do what we could for the people at a time when we are needed most?

“It is apparent to me that this government has cast the die. There is no turning back. Should we not support it, abhorrent though it may be? Because if it fails, I foresee a revolution.” I was rationalizing; indeed, I was trying to convince myself.

“This is true,” Greg agreed readily. “For the sake of the country now, it should not fail.”

“But how can I join a dictatorial regime? I believe in human rights. I just cannot. I have pledged to fight all dictators in the world.” I was getting excited.

But if Marcos or Enrile should be out of power, Greg thought, the military would take over. We would then have a military government. Might not a transitional constitutional dictatorship be preferable to a military junta?

Between the devil and the deep blue sea? Is this now the situation of the country? Our fate is sealed?

The evil wrought on the country by the Steering Council is incalculable. However, be it said, its members are quite frank about what is happening; they keep on saying defensively that we cannot really express our own sentiments because the President wants this or that provision and that his will must be done.

It is quite true that, so far, some of the reforms of the President are laudable. I agree with Greg Tingson that these reforms may not have been done without martial law. But are these really worth the deprivation of our human rights? I do not think so.

It does not matter, of course, whether we want it or not. Martial law has been proclaimed and it looks like the state of emergency is here to stay.

My fundamental grievance against Marcos has to do with the violations of the human rights of dissenters and the creation of a climate of fear all over the land. Froilan Bacungan defended the action of the President last Sunday, telling me that if we can forget our personal interests and think only in terms of society and the country, then the deprivation of our freedom is well worth it.

In other words, instead of being bitter, Ninoy Aquino should just think of his incarceration as the sacrifice he is making for his country? And this should go for all others in the stockades, including ourselves, if we were arrested? Does this really make sense?

But the other problem that really bothers me is the fact that the President has practically staged a coup in the Convention. He has literally dictated some provisions of the new Constitution. This is indecent, immoral. And was it necessary? We have already given him—under duress—all that he wanted in terms of political power. Was it still necessary for him to impose his will on the other provisions? Unbelievable as it may seem, we now believe that it is, indeed, true that he has gone over the whole draft of the Constitution, provision by provision, and made corrections in them in his own handwriting.

Mene mene tekel upharsin. I can see the handwriting on the wall, similar to the one that appeared during Belshazzar’s feast.

I feel like crying, uttering a cry of anguish, like Othello, as he proposed to strangle his sweet wife: “But the pity of it, Iago. Oh, Iago, the pity of it!”

As some delegates were saying, it was indiscreet to have these notes of the President on the Constitution seen by several delegates. But did he even have to do it?

Even Lolo Baradi, a former ambassador and a loyal Marcos man, could not stomach what was happening.

“On All Saints’ Day, during the Cabinet meeting, the President made a slip on TV,” he told me. “He had asked Sec. Abad Santos, ‘what about the constitutional provisions on the judiciary? Are they already prepared?’ ‘Yes, sir,’ was the answer of the secretary. ‘We are preparing them.'”

The President was also reported by Lolo Baradi to have said: “I have some boys who are working with the Convention.”

Ikeng Corpuz has also seen the TV show and he and Lolo Baradi were laughing at these slips by the President. Obviously, Marcos did not realize that the TV was on when he uttered the incriminating remarks.

Moy Buhain had said this morning that he also saw this TV faux pas of the President. Or was this intentional? Come to think of it. Could it be that he had really wanted everyone to know that he was actively interfering in the writing of the Constitution? And thus intimidate every prospective oppositionist?

Ikeng Corpuz came to me and sat beside me. “You should now try to get your economic amendments in… I have read the provisions in the draft Constitution and I can not distinguish heads or tails in the article on the national economy,” he sighed.

Ikeng Corpuz is a good man but he really glosses over many things. He was obviously trying to compliment my understanding of the economic situation by supporting the provisions on economic policy that I have written. At the same time, he is also trying to impress me that he does understand their full import. But his actuations in the Convention have not been very consistent. Nevertheless, we have a certain attachment to each other.

Inggo Guevarra was in despair when he saw me. “There is nothing at all about industrial development in the new Constitution,” he wailed.

I had a dramatic meeting at the elevator with the delegate in real limbo—former Ambassador Eduardo Quintero, who had exposed Marcos’ payola in the Convention and had paid for his honesty by being framed by Marcos. Marcos had ordered dollar notes “planted” in his home. I’m sure history would proclaim him as one of the heroes of the Convention.

He saw me first and greeted me. He was with his daughter, who was obviously pleased to see me. I think they were happy over the fact that I had visited Quintero twice at the hospital.

About five army troopers were immediately behind Quintero, which suggested that Quintero is still under guard or some kind of house arrest. He looks somewhat stronger than the last time I saw him at the hospital. However, like Inggo Guevarra, he, too, may have arrived too late to vote. The voting had already closed sometime last week.

In the evening I attended the party given by Ting Jaime at the Club Filipino on behalf of the Philippine Chamber of Industries for Jess Tanchanco (our long-time Philippine Chamber of Industries first vice president) who has been appointed administrator of the National Grains Authority.

Several past presidents of the Philippine Chamber of Industries were there.

Don Fernando Sison, secretary of finance in the Macapagal administration, greeted me by saying that I looked pale and too thin last week at the meeting at the Hilton. (Ever since I heard that I would be arrested, my ulcerative colitis has worsened.)

In the course of our talk, we heard from Don Fernando that, perhaps, a general amnesty for political prisoners was forthcoming on the 15th of November. I thought that this would be a wise move on the part of Marcos. It would somehow heal the bitter division in the country caused by the incarceration of so many political prisoners.

Marianing del Rosario opined that many of Marcos’ reforms seem to be getting the support of the people. He does not like a dictatorship, Marianing said, but he might even support him in his drive for reforms. He thought Marcos would succeed with his “democratic revolution.”

“And if he fails?” I asked.

“If he fails, that is the end of all of us.”

Even Don Fernando said that if Marcos did well—and if he were to run for election later—he would support him.

Don Fernando mentioned that the President, during the Cabinet meeting, which was televised, had asked the Cabinet members whether the Constitution was already finished. He and Marianing were saying that the President did not hide anymore his interference with the framing of the Constitution.

“I take off my hat to the President,” Marianing said. “He is a brilliant man—for weal or for woe. During that Cabinet meeting, he showed such complete grasp of everything happening in the country. This was clearly shown in his discussion of the problems of each department.”

Don Fernando started telling me his inner thoughts.

He reminded me that at the meeting of PCI’s past presidents last week at the Hilton, the first advice that he gave was for us to adapt ourselves to the situation. Now he is especially advising me to take this stance.

“You have to survive.” He was very fatherly.

He added that this is a matter of survival for all of us, hence we have no choice except to adapt. “Bear in mind,” he said, “that martial law is here to stay with us for some time. I read the transitory provision and it shows clearly that martial law will be with us for many years.”

I suggested that this might turn out to be something like the situation in Spain.

“Yes, insofar as the duration is concerned. It will really take many years. Franco has been there since 1935 but with a very big difference. Franco is still a dedicated man and a poor man. He is a dictator but his major concern is the welfare of his people.”

He stressed that we must adapt and survive knowing that insofar as history is concerned, dictatorships do not really last forever.

“Where is Hitler now?” he asked rhetorically. “Where is Mussolini now? Or Genghis Khan?”

When I asked him how he would have voted on the transitory provision if he were a delegate, Don Fernando replied forthrightly that he would have voted “Yes.” He said he likes to think this is the kind of situation that President Laurel was in during the Japanese Occupation. It is a question of the fundamentals by which one lives, he said. He considers Laurel a hero, not a collaborator; many others were collaborators. He added that he had read the explanation of Pepe Calderon on why he voted “Yes” and it was very good.

He also informed us that many delegates in the Convention, from the time we were discussing the form of government we should adopt, were receiving ₱1,000 each per attendance to make sure that the provision on parliamentary form of government would win.

Really? I never knew this!

Don Fernando said there was so much publicity about people being dismissed from the government for malversing the calamity funds—but these are the small fry. Some people have been dismissed for malversing ₱10 million but the government has malversed nearly half a billion.

“How do you account for the funds? The President has not made any accounting. That is the reason why before martial law Senator Tolentino and others were asking that Malacañang make an accounting.”

“So you see,” he continued, “it is easy enough for the delegates to be paid. There are enough funds.”

He advised me to continue with my journal (this political diary) and have a copy entrusted to someone in case anything happens to me. He said this would not be useful now but it should be extremely useful in the future.