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.


Wednesday, November 8, 1972

My amendments on the national economy as well as that on the National Assembly were filed today.

There was so much discussion on the powers of the Steering Council—which are more or less plenary—and the apparent deempowerment of the Sponsorship Council. Serging Tocao, a member of our Sponsorship Council, was enraged by the fact that the Sponsorship Council was being made a second-class council by the Steering Council when, under the rules, it is the Sponsorship Council that is supposed to write the Constitution for voting on third reading.

I thought the discussions were really a waste of time. I raised the question of whether or not we might still introduce major amendments to the provisions that have been written by the Steering Council if we thought that our amendments would improve the provisions already written. From the way my remarks were handled by Ikeng Corpus I got the feeling that the answer is no, we are not really strong enough to push through anything in the Convention. In other words, the situation was more or less hopeless.

“Verzweivelt aber nicht ernst” (desperate but not serious), this is how the Austrian people laugh off their national problems. But our situation is verzweivelt und hoffnungslos (desperate and hopeless).

Corpuz read the words of the resolution granting all the powers to the Steering Council. He said we ourselves had given them to the Council.

“Under duress,” I cried out. But everyone seemed resigned to the fact that we are now rewriting the Constitution the way Malacañang wants it.

Jesus (Jess) Garcia, a Marcos loyalist, leaned towards me and whispered that I should not be too vocal about my views because if I did not sign the Constitution, and if I did not vote with the majority, I would surely be arrested by the military. He swore that he has seen with his own eyes my name and that of my brother’s (Rebeck) among the list of 32 people who are supposed to be detained.

Again I hear I am going to the stockade. This is getting too much—everyone expects me to be arrested! But one consoling thing has come out quite clearly: there are many Marcos people—my political opponents—who, out of respect, for me, are concerned for my safety.

Joe Feria was also skeptical about our ability to change anything in the draft of the Steering Council, considering that during the voting on the Toto de la Cruz resolution vesting all powers on the Steering Council, only 12 had voted “No.” In other words, we are not really united in the Sponsorship Council. The majority in the Sponsorship Council have been so frightened that they voted with the tutas.

I suggested that a liaison committee be created to work through our amendments with the Steeling Council and also to find out just what provisions are special ones for Malacañang which may no longer be amended. It would be inconceivable that, as claimed by the Steering Council members, we may no longer change any provision. We thought that perhaps, Malacañang is interested only in some provisions, not in all, and that the Steering Council is using the name of Malacañang to get a carte-blanche to write the whole Constitution. I suggested that the group be headed by Ramon Encarnacion, with Noli Aguilar, Serging Tocao and Bongbong as members. These are also Marcos people but they are not in the Steering Council.

Justice Barrera soon joined our tete-a-tete.

It was established by Jess Garcia and Ikeng Corpuz that, actually, the contact man of Malacañang who reports there regularly is Bebet Duavit but another guy who is discussing the draft provisions with President Marcos is Tony de Guzman.

“Small wonder Tony has been lording it over in the meeting of the Council,” Joe Feria said. “He has been chairing some of the meetings of the Steering Council, with some technicians and experts of Malacañang and Congress in attendance.” During the meetings, Tony de Guzman would say, ‘Well, gentlemen, I am sorry to say that I don’t

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“The only important thing on the national economy is that it should be thrown open to foreign investments. This is what the President wants,” Atoy’s tone was definitive.

He added that insofar as the form of government is concerned, the powers of the president have been scrapped and all the powers have now been vested on the prime minister.

Jess Garcia intervened. “So you see it is only you (Atoy) who was right all the time on the system of government we should adopt. During the debates, while the delegates were split on whether to adopt a presidential or a parliamentary system, you had the guts to stand up and say that what is most desirable is a dictatorship.”

“Several weeks later, in his speech opposing the ‘no reelection’ provision on the president, Teroy Laurel adverted to the maverick resolution of one of the delegates advocating a dictatorship,” I concurred.

Atoy shrugged his shoulders. He went down with me to the secretariat to look at my amendments. He warned me that insofar as amendments by substitution are concerned, they are out. But I informed him that I have my second alternative amendments on the national economy. He responded by saying that if they would strengthen the article concerned and if they would not lengthen it entirely, they may be considered.

I assured him that they would not lengthen. And, I said, he can throw away my nationalistic provisions—what can I do?—if the government really wants an open policy on foreign investments.

I was earnestly asking for Atoy’s help. He was good enough to promise that he is going to look over my second alternative amendments by substitution in which I had sought to incorporate all our committee ideas on the national economy. I would, however, try to find a way to insert on the record my amendments by substitution not only on the national economy but also on the declaration of principles. I believe that in the latter case, we are expressing a philosophy of government and we should at least express our views and have them on record even if we knew that they would not be accepted.

This may be a footnote to history. During my talk before the Sponsorship Council this morning I mentioned that I still feel like putting on record, for the benefit of the next generation, my thoughts on this matter even if I may no longer be heard by my colleagues in the Convention.


Friday, October 20, 1972

The proceedings were tense; or should I say, shameful?

There were vigorous speeches against the provision by Justice Barrera, Gary Teves and Leonie Garcia. The whole Convention looked with admiration at these three musketeers who have displayed their guts by speaking against what is a foreordained provision and, in so doing, were taking the risk of incurring the wrath of the political gods.

There were many more minor skirmishes. The one thing that sticks to my mind is the fact that insofar as talking or reasoning with the majority was concerned, it was like talking to a wall. There was absolutely no way for them to accomodate another view. They were determined to ram through whatever they had decided.

Teroy Laurel made a brilliant defense of his proposed amendments to the draft. We should not limit membership to the National Assembly to the delegates who would opt to serve, as was provided for in the draft, because this was really making the thing a mockery; it was humiliating.

It would seem from the amount of applause he received and the raising of hands that followed, that the amendment was carried. Indeed, it was announced by Abe Sarmiento, who was then presiding, that the motion was carried.

But then Fidel Purisima demanded voting by tellers. This changed the situation. Many delegates would not express their true wishes because the walls of the session have many eyes: the dissenters would be watched by Big Brother!

In the voting by tellers, the result was 128 to 123 –or something like that– in favor of retaining the original draft provision which states that members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention who opt to serve in the Interim Assembly by voting affirmatively would be the only ones who would be members of the National Assembly. This is cearly immoral, unfair and unjust –but the proponents have made up their minds.

Yesterday, I casually told Ramon Encarnacion that perhaps the President would be a little more reasonable than his own lieutenants in the session hall. I overheard Bebet Duavit was willing to give 72 hours to those who were not present during the voting to signify their intention of voting affirmitavely. I, therefore, went to Duavit in order to persuade him to lengthen this to, say, two weeks, to enable those who are abroad to come back and give their decision. But Duavit said this was impossible. As it was, he was only trying to get them to agree on this 72 hours’ grace, but not as an amendment to the provision. It is going to be some kind of suspension of rules before actual voting on the amendment.

Later, I rose, anyway, to introduce an amendment to extend the time for those who are absent to be able to vote. Before I could complete my first few sentences, however, the floor leader, Munding Cea, cut me off, and on the same theme, said it would be completely unfair and unjust to preclude our colleagues who are not present from voting…

To our great chagrin, Toto de la Cruz, chairman of the Committee on Rules, stood to oppose this.

How could anyone in conscience oppose something like this? Where is our sense of fairness? But then, a people secure in their numbers and certain of their purpose can too easily forget that democracy requires tolerance!

Arturo Pacificador would not brook any moderation. Evidently following a “script”, he announced that those absent would be given 72 hours, provided they personally cast their votes in an open session. When some amendments were proposed, such as to allow voting by cablegrams and tegerams or letters, Pacificador, his porcupine hair blasphemously pointing heavenwards, arrogantly gesticulated. “If this is under question, I better withdraw my motion,” he haughtily trumpeted…

So we had to vote….

The tension in the air was very heavy during the voting. The roll call took place. There were 14 “No” votes…

Afterwards, the dominant group made a motion to have our vote considered, for all purposes, as the same vote for the second and third readings.

It seems no quarter are to be given. Like a no-prisoners taken stance in war. In other words, the majority would take what it can –everything– now; why wait?

It was indecent, of course. But decency could not wait any longer. Immediate voting was done –and it passed almost unanimously.

In one stroke, so to speak, we actually voted on second and third readings on the provision in question -and that means then that the provision is finished –passed!

What is done is done. We have failed our people… We were elected to be members of the Convention, not to be assemblymen. The grant of extraordinary powers and the ratification of all actions of the President does not seem to bother the delegates too much. The fact that ours is now a rubber stamp Convention and that the Assembly would be a rubber stamp Assembly does not really matter. What is ultimately important to them, it would seem, is that we are going to be members of the Assembly –so the next area of concern is what salaries we are going to have.

 


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?


Saturday, October 7, 1972

I was concerned for Justice Barrera’s safety. When he saw me, he also showed much concern—for me. He asked excitedly in rapid succession, “Were you released?” Did they release you?”

“I was never taken in, Justice,” I assured him.

“No, no, no, you were taken in, but did they release you immediately afterwards?”

He showed genuine pleasure upon having been convinced that I had not really been arrested. And I said, “How about you, Justice, what’s your story? I was equally concerned about you. I thought you had gone to Hong Kong.”

“No.” He smiled. “It seemed actually I was in the list but it was Secretary Enrile himself who withheld my name saying that I am already quite an old man and there is nothing to be gained in putting me behind prison.”

“As a matter of fact,” he continued, “I had even prepared everything already, including my mosquito net, because I really thought I was going in.”

I proceeded afterwards to the meeting of the Committee on External Affairs.

“By the way, my name is not Ramon,” I said repeatedly because there was so much joking about the Con-con delegate Ramon Espiritu who, according to the papers, has been arrested.

Ramon Espiritu is one of the members of the Communist politburo in the Philippines who were arrested in 1956 and put behind bars for more than 15 years. I do not know him and I have never met him. I wonder why people like Ramon Espiritu, and even more so, Luis Taruc and Alfredo Saulo, who have already been punished so much in the past and who, apparently, are now living within the pale of the law, are to be detained again.

Nene Pimentel rode with me in the car. He told me that he was with Ernie Rondon a week ago when Rondon was taken in. They were apparently having lunch at Rondon’s house when an officer came in and showed him a xerox copy of an order from Enrile to have him arrested.

Pimentel had appeared at the Supreme Court yesterday.

“It was quite beautiful the way the thing had proceeded.” He was almost ecstatic. He had told the judges point-blank that if the Supreme Court did not do its duty now, they may find themselves in the same predicament as Chief Justice Taney in Ex Parte Merryman during the U.S. civil war. Taney had pitifully bewailed the illegality of Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and his (Taney’s) own inability to release those arrested.

He said that the conditions did not warrant the declaration of martial law. To begin with, the bombings could not be used as an excuse. For example, Pimentel warmed up, who were caught after the grenade bombing of Plaza Miranda a year ago? There were some convicts among them, but there was absolutely no proof that the NPAs have really done it.

Again, who bombed Joe’s store at Carriedo? A PC trooper, not NPAs. Who was suspected of bombing the Con-Con? Two men dressed in PC uniforms were seen running away; in fact, it was probably because he was yelling and telling everyone that he saw two soldiers coming out of the toilet (which was the epicenter of the bombing) that Pepito Nolledo was later arrested.

Nene told the Supreme Court that it was their historic duty to do something to avert disaster. He apologized for speaking that way, but he was before a court of justice and if he could not speak there, he would not be able to speak anywhere else.

Nene said that he had discerned from the interrogations that Chief Justice Concepcion and Justices Fernando and Teehankee and possibly Fred Ruiz Castro were probably sympathetic.

It’s too bad, I said, that JBL Reyes is no longer in the Supreme Court.

According to him, the responses to the interrogation of the solicitor general, Titong Mendoza by Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion, showed that Titong himself was quite skeptical about the government’s actions.

The CEPO meeting I attended afterwards was held at the Army & Navy Club. When Tavi Tavanlar came in, he informed us that there was a think tank that was helping President Marcos formulate economic policies. Among the regular members that he had seen in these meetings of the group were Armand Fabella, Gerry Sicat, Ting Paterno, Bong Tanco and a few other guys. Tavanlar suggested that CEPO should formulate certain economic policies for presentation to this think tank.

What? Actively collaborate with the man primarily responsible for the loss of our freedoms—and the arbitrary arrests and even tortures? What a preposterous idea!


Tuesday, September 5, 1972

The ban dynasty resolution is the big topic of the day. President Marcos has indicated in unmistakable terms his desire to continue in office even after the end of his second term—beyond the constitutional limit of eight years.

The eyes of the nation are focused on the Convention. The resolutions put to the test the reputed overwhelming force of the Marcos supporters in the Convention.

Since yesterday, most seats in the session hall have been occupied. Absences are few. There is excitement in the air. The wildest rumors of what might happen are rife at the Convention Hall. It seems obvious to many that the political institutions of our constitutional democracy are about to expire; they have been fast crumbling in the past few days.

When I entered the hall, Ramon (Ramoning) Diaz was already introducing his amendment as follows:

NO PERSON WHO HAS AT ANY TIME SERVED AS PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES, UNDER THIS OR THE PREVIOUS CONSTITUTION, SHALL BE ELIGIBLE TO OCCUPY THE SAME OFFICE OR THAT OF PRIME MINISTER. THE SPOUSE OF SUCH PERSON SHALL BE INELIGIBLE TO OCCUPY EITHER OFFICE DURING THE UNEXPIRED OFFICE OF HIS TERM OR IN THE IMMEDIATE SUCCEEDING TERM.

Brief supporting speeches by Jose Mari (Joe Mari) Velez, Dancing Alfelor, Juan (Johnny) Liwag, Feliciano (Fely) Jover Ledesma, Napoleon (Nap) Rama and Jose (Pepe) Calderon followed.

Calderon was especially articulate this time. He received a lot of ovation. He said he had refrained from actually participating in the debates because of his illness but this time he had to speak out because it was necessary.

Some of us were getting anxious, especially when he started getting angry in his speech. He had a heart attack only recently.

He was followed by Naning Kalaw, Totoy Nepomuceno, Romeo (Romy) Capulong, Jose (Pepito) Nolledo, Justice Jesus Barrera, Jun Badoy, Jun Catan and Heherson (Sonny) Alvarez.

Sonny just shared his speech with Jun Catan, asking the body simply to decide on the issue since history will condemn it as a puppet Convention should it place personal ambition over national interest.

In the afternoon, there was a continuation of the speeches in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution, with Teofisto (Tito) Guingona starting out, followed by Raul Manglapus.

Raul, as usual, was eloquent. He contended that if approved the amendment will actively respond to the clamor of the people for meaningful reforms.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emerito Salva also spoke against the ban. Emerito, for some time, showed progressive leanings in many matters in the Convention. He was one of the isolated Ilocano “antis.” However, according to Magtanggol Gunigundo, Emerito was called at one time by Marcos and the meeting with the President seemed to have had an effect on his general conduct in the Convention thereafter. Now, apparently, he has turned full circle and has joined the ranks of the pro-Marcoses. Whether he is in this new role by force, we do not know.

Salva was followed by Willy Cainglet and then by Salvador (Buddy) Britanico.

Britanico was my student at FEU, where I had taught before UP. He was initially a Macapagal man. Many delegates have complained that he is a little too glib. He has, from the beginning, irked quite a number of delegates from his own West Visayan aggrupation. Early on, he, together with Reynaldo (Rey) Fajardo, has manifested a juvenile delight in raising points of order.

Victor (Vic) Ortega, my brother-in-law, also spoke against the resolution.

Vic was, for a while, identified with the Independent-Progressive bloc. In fact, he attended most of our meetings in the beginning and up to the time that the lowering of the voting age and other electoral reforms were being discussed, he was working actively and closely with Raul Manglapus. However, sometime last June, there were reports in the papers that Vic was among those leading the opposition to the ban-dynasty provision being discussed by the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Manglapus.

Fidel Purisima also spoke against, followed by Rey Fajardo. Rey Fajardo is another guy who has apparently turned full circle. In the beginning, he was a Macapagal man. In the end, it would seem that he has been won over by the Marcos forces. The conversion of Fajardo might have started from the time he was sponsoring the report of his Committee on the Pluralization of Political Parties. This has earned for him the near-hostility of many delegates.

Sonny Alvarez rose for a lively interpellation of Fajardo. His use of the word “balls” soon acquired a humorous vein in the Convention. One delegate joined in the crossing of swords saying, “But Mr. Chairman, there is nothing to hang in the case of Fajardo because he has lost his balls.”

The delegates roared with laughter—unfortunately at someone’s expense. Typical Filipino humor.

Finally, former senator, Roseller Lim, regaled the delegates with his funny stories. He was the last speaker against the ban-dynasty resolution. As usual, he has a certain knack for reducing tension. He has the chic to say and do many things which some of us would not be able to say or do. The day ended quite cheerfully, thanks to Ller.

He also serves who only make the people laugh.