Wednesday, November 29, 1972

Headline at the Express: “Delegates Approve Final Charter Draft. Signing Tomorrow.”

The paper repeated its report yesterday that the delegates approved the charter draft without any dissenting vote. But this was a patent lie. How could such a deliberate misleading of the people be done by the Express?

The Bulletin Today headlined “New Charter Draft Passed.”

In both papers, on the front page were big items: “FM Warns of Insurgency by Rightist Elements,” the Express said. The Bulletin talked about “Peril from the Right.”

In the afternoon, I returned to Camp Aguinaldo. When I entered, I saw Gerry Barican, a UP student activist, being questioned by an officer. Gerry asked me if I was a visitor. I said “Yes.” Having said this, I felt it was awkward to stay longer. I decided to go and meet Colonel Miranda who had signed the summons for my interrogation.

I was shown into his office.

It was a fairly young man, somewhat tall, in casual polo shirt, with an honest, pleasant face, who stood up when I entered.

“I have come to introduce myself. I am Caesar Espiritu.”

“No, I should be the one to introduce myself to you because I know you.”

The officer told me that we belong to the same church. He said that at one time he had read that I was the speaker at the Cosmopolitan Church, but he was not there when I spoke.

This must have been Independence Day 1971, when there was a combined service of several churches in Manila and I was the speaker.

I told him that I had already been interviewed and allowed to leave. I added that I thought that the basis for the investigation was my letter that had been taken from Rev. Haruna.

He showed surprise that I knew that my letter had been taken.

“Well,” I said, “I know somehow about it.” I added that after a few days, when the letter did not come back, I presumed that the Army had mailed it.

He laughed.

“I thought it was not important and that, therefore, it should have now been received by the addressee,” I was being facetious.

“It got stuck here.” He laughed heartily.

“Well, since you are a professing Christian, I can more easily explain to you what I was telling your investigator yesterday,” I said.

“I am somewhat active in ecumenical Christian movements, not only nationally but internationally. In the last few years, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican, after Vatican II, have become more and more liberal and progressive. I am in continuous touch with them. My views have been inspired by these contacts.”

I told him that I was vice chairman of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), with headquarters in Geneva, from 1964 to 1968. Although I am no longer a member of the Student Christian Movement in the Philippines, when WSCF people come around from Geneva or Tokyo, they look for me. Thus, when a preparatory seminar of the Asian Leadership Development Center was held here by the Asia Committee of the Federation, they naturally asked me to help in the arrangements. At the end of a ten-day preparatory seminar in the Philippines, as the delegates proceeded to Tokyo for their four-week seminar proper, I sent out three letters through the participants. It was the third letter that was captured from a Japanese pastor.

“Why did you send out letters through friends?”

“Simply because mails are much faster from Tokyo or Hong Kong than from Manila,” I said. “So naturally, I do send many of my mails through friends who pass through Manila.”

There was another officer who was listening in as we talked. As I kept on looking at him, he moved forward to join us.

“I know of no subversion that I have committed except subversion of the status quo, with all its injustices and oppressions.” I was warming up, encouraged by their apparent lack of hostility.

The two officers encouraged me to talk and gave me the impression that they were in agreement with what I was saying. It was getting to be a monologue. But then I could hardly stop. I remembered how St. Paul nearly converted King Agrippa. I wanted to make use of the opportunity to tell them of the imperative necessity of instituting fundamental changes in social structures. I spoke of the need to protect human dignity and to foster greater equality, to struggle for justice both nationally and internationally.

Colonel Miranda interrupted and asked me if I had heard of Silliman University. He said the university is having difficulties in looking for a president.

Why did he bring up the subject of Silliman University?

“We thought you would be the president of Silliman,” he said. “That was what we had heard way back in early 1961.”

“I was quite young then. I think I was offered the presidency of Silliman because of the TOYM award I received in 1961 in the combined fields of economics and education.”

“You would have been the youngest university president in the country.”

“But Dr. Jovito Salonga, who had just been elected congressman at the time, had counselled me that it may not be wise for me to accept the presidency, because, in his own words, I would be away from the ebb and flow of events, which are centered in Manila.”

The problem, I thought, was that some people in the military were, in the 1960s, suspicious of new ideas. During those years, I was held in suspicion for quoting Arnold Toynbee and Bertrand Russell on the need for greater achievement in man’s relations with his fellowmen, as well as on the need for actively searching for peace. “To be able to look into the eyes of a human being and see in him the flattering image of yourself,” or something to that effect was what Norman Cousins had thought was the urgent purpose of education.

I had an article which was excerpted from my Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard which came out in the Chronicle magazine. I came out against the “Anti-Subversion Bill,” which was then in the process of being passed by Congress. I had written this immediately upon my arrival back in the Philippines after four years of studies in law, politics and political economy at Harvard, even mentioning that when I was in London, I had heard lousy Commies orating to their hearts’ content at Hyde Park, with overzealous anti-communists heckling them. My LL.M. essay was entitled “The Legislature and Control of Political Heterodoxies” and my Ph.D. discourse was on freedom and national security.

Harvard is famous for its defense of freedom, I told Colonel Miranda; it is a great institution, and it is concerned with greatness, and we alumni are proud of her achievements.

The other officer’s name is Major Arceo. He was quite sharp. He said that they distinguish between advocacy of violence and the expression of ideas. He said that my views are well-known. They have never doubted my integrity and my loyalty to democratic institutions.

“Your name was never in our list,” they said. “You have never advocated rebellion or subversion. Your interview now is mere routine.”

“Why then did you say in the summons that this is an investigation interview in a case of subversion in which I am involved?”

“It’s just a slip.” They were on the defensive now.

I told them I had asked for one hour to arrange my things, send cables, have my clothes packed, etc.

Colonel Miranda threw his neck back in laughter.

“Really? No, we had never meant to get you. We have never doubted you at all.”

But why am I here, I kept on thinking.

Then I added that I did not know of any political subversive in the Convention. I said that the nearest to a Marxist, if any, would be Boni Gillego. But then, I said, he would be the most harmless Marxist one could meet. In fact, I think he is a democrat with a social conscience; I don’t think he would hurt a fly, I said emphatically.

They nodded in a noncommittal way. An awkward silence ensued.

“Where is Boni Gillego?” They broke the silence.

“I have no idea.”

Colonel Miranda asked me if I had seen Sonny Alvarez. I had hardly answered “No,” when he turned to Major Arceo.

“I understand that Sonny Alvarez was seen at the Intercontinental two weeks ago.”

“By whom, by our people?” asked Arceo.

“No, by some other people.”

“Perhaps he did not know that he is wanted,” Arceo suggested.

“Why should he be wanted?” I asked. “Alvarez is a good man. He believes in the need for minimizing injustice in society just as I do. He is involved in our struggle to democratize our social and economic institutions,” I said in rapid succession.

Another awkward silence followed.

“Some of the officers in the military were my students,” I changed the subject.

“Who?”

“Gen. Guillermo Picache, Gen. Crispino de Castro and some colonels and majors and captains, too.”

“How was General de Castro?”

I told them that when General de Castro was still a colonel, he was my student in the Master of Laws course. One day, as I was conducting a pre-bar review class, Colonel de Castro burst in and excitedly said, “I need your help.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Confidential,” he had smiled.

I approached him.

“I have been asked by the military to answer Recto’s speech which was delivered yesterday. But after one year with you, I have become pro-Recto.”

We laughed.

I told the two officials about two Serranos, both captains, who were my students. One of them was the late Boni Serrano, of Korean War fame. I made them understand that as a professor I have been democratic. Democracy means essentially diversity of ideas, I said.

They agreed. Major Arceo kept on assuring me that the military understands these matters and does not arrest people simply because of their ideas.

“There is a difference between advocacy and expression of ideas,” he said. “We are familiar with your writings, you have never advocated the overthrow of the government.”

“Why am I here then? Was it because I have taken views contrary to those of President Marcos? Was it because I stand foursquare against the violations of human rights by the military?” I asked in succession.

Again they were on the defensive.

“Every promising young man in the country has a file in the NICA. In fact, even President Marcos has a file. The NICA follows up all the activities of all promising people in the Philippines,” Arceo answered reassuringly.

“But insofar as you are concerned you have absolutely nothing to worry about,” he added.

“We have never suspected you. As far as we know, you have never been in the list,” Col. Miranda confirmed.

We parted in friendly terms. They were courteous and respectful. And intelligent, I thought, not the witch-hunting type.

But by what luck, what chain of circumstances kept me from being denied my freedom? Did I ward off being detained—again by the skin of my teeth?

Surely, I was wanted. Did I outtalk them? Did God touch their hearts? This was my second lease on liberty!

I felt both triumphant and unnerved. It was a sobering influence.

Or am I under the illusion that I had won the battle? Was not the military successful in instilling fear into my heart and overdone caution into my actuations? Damn it, I just want the military off my back!

Several delegates rushed towards me when I entered the session hall. The news had spread.

What transpired in the interrogation? Was I going to be detained? Senator Liwag, Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw, Bobbit Sanchez—these were among the friends who met me with concern for my safety as well as for theirs.

Johnny Remulla—even him—felt sorry for me. He told me that this noon, he was at the office of Solicitor-General Titong Mendoza and Titong had already heard from my classmate Joker Arroyo that I was taken into custody yesterday. “In fact, they were speculating,” Johnny added, “that your best friend and classmate Titong would be your prosecutor and Joker your lawyer.”

I was taken completely by surprise. How could this news have travelled so fast?

“Titong confirms that you have absolutely no communist leanings,” Johnny Remulla said. “But Titong said, of course, Caezar is a human rights activist and civil libertarian and has been espousing the need for greater justice in human relationships and of active solidarity with the poor. He is a practising Christian and this is the influence of his faith.”

I met Tony Tupaz at the aisle and asked him how come even Titong already knew about it. He did not answer the question directly; instead, he informed me that he even told Speaker Cornelio Villareal yesterday that I had been arrested.

These days I don’t know whether to believe or not anything Brod Tony Tupaz says; nevertheless, I still consider him a friend.

The Speaker was concerned, according to Tupaz; he immediately phoned President Marcos about it.

It is more likely that Nimia Arroyo of the Manila Times, who was covering our session, was the one who had spread the word around. Nimia is a loyal friend, a former staff member of mine when I was editor-in-chief of the Philippine Collegian at UP. She must have phoned her brother, Joker, a human rights lawyer and my classmate. Nimia saw me being taken by the military; we had looked into each other’s eyes as I was being led away by my military escort.

I sat down with Sedfrey. He told me that he was with Sen. Jovito Salonga yesterday and that he had told him that I was arrested. He said that Jovy Salonga was very much concerned about me.

But then I had calmed down. I kidded some of the guys that I had just taken my oral examination and that I think I passed the exam with the grade of “meritissimus.”

The delegates were milling around until 6:00 p.m. Apparently I did not miss anything by arriving late from Camp Aguinaldo. Nothing was happening. Everyone was killing time, waiting for the printed copies of the Constitution to arrive. Finally, at 6:00 p.m. we dispersed, without having done anything.

We returned at 8:00 p.m. There were no printed copies available either but Munding Cea then made a motion to go through with our nominal voting.

But of course, this is anticlimactic. Everything is just a formality. The real voting—on second reading—took place two days ago. The perversion of the Constitution has already been done.

Fourteen people voted “No.” The most sensational vote was that of Nene Pimentel who was standing before the microphone waiting for his name to be called. When his turn came to vote, he started to deliver a speech….

“Because of the adulterous…” his voice trailed off as presiding officer Abe Sarmiento banged the gavel. “Your vote,” Abe ruled. “What is your vote?”

Nene Pimentel continued to explain his vote but Brod Abe ruled that he should make known his vote first. Pimentel shouted, “I refuse to vote on this travesty of a Constitution…”

I heard later on that this was shown on TV.

Everyone is full of admiration for Nene’s guts, So am I. Now we are all the more afraid for him.

Some Independent-Progressive delegates who had wanted to vote “No” decided to vote “Yes” when they saw me being returned to the session hall by a soldier. They were clearly intimidated.

“Raul Manglapus has exiled himself abroad. Tito Guingona is in the stockade. And you came in escorted by a soldier. How do we vote now?”

“I cannot really give you much advice. Vote according to your conscience. I would vote ‘No’ if there is no danger of so doing, ‘Yes’ if there is,” I counselled lamely.

My Independent-Progressive group was downcast. Defeat was in everyone’s eyes.

Johnny Liwag was among the first to capitulate—he who had made so many speeches in our group meetings in the last few days on how “the blood of our children would be upon us.”

“Yes!” his voice had resounded in the session hall.

The rest followed suit.

Jess Matas’ voice faltered as he meekly voted “Yes, with mental reservations.” Then he threw himself on his chair to commune with his soul.

Everything went on so fast. It was so evident that the majority was really “steamrolling” the approval of the Constitution, even on third reading, which was really no longer decisive.

Still, many who have voted “Yes” on roll call today vowed that they would not show up for the signing of the Constitution tomorrow.

“We’ll get lost,” I proposed.

“Yeah, let’s get lost,” whispered more than a dozen sad voices.


Saturday, October 28, 1972

Vice President Abe Sarmiento looked over a copy of the first draft prepared by the Steering Council. Apparently, the Steering Council already has a first draft of the whole Constitution, only eight days after the golpe.

Adil and Brod Abe summarized the provision which said that the members of the National Assembly would receive a compensation of ₱120,000.00 with other allowances not to exceed three times this amount.

“I was only asking for a salary of ₱72,000 instead of ₱120,000,” Adil said. (He had sponsored this resolution on the floor, but failed to get it approved.) “Plus an allowance of two times this amount. Now, this is three times.” He was exultant.

            Maganda, maganda,” Abe rubbed his hands in glee.

Cesar Sevilla from Leyte protested this would be unacceptable to the people. I joined him, saying that the people would hold the coming assemblymen in contempt in the same manner that they have held our present legislators in contempt, because of their excessive allowances. I told them of Senator Liwag’s suggestion that the remuneration of assemblymen should be limited to the same per diems they have been receiving as delegates.

Adil defended the huge compensation. He said the draft was prepared with the help of Malacañang consultants and of technical experts from Congress. Apparently, it was the feeling of Congress that the salaries and allowances should be increased from its present ₱48,000 plus allowances. But I thought that this huge salary of ₱120,000 plus three times this amount in allowances was adding insult to injury. This would be clearly immoral. In Germany, be it said, the staff allowance of a Bundestag member would provide for the salaries of 2 1/2 secretaries; this is something better than what the members of Parliament in the United Kingdom have for staff allowances which, incidentally, are directly paid to the staff. But what are we now proposing in our poor country, whose GDP per capita is less than 30 times the GDP of West European countries?

“I’m too old to take part in this immorality,” Domi Alonto commented. “Where shall the country get the money to pay for all these?”

Good old Domi. He is a respectable gentleman of the old school.

Delegates by the dozens then rushed towards Adil and Abe. They read and read the provisions amid rejoicing.

Hallelujah! We are going to be rich!

Pedro (Pete) Yap was gloomy.

“Perhaps you made a mistake in leaving the United Nations and coming home to the Philippines?”

I did not anticipate his response: “That’s true.”

He confided that he had thought that while he is still strong he would come back to the Philippines to serve the country. I was surprised to hear that now he regretted having left the U.N. to come back to his country.

Pete Yap is terribly disillusioned. He said he would now welcome working outside the Philippines again.

“I am looking forward to possibilities of working abroad, perhaps, in some United Nations agency,” I confided.

He said he is also thinking along the same lines.

“Ambassador Hortencio (Tensing) Brilliantes had told me in Geneva that you were quite close at the U.N. before.”

Pete agreed. “Perhaps Tensing can help us.”

Brilliantes, in addition to being our permanent representative to the U.N. in Geneva, will soon be ambassador to Bern and accredited to Vienna. He was elected chairman of the UNIDO last year and is now chairman of the UNCTAD. I was pretty sure he could help.

I told Pete I know someone who may be leaving for Bern soon and we could send a letter to Brilliantes through this fellow. He asked me to be sure to let him know. He would like to send a letter. He was serious.

After the session, I gave Nene Pimentel a lift up to Alemar’s. He was, as usual, very warm with me. He said he would, likewise, want to go abroad if possible.

“I could go around the universities in Europe and ask, ‘Would you like a former dean of a law school in the Philippines to handle a course?’,” I kidded him. Before his election to the Convention, Nene was dean of the law school of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro.

“Or if you are so minded, we could put up a law office…” But Nene Pimentel suddenly checked himself and said, almost with regret: “Oh, but then you are going to join the National Assembly.”

“I don’t think so, Nene.” My voice was firm. “Never!”

Nene looked at me quizzically and smiled.

“I didn’t think you would,” he said gladly.

I went home thinking what a great pity this whole thing has turned out to be. What a mess!


Thursday, October 19, 1972

I presided over the meeting of the Sponsorship Council, sub-council I, on Economic and Fiscal Affairs. Erning Amatong and Ikeng Belo came along. Serging Tocao thrust himself into the meeting on the ground that he is the assistant of Justice Barrera in the sub-council. He talked about the format of the Constitution. I had to cut him short because our discussion was limited to the major provisions. Ben Rodriguez also came after a while although he is not a member of the sub-council.

The main thrust of Belo’s proposal was to remove “numbers” in the Constitution. We should not talk about 60% or 70% Filipino ownership in agriculture and natural resources, in public utilities, in retail trade, etc., vis-a-vis foreign ownership much less 100% Filipino ownership.

Under the draft provision, agriculture and natural resources should be owned wholly by Filipinos (100%), with 30% ownership by foreigners (70% Filipino ownership) allowed under certain exceptions; all other corporate enterprises in the other reports would be owned 60% by Filipinos. Belo wanted it the other way around—namely, that no nationality requirement be mentioned at all in the business activities except only in agriculture and natural resources. The requirements there would be left the way they are presently provided for in the present (1935) Constitution.

However, he would liberalize it further by providing that although they should be 60% Filipino-owned, the legislature may, by 2/3 vote, increase or decrease the Filipino ownership.

My personal contribution was on the controversial provision on foreign investments. I got the group’s endorsement of my formulation—that foreign investments from any country shall be welcome insofar as they are in harmony with the development plans and policies of the country.

When the Convention opened 16 months ago, there were three distinct factions of delegates: (1) the pro-Garcia or Nacionalista-affiliated or supported candidates which later on constituted the nucleus of the pro-Marcos bloc in the Convention; (2) the pro-Macapagal or Liberal-leaning bloc; and (3) the Independent-Progressive bloc, at least 50% of whom are delegates who have never been in active politics and who profess non-partisanship in their approach to Constitution-framing.

The pro-Garcia (ultimately pro-Marcos) bloc, had a distinct plurality over the pro-Macapagal bloc in the Convention, hence the election of President Garcia, initially, as president of the Convention. (It was only after President Garcia had passed away early during his term that the Convention elected former President Macapagal to succeed him.)

The pro-Macapagal Liberal bloc, on the other hand, had some plurality over the Independent-Progressives, which was a coalition of three factions headed by Raul Manglapus, Tito Guingona and me.

Our Independent-Progressive bloc held a meeting at the home of Pepe Calderon of the pro-Macapagal Liberals. By this time, the pro-Macapagal bloc—their remnants anyway—were, for all practical purposes, in coalition with the few survivors of our Independent-Progressive bloc.

Inasmuch as Erning Amatong and I had arrived early, we got Cecing Calderon to talk about something else: to tell us what he had gotten from Liberal senators, Gerry Roxas and Jovito Salonga, to whom he had gone this morning.

Roxas had told Calderon: “I have already given out my thoughts to Alfelor and Trillana and Nepomuceno and that is to vote “Yes” if only because the situation is so fluid and we would not foreclose our options by voting “No” now. If we voted “No” now on the transitory provision, we would definitely not be in even if the situation should later warrant our being there. After all, if necessary, you may yet opt not to sign the Constitution, or not take your oath or take your seat in the National Assembly,” Roxas had said.

On the other hand, according to Calderon, Salonga had said that he would like to take a long look at this. In Salonga’s opinion, history would judge the proposed transitory provision in the new Constitution to be the most scandalous provision he has ever read in any Constitution. We should emphatically reject it.

Our other friends arrived—among them, Senator Juan Liwag, Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw, Totoy Nepomuceno, Fr. Ortiz, Cefi Padua, Joe Feliciano. With the eight of us, plus the Calderon brothers, we were ten in all—seven Independent-Progressives and three pro-Macapagal Liberals.

This is all that is left of our combined pro-Macapagal and Independent-Progressive blocs.

The phone rang. It was for Liwag. As he put down the receiver, he announced that Romy Capulong was coming.

Everyone was taken by surprise. Romy is a fugitive. He is in the “wanted” list and is in hiding. We all got somewhat tense.

“Is he not wanted?” Joe Feria asked apprehensively.

Cefi Padua was visibly nervous. “Don’t let him come here,” he twice suggested to Cecing.

Part of our anxiety lay not only in the fact that Romy was “wanted” but that, also, we were meeting in the home of a man who was supposed to be under house arrest.

Romy Capulong walked in, an embarrassed smile on his lips. In spite of our apprehensions, we were all very pleased to see him. Of course, he had been in close contact with Liwag because they are close. I myself was very pleased to see him. In fact, I had precisely thought of asking the members of our group to try to find ways of being able to assist him and Raul Roco financially. I was ready to pass the hat around.

I asked Romy how he was doing financially. Not very well, he said. So I then started asking for contributions. I could not immediately include Sonny Alvarez in our calculations because I do not know Sonny’s whereabouts although he is very much in my mind.

Romy told us some Catholic nuns have been taking care of him and Raul Roco. They gave him asylum in some retreat house. Evidently, according to Romy, some elements of the clergy are very much opposed to what is now happening. They are taking the posture of passive resistance.

It is some members of the Iglesia ni Kristo, Romy was made to understand by the nuns, who became the informers of the military before the proclamation of martial law. The whole INK church, according to them, was utilized by the military to get at critics, leftists and subversives. Of course, this did not jibe with the story that on the day of martial law, more than ten Iglesia ni Kristo security guards and two PC soldiers died at the gate of the Iglesia ni Kristo headquarters at Commonwealth Avenue during a scuffle at which recoiless rifles were used by the troops.

Liwag then gave again an impassioned speech against the transitory provision.

He said that someone who had run (and lost) for the Constitutional Convention was in tears the other day. This man said that he had missed the historic opportunity to prove his loyalty to his people; if he were a member of the Convention now, he would be voting against the provision.

The import of Liwag’s words is that it would be patriotic to vote “No.” Yet, when he was pressed, he seemed evasive and he refused to categorically answer how he would vote. Was the articulate and brave senator trying to hide his fear of being arrested?

Fr. Ortiz kept on saying that while he is thinking of voting “No” he also wants to be sure that there is really no useful purpose to be served by voting “Yes.” In other words, may not being in the Assembly be an opportunity for service to the people? So long as there are possibilities for doing good in the present government, he, too, is not exactly averse to serving.

Joe Feria and Naning Kalaw seemed to have changed positions somewhat. While yesterday Naning was almost ready to vote “Yes” and Joe almost for “No,” today Joe Feria is almost for “Yes” and Naning almost for “No.”

We asked Romy Capulong how he would vote if he could do so, i.e., if he has not gone underground. He said he would vote “Yes.”

Romy added that there was some hopeful news—that the President was fed up and also disappointed with his own “tutas in the Convention. His news was that Marcos did not really respect them. It may even be that the President would not be averse to getting people in the government who are more respectable even if they are not his own men.

A drowning man, it is said, would clutch at a piece of straw. But surely, also, one can see the rainbow through the rain?

Romy apparently was convinced that this is true.

As we were going out after our adjournment, Romy’s upbeat mood was not yet exhausted. “So Mr. Feria and Mr. Espiritu, you get prepared to be drafted; it may be that the President will send for you and ask you to join him in his administration.”

Totoy immediately shared Romy’s optimism. The president really respected our group more than his own lapdogs. He said it would be quite important to Marcos to give respectability to his decisions. In fact, he is very certain that none of us would be touched any longer because it is very important for the President that we give him our support.

Since yesterday, Totoy has shown inclinations to vote “Yes”—following the line of reasoning of Gerry Roxas. Cefi Padua, of course, is sure that his name was in the list. He seems ready to vote “Yes.”

The pressures were heavy on all of us. We take our freedom for granted; it is only when it is endangered that we realize that it is freedom, as Harold J. Laski has said, which can give final beauty to men’s lives.

Cicero Calderon is prepared to take a job offered by the International Labor Organization to be regional consultant in Bangkok. This gives him a very good excuse not to join the Assembly. I assured him that from what I remembered, the moment anyone has his appointment papers to work for an international organization, he may be able to leave the country. The question is if the voting were done before he could leave the country.

He said that if the voting were done before he could leave the country, he would vote “Yes.”

Cecing was emphatic, however, that for some of us, particularly me, there is really no choice: we should vote “Yes.” Twice he said, “Caesar is under duress; he would have been arrested were his name not taken out of the list by Johnny Ponce Enrile.”

Pepe Calderon discussed the pros and cons and said that the Metrocom troopers who came to his house were really sent by his political enemy in Nueva Vizcaya. In fact, his daughter twice saw one of the bodyguards of Leonie Perez, together with the Metrocom troopers, in both instances. He could not see why, given this opportunity, he should not be in the Assembly so that at least he would not be oppressed by his political opponents.

Liwag again continued his powerful orations against the transitory provision. But when pressed, he was still very vague and would not give his decision. He said that the only moral decision was a “No” decision. “If we vote ‘Yes’ it would only be because we are rationalizing or justifying our desire to vote ‘Yes'”, he said. But in the end, he still did not give us his own firm decision.

Liwag was lost in his ambiguity and indecision. Our Hamlet was clearly wrestling with his conscience.

Jose (Joe) Feliciano very forcefully attacked “the institution of a dictatorship in the country.” After the impassioned speech, he ended almost in a whimper.

“But these are abnormal times. We are under martial law. We have to take care or our own lives. Therefore, it is impossible to vote ‘No’. We have to vote ‘Yes.'”

Finally, we made a decision to have a written explanation on our vote. Without any discussion, it seemed to be understood that this would be an explanation to a “Yes” vote, particularly because Totoy, who was the one among us most openly for a “Yes” vote, volunteered to prepare the draft. Significantly, no one voiced any objection.

The fear of being arrested was now triumphing over the desire to refuse any traffic with the dictator. Is this then the way submission is finally secured from brave souls?… “But as for me,” Patrick Henry had orated before the American War of Independence, “Give me liberty or give me death.” But that was a long time ago. We all have forgotten this.

Was our little Independent-Progressive bloc—what was left of it (the others have either deserted us or have been bought by Marcos; a few are in prison and some are abroad)—inevitably drifting into an inevitable “Yes” decision? So it seemed!

On the verge of a betrayal? Or so cowed that the primal instinct of survival is fast overcoming the still small voice that had once reigned in their lives?


Tuesday, October 17, 1972

At noontime, I went to a meeting called by Senator Liwag, which was attended by the remaining Nueva Ecija delegates.

My brother Rebeck, really, is the one who represents Nueva Ecija—with Sed Ordonez, Emmanuel (Noli) Santos and Ernie Rondon. I actually represent the first district of Rizal—that glamor district comprising Quezon City, Makati, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Caloocan, Pasay, Navotas, Malabon, Parañaque, Las Pinas, Pateros and Taguig. Nevertheless, I am a native Novo Ecijano.

The agenda: the transitory provision.

Simultaneously, Alberto (Bert) Jamir, Iniong Santillan and Decoroso (Cosoy) Rosales, among others, were also meeting at another room of the Army and Navy Club to discuss the same subject.

Liwag read to us four documents written by four delegates. In the first of this, the writer said that he was going to vote for the transitory provision because he has no right to remove representation from his district in the interim Assembly. In spite of everything, he may yet be able to champion the cause of his constituents in the Assembly. Moreover, even if the delegates voted on creating the National Assembly in which they, themselves, were included, ultimately, by the ratification of the same by the people, the authority of the people would be stamped on it.

The second document said that the author will vote against the provision because actually it does not represent the real will of the people. It is not conducive to their welfare.

The third document stands for some kind of a compromise—but in the end it is for voting in favor of the transitory provision.

The most interesting document, however, was the fourth one. It sounded like it was written by a judge of the Supreme Court. The document said that there are two questions involved—one of principle and one of pragmatism.

The basic question has to do with principle. Are we convinced that the provision will be for the welfare of the people? Do we believe that this is the right thing to do? Does it not run counter to any other declaration previously made by us in the Convention?

If these criteria were not decisive enough, we should resort to pragmatism. We should find out if our vote will be decisive on the matter. In other words, will the provision pass anyway, with or without our vote? Or will our vote be decisive—can it change the decision of the Convention? If our vote is not decisive anyway, then a “No” vote will only make us vulnerable as well as ineffective. We should vote “Yes” then so that we can salvage any chastening influence that we might yet wield in the Convention or in the National Assembly.

Although he said that he would abide by the decision of the majority, Liwag gave the impression that he felt that we might as well vote “Yes” on this transitory provision if only as a matter of pragmatism—but then, he himself was not certain that this martial law is a sincere commitment to the welfare of the people.

Apparently, Noli Santos has already made up his mind to vote “Yes.” Like most delegates, he is somewhat afraid to vote otherwise.

In the same manner, Rebeck seems inclined to vote “Yes.” He said that there is really no alternative.

Sedfrey Ordoñez, however, said that, in principle, he will vote “No.”

On the second point raised by Liwag, namely, the compensation of the delegates in the Interim Assembly, he made a surprise proposal—that the delegates should receive only compensation equal to what we are now receiving as delegates. To him, it would be immoral and unprincipled to accept a salary higher than what we are now getting because then we would really be taking advantage of our position to benefit ourselves. We should not unduly profit from the creation of the position.

One delegate suggested that it is also stated in the Constitution that there should be no other interests on the part of the congressmen but that actually many of them are carrying on many other interests. And in the New Constitution, it is clear that the members of the interim Assembly would really not be able to practice any profession. This will be a full-time dedication, for them, to the National Assembly.

I opined that some big-time professionals in Manila, including Sedfrey Ordoñez, Sig Siguion-Reyna, Mateo (Mat) Caparas, Enrique (Ikeng) Belo, Juan (Johnny) Luces Luna and others would probably rather resign as members of the National Assembly than give up their lucrative law practice. My statement was not contradicted by Sedfrey.

I didn’t commit myself to any position on this point. I felt that it is, in fact, not the main issue. It is whether we should vote “Yes” or “No.” I related the story of Braulio Yaranon who was told that if he were to vote against the transitory provision, he would be a hero but he would be hanged.

In the afternoon, while I was on the 13th floor, Lito, Raul Roco’s aide, passed by. I asked him about Raul. He said that Raul, who has gone underground, is safe although he has been sleeping in different places. He has met with Raul eight times already, he said. He added that Raul is determined not to yield.

I told him that I have been trying to reach Raul to let him know that if I were in his shoes, I would give up and go to the stockade because my chances of survival would be better there. I said that the times are abnormal but that Raul Roco has still many more years of creative service to render to the country. He should not unduly risk his life in the next few weeks.

Lito said that Raul is engaged in “consolidating his forces.” I tried to pin Lito down on the meaning of “consolidating his forces.” I was relieved to know that he did not mean that he would join another outlawed group, much less the NPAs. If he was thinking of joining the NPAs, I would advise strongly against it.

Shortly before I left the session hall, I got a really big surprise. One of the young activists who has been attending the Convention sessions for quite a long time already as an observer came to me and said he wanted to give me an advice.

Ray Tan—he introduced himself—said that, paradoxical as it may seem, most of the activists and radical students feel that we should vote affirmatively on the transitory provision.

But why? I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

Ray said that he had gone to many areas and communicated with many youth groups and that the common consensus is that it is better to have as many people as they can trust in the new Assembly.

But why? Ray felt that, in any case, some of the reforms that the president seems to be introducing are somewhat along the lines of what we ourselves have been advocating, particularly, land reform.

I asked him how much his contact is with students. He claimed that it is a broad one. He said that actually the students that he is in touch with are the remnants of the different leftist groups—the leaders, that is to say, who have not been arrested and detained.

He asked me also to convey this message to other conscientious delegates whom they can trust—particularly from my Independent-Progressive bloc. He felt that I am one of those the activists trust. He conceded that this is really a strange suggestion—coming from the activists—but that, in any case, he wanted me, particularly, to hear it.


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.