Tuesday, November 28, 1972

The Daily Express said today, in an article written by Primitivo Mijares, that the draft Constitution was approved last night without any dissenting vote.

But this was a blatant lie. I had voted “No”; so did quite a number of others.

It is not without reason that my friend Tibo Mijares has jokingly called himself “the Goebbels of Marcos.” There is an element of truth in this.

I was almost lost in my ruminations on the sad fate of the Con-Con when I entered the session hall. As I did so, someone handed me an envelope.

I looked at the man. His face was somewhat familiar. He started getting out the letter inside the envelope and showing it to me. I noticed that it was from the Armed Forces. With some trepidation I began to read:

HEADQUARTERS
5th Military Intelligence Group, ISAFP
Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City

M56P

24 November 1972

Subject :        Summon for Investigation

To :                 Dr. Augusto Caesar ESPIRITU
6th Floor, Ramon Magsaysay Center
1630 Roxas Blvd., Malate, Manila

Pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 of the President of the Philippines in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dated September 21, 1972, and pertinent implementing General Orders and Letters of Instruction, you are hereby invited to appear before the Office of the Group Commander, 5th Military Intelligence Group, ISAFP at Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City on 24 November 1972 for investigation/interview in a case of subversion of which you are involved.

Your immediate compliance is hereby enjoined.

(Sgd.) MARIANO G. MIRANDA
Lt. Colonel PA
Group Commander

The dreaded moment has come at last! I was being “picked up”—as I had half expected for some time now!

I immediately thought of getting in touch with Johnny Ponce Enrile through Edong Angara. Edong was not yet in, neither was Sig Siguion-Reyna, Enrile’s brother-in-law. I asked Cecing Calderon for Johnny’s telephone number. He said Pepe Calderon has the number of Johnny at his house. He gave me Pepe Calderon’s number. I tried calling up Pepe but his phone did not ring at all. I spent more than 15 minutes trying to get Pepe. Then Cecing started to assist me.

Tony Tupaz passed by. I asked him for the telephone number of Edong Angara. He tried to remember the number.

“Why?” he asked.

I told him I had received an “invitation” from the Armed Forces.

“This is probably just an interview,” he dismissed it forthwith.

I showed Tony the paper. “Well, it is only an interview, it is not a warrant of arrest,” he started. But then he kept on reading the summons… “for investigation/interview in a case of subversion.” He got alarmed.

Bakit ‘subversion of which you are involved?’ Masagwa ito,” he got worried. “Masagwa ito” he repeated.

I asked for the number of Johnny Enrile but he didn’t know. He said I should talk to Edong Angara; he is the one who can help.

“In the possibility that I am taken in, will you do something on the Malacañang front?” I asked.

“Of course, I will go upstairs, Brod.” Tony tried to reassure me.

I called Romy Capulong aside and took him to President Macapagal’s room. I asked him if he knew the phone number of Johnny Enrile and he said that he has no direct line to Johnny. As I was talking to Romy, Cecing Calderon, who had been trying to do something, came in and said, “Nandiyan na si Edong.”

I called Edong aside and led him to the office of Macapagal. I showed him the letter. The first thing that he noticed was that it was dated the 24th of November. Today is the 28th. He asked me if I had made any speeches lately. I answered in the negative.

I started thinking that this might have something to do with my letter that was taken by the military from Haruna. Yes, that international seminar of the Asian Leadership Development Center (ALDEC)!

Edong was locked in thought. Then he started tracking down Johnny. In five minutes, Johnny was on the line.

“I am here at the Constitutional Convention. Nandito si Caesar Espiritu. Meron siyang summons for investigation dated November 24 but he received it only now.”

“Do you want to speak to him directly?” Edong turned to me, handing me the receiver.

Sige na, ikaw na.” I was in no position to discuss this matter coherently.

They had a short conversation.

“Johnny said that this is just an interview; there is no need to worry,” he consoled me.

Upon my reentry to the session hall, I told Rebeck about it. He advised me to report to the military officer as soon as possible. He warned me that even if it is only an interview, this may take two days. He said many of those who have been interrogated stayed for two days.

I quickly collected the clothes and papers to bring with me to the stockade. I tried to call up the house but there was no answer. Just send a note, Rebeck counselled.

Rebeck coached me on how the questions were directed to those he knew had been previously interviewed and who were subsequently released. The general sense is that the military wants to elicit assurance of voting for the draft Constitution and willingness to help in the building of the “New Society.” He advised that I should take the posture of willingness to help in the approval of the Constitution.

As if in a trance, I went with the soldider who gave me the letter, he with the familiar face.

But he was friendly. He tried to put me at ease. He started telling me in confidence that one of the interrogating officers was a former student of mine.

He introduced himself: Sergeant Rosales. He has been one of our security guards at the Convention for 16 months.

Small wonder, I knew his face. And he showed great respect towards me.

When I arrived, I was introduced to an officer who, later on, told me that he is First Lt. Conrado Gerzon.

He started by saying that the report about me said there was a letter written in blue ink. He then read the name of the addressee and the salutation. I was quite amused. He said the letter was taken from Mr. Haruna.

“Yes,” I said, “I knew Mr. Haruna. He is a Japanese pastor working at the YMCA in Japan.”

I told him that I have many international contacts who come in and out of Manila and that I have the habit of sending letters through them.

He asked me why such code names as Sascha and Karina were used in the letter. Also, why did I write that “some of the brightest and most patriotic citizens were being arrested and that I, too, might be arrested?” The military was puzzled and so he was asked to “confront” me with these.

“In the first place, you are admitting that this letter was yours,” he continued his interrogation.

“Yes.”

“Did you know that it had fallen into the hands of the military?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you not take it from the military?”

“It was not important, it was routine.”

“What was Sascha?”

I laughed. The lieutenant started murdering the German names and words written in my letter.

“Karina?”

“This is Karen in Danish, Catherine or Katharine in English, Katrina in Russian, Katherina in Central Europe. These were the editors of my two books we were putting out, Economic Growth in World Perspective and The Responsible Society.”

My interrogator was somewhat awed by all of these.

“While I am a Filipino and I consider the Philippines my primary country,” I said, “I also think of the U.S., West Germany and Switzerland as some kind of second countries. My friends in these countries are by the dozens. It is normal for me to have good contacts in these countries just as I have good friends in our own country.”

“I thought so,” he said albeit a faint note of suspicion in his voice betrayed his inner thoughts.

“Why did you write that about 13 people have been taken by the military and that one of your brilliant friends was taken that day? In fact, according to your letter, you were advising him, in case he was going to be taken in, not to run away, but to give up peacefully because his chances of survival are better inside the stockade than if he were to be in hiding.”

And why was I writing as if I, too, were expecting to be arrested?

“You put yourself in my shoes. Every day two or three of your close friends are arrested. Wouldn’t you feel apprehensive too? In fact, the whole Convention has been shaken by the arrest of these delegates. Frankly, everyone is somewhat afraid of being taken in.”

“You continued in the letter that international communications have been cut off but that you would send a message, ‘FREE’ or ‘IMPRISON.’ Why?”

“Well, I have been critical of both Marcos and of martial law,” I said. “I’m a Democrat. I believe in individual freedom and human rights. Wouldn’t you feel the same apprehension if you were in my shoes?”

“Yes, I would be,” he said with a show of sympathy. “For a while, I was confused about the air of apprehension in the Convention,” he added.

“Look at the date,” I pursued my psychological offensive. “The letter was written two days after martial law but it was not until one week later that this fell into the hands of the military. This means, I just gave the letter to the Japanese as a matter of routine knowing he was leaving for Tokyo a week or two later.”

Looking somewhat convinced, he grinned and asked me rather sheepishly whether I have taught at the Far Eastern University. I answered in the affirmative. “For several years.”

“I think I was your student.” His whole demeanor had changed.

I was not sure what I should say.

“I was thinking you were familiar but it seemed you have grown older since. Yes, you must have been my student for one year.”

“I think for two years,” he corrected me in his monotone.

I tried hard to put a glint of recognition into my eyes. “Ah, yes, I remember you, but of course, you are much older now.” My mind was in a whirl. I searched for a clue.

“I had two years of law school under you but I did not finish my studies.” He was quite subdued now.

“I am going to say in my report that it was a routine letter that you were writing to your editors in Europe,” he shifted back to the subject of interrogation.

We talked about my friends who have been taken in. I mentioned the names of Lichauco and Guingona. His face lit up when I mentioned Lichauco.

“Is he the one you mentioned as brilliant?”

“Yes,” I said, “he is the one. He was sitting beside me the day he was taken. And he is not a subversive, he is not a Marxist. He is just a nationalist—an anti-imperialist.”

“I am also a nationalist,” I confessed, “and a democrat. That is the reason I’m frequently held under suspicion.”

“Our society is so much in the right,” I lectured. “It is so much easier in our society to be a conformist than to retain one’s integrity. But there is so much injustice in society. We need to alter structures of power, institutions and of economic benefits. We need to be on the side of the poor and the weak.”

“The only difference is that Lichauco is more outspokenly anti-imperialist than me,” I continued. “But I, too, believe in national integrity. I do not like our foreign policy which Recto has called a foreign policy of mendicancy. I believe in justice and equality for all nations, and for all people in our country.”

I told my interrogator about my travels. “I’m invited to something like five seminars, workshops and conferences every year in Europe. In a way, I might be called a nationalist internationalist.”

“Oh, yes, Sir, I remember you were travelling a lot.”

“Yes, I have been attending seminars on international development as well as on human rights.”

“And I believe, Sir, that you are a Recto follower,” my interrogator is now deferential.

I responded by saying that Lichauco was influenced by Recto even more, and so have many of other young people.

He said casually that Lichauco would be interrogated tomorrow.

I cautioned him that they should remember that I consider Lichauco a patriot although I do not agree with all of his views.

Earlier, before my interrogation, Roquito Ablan, an assemblyman who reportedly had access to Marcos’ bedroom, came along with a visitor’s tag. I was surprised.

“Hello, Brod!” he boomed.

“Hi, Brod,” I answered. “Are you the kitchen-in-charge here? Or the detention mayor?”

I thought of Sed Ordoñez’ earlier story about Ninoy Aquino having been ousted as kitchen-in-charge at Fort Bonifacio. But apparently I made a mistake. Roquito is not under detention.

“I’ll see you in the interim Assembly, Brod.”

“I’m not sure about that, Brod.” I chuckled.

He briefly spoke to me in Ilocano and I answered him in Ilocano. He then warmly waved good-bye and breezed away.

Ammoyo gayam ti Ilocano (so you know Ilocano),” Gerzon said approvingly.

            Bassit (a little),” I replied, then casually proceeded to speak again in English and it was then he said he is from Nueva Ecija.

“Oh, you are my provincemate. Rebeck is your delegate.”

“Yes,” he responded, “Rebeck is my delegate; I come from Cuyapo.”

Our conversation lasted for 45 minutes. In the end, he said that was all. He “invited” me to return tomorrow so he could introduce me to his commanding officer.

“Of course. Would 10:00 or 11:00 o’clock be okay?”

“Oh, anytime at your convenience.” He was casual and deferential.

We were getting to be teacher and student again.

The session was about to adjourn when I returned. There were fireworks because Ambassador Quintero was going to speak.

Tony Sison, chairman, explained the action taken by the Committee on Privileges with respect to the investigation of the famous Quintero expose of Marcos payola in May 1972. He reported that his Committee had found “no scintilla of evidence to prove the charges of Delegate Quintero.” (Quintero had charged that he kept on being sent money in envelopes by Marcos to vote along certain lines.) Sison then moved that all the persons mentioned in the expose, including the first lady, Imelda Marcos, be exonerated of the charges against them and that the case be deemed terminated.

The motion was approved overwhelmingly. This is, indeed, the world of the absurd!

Quintero tried to stand up. He was very angry.

But he was not allowed to speak. By then partisanship was running so high. The delegates had lost their reason.

The session ended almost in an uproar.

Delegates Bongbong and Jaime Opinion were very angry too—at Quintero. Do executioners really get angry with innocent victims?

“They had very guilty feelings,” Rebeck commented.


Monday, November 27, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

I then dictated my interpellation to my secretary, Olive:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But was it not in conflict with the transitory provision?

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

Double-talk!

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

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

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

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

“Yes,” he said, “it is tragic.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How?”

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

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

We laughed. Our laughter was tinged with sadness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sit down.” We put Raul on the chair.

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

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

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

Raul Roco straightened up and looked straight into our eyes.

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

There was a deafening silence.

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

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

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

He laughed. Nervously.

We were all downcast, depressed.

Soon we were voting on the entire Constitution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We shall become assemblymen—just like that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was 9:20 o’clock.

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

Joe Feria was shaking his head in disbelief.

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

“This is terrible, terrible!” Rebeck exploded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Convention is really finished.

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


Wednesday, November 8, 1972

My amendments on the national economy as well as that on the National Assembly were filed today.

There was so much discussion on the powers of the Steering Council—which are more or less plenary—and the apparent deempowerment of the Sponsorship Council. Serging Tocao, a member of our Sponsorship Council, was enraged by the fact that the Sponsorship Council was being made a second-class council by the Steering Council when, under the rules, it is the Sponsorship Council that is supposed to write the Constitution for voting on third reading.

I thought the discussions were really a waste of time. I raised the question of whether or not we might still introduce major amendments to the provisions that have been written by the Steering Council if we thought that our amendments would improve the provisions already written. From the way my remarks were handled by Ikeng Corpus I got the feeling that the answer is no, we are not really strong enough to push through anything in the Convention. In other words, the situation was more or less hopeless.

“Verzweivelt aber nicht ernst” (desperate but not serious), this is how the Austrian people laugh off their national problems. But our situation is verzweivelt und hoffnungslos (desperate and hopeless).

Corpuz read the words of the resolution granting all the powers to the Steering Council. He said we ourselves had given them to the Council.

“Under duress,” I cried out. But everyone seemed resigned to the fact that we are now rewriting the Constitution the way Malacañang wants it.

Jesus (Jess) Garcia, a Marcos loyalist, leaned towards me and whispered that I should not be too vocal about my views because if I did not sign the Constitution, and if I did not vote with the majority, I would surely be arrested by the military. He swore that he has seen with his own eyes my name and that of my brother’s (Rebeck) among the list of 32 people who are supposed to be detained.

Again I hear I am going to the stockade. This is getting too much—everyone expects me to be arrested! But one consoling thing has come out quite clearly: there are many Marcos people—my political opponents—who, out of respect, for me, are concerned for my safety.

Joe Feria was also skeptical about our ability to change anything in the draft of the Steering Council, considering that during the voting on the Toto de la Cruz resolution vesting all powers on the Steering Council, only 12 had voted “No.” In other words, we are not really united in the Sponsorship Council. The majority in the Sponsorship Council have been so frightened that they voted with the tutas.

I suggested that a liaison committee be created to work through our amendments with the Steeling Council and also to find out just what provisions are special ones for Malacañang which may no longer be amended. It would be inconceivable that, as claimed by the Steering Council members, we may no longer change any provision. We thought that perhaps, Malacañang is interested only in some provisions, not in all, and that the Steering Council is using the name of Malacañang to get a carte-blanche to write the whole Constitution. I suggested that the group be headed by Ramon Encarnacion, with Noli Aguilar, Serging Tocao and Bongbong as members. These are also Marcos people but they are not in the Steering Council.

Justice Barrera soon joined our tete-a-tete.

It was established by Jess Garcia and Ikeng Corpuz that, actually, the contact man of Malacañang who reports there regularly is Bebet Duavit but another guy who is discussing the draft provisions with President Marcos is Tony de Guzman.

“Small wonder Tony has been lording it over in the meeting of the Council,” Joe Feria said. “He has been chairing some of the meetings of the Steering Council, with some technicians and experts of Malacañang and Congress in attendance.” During the meetings, Tony de Guzman would say, ‘Well, gentlemen, I am sorry to say that I don’t

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“The only important thing on the national economy is that it should be thrown open to foreign investments. This is what the President wants,” Atoy’s tone was definitive.

He added that insofar as the form of government is concerned, the powers of the president have been scrapped and all the powers have now been vested on the prime minister.

Jess Garcia intervened. “So you see it is only you (Atoy) who was right all the time on the system of government we should adopt. During the debates, while the delegates were split on whether to adopt a presidential or a parliamentary system, you had the guts to stand up and say that what is most desirable is a dictatorship.”

“Several weeks later, in his speech opposing the ‘no reelection’ provision on the president, Teroy Laurel adverted to the maverick resolution of one of the delegates advocating a dictatorship,” I concurred.

Atoy shrugged his shoulders. He went down with me to the secretariat to look at my amendments. He warned me that insofar as amendments by substitution are concerned, they are out. But I informed him that I have my second alternative amendments on the national economy. He responded by saying that if they would strengthen the article concerned and if they would not lengthen it entirely, they may be considered.

I assured him that they would not lengthen. And, I said, he can throw away my nationalistic provisions—what can I do?—if the government really wants an open policy on foreign investments.

I was earnestly asking for Atoy’s help. He was good enough to promise that he is going to look over my second alternative amendments by substitution in which I had sought to incorporate all our committee ideas on the national economy. I would, however, try to find a way to insert on the record my amendments by substitution not only on the national economy but also on the declaration of principles. I believe that in the latter case, we are expressing a philosophy of government and we should at least express our views and have them on record even if we knew that they would not be accepted.

This may be a footnote to history. During my talk before the Sponsorship Council this morning I mentioned that I still feel like putting on record, for the benefit of the next generation, my thoughts on this matter even if I may no longer be heard by my colleagues in the Convention.


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.


Sunday, October 15, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, October 11, 1972

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, September 30, 1972

I did not sleep well last night, not even in this other place where I am hiding and filling out my diary for today.

I anxiously sought out Edong Angara and requested him again to ask Enrile to scratch out my name. Edong replied that while the heat is on we might as well tide things over because in any case I have nothing to worry about. “We should wait perhaps a few weeks,” he said.

I was crestfallen.

In my gloom, I had a chance encounter with Ernesto (Ernie) Rondon. I asked him if the military had not tried to arrest him. He said not. But then, when I was talking to Edong an hour earlier, Edong was very certain that Ernie was in the primary list. “In fact,” he had told me, “if I could see Ernie again, I should warn him.”

The list! Always the list! Who could have prepared this list of the damned?

There was some intermission to break the tension.

I had to read on Teilhard de Chardin for my speech in the afternoon before the United Nations Association of the Philippines. Prof. Emy Arcellana of UP spoke on the government aspect, while NEDA Sec. Vicente Valdepeñas spoke on the economic aspect of de Chardin’s works. O.D. Corpuz of UP did not appear but Mrs. Hizon of St. Joseph’s College pitched in for him and talked about education. Afterwards, I made a summary of the papers presented and my interpretation of Chardin’s general vision.

My former English professor, J.D. Constantino, T.O.C.G., of the Carmelite Order, was ecstatic about my presentation. She announced that I was her candidate for president of the UP. She told the audience that I would be excellent for president. Later, she told me in confidence that last year, when there was talk of S.P. Lopez resigning as president of the state university, she had batted for me. She addded that some people had thought that I was too young for it, but now she said she would put me up again for the presidency.

It was very gratifying. Miss Constantino and I had always been quite close. She is a highly spiritual woman.

Letty Ramos-Shahani, that very intelligent foreign affairs official, who graduated from Wellesley College and the Sorbonne, gave me a tremendous buildup in her introduction. In fact, the introduction was unduly flattering and unmerited. But the lecture was very well received. I was so happy over this that for a while, I even forgot, my problem with the military!

As I was leaving the session hall in the afternoon, I heard somebody calling me, “Caesar! Caesar!” It turned out to be Nita Lichauco, Queen of Ding’s household. Surprisingly, she appeared to be in very high spirits.

“You know, Ding is having a ball in the stockade. Everyone seems to be well-treated in the stockade,” she blurted. She thought they will grow stronger because the lights are out by 10:00 o’clock in the evening, and they have to get up at 5:30 o’clock in the morning for their exercise. The food is good and they live in the gym in several bunkers.

“What are you trying to tell me?” I asked in jest. “That Ding’s nocturnal escapades have come to an abrupt end?”

“I also saw Joe Concepcion in the stockade drinking his Royal True Orange,” Nita laughed, then continued, “Last night, the home of Father (Pacifico) Ortiz was raided; according to rumors, he would be arrested tonight.”

Didn’t Rizal write that laughter is the best means of concealing pain?

And why should such a civic-minded do-gooder like Joe Concepcion be there? I mused. He might break down. He is a boy scout. He would have some rightist tendencies, all right, but then he is a business tycoon, after all. But he is also community-service oriented, striving to be a Christian in his own way. It seems to be quite unfair.

I related the story to Rebeck later. He was also taken by surprise. How could Joecon be possibly arrested? Possibly because he has been undertaking so many opinion polls and surveys?

Our concern for Joecon was soon superseded by sad musings over our own fate.

If guys like Joecon could be taken, Rebeck said, it is quite possible that many of us will be taken, too.

Now my poor brother is almost resigned to the possibility of joining Joecon and Ding in the stockade.


Friday, September 29, 1972

“Bakit nasa labas ka pa?” some people at the External Affairs Committee greeted me half jokingly, half fearfully.

Nene Pimentel was particularly feeling close to me. He felt that he was probably next in line to be taken into custody. He kept saying that somehow we would get in touch. He was in a dilemma as he did not know whether to go home to Cagayan de Oro or to stay in Manila. This dilemma was heightened by the fact that some 20 minutes earlier, he had met Tony Alano who told him that he has seen in the list kept by Babes Navarro at the Con-Con, Nene’s name, Rebeck’s and mine.

I proceeded to my doctor, Dr. Steve Pineda, to ask him to give me the next series of medicines that I have to take for my ulcerative colitis because of the possibility that I, too, might soon be arrested. Although Enrile had said that I should not worry, I felt I should nevertheless be prepared for the worst.

I proceeded to the Congressional Economic Planning Office (CEPO) afterwards. I am still unofficially an economic adviser to Joe Romero’s CEPO—chairman of his economic advisory board, in fact, with Teodoro Peña, Jaime Laya, Conrado Pascual and Gregorio Con-con as my members.

A meeting was going on. The staff members were discussing what to do next. They decided that, under the circumstances, CEPO need not disband until after they shall have been asked to do so by the leadership of the House of Representatives.

From the CEPO, I went to Rebeck and told him that according to Nene, he too, was in the list.

Rebeck was taken by surprise and was palpably discouraged.

We both thought that there is a possibility that these are only rumors. How could Enrile be so reckless as to give out several lists? Nevertheless, it would be necessary to check the matter. He was going to phone Tony Alano.

I am quite grateful to God that so far, I have been safe.


Thursday, September 28, 1972

The note on my desk said I should ring up Sig Siguion-Reyna. It was 6:00 o’clock p.m.

Another note was marked “Urgent.” I should call up my brother Rebeck.

I called up Rebeck first. He informed me that Beth Mateo, Bobbit Sanchez’ secretary, had called him up to say that I was in the “list” and that, according to Bobbit, I should call up Sig.

I called up Sig.

“Where are you?”

“I am at home.”

“Well, why don’t you come over?” Apprehension was apparent in his voice.

“Is it serious, Sig?” My voice trembled. “If it is, may I request you to contact immediately Johnny Ponce Enrile. We are good friends and he knows me very well. It is very important that he be notified.”

Rebeck decided to meet me at Sig’s office to give me company. Sig was waiting for me. It was quarter past seven o’clock. He had a forced smile on his face.

He immediately took us to his room. Then almost solemnly, he said that he had gone to the session hall and that one of his primary reasons for going there was to see me. He then told me that last night, he was at the house of Enrile and while they were chatting, Sig was casually looking over the military’s thick list of the persons to be arrested. Suddenly, he saw—because he was farsighted—my name and that of (Senator) Sonny Osmeña’s in the secondary list.

It must be really serious. This is it, I gasped.

I was now getting to be unhappily resigned to the idea that I might be arrested and detained by the military. Are we not all of us—atheists or believers—really fatalists at heart?

I asked him if Enrile knew that my name was there.

Sig did not know, but he made me promise that I would never mention to anyone that he was the one who told me. But he was emphatic that my name was there.

“I saw it very clearly: Espiritu, Augusto Caesar.”

“I should like to see Johnny.” I was getting anxious.

Sig said that it would be quite obvious he was my informer if he took me to Enrile. Although they are brothers-in-law, Sig did not want it said that he has betrayed Enrile’s trust.

The only advice he could give me, he said, was for me not to sleep in my house tonight. He said that in any case he promised that whether he saw Enrile or not today, he is going to see him if and when I am “picked up.”

“Not after I am picked up, Sig… before!” I shrieked.

I repeated that Enrile and I are quite good friends; we have known each other for more than 23 years and he personally knows I have not done anything wrong.

Well, Sig said, the problem with Enrile at this time is, he would not recognize any relations or friends.

He was not too reassuring but he tried to demonstrate that he is a real friend.

I asked Sig’s opinion on the advisability of my seeing Lt. Gen. Fidel Ramos. Eddie Ramos knows me, too.

Sig thought that General Ramos would be tight-lipped. He is a soldier; he only obeys orders.

“Do you think I can see Johnny?” I repeated, as in a trance.

Sig repeated that it was untimely for him to take me to Enrile. He felt it would be quite difficult to see him, anyway, because of so many security men around his house.

Then I asked if perhaps I could talk to Estelito (Titong) Mendoza, the solicitor-general, who is one of my really closest friends. Sig thought that there is very little contact between Titong and Enrile. In any case, he thought that the key man here is Enrile, not Titong Mendoza, not Eddie Ramos.

I asked Sig if, perhaps, Edong Angara could help.

Ah, yes, Edong, he replied. I could ask Edong’s help because he was also at Enrile’s house last night.

Sig can be such a terrible rightist at times that I get exasperated with him. Nevertheless, I am somewhat fond of him; he is actually a good friend. I am grateful.

Sig and I are both nonpoliticians. We had first met when we were campaigning for the Con-Con in Caloocan. The vice-mayor of the city wanted to have us greet some people he had gathered together. Sig and I rushed to shake the hands of the people, hardly looking at their faces. Just like politicians, we just shook hundreds of hands in thirty minutes flat when, to our embarrassment and dismay, Sig and I suddenly discovered we were shaking each other’s hand! We have since been associated in some business activities.

How many seconds did it take me, in my bewildered state, to negotiate the several hundred meters distance between Sig’s office and Edong’s?

The ACCRA (Angara Law Office) partners were all there at the office: Edong, Teddy Regala, Ave Cruz, Jose Concepcion and others.

Still panting, I walked into their conference room.

“Oh, you are still out?” they laughed in banter. “We thought that you would now be at the stockade.”

They were, of course, speaking lightly, but their words only added to my apprehensions.

I asked Edong whether he had heard anything about me.

“You are in the list.” He was forthright. But he added that I was only in the secondary list. He was not sure whether Enrile had said that he was going to scratch my name out or that my name was going to be withheld.

I asked him whether we could see Enrile. He dialed a certain number and very soon, he was talking to Enrile’s wife, Cristina. Apparently, Edong is really in direct contact with Enrile.

“I might as well tell you that Caesar Espiritu is here beside me. We are thinking of going to see Johnny because Caesar is in the list.”

He asked whether he could talk to Johnny over the phone. Afterwards, he hanged up because he said that Johnny was on the other line. Then he said we should see Johnny later on.

After a while, he decided that perhaps it might be better for him to go ahead to Johnny’s place; he would call me up from there.

After another 30 minutes, Edong was on the phone. Enrile was meeting with some generals, and, therefore, we would not be able to see him. He consoled me, however, with the news that he had talked to Enrile. Enrile had said that I should not worry because he was going to “withhold” my name. He kept assuring me that if Johnny Enrile said I should not worry , then I should rest assured.

I was not quite sure about what “withhold” means.

“Ed, it would even be better if he could scratch out my name,” I pleaded.

I am not sleeping in the house tonight.