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 21, 1972

I have been sleeping in different places. I don’t want to be arrested at night.

From Parañaque where I slept last night, I proceeded to Pepe Calderon’s house to help go over the draft of the explanation of our vote yesterday.

On my way to Pepe’s place, I dropped by the Unimart Shopping Center at Greenhills for doughnuts and orange float. Along came Defense Undersecretary Joe Crisol with his little boy. We chatted for five minutes. I recited to him the exact wordings of the key provision. He commented that these are similar to the provisions of the Weimar Republic. He said that the powers are so broad, so sweeping. There is really no date fixed; the President can postpone forever a calling of the Assembly. And then he asked, “What if Marcos dies in the meantime?”

“We have not made any provision,” I said.

            Masyado naman… masyado naman, he uttered in disgust.

Was I hearing correctly? Was this not Marcos’ undersecretary?

In the evening, in Pepe Calderon’s house were Totoy Nepomuceno, Joe Feria, Fr. Pacifico Ortiz, Joe Feliciano, Pepe Calderon. I arrived late. I understood that Naning Kalaw was there earlier.

The draft of the explanation of our votes was written by Totoy. By the time I arrived, some improvements had already been made by Joe Feria and Ortiz.

Joe Feliciano added the last phrase we objected to, “particularly the grant of excessive powers and the carte blanche on the acts of the President.” The “carte blanche” was suggested by me.

During the discussion, Ortiz said that he had spoken to Ven Yaneza about these sweeping powers which, in the words of Joe Feliciano, would make the president a virtual dictator. He said that Yaneza had said that this was from the President himself; this was a condition made by the international financiers for the granting of loans to the Philippines.

The IMF and the World Bank again squeezing the necks of the Filipino people?

“In other words, this is a second parity,” Ortiz wryly commented.

“Damn Marcos!” I muttered.

Ortiz looked at me. “Shocking!” he said.

Ortiz said he had made arrangements for some of us to go to Camp Crame tomorrow to visit our colleagues who are in the stockade. I told him I should like to join. They gladly asked me to come along.

Five of us—Father Ortiz, Totoy, Naning, Joe Feria and I—decided to meet tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. at the Unimart for the visit to Camp Crame. But as I entered the Con-Con this afternoon, Teroy Laurel, Caling Lobregat and others were just leaving for Camp Crame. On impulse, I asked if I could join them. On the way to the elevator, and even inside the elevator, my friends kidded me. “But we may have to leave you there.”

Teroy said that when one visits, the procedure is, first the guard goes over their list.

“What if I’m in the list?” I asked.

“Then they’ll thank you for coming,” Teroy emitted a nervous laugh.

Soon, they all agreed they would not let me join them; I may not be able to come out.

But why is everyone expecting that I will be arrested?


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?


Wednesday, October 18, 1972

The Independent-Progressives had lunch at the home of Totoy Nepomuceno. Present, in addition to Totoy and myself, were Joe Feria, Naning Kalaw, Bobbit Sanchez and Fr. Ortiz.

Totoy told us about his meeting with Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos, whose wife is a friend of Totoy’s wife. He said he went to Camp Crame primarily to find out whether our little group of Independents who have survived—the remnants—can still meet just like the majority in the Convention. He was assured by Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos that we can.

Totoy immediately added that the assurances of Lieutenant General Ramos sometimes may not be enough because, in the case of Pepe Calderon, the daughter was personally assured by Johnny Ponce Enrile that Pepe was not going to be taken. But then a raid of his house was conducted, just the same. Luckily, the daughter was able to get Secretary Enrile by phone. Enrile ordered the military then and there to lay off Calderon on his (Enrile’s) guarantee.

Totoy continued that it was suggested several times by Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos that some lines of communication be made with President Marcos so that we may know whereof we stand. It is quite difficult, according to Totoy, for the Independent-Progressives to meet and know what their duties are under the circumstances. However, Ramos had said, “Why don’t you get President Macapagal to have an understanding with President Marcos? In fact, on the day of the proclamation of martial law, President Macapagal was with President Marcos.”

Totoy countered that for all purposes, there is no more effective leadership on the part of President Macapagal.

We discussed again the pros and cons of the transitory provision. Joe Feria was somewhat inclined to vote “No,” Bobbit Sanchez to vote ‘Yes” and Naning Kalaw to vote “Yes.” These were tentative inclinations.

After some time, Totoy told me that instead of meeting on Friday, we might as well meet again tomorrow, Thursday. People like Marcelo (Celing) Fernan have suggested that we should meet already tomorrow noon because the transitory provision might be taken up in the afternoon.

As I was by the door, Sedfrey told me that Macapagal had told him that the transitory provision was going to be taken up that same afternoon. I could hardly believe this. I went to President Macapagal to ask him myself. Macapagal said that the majority was insisting on it. I told him our bloc was planning on meeting tomorrow, so why could we not do the voting tomorrow?

Macapagal was understanding. Actually, I feel his instincts are on the right side. “I suppose this is possible,” he said. “We can lengthen the discussion now and postpone the voting tomorrow.”

I ended up going to the Goethe Institute although it was already 6:00 o’clock in the evening. I wanted to find out how the course in German is going. I decided to enroll for the remainder of the course. This is one way of forgetting the problems of my sad world in the Con-Con.

Escapism is resorted to not only by fools!