January 19, 2001

By 8 a.m of Jan. 19, along with Press Secretary Dong Puno, I met at the New World Hotel Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Gringo Honasan, and the President’s defense lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, to sound them out on the proposal to open the second envelope. “If this is the President’s decision,” said the senators, “we cannot do anything.”

Sensing the situation was becoming critical, I called Macel Fernandez from the hotel to draft an Executive Order creating an ad hoc committee to monitor and manage the fast-swelling crowds in order to safeguard human rights and prevent violence.

At 10:22 a.m., I arrived at the Presidential Residence. Secretary Robert Aventajado, Lito Banayo and Dong Puno were already having breakfast. Only Mercado was wearing black. He was seated beside Macel. DILG Secretary Alfredo Lim was also there.

The President’s legal team, Estelito Mendoza, Andres Narvasa, Raul Daza and Cleofe Verzola, arrived soon after I did. Together with the President, Lito Banayo, Dong, Orly, Fred Lim and I went inside the small conference room of the residence to discuss two important points –the opening of the second envelope and the ad hoc committee to handle the demonstrations. A consensus was arrived at that the President would issue a public statement calling for the opening of the second envelope. The president also quickly agreed to constitute the ad hoc committee, with the executive secretary sitting as chair and the secretary of interior and local government as vice chair. Members would include the secretaries of Justice, national defence, finance, the press secretary, the director general of the PNP and the chief of staff of the Armed Force of the Philippines.

I had the committee members called earlier for our first meeting. All of them were present, except the AFP chief of staff, Gen. Angelo Reyes, and Secretary Pardo. The Nica, Isafp, PNP Intelligence Group and NBI head also came as support staff to the ad hoc committee.

Discussions on the state of security followed. “The military is 100% secure,” reassured Orly. I did not know that moments earlier, he had told Macel that government had to act fast, because in the last few days the Military would move. I also did not know that Orly’s vehicle that day contained at least 20 high-powered firearms.

At 1 p.m., Orly left the palace. He said he was just going to the office.

1:20 p.m.- The President calls me into his small office at the Presidential Residence (PR) and says in a somber tone, “Ed, seryoso na ito. Kumalas na si Angelo (Reyes) (Ed, this serious, Angelo has defected).” General Calimlim is beside him. On the couch sits Ping Lacson, talking on his cell phone.

The President could not understand why Reyes would defect, after he had consistently improved the soldier’s pay and welfare benefits. And he could not understand why Reyes, whose appointment had been extended by the President until 2002 just a few days earlier, would abandon him at the time he was most needed.

2:00 p.m- The President prepares to tape the previously prepared statement regarding the second envelope.

While the President is dressing up for his taping, Sen. Raul Roco calls me on the cellular phone. “Partner,” he says, “it’s time to take a decision. Perhaps you should convince the President to resign.” While I am talking to Roco, Secretary Alredo Lim is hovering around me and asking, “Who are you talking to?” “Raul Roco,” I answer. Lim immediately says, “Aalis na muna ako. Immobilize ko lang si Maganto.” (I have to leave, I will immobilize Maganto),” said Lim. “Hintayin mo muna si Presidente, nagbibihis lang,” I told Fred. He answered, “Hindi na, mauna na ako.”(Angara tells him to wait for the President who was dressing up. But Lim said he had to go.)

Chief Supt. Romeo Maganto, head of a task force at the interior department, reportedly allowed the protestors in Mendiola to get closer to the Palace gates.

2:30 p.m.- Secretary Lim leaves the Palace. The President, in a last minute effort to diffuse the situation and hold back the demonstrators, decided to hold a snap elections, and that he would not himself run in that elections.

I asked Senator Roco what he thought of the snap elections. Roco answered that snap elections might be very difficult considering there is no vacancy for the vice presidency.

2:45 p.m.- I invited Senate President Pimentel and Speaker Noli Fuentebella to come to Malacañang to ask for their opinion on the snap elections. They arrived at the PR and met with the President and myself. “There would be technical difficulties on the snap elections,” Nene said, “since the position of Vice President is not vacant.” Noli did not volunteer any comments. Nonetheless they asked the President to send them a written request.

3:00 p.m.- General Reyes announces his decision. I see on television that General Reyes is accompanied by Orly Mercado, wearing black. Orly had been one of the most trusted and favoured Cabinet members of Estrada and was president of Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

Considering that the President’s options at the time are limited to snap elections and still fighting it out, I pull aside Nene Pimentel and ask him if he could advise the president not to exclude other options. “A dignified exit or resignation might be the best way for him,” I said. The President listens intently to Pimentel, who volunteers to put the idea to Cory Aquino and get a feedback.

3:45 p.m.- I see on television that General Calimlim has joined General Reyes in withdrawing support for the President. He had been in the PR just hours before. It was now more crucial than ever that the PNP remain loyal to the presidency. Ping Lacson immediately said he would check with the PNP directors who were waiting in his office.

4:00 p.m.- Ping Lacson leaves the Presidential Palace.

5:30 p.m.- The President tapes a statement at the main conference room of the Palace calling for snap elections and stating categorically that he would not run. Friends and supporters rallied around him for support.

Ping Lacson called me to say that the PNP has decided to withdraw support for the President. He asked to talk to the President but I said the President was taping a message in the main conference hall. I promised Ping that I would call him back as soon as the President was free. I then crossed over from the residence to the Palace and waited for the President to finish taping to relay to him Ping’s message.

I have Ping called and the President and he talk over the phone.

6:00 p.m.- Ping Lacson announced on television that the PNP was withdrawing its support to the President. Ping said it was the most difficult decision of his life.

8:00 p.m.- I leave briefly to meet with several senators at my apartment to update them on developments. I arrive at the same time as Tessie Aquino-Oreta. Sen. Jonny Ponce Enrile arrives soon after.

9:00 p.m.- Before other senators arrive and as I start briefing Tessie and Johnny on the developments, I receive a call from Nene Pimentel asking me to join him in the Palace to meet the President. I immediately rush back to Malacañang. The senators met without me, with Senators John Osmeña, Tito Sotto and Gringo Honasan arriving after I had left.

9:30 p.m.- I arrived in the Presidential Residence to meet Nene and the President. Nene is already with the President inside the latter’s small office. They are JV Ejercito.

The President, Nene, JV and I meet in the President’s office. Nene repeats to the President the need to make a grateful and dignified exit, saying that he would be allowed to go abroad with enough funds to support him and his family. The President said he will never leave the country. The President also reiterates his desire that the second letter be opened. A letter is immediately drafted, where the President asks the Senate sitting as an impeachment court to open the second envelope.

Later, an aide says Cardinal Vidal has arrived and the three of us join the Cardinal in the main sala.

10:00 p.m.- After the meeting, the President tells me, “Ed, Angie (Reyes) guaranteed that I would have to a week in the Palace.”

11 p.m.- Rene de Villa, one of the opposition’s emissaries and now Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s executive secretary, calls to ask that we meet in negotiation.

I receive a call from former President Fidel V. Ramos.

“Ed,” Ramos says, “magtulungan tayo para magkaroon ng (Let’s cooperate to ensure a) peaceful and orderly transfer of power. It is important that there will be no violence.” I answer: “Of course, Mr. President, it is also in our interest that no violence will break out.”

We set the first round of negotiations in the Office of the Executive Secretary at  Malacañang’s Mabini Hall. Political advisor Lito Banayo, Assistant Secretary Boying Remulla of the Presidential Management Group, my aide Dondon Bagatsing and  PMS head Macel Fernandez are with me.

 

 


November 11, 1985

Arrived from Tokyo this morning.

Spoke before the Manila Rotary Club. During the open forum that followed my speech, a die-hard supporter gave me 17-page document entitled “A Gathering of Davids”, dated October 30, 1985. Attached to it was another document consisting of 9 pages entitled “Declaration of Unity, dated Dec. 26, 1984.

the first document was a carefully conceived plot to destroy and discredit UNIDO and me as presidential standard bearer. The objective was to grab the leadership of the opposition from UNIDO and place it in the hands of left-leaning elements, using Cory as their tool. Obviously, this was hatched while I was in US.

The plot had a time-table. They were supposed to the COMELEC accreditation as Dominant Opposition Party (DOP) by Nov. 5. But they were delayed because of my absence. The NUC was to be used as the instrument to get the DOP from UNIDO and Ex-Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma was the anointed implementor. All along she had pretended to be “neutral”, but the document clearly showed that she was already part of the plot to replace UNIDO as DOP and replace me as presidential candidate. Their plan was to make Cory the presidential candidate and NUC as the DOP.

The plotters were:

Lorenzo Tañada — Convenor Group

Jose W. Diokno

Jaime V. Ongpin — Convenor Group

Cory Aquino — Convenor Group

Jovito Salonga ?

Butz Aquino

Aquilino Pimentel

Sonny Osmeña

Tito Guingona

 

They were the signatories also to the “Declaration of Unity” which had agreed to legalize the Communist Party and swore to immediately remove the US Bases — which Eva Kalaw and I had refused to sign.

It was specifically stated that the UNIDO was to be “forced” “as quickly as possible” to yield to NUC-CG demands “or else” be “isolated” and “viewed as the villain” by the people. A well-planned concerted media blitz to discredit and destroy UNIDO and me “at all cost” was already planned. “Coordinated press releases, interviews” were ready.

The so-called “Command Structure of the Coalition” excluded UNIDO. A convention within 48-hours also excluded UNIDO.

A letter addressed to the NUC, attention MP Cecilia Muñoz Palma, “reminding” her to seek the DOP status for NUC bu November 7, was already drafted.


August 28, 1985

Met today with the Cebu MPs led by Celing Fernan, Sonny Osmeña, Tony Cuenco, Inday Nita Daluz, Junie Martinez and Rene Espina. We have solid support in Cebu. I will proceed to Ilocos region on Friday, the 30th. Pablito Sanidad is in charge. We will cover Ilocos Sur and La Union and Baguio. In keeping with an old unwritten tradition, I will skip Ilocos Norte in this campaign. Then to Zambales c/o Raul Gonzales and Pampanga c/o Tony Angeles. Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro next week. Side trip to Butuan. Bicol next.


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.


Thursday, September 28, 1972

The note on my desk said I should ring up Sig Siguion-Reyna. It was 6:00 o’clock p.m.

Another note was marked “Urgent.” I should call up my brother Rebeck.

I called up Rebeck first. He informed me that Beth Mateo, Bobbit Sanchez’ secretary, had called him up to say that I was in the “list” and that, according to Bobbit, I should call up Sig.

I called up Sig.

“Where are you?”

“I am at home.”

“Well, why don’t you come over?” Apprehension was apparent in his voice.

“Is it serious, Sig?” My voice trembled. “If it is, may I request you to contact immediately Johnny Ponce Enrile. We are good friends and he knows me very well. It is very important that he be notified.”

Rebeck decided to meet me at Sig’s office to give me company. Sig was waiting for me. It was quarter past seven o’clock. He had a forced smile on his face.

He immediately took us to his room. Then almost solemnly, he said that he had gone to the session hall and that one of his primary reasons for going there was to see me. He then told me that last night, he was at the house of Enrile and while they were chatting, Sig was casually looking over the military’s thick list of the persons to be arrested. Suddenly, he saw—because he was farsighted—my name and that of (Senator) Sonny Osmeña’s in the secondary list.

It must be really serious. This is it, I gasped.

I was now getting to be unhappily resigned to the idea that I might be arrested and detained by the military. Are we not all of us—atheists or believers—really fatalists at heart?

I asked him if Enrile knew that my name was there.

Sig did not know, but he made me promise that I would never mention to anyone that he was the one who told me. But he was emphatic that my name was there.

“I saw it very clearly: Espiritu, Augusto Caesar.”

“I should like to see Johnny.” I was getting anxious.

Sig said that it would be quite obvious he was my informer if he took me to Enrile. Although they are brothers-in-law, Sig did not want it said that he has betrayed Enrile’s trust.

The only advice he could give me, he said, was for me not to sleep in my house tonight. He said that in any case he promised that whether he saw Enrile or not today, he is going to see him if and when I am “picked up.”

“Not after I am picked up, Sig… before!” I shrieked.

I repeated that Enrile and I are quite good friends; we have known each other for more than 23 years and he personally knows I have not done anything wrong.

Well, Sig said, the problem with Enrile at this time is, he would not recognize any relations or friends.

He was not too reassuring but he tried to demonstrate that he is a real friend.

I asked Sig’s opinion on the advisability of my seeing Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos. Eddie Ramos knows me, too.

Sig thought that General Ramos would be tight-lipped. He is a soldier; he only obeys orders.

“Do you think I can see Johnny?” I repeated, as in a trance.

Sig repeated that it was untimely for him to take me to Enrile. He felt it would be quite difficult to see him, anyway, because of so many security men around his house.

Then I asked if perhaps I could talk to Estelito (Titong) Mendoza, the solicitor-general, who is one of my really closest friends. Sig thought that there is very little contact between Titong and Enrile. In any case, he thought that the key man here is Enrile, not Titong Mendoza, not Eddie Ramos.

I asked Sig if, perhaps, Edong Angara could help.

Ah, yes, Edong, he replied. I could ask Edong’s help because he was also at Enrile’s house last night.

Sig can be such a terrible rightist at times that I get exasperated with him. Nevertheless, I am somewhat fond of him; he is actually a good friend. I am grateful.

Sig and I are both nonpoliticians. We had first met when we were campaigning for the Con-Con in Caloocan. The vice-mayor of the city wanted to have us greet some people he had gathered together. Sig and I rushed to shake the hands of the people, hardly looking at their faces. Just like politicians, we just shook hundreds of hands in thirty minutes flat when, to our embarrassment and dismay, Sig and I suddenly discovered we were shaking each other’s hand! We have since been associated in some business activities.

How many seconds did it take me, in my bewildered state, to negotiate the several hundred meters distance between Sig’s office and Edong’s?

The ACCRA (Angara Law Office) partners were all there at the office: Edong, Teddy Regala, Ave Cruz, Jose Concepcion and others.

Still panting, I walked into their conference room.

“Oh, you are still out?” they laughed in banter. “We thought that you would now be at the stockade.”

They were, of course, speaking lightly, but their words only added to my apprehensions.

I asked Edong whether he had heard anything about me.

“You are in the list.” He was forthright. But he added that I was only in the secondary list. He was not sure whether Enrile had said that he was going to scratch my name out or that my name was going to be withheld.

I asked him whether we could see Enrile. He dialed a certain number and very soon, he was talking to Enrile’s wife, Cristina. Apparently, Edong is really in direct contact with Enrile.

“I might as well tell you that Caesar Espiritu is here beside me. We are thinking of going to see Johnny because Caesar is in the list.”

He asked whether he could talk to Johnny over the phone. Afterwards, he hanged up because he said that Johnny was on the other line. Then he said we should see Johnny later on.

After a while, he decided that perhaps it might be better for him to go ahead to Johnny’s place; he would call me up from there.

After another 30 minutes, Edong was on the phone. Enrile was meeting with some generals, and, therefore, we would not be able to see him. He consoled me, however, with the news that he had talked to Enrile. Enrile had said that I should not worry because he was going to “withhold” my name. He kept assuring me that if Johnny Enrile said I should not worry , then I should rest assured.

I was not quite sure about what “withhold” means.

“Ed, it would even be better if he could scratch out my name,” I pleaded.

I am not sleeping in the house tonight.