Monday, November 27, 1972

The headline of the Daily Express today was “Second Reading Vote Today on Draft of Proposed Constitution.” The subheading is “Charter Reflect Spirit of New Society.”

I had a brief chat with Johnny Remulla and Jun Davide.

“There is no more oppposition in Cavite,” Johnny declared triumphantly. “Governor Bocalan is in the stockade while Senator (Tatang) Montano is out of the country. Tatang Montano was one of those to be arrested on the first day of martial law for smuggling and/or gunrunning.”

That left Johnny, indeed, the virtual ruler of Cavite.

I had thought that today we could start with our interpellations. I was about one of the few more interpellators who could not be accommodated yesterday because we adjourned early. However, when the session started in the morning, Roy Montejo moved that all other interpellations on the draft Constitution be submitted in writing to the Secretariat no later than 5:00 p.m. on November 28 for insertion in the journal.

I whispered to Sed Ordoñez, who was sitting beside me, “They have just killed my interpellation.”

I then dictated my interpellation to my secretary, Olive:

“We have divided the provisions of the new Constitution into those that are meant to be transitory in character and those permanent and enduring. I understand that the transitory provisions are meant to be merely provisional—that is to say, in the interim; that because of extraordinary circumstances certain powers are vested in certain officials. Is this the rationale for the concentration of executive powers which, ordinarily, we would not write among the permanent provisions during normal times?

“The members of the committee have been instrumental in convincing the majority of delegates that a parliamentary system of government is desirable for this country. The transitory provision, according to the draft Constitution, shall effect priority measures for the orderly transition from the presidential to parliamentary system of government. Does this mean that after the transition period, we shall then revert to the parliamentary system?

“If so, why the grant of extraordinary powers to the prime minister after the transition? Should these powers not be effective during the transition period only? Why should all the powers of the presidency be vested in the prime minister during normal times? Why not limit this grant of extraordinary powers during states of emergency? Again, why should veto powers be given the prime minister during normal times?

“As a corollary, there has been a diminution of the powers and responsibilities of the National Assembly under the draft being presented to us. I grant that during periods of emergency the power of Congress or of the Assembly may be greatly weakened, the reason being that these are abnormal times. But why, after normalcy shall have returned, should the National Assembly be allowed to pass only bills of local application? And what can be the justification for the deletion of the traditional immunity from arrest of its members during normal times?

“In the same manner, let us talk about civil rights. In the long history of constitutionalism, the most fundamental problem is that of striking a balance between national security and individual liberty. During normal times, however, democratic politics have tended to give greater weight to the fundamental liberties of citizens—not only of freedom of thought and speech, press, and worship but with all those freedoms that make human life human—the freedom to work and play, the freedom to laugh, the freedom not to be afraid. I find the predilection for being obsessed with national security understandable during abnormal times—during states of emergencies. But should we institutionalize the doctrine of national security and correspondingly diminish our vigorous support of civil liberties in the permanent provisions of the Constitution—after the national emergency shall have been over?

“Finally, we have a thick draft of the Constitution consisting of 92 pages. I find no more than eight pages given to the provisions on the national economy. And yet all of us agree that problems of national economy are among the most compelling problems of our people, and that indeed, the mediocre performance of the economy may put at risk the survival of our fragile democracy.

“What is our grand design for development? Is it not necessary to work for a fundamental restructuring of the world economy and a radical restructuring of social, political and economic institutions internally if we have to achieve development?

“And most important, is not social justice the overarching goal of development with which economic growth and self-reliance must be integrated to enable our people to attain a higher quality of life? Make their lives more human under the stresses and opportunities of growth? In other words, how do we effect radical changes in social structures so as to liberate the poor and the weak in Philippine society from their age-old bondage? What plan do we have for social reconstruction?”

Consummatum est,” I said as we filed out of the session hall at 9:40 p.m. today.

“Consummatum est,” echoed several delegates behind me, among them, Jess Matias and Erning Amatong. “We have just put the last nail in the coffin,” Erning said.

The elevator was getting to be full and I was the last one to enter. I asked quite innocently, “Where are we going?” A voice from behind said, “Very appropriate question—’Where are we going?’—Where else but down?” And still another delegate spoke: “Caesar, why do you ask such a question? Of course we are all bound to go down.”

The delegates were taking in stride the tragedy that has just struck. Filipinos are adept at double talk and the use of humor to hide their wounded feelings. Yet the note of fatalism cannot be hidden from their remarks.

The draft Constitution for the Republic of the Philippines was approved on second reading by a show of hands. Several of us—many from our Independent-Progressive group—abstained or voted “No.” But naturally, it was approved just the same.

But let us review the events of this day of infamy.

The day started with Delegate Yuzon proposing to change the first sentence in the Declaration of Principles to “The Philippines is a social and democratic Republic.” He made a very eloquent plea for acceptance of the amendment, arguing that the present wording, “The Philippines is a republican state,” was too tame to suit the progressive orientation of the new Constitution.

Of course, even the German Basic Law speaks of Germany as a social democratic state.

But responding on behalf of the committee, Ikeng Corpuz contended that the amendment would lead to confusion. The Yuzon amendment was lost, but I went over to Yuzon, anyway, to congratulate him for his progressive views.

The amendment of Naning Kalaw, which expresses the sentiment that those who have less in life should have more in law, was inserted into the records. Actually, President Magsaysay had made this as his slogan in the 1950s, the centerpiece of his social amelioration program. The poor guy did not realize that his legal adviser, Prof. Enrique M. Fernando, had taken the idea from Prof. Thomas Reed Powell of Harvard Law School. Insofar as our countrymen are concerned, this slogan is inextricably linked to Ramon Magsaysay; didn’t I see it inscribed at the Magsaysay Center at Roxas Boulevard?

At about 11:13, while we were still in the midst of amendments, Vic Guzman moved for the previous question on the entire draft of the Constitution.

That was not only foolish; it was sordid. Many delegates were furious.

I do not know what was in the mind of Vic. Of course, none of the amendments would be accepted. Nevertheless, he—along with the majority that completely overwhelmed us—could have manifested a spirit of moderation, of fair play, let alone generosity.

“Worse than the executioner is his valet,” Mirabeau had said during the French Revolution. How appropriately exhibited in our Con-Con!

When we started discussing the Bill of Rights, Sed Ordoñez rose on interpellation. He asked if the Bill of Rights was supposed to be operative. The answer of Tony Tupaz was “Yes.”

But was it not in conflict with the transitory provision?

“No, the Bill of Rights would be effective, subject to the transitory provision,” was the deceptive reply.

Double-talk!

“This is a fundamental matter—that of the civil liberties of citizens,” Sed warned. “We should not gloss this over.”

Tony Tupaz reiterated that the transitory provision would not nullify our civil rights; rather our civil rights would be subject to the transitory provision. Tony did not bat an eyelash as he solemnly affirmed his devotion to individual freedom.

In effect, our rights are guaranteed so long as they are not in conflict with the transitory provision, that is to say, with the decrees of the President. In other words, the President may suspend all our rights because we gave him that power in the transitory provision. Das ist klar (that is clear), my German friends would say.

Ramon Diaz has been around since yesterday. Presumably, he is only here to vote “No.” He had abandoned the Convention more than two months ago, right after we lost on the resolution providing for no reelection for the President. In fact, when I saw him, I said, “Ramoning, it is good to see you around; I mean, it is good to see you personally although it would have been better if I were seeing you elsewhere….”

“Yes,” he said, “it is tragic.”

Lolo Baradi and I exchanged some pleasantries in the hallway. Baradi, until the end, professed loyalty to Marcos. Yet…

“I tell you partner,” he said, “this New Society will fall unless the economy is able to pick up. What about the unemployment situation? I was talking with some of my clients and their attitude is not to move. The President has told the businessmen to cooperate, not just to wait and see—but why will the businessmen move when all they hear from the President are decrees: ‘Do this!’ ‘Do that!’ ‘Don’t do this!’ ‘Don’t do that!'”

I looked at this kindly old man quizzically. Here is a good friend of President Marcos disagreeing with what is happening and yet not being able to express openly his true feelings.

During the meeting with the businessmen, he commented, the President should have taken the opportunity to have some dialogue with them. What the Apo did was a monologue.

“Yes,” Lolo Baradi continued in a whisper, “the country will not prosper until we stop these decrees—’Do this!’ ‘do that!’ ‘don’t do this!’ ‘don’t do that!’ business.”

What a pity that men can have good thoughts but have their lips sealed, I thought.

I kept on waiting to pursue my amendments. I wanted to put on record my amendments on the Bill of Rights. Of course, Naning Kalaw has already presented so many amendments which have been recorded. I wanted to read my amendments on the Bill of Rights into the journal.

At 4:30 p.m., Vic Guzman stood up again and presented his motion to vote on the previous question.

What a terrible pest! Why the mad rush? Why not give everyone a chance to present amendments? Of course, these would all be voted down but nevertheless that was the very least that should be accorded the minority—the vanquished minority—us. The sporting idea of fair play, if not the generosity of the victor, is absent.

I thought of a strategy. I went to Edmundo (Munding) Cea and President Macapagal. I suggested that if we should run out of time, the floor leader, Roy Montejo, should move that all the amendments properly filed and not discussed on the floor should become part of the journal records. They agreed.

Munding was happy enough. But I suggested to him that it would be good to wait until the last moment to say this. In the meantime, we should still continue with our amendments.

President Macapagal was somewhat vigorously suggesting the same thing to Munding. “We should give everyone a chance to present his amendments,” he said.

“The amendments would be refused hut at least everyone should be given a chance,” I added.

Even President Macapagal was finding the proceedings repulsive. “Yes,” Macapagal echoed. “At least give them a chance so that people would not say we have railroaded everything…. Let us be somewhat democratic about this.”

We went through the whole ritual of having one amendment after another presented to the body refused by the committee, and overwhelmingly disapproved or withdrawn by the proponents. Whenever it was an amendment which would be quite difficult, a recess would be called by the committee members—Tony Tupaz, Tony de Guzman, Peps Bengzon, etc.—and then they would talk to the proponents. It was almost unbelievable—the way this would be followed by withdrawals of amendments by the proponents.

I started swapping jokes with my neighbors, “Madali palang magpa-withdraw.”

“How?”

“Two words are uttered by the committee people: ‘Isusumbong kita.'”

“Maybe it is not only ‘isusumbong kita,’ maybe it is ‘ipapa-stockade kita.'”

We laughed. Our laughter was tinged with sadness.

How come everybody, no matter how vehement about his amendment in the beginning, later on acceded to the request for withdrawal after a little conference?

“We are in a bullet train—five hours to Osaka,” I said in a loud voice.

“Yeah, make it three hours so we can go home,” echoed another voice.

We shook our heads in disbelief. Out of so many proposed amendments falling by the wayside, only one amendment was passed. This was a proposal by Sensing Suarez on search warrants and warrants of arrest. Under the committee draft, a search warrant and warrant of arrest shall be issued only upon probable cause to be determined by the judge or such other responsible officials as may be authorized by law after examination, etc. The amendment was to delete “or such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law.” In other words, only a judge may issue a search warrant or warrant of arrest under the Suarez amendment. Of course. Surely, not police officers!

The amendment was unexpectedly approved on a vote of 96 to 87.

We were jubilant. How grateful we are even for little blessings. The first amendment approved in two days! I was one of the many who congratulated Sensing for this.

Sensing told us the reason he stood up to thank the members of the committee after the voting was that the committee members also voted in favor although it was formally refused for the committee by Tony Tupaz.

Later, I joined Joe Feria, Bobbit Sanchez, Naning Kalaw, Lilia Delima and Cefi Padua at the terrace.

“What is your stand now?” Jose asked me.

“As of now, if the voting were nominal, I would abstain. If it is by a show of hands, I would abstain or vote ‘No.'”

Lilia then said, “Please reconsider. It is important for us to vote ‘Yes.’ The majority would only be too glad to have us out of the Assembly. They would only be too glad to see us taken to the stockade. Do you know that during the voting on the transitory provision, they were urging me to vote ‘No’ so that I would not be in the Assembly? Why should we play into their hands?”

Most of us decided to abstain or vote “No” if it is going to be a show of hands—with the exception of Fr. Ortiz, Justice Barrera and Nene Pimentel who, we know, are already firm in deciding to vote “No,” in any case.

Our little group was hoping that the voting would be by a show of hands.

Bebet Duavit was at the next table. He agreed with us. Nominal voting should only be on third voting.

We wanted it this way so that our little group could at least abstain if we may not be able to vote “No.”

As we were talking, Raul Roco strolled towards us with an air of nonchalance. He was whistling.

“Are you having any problem?” he asked laughingly. “Why do you have problems? I have no problems.”

“Sit down.” We put Raul on the chair.

He then told us that he had spent many hours of discussion with two “moral counsellors” and both of them had advised him to vote “Yes.” It was meaningless to vote “No” anyway. The important question was what possible harm could there be in voting “Yes?”

“Obviously, we have different loyalties. We have loyalties to our families, our committees, our country, but what harm does it do to vote ‘Yes?’ There could be harm in voting ‘No.'”

I related to this group—the remnants of our once proud Independent-Progressive bloc—the interview with Sakharov which I had read the other night. When asked finally whether they thought that their efforts—which have been putting him, his wife and his family in very great danger—would produce any significant change in Russian politics, Sakharov answered that he did not expect any such changes at all. Then why continue exposing himself and his family to danger? Because for them this is not a political struggle. It is a moral struggle: “We are dissenting, because we have to be true to ourselves.”

Raul Roco straightened up and looked straight into our eyes.

“The time to be true to ourselves has passed—that was during the voting on the transitory provision.”

There was a deafening silence.

Raul confided to us that one of the priests—with a foreign name which I cannot recall—told him it was like the question of Laurel and Abad Santos during the war. But then, Raul said, the analogy is not very accurate. The enemy was clear and specific during the Japanese time. The lines are quite vague this time. Who are we to say that this or that is the enemy?

We asked whether as a condition for the removal of his name and that of Romy Capulong’s from the wanted “list,” he was supposed to vote “Yes.”

“No,” Raul answered. “There was no discussion, there was no such condition. But it was assumed…. it was assumed.”

He laughed. Nervously.

We were all downcast, depressed.

Soon we were voting on the entire Constitution.

Sed Ordoñez stood up to move for nominal voting. As was to be expected, his motion was lost. The majority insisted on voting by a show of hands or by standing up.

Should I vote “No” or should I abstain? I could not possibly vote “Yes.” But what might I expect if, indeed, I voted “No?”

Before I could think through my dilemma or banish my fears, voting was called. Those who were voting “No” were asked to stand up.

I found myself instinctively standing up—to join the “No” voters. In half a second, Joe Feria joined me. But before we could fully straighten up, a sudden loud roar of approval burst out. The overwhelming majority of the delegates had obviously voted for the ap­proval of the Constitution!

We now have a brand new Constitution. A Marcos Constitution. Authoritarianism has been institutionalized. The lapdogs of the dictator were delirious with joy.

I remember that the British Prime Minister Gladstone had called the American Constitution “the most wonderful work struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.” Our brand new Constitution is the opposite; it is the most despicable work struck off at a given time by the warped brain and purpose of man, to his lasting disgrace.

What is really this new Constitution that we have approved? It was not the draft Constitution approved by the Convention as such, a couple of months earlier. For all purposes, this is a new Constitution that has been framed by a Convention that has changed its stripes. The watershed was reached during the proclamation of martial law. From then on the Convention has been a transformed Convention. Several delegates have even turned against their own provisions—willingly or under duress.

Of course, the most “scandalous provision,” to use the phrase of (Senator) Jovito Salonga, is that of the transitory provision. It is objectionable on several points: (1) we have constitutionalized a dictatorship; (2) we have affirmed all the proclamations, decrees, general orders and letters of instructions of the President; (3) we have made ourselves, as delegates, beneficiaries of this Constitution by making ourselves assemblymen.

We shall become assemblymen—just like that!

The second feature—the legalization of the decrees of the President, was just somewhat improved upon by the amendment of Ikeng Belo to delete “are hereby confirmed, ratified as valid and binding,” etc., etc.

Part of the objections are contained in my interpellation which will be submitted tomorrow—because we are given until tomorrow to submit our written interpellations. Our oral interpellations have been cut off.

Bobbit Sanchez represents the same 2nd district of Rizal that Bebet Duavit represents. Bobbit informed us that it is now official knowledge in the Convention that Duavit is the high priest of Malacañang in the Convention. He receives instructions from Malacañang and transmits these during the proceedings.

Bobbit Sanchez confirmed that Duavit is presently thinking that only those who would vote for the Constitution on second and third readings should be allowed to be members of the Assembly. And we have just now not voted in favor. We have voted against. We are not going to disgrace ourselves. Whatever else life would bring or deny, one thing is absolutely certain: that we should not break faith with ourselves; that in our own eyes, our honor remains bright.

Duavit spoke. We should bear in mind, he said, that the rules of the Convention have been suspended.

What is the import of the rules being suspended? It is that the majority can do whatever it pleases, precisely because there are no rules.

But this is a perversion of democratic politics. Majority rule demands that the majority should prevail, it is true, but there are two conditions attached to these: that minority rights are not suppressed in the meantime, and that some day the minority might be the majority. In fact, the rationale for a written Bill of Rights in a democratic polity is to ensure that certain basic principles are insulated from the passing whims and caprices of majorities and officials.

Bobbit Sanchez, who seems to be able to gather much intelligence, gave the information that the other thing that Duavit is trying to accomplish is to undo the Suarez amendment, which restricts the issuance of warrants of arrest and search warrants to judges.

It was 9:18 p.m.—quite late in the night—when Duavit quietly, almost innocently asked Vice Pres. Abe Sarmiento, who was presiding, whether the rules have been suspended. He received an affirmative answer. He then quickly proposed to amend Section 16, Article 9, by adding on line 6, the words “unless the National Assembly shall provide otherwise.”

On behalf of the committee, Tony de Guzman accepted the amendment. Three seconds later, Abe banged the gavel to signify that the amendment was approved.

It was 9:19 p.m. No one was paying attention. Many delegates were still coming in.

Duavit then murmured some words. Was he uttering some magical incantations? He seemed to be proposing something… to amend Section 3, Article 4, by inserting the words that were deleted by the Suarez amendment on who may issue a warrant of arrest, “or such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law.”

Tony de Guzman accepted the amendment—which only a few people heard—in five seconds flat.

Chairman Abe Sarmiento asked if there were no opposition. A small, little figure swiftly darted towards the microphone and cried, “Objection!”

It was Bobbit Sanchez. Bobbit of course. Our gallant knight.

“We vote,” said an unruffled Abe. “Those in favor, raise your right hands. Those opposed…. Approved!” He banged his gavel.

It was 9:20 o’clock.

Ano ba ang pinag-uusapan?” one delegate innocently asked. He could have come from Mars.

Joe Feria was shaking his head in disbelief.

Ano, ano?… ito ‘yong amendment ni Suarez? Maganda ‘yon a. Hindi ba inapprove na natin?” Eli Johnson asked likewise in innocence. She could have also come from another planet. Creatures from another planet could have already conquered Earth, and she did not know it.

“This is terrible, terrible!” Rebeck exploded.

Yan ang sinasabi ko,” Bobbit threw his arms sidewards in a gesture of despair. He was grim. What can one really say to this? Like the dancing bear in Heinrich Heine’s Atta Troll, we are a people who love making speeches about freedom but secretly enjoy being in chains!

Many delegates started asking what had happened. All in one minute. But Abe was already far away on another item in the agenda. The railroad team had worked so efficiently. There was no discussion, no explanation.

Our Independent-Progressive coalition likes Abe but many delegates get exasperated when at times he becomes too cooperative with the establishment.

What is the meaning of the latest action? The clear meaning is that now it is not only the judge who may issue a warrant of arrest as provided for in the present Bill of Rights. It may be such other responsible officers as may be authorized by law. And law may be a decree. Which means, by a decree the President can ask any colonel or major or any other government officer, say, a chief-of-police, to arrest anyone.

It was not until some 15 minutes later that the full impact of the most recent action of the Convention was realized by most delegates. But by then everything was finished.

Cicero Calderon said that Duavit had phoned Malacañang about the earlier deletion of the phrase and that President Marcos was very angry over the deletion.

The Convention is really finished.

Two centuries ago, Vauvenargues said that the greatest evil which fortune can inflict on men is to endow them with small talents and great ambitions.


Saturday, November 18, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

We lost miserably, in spite of my oratory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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?


Monday, October 9, 1972

Barbara Howell interviewed me. She is a Christian journalist based in Singapore who is staying at the Ellinwood Guest House.

She introduced herself as the wife of Leon Howell, who was here last year. I had met him at a meeting of the Land Reform Committee of the Convention. They are journalists sponsored by the five national church bodies in the United States to undertake some kind of journalistic work over a period of three years.

These were some of the things I mentioned to Barbara: It was possible that martial law itself would last for a period of two years. However, the rising wave of fear would probably subside after a few weeks. Restrictions would probably be liberalized but curfew would still be there. And the people who would have been caught and placed behind bars at the army stockades would continue being there.

Because of the decline of lawlessness, of robberies and violence, it can even be that after some time, martial law might be accepted by the masses of people as a timely action by the government. Of course, insofar as foreigners are concerned, they would not experience the kind of apprehension that many Filipinos have. They would only know that it is now possible to walk around without having to be afraid for one’s life or pocketbook.

In fact, Barbara agreed, she got the feeling that she had a greater fear for her safety last year than when she came in a couple of days ago.

It would seem, at least for now, that many of the reforms that President Marcos is launching are laudable: land reform and the collection of firearms have, in particular, found popular support. A growing number of people are of the view that without martial law, land reform could not have been launched.

The issues of civil liberties—the loss of our individual freedoms, the gross violations of our human rights, the demolition of our democratic institutions—these seem to be clearly understood and felt only by those who are politically aware. For the majority of our people, who have historically been the object of exploitation, the denial of our individual freedoms does not figure in their lives.

Barbara’s impressions reminded me of the First Philippine Economic and Trade Mission to the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland, organized by the Philippine Chamber of Industries in 1967, which I headed. Precisely because we were foreigners in these Communist countries, we did not concern ourselves with the fears of the local people. What seemed apparent to us, and which impressed us then, was that there was more prosperity and greater discipline among the people in Russia than during the ancien regime. We were hardly sensitive to the repressions of the regime; after all, we were treated with great hospitality. Of course, not really having known freedom in their long history of oppression and domination under the Romanovs, in time the Russians have accepted their loss of individual freedom. And we, foreigners as we were, did spend a good deal of time looking over the physical manifestations of technological progress in Russian society and called them good.

But now we know what it is not to be able to speak out in our country, and not to be able to leave our country. The apparatus of repression is efficient. We are being controlled effectively. Worse, for many, the “salvaging” and disappearances of family members, or their arbitrary arrests and tortures are the price of Marcos’ sinister move to “save the Republic.”

Surprising though it may be, quite a number of businessmen now approve of martial law. Why not? An element of stability has been achieved. Peace and order is necessary for businessmen to ply their trade. For many of them, that is enough. But what peace? The “peace of the graveyard,” to quote the German poet Friedrich Schiller. It does not really matter.

The other information that I conveyed to Barbara was the possibility that there will be a transition government, that is to say, there will be no elections in 1973 but simply extension of offices of the president, vice president and the members of Congress until 1975. Apparently, from all indications, this would jibe with the growing expectations that there would be no election in 1975.

George Borromeo of Camiguin was in a joyous mood when I arrived at the session hall. The assumption, he said, is that if the transition provision is approved immediately after approval of the new Constitution in a plebiscite, we shall be sitting in as assemblymen.

This, apparently, is the word from Malacañang. So, when George sponsored an amendment saying that the members of the National Assembly shall receive ₱5,000 a month each, with allowance including equipment, transportation, travel and technical staff also amounting to ₱5,000, he was in effect giving Noli Aguilar (who was sitting beside him) and the other delegates a lot of salary starting upon the approval of the Constitution. And it will be approved, he prophesied.

I was speechless at this outburst of jubilation. “What are we in power for?” I still recall how much, in our youth, we had condemned Senator Avelino who had uttered those immoral words.

I was almost rudely interrupted in my musing by Delegate Simplicio Apalisok who sidled up to me for advice. He said that perhaps it would be good to get the imprimatur of the Palace before publishing some photos and documents of the External Affairs Committee.

I told him there was no harm in doing this. However, it should be done in a very quiet manner.

Poor Apalisok. His concern was for his monthly publication in the Con-Con really.

“You know, it was Ding Quintos who was responsible for getting the President’s signature on the ₱4.2 million budget for the Constitutional Convention,” he said in innocence. I was not sure whether he meant the regular budget or its supplement. Quintos, he continued, apparently, is in close relations with the President.

“But Bebet Duavit is the chairman of Marcos’ politburo in the Convention, with Arturo Pacificador, Toto de la Cruz, Tony Tupaz, Antonio (Tony) de Guzman, Vicente (Vic) Guzman, Peps Bengzon, Venancio (Ven) Yaneza, being among the outstanding members,” one delegate said, joining our conversation.


Thursday, September 7, 1972

This morning, I had a full hour’s chat with President Macapagal. Majority Floor Leader Edmundo (Munding) Cea and Vice Pres. Abraham (Abe) Sarmiento were with us part of the time. I was telling Macapagal that he had delivered a mesmerizing speech yesterday in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution. In fact I heard it said, by some delegates, that that was his finest hour.

I also suggested to Macapagal that there are perhaps two options for us. The first is to just simply freeze the ball and let the Convention work as slowly as possible so that the plebiscite on the new Constitution may only be done after the expiration of Marcos’ term in 1973. This would really, in effect, ban the incumbent. In fact, Convention secretary, Jose (Pepe) Abueva, has also suggested the same thing.

Another possibility, I said, was to declare a recess until January 1974.

We then talked about the transition government resolution filed by Oscar (Oka) Leviste and Antonio (Tony) Velasco. To my great surprise, Macapagal said what was almost unbelievable to me up to then—that this resolution might pass.

For some delegates, the point is, the ban-dynasty provision has already failed anyway; Marcos would surely win. Therefore, we might just as well postpone the election and hold over the positions of elective officials. The bonus is that we, the delegates, would be there in the first parliament. This is the substance and spirit of the Tony-Oka transition government resolution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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