Friday, November 17, 1972

Surprise! Instead of the 166-man body meeting, the meeting was of a small group of 15 people each from the Steering Council and the Sponsorship Council and 4 floor leaders to go over the amendments.

Apparently, this morning, there was an organizational meeting. These 15 people from each of the councils were appointed and they were to start meeting in the afternoon.

Noli Santos told me that he had nominated me, together with Magtanggol (Tanggol) Gunigundo, to represent the Sponsorship Council but there were objections because some delegates had said that I was too independent-minded. This was a compliment, but I told Noli that I was not keenly interested in joining this group anyway. After all, in the words of Munding, this is now lutong macao.

During the roll call of the members, however, my name was called. It turned out that I was elected a member.

Tio Juaning Borra asked for certain interpositions of phrases in the Preamble approved by the Steering Council. He said that, after all, with the exception of the change of two words—that of “independence” to “sovereignty” and the inclusion of “equality,” the present Preamble is the same as that of the 1935 Preamble. So, he urged that we might as well give credit to the authors of the 1934 Convention. We are basically adopting their Preamble, he claimed.

The note of sarcasm in many of Borra’s speeches cannot be hidden. Borra has been critical of what is happening in the Convention. Unfortunately, he cannot be too outspoken; I hear his son is presently indicted for a serious crime before the courts. How sad! This is the reason why, during the last two months, he could not give full vent to his feelings. Nevertheless, every now and then, his pent-up feelings of bitterness and frustration would suddenly burst out.

When it came to the Declaration of Principles, the committee took up the amendments section by section. When we reached Section 2, a motion was made to reject an amendment by Naning Kalaw, who was not there. The rejection was made almost with a vengeance. But the motion went further; it would reject not only Naning’s amendment but all other amendments that now or in the future may be presented.

I said that, so as not to complicate matters, perhaps the last amendment should be taken up first, namely, the amendment by substitution. I announced that I had filed an amendment by substitution.

To my great surprise, Clemente (Clem) Abundo immediately made a motion that all amendments by substitution should, hereafter, be rejected. Fidel Purisima and Valeriano Yancha, among others, showed so much zeal in joining Abundo in gagging me. I said it would not take long for the body to get my amendment and other similar amendments discussed and rejected—perhaps, only two minutes. But I wanted the body to take it up.

Abundo, Yancha and Purisima would not brook any accommodations. Pacificador, too, was vehemently against giving me the floor.

As I write this diary now, my thoughts fly out to the American Constitutional Convention and what Gouverneur Morris of Pennsylvania had said: “I flatter myself that I came here in some degree as a representative of the whole human race… I wish the gentlemen would extend their views beyond the present moment of time, beyond the narrow limits of place from which they derive their political origin.”

How different it was during the times of those reasonable men!

Some delegates, like Tony Almedo, urged, “Give Caesar a chance to explain.” Good old reliable Jess Matas was cheering, and so also were those solid, conscientious and progressive colleagues, Noli Santos and Pete Yap.

But the loyalists were bent on mowing down the opposition.

When I was faced with this kind of problem during my UP days, I wrote an editorial in the Collegian, quoting from the nineteenth century English liberal, John Stuart Mill: “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would no more be justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, in silencing mankind.”

Far away and long ago!

Peps Bengzon was apparently in charge of the Declaration of Principles. He explained almost in a spirit of cordiality that we should not say that Caesar Espiritu’s amendment has been rejected. Rather, he said, most of the provisions have been substantially incorporated in the draft Constitution; it is only a question of phraseology.

I thought this was deception done so diplomatically. What, was it Alice in Wonderland said? “In a world of the absurd, reason is madness.”

Although Peps was quite conciliatory, I could not help but stand up to say I appreciated those words but that, in my thinking, 70 percent of the concepts in my amendment do not find reflection in the draft of the Steering Council.

Anyway, I had no regrets. I did not really expect any positive response from this group, but I did succeed in inserting into the records what I felt I was happy enough that I was able to do this.

I was surprised at how well-knit the pro-Marcos people are. How eager they are for the kill against anyone who might put a monkey wrench into their conspiracy!

Afterwards, I had a talk with Ben Abubakar and Dr. Aruego. Ben told me that it was Sen. Enchong Sumulong who had wanted to make the present members of Congress members of the interim Assembly, with the present delegates to the convention as ex-officio members. Only when the interim Assembly should constitute itself as a constituent Assembly would it be able to introduce amendments to the Constitution.

Of course these ideas would get nowhere in the Convention; the delegates are now hell-bent on being assemblymen!

I also had a chat with Dr. Aruego. He was a delegate to the 1934 Constitutional Convention. He had written The Framing of the (1935) Constitution, the authoritative book on the 1934 Constitutional Convention. (Dr. Jose P. Laurel’s notes on the proceedings of the 1934 Convention, were, of course, much more comprehensive and profound, but they are not as easily available as Aruego’s book.)

Aruego said that there is no comparison between the pressures during the 1934 Convention and the pressures now. Recto was not a traditional Quezon man; he had only been with Quezon on the “pro” and “anti” issues on the Tydings-McDuffie and the Hare-Hawes Cutting Acts. The real men of Quezon were Sotto and Cuenco from Cebu.

Although there were also some charges that the Constitution was already cooked up in Malacañang during the 1934 Convention, actually this was not taken seriously because no one believed it. Our present situation, according to Dr. Aruego, is completely different. Everything is emanating from Malacañang.

At the end of a gruelling day, Greg Tingson rode with me up to the Quezon Elliptical Circle. It is so very apparent, he said—the great difference between people with convictions and those without. “This was so conspicuously displayed during the brief meeting we attended this afternoon. While you were talking out of conviction, the rest of the delegates were bending to accommodate whatever was made necessary by political realities.”

But is this wise or right? Aying Yñiguez had told me yesterday that he is making a choice and his choice is grounded not on moral but rather on purely political considerations. “My options are within the realm of political realities and, therefore, my decisions are political, not moral.”

Are all politicians the same? Pursuing to build a bridge even when there is no river?


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.