The Delegate and the President: Contrasting Diaries on Martial Law

President Marcos, Secretary Enrile, and generals in the Presidential Study, Malacañan Palace

September 23 marks the 41st anniversary of the proclamation of martial law by President Marcos, although Marcos himself insisted on September 21.

The Philippine Diary Project has two diaries that give contrasting views on martial law. The first is the diary of Ferdinand E. Marcos, the second, the diary of Constitutional Convention delegate Augusto Caesar Espiritu.

The options for Marcos were laid out quite early on. On January 26, 1970, after he was attacked by demonstrators after delivering his State of the Nation Address, Marcos wrote, “We must get the emergency plan polished up.” in his diary entry for January 28, 1970 (just a few weeks after his second inaugural) he summarized his options as follows:

I have several options. One of them is to abort the subversive plan now by the sudden arrest of the plotters. But this would not be accepted by the people. Nor could we get the Huks, their legal cadres and support. Nor the MIM and other subversive [or front] organizations, nor those underground. We could allow the situation to develop naturally then after massive terrorism, wanton killings and an attempt at my assassination and a coup d’etat, then declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus – and arrest all including the legal cadres. Right now I am inclined towards the latter.

By February 1, 1971 he had come up with “democratic revolution” as a term to provide ideological cover for his plans.

February 20, 1972 and February 22, 1970, he was getting military used to developing contingency plans for emergencies.

February 24, 1970, support of Ilocanos was being rallied.

February 28, 1970: Marcos was toying with lists of people to arrest:

We must finalize the list to be arrested if there is massive sabotage or assassination. I assess the plans of the communists to include these activities by the middle of March.

In January, 1971, Marcos claims that his allies were imploring him to impose emergency rule (see January 13, 1971):

The congressmen close to me, Cong. Cojuangco, Frisco San Juan, Ali Dimaporo, Jose Aspiras, Navarro, Lucas Canton, Roque Ablan all proposed for the use of my emergency powers. “We cannot understand why you are so patient. Do not wait until we are completely debilitated and the people is against us. It will be too late. One swift blow and we remove the cancer from our society,” they all said.

I could only answer that it may be sooner than we think…

With the opposition already warning of martial law in full-page ads (see January 20, 1971) he was systematically putting together a coalition to support the eventual proclamation of martial law:

January 27, 1971: intellectuals to provide ideological cover; January 23, 1971 and January 28, 1971: big business and friendly media; January 30, 1971: local government leaders.

By February 1, 1971, he had come up with the term “democratic revolution” to provide ideological cover for his plans.

On May 8, 1972, Marcos again returned to drafting scenarios and arrest lists:

… After the meeting I directed Sec. Ponce Enrile, the Chief of Staff, Gen. Espino, Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Ileto, PC Chief, Gen. Ramos, PA Chief, Gen. Zagala, Air Force Chief, Gen. Rancudo, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Tomas Diaz, IV PC Zone Commander, Gen. Encarnacion, Asst. Chief of Staff, J-2, Col. Paz, to update the contingency plans and the list of target personalities in the event of the use of emergency powers.

I directed Sec. Ponce Enrile to finalize all documentation for the contingency plans, including the orders and implementation.

A couple of days later, on May 12, 1972, he would chuckle about his divide-and-conquer strategy with the opposition.

On June 4, 1972, Marcos seems to have concluded that his options through the Constitutional Convention had reached a dead end:

But from my point of view the Concon has become useless. Anything they will approve now will be rejected by the people in a plebiscite.

August 31, 1972 shows lobbying efforts well underway with Americans (officials and in business).

It is in the fateful month of September, 1972, that the two voices –Marcos writing down his version of history-as-it-happened, and Espiritu, writing of events in the Constitutional Convention and the creeping feeling of things coming to a head– provide a kind of contrasting conversation. Here are their entries, on the dates that both happened to write in their diaries on the same day:

September 5-6

The Ban Marcos Resolution –also known as the Anti Dynasty Resolution– comes up for a vote in the Constitutional Convention. Espiritu recounts the parliamentary tactics of the Marcos bloc in the convention:

In the afternoon, there was a continuation of the speeches in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution…

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.”

For his part, on that day, Marcos only writes about reviewing contingency plans and grumbles about his critics; it’s on the next day that Marcos writes about the ConCon vote –he views the proceedings as a loyalty check:

The Concon voted down the ban Marcos resolution by 155 votes against 131. Some of those who pose as friends voted against us. Carlos Ledesma, Angara (Johnny Ponce Enrile’s partner). Tiling Yulo was absent. Ditas Teodoro and Elizabeth Chiongbian voted by teller but these were not recognized.

Macapagal delivered a bitter vicious attack against us. So did Rama. But Sotero Laurel and Cuaderno spoke in our favor.

September 7

On this day, Espiritu has a conversation with ConCon President Diosdado Macapagal, on options for the convention not to get caught up in Marcos’ perceived game plan to extend his stay in office beyond his term; and it is here that what would eventually become the clincher for approving the new Constitution –assuring delegates who voted for it, seats in the new National Assembly– first gets mentioned:

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.

Marcos, on the other hand, continues to obsess over Ninoy Aquino and ends his entry:

This afternoon I spent in finishing all papers needed for a possible proclamation of martial law, just in case it is necessary to do so.

September 8

Espiritu does character sketches of fellow delegates, looking into their motivations and changes in ideological position; Marcos dwells on Ninoy Aquino and closes with ordering yet another review of contingency plans for Manila.

September 9

Espiritu looks into news reports on who, actually, constitutes the Marcos bloc in the convention; Marcos –for the nth time– finishes the paperwork for martial law:

Sec. Ponce Enrile and I finished the material for any possible proclamation of martial law. 6:00-7:30 PM. Then TV-Radio interview by KBS, Rey Pedrahe and Emil Jurado 8-9:00 PM.

September 12

As Marcos focuses on intelligence on the Communists, Espiritu gently pokes fun at fellow delegates who’ve had to disguise their taking orders from Marcos.

September 13

Espiritu continues to discuss the Ban Dynasty resolution, and proposes delegates should also ban themselves from serving in the next government (this becomes ironic, later on, when the new Constitution is approved on the basis of sweeteners, including offering ConCon delegates automatic membership in the new National Assembly):

We agreed that during the discussion on the transitory provision, we should support the move to ban all elective officials, including ourselves. This would show to the world that we are not motivated by personal hatred for President Marcos, but rather that we are for democratizing the political process.

Marcos selects September 21 as the date for martial law:

At the rate the tension and hysteria in [Manila] continues, I may have to declare martial [law] soon. Many people are not leaving their houses.

Threats to bomb and blackmail is rampant. KBS and the Daily Express were told to raise ₱200,000 otherwise there would be a bomb for them. This was conveyed by a certain Policarpio, a KBS labor leader. He probably cooked it up.

So I met with Johnny Ponce Enrile, Gen. Tom Diaz, Col. Montoya, Col. Romy Gatan, and Danding Cojuangco this evening at Pangarap and we agreed to set the 21st of this month as the deadline.

September 14

Marcos holds a meeting in Bahay Pangarap where he asks the military if they have any objections to his plan to impose martial law:

After golf, at 9:00 at my room at Pangarap while taking breakfast, I told the SND, C of S, Major Service Commanders (Gen. Ramos, PC, Gen. Zagala, PA, Romando, PAF and Commodore Ruiz, PN) Gen. Ver and Gen. Paranis that I intend to declare martial law to liquidate the communist apparatus, reform our government and society, then have the Concon ratify our acts and the people can confirm it by plebiscite and return to constitutional processes; but that I needed at least one year and two months; that this would be a legitimate exercise of my emergency powers under the constitution as clarified by the Habeas Corpus case by the Supreme Court last January; that we need to cure the ills of our society by radical means (I mentioned corruption, tax evasion, criminality, smuggling, lack of discipline, unequal opportunities) so we must keep our moves clean and submerge self-interest.

I asked for any objection to the plan and there was none except for the observation of Gen. Ramos that the closing of the media should be done by a civilian minister supported by the military, and Gen. Gen. Rancudo who wanted missions definitely assigned to each branch of the service.

For his part, Espiritu writes about bomb rumors, including the possible bombing of the Constitutional Convention:

The bomb scare has been sweeping Manila in the past few days. Rebeck tipped me off on a rumor that the Convention would be bombed. He said this could not be mentioned in the Convention Hall because the delegates might panic. Even Raul Manglapus, he said, was preparing to leave at about 4:00 p.m.

September 18

Espiritu goes to the ConCon (holding session in Quezon City Hall), only to arrive in time for a bombing:

As I was alighting from the bus at about 3:50 p.m., Ruth Manoloto, wife of my friend Ric at Knox, was getting nervously on the bus. Upon seeing me, she yelled, “Caesar, huwag ka nang magtuloy sa Con-Con. Umuwi ka na. Binomba ang Con-Con ngayon. Umuwi ka na.”

People were starting to flee. Romy Capulong was pale. The blast was at the sala of Judge Lustre on the 6th floor, he murmured…

Apparently, this was what happened: At the precise time that Jess Matas was being interpellated, a big noise was heard. The soft-spoken Jess then politely said, “Excuse me, but could you please speak louder because there is so much noise outside?” He had hardly finished his sentence when there was a sudden explosion at the comfort room of the 14th floor. The delegates docked and flew to the other side of the session hall to the stairway. The women screamed. And pandemonium ensued…

Panic was in everybody’s face. The venerable Justice Jose Ma. Paredes came out scampering like a frightened rabbit. His eyes popping out, the gentle old man blurted, “This is the justification of your resolution for a recess. We have reason for a recess.”

This bombing incident made martyrs, to some extent, of the delegates. And at this stage, some martyrdom may be necessary to gain sympathy from a public that is fast losing its patience. The people are losing confidence in the Convention. After more than a year, it has not yet finished its task…

The corollary question is—who could have done it? To me, no moderate—whether of the right or of the left—would have done this. I am inclined to believe that not even the radical left would want to sow terrorism; this would alienate them from the population. The only group, to my mind, that would have some motive for bombing Quezon City is the Marcos group itself.

That night, Marcos puts forward his view on the bombing and the action taken: finalizing plans for martial law, and again broaches the selection of a date, September 21:

The Concon and the sala of Judge Lustre of Quezon City trying the subversives were bombed by unidentified person this afternoon at 3:40 PM. It caused extensive damage and injured about thirty people.

Two of the subversives were almost able to escape.

This is apparently the answer of the subversives to the raids on their headquarters in Manila, Quezon and Pasay last Sunday morning at 4:30 where about 48 were arrested including Cabardo, a former PMA cadet who is tagged as the Visayan NPA head…

We finalized the plans for the proclamation of martial law at 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm with the SND, the Chief of Staff, major service commanders, J-2, Gen. Paz, 1st PC Zone Commander, Gen. Diaz and Metrocom commander, Co. Montoya, with Gen. Ver in attendance.

They all agreed the earlier we do it the better because the media is waging a propaganda campaign that distorts and twists the facts and they may succeed in weakening our support among the people if it is allowed to continue.

So after the bombing of the Concon, we agreed on the 21st without any postponement.

We finalized the target personalities, the assignments, and the procedures.

Our communications network will center in Malacañan as before.

September 20

Marcos meets with the military who provide him with a recommendation to use emergency powers:

This afternoon General Staff with the SND and the Chiefs of the major services came to see us to submit the Assessment of Public Order wherein they recommend the use of “other forms of countering subversion/insurgency should be considered.” This means they recommend the use of Emergency Powers including Martial Law, formally. Envelope No. XXXV-B.

Then we gave an interview where we kept silent on Emergency Powers but spoke of listing Arrival (?) syndicates in the Order of Battle of the communist armed elements, the Self-Reliant Defense Posture as it relates to internal threats, expenditures, additional armaments and personnel etc.

I was surprised to hear Sec. Melchor say he was now in favor of Martial Law although he was against it a year and a half ago. And all Sec. Abad Santos said was, Let us not talk about it publicly.

I asked Sec. Melchor to submit a study and recommendation in writing and to prepare to use his American contacts to see the U.S. does not oppose us.

September 21

Martial law doesn’t happen on this date. Instead, Marcos receives a delegation of friends, skirts their question, and lobbies the Americans as paperwork is finished:

Delayed by the hurried visit of Joe Aspiras and Meling Barbero who came from the Northern bloc of congressmen and senators who want to know if there is going to be Martial Law in 48 hours as predicted by Ninoy Aquino.

Of course Imelda and I denied it.

But Johnny Ponce Enrile, Gen. Paz, Gen Nanadiego, Kits Tatad and I with Piciong Tagmani doing the typing finished all the papers, (the proclamation and the orders) today at 8.00PM.

Amb. Byroade came to see me at 11.15 AM and was apparently interested to know whether there would be Martial Law. He seemed to favor it when I explained it is intended to primarily reform our society and eliminate the communist threat. But he suggested a proclamation before the American elections may be used by MacGovern, the Democratic Presidetial candidate as proof of the failure of the foreign policy of the present president.

September 22

No martial law yet; Espiritu attends a seminar in the evening, where he is taken aback by the militancy of some Christian groups. For his part, Marcos, writing at 9:50 p.m. cites Enrile’s ambush as the kick-off for proclaiming martial law –yet mentioning Congress hasn’t adjourned suggests why no proclamation could take place during the day:

Sec. Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack-Wack at about 8:00 pm tonight. It was a good thing he was riding in his security car as a protective measure. His first car which he usually uses was the one riddled by bullets from a car parked in ambush.

He is now at his DND office. I have advised him to stay there.

And I have doubled the security of Imelda in the Nayon Pilipino where she is giving dinner to the UPI and AP as well as other wire services.

This makes the martial law proclamation a necessity.

Imelda arrived at 11:35 PM in my Electra bullet proof car to be told that Johnny had been ambushed, it is all over the radio.

Congress is not adjourning tonight as the conference committee on the Tariff and Customs Code could not agree on a common version. They adjourn tomorrow.

I conferred with Speaker Villareal, Roces, Yñiguez and Barbero who are going to Moscow and they are ready to leave on Sunday. So they are decided to finish the session same.

September 23

Espiritu finds out in the morning, that Martial Law has been imposed:

It was strange, I thought. There were no newspapers and no radio broadcasts in the morning.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Korean, Moonkyoo Kang, and Pura Calo, a Filipino, who were jointly running the ALDEC, visited me at my house and asked me how I felt. I told them that I was quite disappointed last night with the SCM in that in trying to set a new reading of the gospel, they seemed to have given a Christian organization, the Student Christian Movement, a neo-Maoist strain. I believe in a theology of liberation, I hastened to add; but liberation in Christ, not through a forcible overthrow of government.

“Obviously, you have not heard the news,” they exclaimed. “Martial law has already been declared.”

I nearly fell off my seat!

Martial law declared? Impossible!

“Yes, it is true. That is the reason why there are no newspapers and why radio stations are not in operation.”

Forthwith, I rang up my friend, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, to find out if this were true. Titong was out of the house but his wife, Rosie, said this is probably true. She added that Defense Minister Enrile was ambushed yesterday afternoon. By whom?

I told her that I was, in fact, preparing to address the meeting of the Christians Concerned for civil liberties at the St. Joseph’s College today. Rosie advised me to stay home and not attend the meeting.

I immediately tried to reach my friends—Sonny Alvarez first, but Sonny’s phone was busy. Next, I tried calling up Sonia Aldeguer but I was not successful either in contacting her.

I got Pres. Pro-Tempore Sotero (Teroy) Laurel on the phone. Teroy confirmed that the news is true. He had it from good authority: from his own brother, House of Representatives Speaker Jose Laurel. He added that two of our fellow delegates have already been arrested, namely, Nap Rama and Joe Mari Velez. Teroy suggested that we just meet more or less socially but that in the meantime, we should lie low.

I called up Raul Manglapus; we have to plan on what we should do next.

I was informed that Raul had left for the U.S. a couple of days ago.

Next, I tried calling up Raul Roco, but Raul was out of the house. Fearful for his safety, I rang up the home of his father-in-law, Congressman Malasarte. I was able to get his wife, Sonia, who said that Raul had “gone out.”

I rang up Alejandro (Ding) Lichauco, but Ding’s phone was busy.

I went to the Convention Hall. The streets were almost deserted. By late morning there were still no newspapers, no radio broadcasts. In Quezon City, I saw two cars of soldiers with one civilian on the front seat in each of the cars—obviously taken into custody.

There were some soldiers at the checkpoint near the Quezon Memorial Circle, but the soldiers didn’t molest anyone.

At the Convention Hall, there was a note of hushed excitement, frustration and resignation. Now the reality is sinking into our consciousness. Martial law has been proclaimed!

Rumors were rife that our most outspoken activist delegates, Voltaire Garcia, Joe Mari Velez, Nap Rama, Ding Lichauco and Sonny Alvarez have been arrested. I met Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva and he informed me that this was what he had also heard.

The whole day, practically, was spent by us tensely waiting for some news. All sorts of rumors were floating around.

It was repeatedly announced that President Marcos was going to give an important message at 12:00 noon. Twelve o’clock came and went, and there was no news; there was only an announcement that this was going to be made later. At 2:30 p.m., a new announcement came: this would be done at 3:30 p.m. Then it was announced that due to the fact that documents were still being looked over by the President and that TV sets were still being installed at Malacañang, the message of the President was going to be later, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The people could hardly wait. At 7:00 p.m., over the radio, during dinner with the ALDEC seminar participants, we heard President Marcos explaining the grounds for declaring martial law as well as the general orders given to the secretary of national defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and to Press Sec. Francisco (Kit) Tatad. Tatad’s big face popped out on TV. He read for more than an hour, in what seemed to us sinister monotone, the full text of the presidential proclamation.

“Big Brother is watching us,” exclaimed one of the participants while looking at Tatad’s face which filled the TV frame. But this is not 1984! George Orwell showed up too early in the Philippines.

Tatad was continuously pouring out words that seemed to seal the fate of our people. We sat there and listened in mingled fear and confusion.

For his part, late that night, Marcos expresses moderate satisfaction with how things have turned out, though some irritation with how foreign media has covered it:

Things have moved according to plan although out of the total 200 target personalities in the plan only 52 have been arrested, including the three senators, Aquino, Diokno and Mitra and Chino Roces and Teddy Locsin.

At 7:15 PM I finally appeared on a nationwide TV and Radio broadcast to announce the proclamation of martial law, the general orders and instructions.

I place them in Envelope XXXV-C

I was supposed to broadcast at 12:00AM but technical difficulties prevented it. We had closed all TV stations. We had to clear KBS which broadcast it live. VOP and PBS broadcast it by radio nationwide.

The broadcast turned out rather well and Mons. Gaviola as well as the usual friends liked it. But my most exacting critic, Imelda, found it impressing. I watched the replay at 9:00 PM.

I have amended curfew from 8-6 to 12-4.

Arms bearing outside residence without permit punishable by death.

Kits Tatad read the proclamation, the orders and the instructions after my talk.

Have started checking on Zone Commanders. Gen. Encarnacion of the IV does not seem to have been systematic. He still talks of some people like Mayor Cabili criticizing the proclamation of martial law as premature although grudgingly extending cooperation under Gen. Order No. 3 for all offices to continue functioning.

Talk to Imee and Bongbong. London newspaper had it I arrested the opposition, no mention of communists.

And called up Sec. Romulo and Amb. Romualdez before them. New York Times at least was sure handed and spoke of martial law after the attempt of assassination of my Secretary of National Defense.

September 24

Espiritu is reduced to talking political theory and the legal literature on martial law with a judge; Marcos for his part, detects a possible avenue of attack against martial law and swiftly closes it off, in an informal (verbal threats) and formal (a string of new decrees) closing off of the Supreme Court as a venue for challenging martial law:

Diokno, Chino Roces, Max Soliven etc. have filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus before the Supreme Court.

I asked Justices Claudo Teehangkee, Antonio Barredo, Felix Macasiar and Felix Antonio to see us. They insisted that the government should submit to the Supreme Court for the Court to review the constitutionality of the proclamation of martial law, Proclamation No. 1081.

So I told them in the presence of Secs. Ponce Enrile and Vicente Abad Santos as well as Sol. Gen. Estelito Mendoza that if necessary I would formally declare the establishment of a revolutionary government so that I can formally disregard the actions of the Supreme Court.

They insisted that we retain a color of constitutionality for everything that we do.

But I feel that they are still image-building and do not understand that a new day has dawned. While they claim to be for a reformed society, they are not too motivated but are too bound by technical legalism.

I have amended both Gen. Orders Nos. 1 and 3 to assume all powers of government including legislative and judicial and clearly excluded cases involving the constitutionality of my acts from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

I met the cabinet to emphasize the program to reform our society.

And I signed the decree (No. 1) to promulgate the law on the Reorganization of the Government…

September 25

Espiritu recounts attempts to figure out if fellow delegates are OK; and rumors sweeping the capital:

In the meantime, rumors have spread that Mayor Estrada has been shot by Metrocom troopers. Erap shot? But he cannot die; he is not supposed to. He wins every gun battle in the movies, doesn’t he?

Activist UP pastor Jim Palm and Asia World Student Christian Federation Sec. Moonkyoo Kang appeared at the gate. They invited me to join them for coffee with Louise Palm and Pastor Dave and Cory Sobrepeña over at the Nordik Restaurant.

Dave recalled, as we sat down at the Nordik, that Cecille Guidote was crying while watching the dance at the Cultural Center with them because Cecille was preparing to appear on TV very soon with Joseph Estrada. She said that “Erap” has been shot and is dead.

We were quite grim. Jim’s usual levity was gone.

We moved for dinner to the Taza de Oro. Upon our arrival at the Taza de Oro, we saw (former Governor) Wency Vinzons, Jr. who told us the same dreadful news: Joseph Estrada is dead! Wency also said that he had heard from his sister that Soc Rodrigo, who had earlier resisted arrest, died that afternoon at the hospital.

There were all sorts of rumors. Grim ones.

We were in gloom. Soc Rodrigo was a good man… or lay brother, if such a one could exist. Didn’t Mabini say that the true man of God is not only he who wears a soutane?

For his part, Marcos continues with his effort to stare down the Supreme Court –and expresses satisfaction with how everything has turned out:

Met Justices Fred Ruiz Castro and Salvador Esguerra on a consulta.

I told them frankly that I needed their help and counsel because we must keep all the actuations within constitutional limits.

Justice Castro asked permission to ask a blunt question, “Is this a coup d’etat?” and I told him that it is not but it is the exercise of an extraordinary power by the president for a situation anticipated by the constitution.

Justice Esguerra said immediately that he feels that it is a legitimate exercise of martial law.

And apparently reading my mind, he said, in the Merriman case, Justice Tannay had issued a writ of habeas corpus for a man who was detained on orders of President Lincoln. And President Lincoln just disregarded the judicial order. And Justice Tanney said, “what can we do, we are confronted by a superior authority?

I then concluded that there must be no conflict between the two separate departments of Justice and Executive for it would be embarrassing to both.

I believe that they are both of this persuasion.

The public reaction throughout the Philippines is a welcome to martial law because of the smooth, peaceful reestablishment of peace and order and the hope of a reformed society. In fact most everyone now says, this should have been done earlier.

I attach the report of Boni Isip about the same result of a survey conducted by Liberal Party Leader Gerry Roxas.

It is indeed gratifying that everyone now finds or discovers I am some kind of a hero!

There is nothing as successful as success!

September 26

Espiritu recounts discussions among delegates as to how long martial law might last –and the continuing threat of further arrests:

“How long would the detention last, if it should come?” There was a faint note of desperation in Ding’s voice. “Tito Guingona has told me that martial law would last forever.”

Ding, in his agitated state of mind, was losing his rationality.

“Don’t believe Tito. After the government shall have caught the people it would like to catch, martial law would probably be lifted. And you could always read and write in the stockade,” I comforted him.

“But what if it should last for a year?” His voice trailed off.

“No, I don’t think it would last that long. Besides, you are not guilty of any crime.”

After about 30 minutes of our conversation, I said as a parting remark: “In the remote possibility that you are taken, Ding, send an SOS. I may be able to help you in some way.”

“Yes,” he replied sadly.

I left Ding and went to Bobbit Sanchez and Caling Lobregat.

Ten tense minutes passed. Suddenly Caling came to me and bent towards me.

“Ding has just been taken by the military.”

“What?” Unnerved, I slumped on my seat.

Sig Siguion-Reyna came to me and whispered that he was with Defense Minister Johnny Enrile, his brother-in-law, last night. These people mean business, he said. While he was with Enrile, they talked about a news item that Roquito Ablan was seen at Forbes Park. Sig said that Enrile himself ordered his soldiers: “Well, let’s put him immediately in the stockade, otherwise the people might say we are playing favorites with these people. We must get him in immediately.”

Likewise, when he was with Enrile, there was a phone call from President Marcos asking Enrile whether Mrs. Gordon, the mother of delegate Dick Gordon, was in the list. Enrile answered that she was in the first list but that he had already taken out her name. Enrile told Marcos he didn’t know why she was arrested by the military in spite of the fact that her name had already been taken out of the list.

But who prepared the list of politicians, student leaders, newsmen and dissenters to be arrested? It could not be Enrile because he knows me quite well. He knows I’m neither a Communist nor a man of violence; simply a practicing Christian who believes in the need for democratizing wealth and economic power in a society whose hallmark is that of distressing social and economic inequalities. Indeed, if we should really want to achieve development, we have to institute radical changes in our social structures, even as we should work for far-reaching changes in the structures of the world economy.

Sig warned us that there are many people in the list, and that the arrests have only started. He has also heard over the radio that according to President Marcos, mere speculations and rumors are punishable.

“In other words, do not speculate, do not spread rumors, do not think.”

Pabling Trillana interrupted our talk. He told me in a subdued tone that he had just signed a manifesto passed on to him by Tito Guingona.

“What was it about?” I asked.

“The manifesto opposing martial law, similar to the Diokno manifesto I signed and passed around four days ago.”

“You must be careful,” I advised him like an elder brother.

He became visibly afraid. He pleaded with me to talk with Tito Guingona and persuade him to try to “hold” the document that he had signed.

I continued advising Pabling Trillana. This is not the time for these things. We are now under difficult conditions.

He repeated his plea for me to talk with Tito.

I went to Tito. He was tense. He showed me the manifesto. He asked me to sign it, but I demurred.

“In fact, for your own safety, you should not release that,” I chided Tito. “Mrs. Trono has just told me she was worried about you because you are in the ‘list.’”

Mrs. Trono, although a Marcos supporter, showed genuine concern. “Guingona is innocent and is a good man. To all of you, young people who are innocent, please keep quiet. What can you do?”

Here was a rabid Marcos partisan—a political enemy—now showing sympathy for us. The springs of human compassion are indeed inexhaustible!

“Ninoy Aquino is so powerful but where is he now? What can you do? And you, Caesar, please don’t get involved. You with your transparent idealism, you should be serving your people, not be languishing in jail. And please tell Guingona not to get involved.”

I related all these to Tito, but he seemed ready for martyrdom. “We might as well express our last words before being taken in.” There was a note of bravado in his tone of voice.

“But there is no sense trying to be a martyr by courting detention. And what do we achieve? If we have to speak out, and risk our lives, let us do so. But let us be sure of our objective. Let us act at the right moment.”

“After all, we would just insert it in the records. He would not read it before the Convention.”

“Tito, you are a patriot. You and I are about to be arrested. Should we also get our friends involved?”

Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

And Marcos addresses the same question –in the process showing he doesn’t seem set on what he will eventually do: padlock Congress, as he expedites the “approval” of a new Constitution:

Spoke to the separate unit commanders and the major service commanders at the ceremonial hall: The proclamation of martial law is a constitutional exercise of power; it is not a coup d’etat nor military take over, it being a legitimate exercise of power, the government is a constitutional government, the reforms are necessary to win the battle because this battle is not just the battle with guns but the minds and hearts of our people, that reform will counteract subversion which is the bigger battle; that the use of media a legitimate necessity.

Then finished the decree of reform and the abolition of the PSC and removal of GAB chairman Montano.

In the afternoon I gave the first interview to Tillman Durdin of the New York Times and later to the UPI Vic Maliwanag and Pat Killen.

They asked how long it would last –I will keep it only as long as necessary- “To dismantle the communist apparatus” and this includes the reforms I envision.

For a corrupt government cannot long last -or a sick and criminally infected society.

“I hope before the end of my term.”

The Con Con and Congress continue. The power of the President merely augments the deficiencies.

September 28

For Espiritu, the dreaded announcement finally arrives –he is on the list of those to be arrested:

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.

Marcos pens talking points on the justifications for martial law –and points to October as the crucial month (they would stretch until January, 1973, when he finally got a new Constitution to his liking, accepted by the Supreme Court, and thus giving him legal cover for padlocking Congress):

The legitimate use of force on chosen targets is the incontestable secret of the reform movement.

Restrained force will bring about the New Society.

And the Reformation is coming about without any obstacle.

Gerry Roxas wanted to be invited to meet with me. But the Liberal leaders all want to join up now that martial law is a success.

For that matter, everyone now wants to be identified with the Reform Movement.

Freddie Elizalde who has been a critic has come (brought by Adrian Cristobal) to offer a plan of indoctrination of the masses.

But we already have such a plan. And this must be indoctrination by participation –inflexible justice and actual involvement.

The reasons for change can be articulated later.

I have asked Armand Fabella to organize a Think Tank.

Then I will organize a group of men to follow up projects.

Johnny Gatbonton and T.S.J. George of Far East Review interviewed me at 1100-1:20 am.

We do not want another Vietnam nor another mainland China. If the Communists did not succeed in its plot to overthrow the Republic, the economy would have collapsed anyway because of the paralyzation of the government and business.

Received the lists of the Customs and BIR men to be dismissed tomorrow. Prepared the request for the judges to resign.

I am preparing the Educational Reform Act.

October will be the critical month. The Communists and criminals may be able to regroup.

We have to attend to criminality (keep it down) and food prices, repair the roads up to October.

For the rest of their diary entries, check out September, 1972 in the Philippine Diary Project.

Additional Readings:

Last year, I tweeted a minute-by-minute or hour-by-hour (as much as possible) reconstruction of the events of September 22-23, 1972. Here is the story as it can be pieced together from various accounts:

 

Accounts of arrests also appeared in a series of interviews conducted and published by Cynthia SyCip after Ninoy Aquino’s death. Here are some excerpts.

Teodoro M. Locsin, publisher of the Philippines Free Press:

Q: I understand you were detained together with Ninoy?

A: Yes. They picked me up in my home at Dasmariñas Village and took me to Camp Crame and that was where I met Ninoy, Chino Roces and the rest of those who were arrested. It was an honor to be arrested, of course, if we were not arrested, we would look stupid. So, there we were in Camp Crame… then we were fingerprinted and photographed with numbers like the criminals.

After that, later in the day, they took Ninoy and the rest of us to Bonifacio in a truck. There, we were stripped naked. Maybe they wanted to check whether we had scars or not so that we could not say later that they inflicted it on us. I do not know the reason.

For a while we were kept separate. Chino and I were kept in one building. Ninoy and the rest were kept in another building some distance away. We would meet about 5 o’clock in the afternoon when we would have our exercise. We were given one hour.

Later, we were put together in a one-story building.

Because of the difference in our ages, I really belonged to a previous generation, I really thought of him as a young man. Therefore, we got to be so friendly and so close and we formed deep friendships. We talked, we assigned to ourselves certain tasks, I cleaned the bathroom, Chino killed the flies… Ninoy was there, talking, reading, but there was nothing remarkable about him then…

We were all there, nine of us, and we were very independent-minded people with opinions about everything… you would think we’d get into fights but we never did. Instead we became as close, if not closer than brothers. Each one did not think only of his thoughts and feelings but of the others… not one harsh word, not one argument. That is why I told Ninoy and Mari Velez that we were undergoing a rich spiritual experience we would never otherwise had known inspite of the pain of separation from our families and being prisoners. I would not have missed it for the world… Ninoy was there, he tried to sing his favorite song then which was not “Impossible Dream” but “My Way”, but he just couldn’t carry the tune. So one day he told me, “Teddy, will you teach me how to read poetry?” and I tried but he lost interest… We really learned to be very very fond of each other, but still I thought of him as a young man and I had not much to say to him.

Q: What was remarkable about Ninoy in prison?

A: Well, I’ll tell you… The remarkable thing about Ninoy was that, confined as he was with us, he seemed to know what was happening all over the damn country. I think he was more informed than most people outside. He worked out a system of getting messages in, getting messages out… One day, we woke up one morning to find our small building surrounded completely with barb wires. We thought “Ah, this is it, we’re gonna get shot” but nothing happened. But I raised the question, “What if there’s a fire? We’d all get roasted.” So, we took it up with the Commandant and eventually they removed the barb wires. Possibly that was because there were rumors that we were attempting to escape…

Q: Was it true that you were planning to escape?

A: No we could not try to escape. We were there for only 71 days. They released us, except Ninoy and Pepe Diokno… So I was released. The night before my release our warden came to the building where we were being held and said, “Mr. Locsin, you may leave tomorrow to attend the wedding of your son,” which was December 1st, and I said, “What happens if I go out? Am I supposed to come back?”. He said, “Yes, you can come back but you have several days of enjoying yourself outside.” And I said to him, “I don’t want to go out. It has taken me 70 days to get used to this place, to begin to get used to prison, I don’t want to start all over again to begin to get used to living outside. Thank you.”

But the next day three or four Generals came, brought with them Scotch, and I asked then, “Are there any charges against us?” They said there was none. Then I asked, “Why are we being held, give me some reason…” He said, “Well, it is for your own good because we don’t know how your followers will react.”

Anyway we were released… except Ninoy and Pepe. When I was there with Ninoy I said to him, “I do not know if you agree but the demonstrations against Marcos led by leftists who were waving banners of revolution gave Marcos an excuse to declare martial law. That was all he wanted. And afterwards when he declared martial law the leftists disappeared.”

Ninoy said, “I agree that those demonstrations handed martial law to Marcos on a silver platter.”

After I was released he was made to go through the horrible experience at Laur. One Christmas season he was allowed to go out and stay at his home at Times St. and my wife and I went to visit him several times and I told him that I was very shocked, disgusted, and felt so bad that the Filipino people did not seem to care. There were no demonstrations against martial law. Nobody gave a damn. The businessmen were happy. Nobody seemed to value liberties. I said, “What kind of a people are we?” There was even that fellow Senator Mansfield, who is ambassador to Japan now, who was supposed to be a historian and a liberal man but who was reported to have said that the Filipino people consisted of forty million cowards and one son-of-a-bitch. It was very hard not to agree with him.

But Ninoy said, “Teddy, don’t take it like that because you will remember what Rizal said, that a man who would lead his people must learn to forgive them.”

Jose Mari Velez, broadcaster and at the time, Delegate in the 1971 Constitutional Convention:

Q: What about later when you and Ninoy were arrested. I understand you were one of those with him when he was detained at Camp Bonifacio in 1972?

A: Yes, we were all arrested on September 23, which was a Saturday morning. I was arrested supposedly on charges of rebellion, sedition, and insurrection. That was the charge in the warrant of arrest but Mr. Marcos never brought us to trial so I don’t know… Ninoy was arrested at midnight at the Manila Hilton, Senator Diokno was arrested at about one o’clock, Chino Roces, well, he was not at home, Soc Rodrigo at about three o’clock, and I was arrested at about four o’clock in the morning. In any case at about six o’clock that morning we were all together at the Camp Crame gym which was then being boarded up… I mean you could see that they were preparing it for more people who would come in and by noontime there were quite a number of us inside, but, of course, Ninoy was the bubbly one. Even inside he was greeting everybody. Of course, he was greeting everybody because he was the first one there and he saw everybody come in. The first thing he told me then was, “So, they got you. Welcome to the club”. That’s more or less how he greeted us.

Q: Were you genuinely worried that first day you were arrested?

A: Oh yes, all of us were worried. You gotta be worried anytime you’re picked up in the middle of the night by the military. And don’t forget, Ninoy was a senator, I was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. Technically, we were all enjoying so-called parliamentary immunity, so it was a period when in effect the constitution was being suspended and it was quite a step for Mr. Marcos hoarding everybody into jail. So naturally, we were all worried. I guess we were all seeking strength and consolation in each other’s arms. Generally it was really not knowing what was going on. We didn’t know. We were told that it was martial law but none of us had a copy of the proclamation of martial law. You could see more or less the quality of the people coming in. It was really the opposition. One of the more chilling incidents was that on that same day in the afternoon the Sergeant came in and read the list and said “Will all of you follow me” and he starts out with “Senator Aquino.” Now, we asked the Sargeant what it was for and he said, “I dunno, sir,” that’s how a Sargeant usually answers, you know. The thing was that, when the list was read, and since it began with Ninoy, it sounded like a “death list”. Some of us really thought that it was a list of people who were going to be executed. Since I am talking of the first day of martial law, you can imagine how we felt. In other words we were all removed from Camp Crame gymnasium and put in a bus and we were brought to another place inside Camp Crame. They said that we were being transferred somewhere else. Then we were in effect transferred to Fort Bonifacio.

Another ConCon delegate (and former Free Press writer) Napoleon Rama, recounted the events as follows:

This is what happened. We were playing ‘balot’ in the house of Chino Roces. We were about 3 or 4 people there. At 8 o’clock in the evening Chino arrived.

Chino said, “You know, I’ve got it from the horse’s mouth, there’s going to be martial law tonight”. Doming Abadilla was with me and he said that it was another of Chino’s ‘kwentong kutsero’. So, we ignored Chino.

At 10 o’clock, we watched television. The news then which was flashed on T.V. was this alleged ambush of Juan Ponce Enrile. But when they said that the scene of the ambush was inside a subdivision we started reconsidering Chino’s news.

I said, “Chino, that is an indication that there may be martial law… they’re rigging the events.” I’ve been following Marcos’ strategy of creating incidents and I thought this could be one of the excuses for declaring martial law.

At 11:30 we got a phone call from Mrs. Diokno who was crying over the phone saying that they have arrested Pepe Diokno. She was calling from a neighbor’s house because their telephone was cut. She said that martial law has been declared.

Five minutes later, Cory Aquino called up. She told Chino that Ninoy has been arrrested.

Thirty minutes later Mrs. Maximo Soliven also called up. So, I said, “I think if Soliven is arrested, they will also arrest me. You, Chino, will also be arrested.” Then the Manila Times called up and said that the Marines have closed all the operations and invaded the place.

I said, “Chino, I think we are going to be arrested.” He said “Yes, ok, let’s go out of this place. Let’s go to Central Luzon or to Baguio.” “You’re crazy Chino. They have all these guards posted on all the raods and on all of the highways,” I said.

We called Gerry Roxas and he confirmed that they had already declared martial law. We went to the house of Gerry Roxas. Five minutes later we learned the soldiers had come to arrest Chino. The wife of Chino called us up at Gerry Roxas’ place. She said, “They are all here, looking for you and ransacking the whole place.” Later, Chino decided to just go to Camp Crame and surrender. He got some sandwiches and he put them in his pocket. He wanted to walk alone. Gerry said, “No, I’ll accompany you.”

I came home about 2 o’clock and before I could reach the stairs there was a very loud buzzing and there were soldiers with long guns who came in.

When we were there at Camp Crame, there were about a thousand of us, Ninoy was the one who would greet us and would try to console us. He would say, “Never mind, you’re in good company, join the club.”

At about 10 o’clock General Nanañiego arrived. He said, “Alright, I’m going to call your names and these people will please come forward”. He was calling the name of Ninoy Aquino, Pepe Diokno, Mitra, Chino Roces, etcetera, myself… there were ten of us.

I said, “What are they going to do?” Ninoy said, “This is it. We’re going to be sent to Luneta to be shot.” Soliven was very depressed and told Ninoy, “Son-of-a-bitch, why do you talk like that?”. We were taken out and sent to another place which was the air-conditioned quarter. That was still in Camp Crame.

Ninoy was whistling and was happy as he told us, “You know what? there’s a bathroom in the other side of that building. I’m going to take a bath.”

Of course Soliven was angry, “You are a son-of-a-gun Ninoy… We are here, you know we are going to be killed and now you are making a joke of this thing.”

Ninoy said, “I have to take a bath. At least when I meet my Creator, I am clean.” That was the kind of fellow he was. He was unafraid. But I thought he was telling jokes to cheer up people. He was concerned about us.

Then we were taken out of Camp Crame at about 2 o’clock. We took a big bus, a Metrocom bus, and we had about 10 escorts, and so, we had this motorcade… everybody was looking at us…

Ninoy said, “If we reach Buendia and we turn right, we are going to Luneta to be shot, you can expect that.”

Somewhere in EDSA near Guadalupe there was this traffic and we were stopped. People were curious, cringing their necks and watching us. We rode in a big bus with big windows and some recognized us.

I was seated beside Ninoy and he said, “Look at our people. They know that we’ve been fighting for their rights, that we’ve risked our lives and that freedoms have been taken away from them, and yet, they are not doing anything… Look at them, they’re just watching us, curious, so, I don’t think there’s hope for the Filipino.”

His statement then was different from what he said later that the Filipino is worth dying for. Almost contradictory… but I could understand Ninoy’s feeling. Many of us there were trying to do something for the country. Because of this they arrested us. Ninoy half-expected, I think, that there should be some disturbances or reaction from the people, some kind of demonstration. But there they were just watching us not doing anything, so Ninoy was depressed.

When later we were brought to Fort Bonifacio we tended to agree with Max Soliven. Soliven reiterated his theory that Mr. Marcos had taken a measure of the Filipino people and found them wanting. That is why Marcos had the nerve to declare martial law and just abolish these institutions of freedom. He knew, according to the theory of Max Soliven, that the Filipinos would not do anything about it…

Joaquin “Chino” Roces, publisher of the Manila Times:

Q: I understand you were arrested with Ninoy when martial law was declared in 1972?

A: Yes. We were arrested and there were sad times and happy times of our life in detention. In a way I am glad that I had the opportunity of getting to know those who were with us in detention. I am proud to have known them and proud to have had the opportunity of being with them.

I remember a time when Ninoy was with us in jail and there was some sort of a movie. We were outside, the two of us, and I saw in one corner. He was crying. So, he was by himself a little away from the group. So, I approached him and told him, “Ninoy, what’s the trouble?” He told me that one of his men was taken and was tortured. Ninoy was very sad about it and he said that he would have rather been the one arrested and tortured. That was one particular time when I learned that Ninoy cared for people.


Thursday, November 30, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My heartbeats pounded like a gong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God! I gasped.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s my asthma.”

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

“Air, air,” he murmured.

I opened the windows.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Eh, kung umescape kayo.” Duavit has misgivings.

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

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

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

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

Duavit promised to visit them tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“True, true,” the naughty Bobbit blurted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joecon added that Nolledo had excitedly woke up Ding Lichauco.

“Ding, Ding, si Macapagal.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, come on.”

Everyone laughed.

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

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

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

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

Raul Roco, as usual, pretended to be nonchalant.

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

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

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

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

“Forget? Tito, how can we forget?”

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

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

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

The Con-Con is over. Finished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, October 15, 1972

I gave Sisters Fely and Elizabeth, at the Sacred Heart headquarters, the list of delegates who have been so far apprehended by the military. They were classified into those in the primary list and those in the secondary list.

Among those in the primary list were Nap Rama (already apprehended), Boni Gillego (at large), Raul Manglapus (abroad), Sonny Alvarez (at large), Tonypet Araneta (abroad), Joe Mari Velez (already apprehended), Romy Capulong (at large), Ding Lichauco (already apprehended), and Raul Roco (at large).

Among those in the secondary list were: Pepito Nolledo, Natalio Bacalzo, Tito Guingona, Joe Concepcion, George Viterbo, all of whom have been arrested and detained. A few others like myself, my brother Rebeck, Nene Pimentel, Naning Kalaw, Erning Amatong and Lilia Delima have so far been only under surveillance. We did not know whether Sonia is in the list. Of course, Lilia wondered how Sonia could possibly be in the secondary list when she has been in Rome for quite a while now.

What kind of a State is this that regards its citizens first and foremost as security risks?

Sonia wanted to know whether she should resign from the Con-Con or should not come back anymore. I advised the nuns that perhaps she should not make any decision yet; the situation is still fluid. She should stay abroad until I am able to let them know of new developments.

The problem is how to convey all these to Sonia. Sister Elizabeth told me that when she returned from the U.S. two days ago one American lady with her was detained at the airport because she was carrying some films and apparently the military is suspicious (even) of films. So Sister Elizabeth is going to course the message through her sister in New York, or possibly, through the Papal Nuncio’s office. Sister Fely showed apprehension over my situation and said that she was going to pray for me.

From the Sacred Heart headquarters, I proceeded to the Manila Hotel, to the luncheon meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines where Dr. Manuel Lim was going to preside. Defense Sec. Johnny Ponce Enrile was going to be the guest speaker. It would be good to meet him; I want an assurance straight from the horse’s mouth!

I was registering at the Petal Room when Johnny passed by. I greeted him. He returned my greeting cordially.

At the end of his speech, I remembered with a start that I have a teargas pistol in my house.

I have always dreaded firearms. The only weapon I have given myself in the past ten years is a teargas pistol that is supposed to paralyze but I have, in fact, forgotten about it until then. Come to think of it, I have not seen my teargas pistol for so many years. I do not even know where it is.

Fearfully, I inquired from Johnny Ponce Enrile whether or not teargas pistols were supposed to be surrendered also.

Johnny smiled at this innocence. No need to surrender teargas pistols, he replied with a twinkle in his eyes.

In the Con-Con, we were fearing for our lives and our liberty. Understandably, for the businessmen gathered there, the most pressing problem is when they would be allowed to travel. Johnny said that they will be allowed to travel, but these businessmen must convince the Department of National Defense that their trip is really necessary and legitimate.

At least there is a promise that travel could be allowed. Of course, this is not good enough for some businessmen who want to pursue their business interests abroad, unfettered by clearances and checkups.


Wednesday, October 11, 1972

Malakas ka pala, tinanggal pala ang pangalan mo sa ‘wanted’ delegates.”

Cicero (Cecing) Calderon said that Sig Siguion-Reyna had told him that my name has been removed from the “wanted” list. He said he himself had been exerting; efforts to see Enrile and that he actually saw him on behalf of his brother, Pepe Calderon. Actually, he said, Pepe was not in the list. However, his political enemies had somehow contrived to get Pepe’s house searched for hidden weapons. In fact, he said, Enrile has these people now under investigation.

Anyway, it’s good to know that Pepe is not in the list.

            Malakas kang talaga, he repeated as he walked towards his seat.

When I sat down, there were talks, according to Pabling Trillana, that Raul Roco has been arrested and detained. I anxiously asked him for his source and he said it is Ben Rodriguez. I sought out Ben because I am very worried about Raul. Ben is quite convinced that Raul Roco is now in the stockade.

Joe Feria told Lilia Delima and me that two nights ago Raul Roco and Romy Capulong, who are in hiding, had surreptitiously dropped by his house to hear the latest developments.

Feria also said that he has seen the list of the 12 “wanted” people from the Convention supposed to be arrested. In the list are Sonny Alvarez, Tonypet Araneta, Romy Capulong, Voltaire Garcia, Boni Gillego, Bren Guiao, Ding Lichauco, Raul Manglapus, Nap Rama, Ernie Rondon, Raul Roco and Joe Mari Velez.

Another list has also been seen personally, Lilia said, by Tony Alano from Babes Navarro. (Babe’s father, Congressman Navarro, is chairman of the House Committee on National Defense.) The list contained 32 names.

Babes Navarro remembered some of those in the list: the 12 already mentioned, plus 20 more. Among those 20 are Bacalzo, Guingona, Concepcion, Nolledo and Viterbo, all of whom have already been arrested; Delima (the only girl), Occeña, Badoy, Sanchez, the Espiritu brothers, Pepe Calderon, Kalaw, Father Ortiz and Amatong.

Lilia Delima believes that this list of 32 is quite accurate. So there is reason, Lilia stressed, for us to keep quiet and not force the issue.

What did the brothers Berrigan say during the Vietnam War? I remember it was something like this: They came for someone across the street and we did not raise a finger to stop them. Next they came for our next-door neighbor and we didn’t scream. Then they came for us.


Tuesday, October 10, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, October 5, 1972

Some five delegates are already in the army stockades. In the haphazard enumeration by the government-controlled paper, The Daily Express, the last two delegates named were Ramon (sic) Espiritu and Jose Mari Velez of Rizal.

As I entered the session hall, Joe Feria met me. “I was afraid you were already taken in.” And Charlie Valdez added, “You better go up because there is so much speculation inside the session hall about you.”

True enough, as I entered, there was some excitement on the part of the delegates who were thinking that I must have already been arrested. Jun Catan was saying that if it were true that I was arrested, then they would have taken the wrong man because he knows that I am a fair-minded man. Moreover, I am not really a man of such means as to be able to finance subversives. Twice he told me that he had said this to Roberto (Bert) Oca.

Delegates Pedro (Pete) Valdez and Manuel (Maneng) Concordia were quite concerned. Sergio (Serging) Tocao had allayed their fears by telling them that last night we were together until almost 10:00 o’clock so it could not be possible that I have been taken in because usually arrests are staged at night.

Some fuzz ensued upon my entrance. Many delegates rose to meet me. Abe Sarmiento, Con-Con vice-president, who was then presiding, had to bang the gavel: “Please! May I request all delegates to please take their seats and listen to the Speaker.”

I felt guilty that my entrance caused some disorder in the hall because many delegates started milling around me. They seemed genuinely happy to see me.

I had to keep on telling the delegates in a light vein, “By the way, my name is not Ramon.”

Later, in the afternoon, I met Celso Gangan. He said there is a difference between the high level criticisms and statements such as I was making and the low level ones that have been made by some people. “I am sure they would not arrest you because you have been taking a high level in your discussions,” he said.

Small comfort.

President Macapagal later told us that in the Planning and Administrative Review Committee a decision has been made to create a group that is smaller than the Plenary Committee but large enough to be democratic and to ensure support by the plenary. Such a body, he said, will be composed of the executive officers of the Convention, namely, the president, the president pro tempore, the vice-presidents, the chairman and members of the Steering Council, the chairman and members of the Sponsorship Council and the floor leaders. This would amount to something like 126 people.

These people would go over or write entirely the draft of the New Constitution, using as bases (1) the drafts already approved on second reading, (2) the consolidated provisions, such as the provisions on the national economy adopted by the chairman and officers of the 12 committees under Ramon (Monet) Tirol, and (3) those provisions which shall have been written out by the Steering Council based on the committee reports, after such reports shall have been harmonized.

There seems to be merit in what Macapagal is proposing. This would probably enable the Convention to finish its task by January 13, 1973.

He has a valid point when he said that all of the delegates, irrespective of their individual views and convictions, are interested in finishing a good Constitution as soon as possible so that the Constitution can be presented before the Convention fizzles out.

In the evening, I went over President Marcos’ book, Today’s Revolution: Democracy. I had read the first two chapters last year but, in the light of present developments, there is a need to read the book again, particularly the more practical chapters in the middle portion and the last chapter entitled “The New Society.”


Saturday, September 23, 1972

It was strange, I thought. There were no newspapers and no radio broadcasts in the morning.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Korean, Moonkyoo Kang, and Pura Calo, a Filipino, who were jointly running the ALDEC, visited me at my house and asked me how I felt. I told them that I was quite disappointed last night with the SCM in that in trying to set a new reading of the gospel, they seemed to have given a Christian organization, the Student Christian Movement, a neo-Maoist strain. I believe in a theology of liberation, I hastened to add; but liberation in Christ, not through a forcible overthrow of government.

“Obviously, you have not heard the news,” they exclaimed. “Martial law has already been declared.”

I nearly fell off my seat!

Martial law declared? Impossible!

“Yes, it is true. That is the reason why there are no newspapers and why radio stations are not in operation.”

Forthwith, I rang up my friend, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, to find out if this were true. Titong was out of the house but his wife, Rosie, said this is probably true. She added that Defense Minister Enrile was ambushed yesterday afternoon. By whom?

I told her that I was, in fact, preparing to address the meeting of the Christians Concerned for civil liberties at the St. Joseph’s College today. Rosie advised me to stay home and not attend the meeting.

I immediately tried to reach my friends—Sonny Alvarez first, but Sonny’s phone was busy. Next, I tried calling up Sonia Aldeguer but I was not successful either in contacting her.

I got Pres. Pro-Tempore Sotero (Teroy) Laurel on the phone. Teroy confirmed that the news is true. He had it from good authority: from his own brother, House of Representatives Speaker Jose Laurel. He added that two of our fellow delegates have already been arrested, namely, Nap Rama and Joe Mari Velez. Teroy suggested that we just meet more or less socially but that in the meantime, we should lie low.

I called up Raul Manglapus; we have to plan on what we should do next.

I was informed that Raul had left for the U.S. a couple of days ago.

Next, I tried calling up Raul Roco, but Raul was out of the house. Fearful for his safety, I rang up the home of his father-in-law, Congressman Malasarte. I was able to get his wife, Sonia, who said that Raul had “gone out.”

I rang up Alejandro (Ding) Lichauco, but Ding’s phone was busy.

I went to the Convention Hall. The streets were almost deserted. By late morning there were still no newspapers, no radio broadcasts. In Quezon City, I saw two cars of soldiers with one civilian on the front seat in each of the cars—obviously taken into custody.

There were some soldiers at the checkpoint near the Quezon Memorial Circle, but the soldiers didn’t molest anyone.

At the Convention Hall, there was a note of hushed excitement, frustration and resignation. Now the reality is sinking into our consciousness. Martial law has been proclaimed!

Rumors were rife that our most outspoken activist delegates, Voltaire Garcia, Joe Mari Velez, Nap Rama, Ding Lichauco and Sonny Alvarez have been arrested. I met Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva and he informed me that this was what he had also heard.

The whole day, practically, was spent by us tensely waiting for some news. All sorts of rumors were floating around.

It was repeatedly announced that President Marcos was going to give an important message at 12:00 noon. Twelve o’clock came and went, and there was no news; there was only an announcement that this was going to be made later. At 2:30 p.m., a new announcement came: this would be done at 3:30 p.m. Then it was announced that due to the fact that documents were still being looked over by the President and that TV sets were still being installed at Malacañang, the message of the President was going to be later, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The people could hardly wait. At 7:00 p.m., over the radio, during dinner with the ALDEC seminar participants, we heard President Marcos explaining the grounds for declaring martial law as well as the general orders given to the secretary of national defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and to Press Sec. Francisco (Kit) Tatad. Tatad’s big face popped out on TV. He read for more than an hour, in what seemed to us sinister monotone, the full text of the presidential proclamation.

“Big Brother is watching us,” exclaimed one of the participants while looking at Tatad’s face which filled the TV frame. But this is not 1984! George Orwell showed up too early in the Philippines.

Tatad was continuously pouring out words that seemed to seal the fate of our people. We sat there and listened in mingled fear and confusion.

Sadly and fearfully, we speculated on the possible fate of our militant friends who had spoken at the ALDEC seminar, yesterday and day before yesterday. They must have been taken into military custody already. Ding Lichauco must surely have been arrested, we conjectured, and Dante Simbulan, likewise. Possibly also Dodong Nemenzo, we thought. The Korean, Moonkyoo, tried to cheer us up. He has a tape of Ding Lichauco’s lecture and he said he would tell everyone that he has the last lecture of Lichauco before he was arrested.


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.