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17 Jan. 1973

Received tip from NPC president Eddie Monteclaro on Supreme Court hearing on Tanada petition. Arrived at SC about 1000. Very few people present — mostly newsmen — perhaps only about 15 excluding SC justices, petitioner, and respondents. Among those present: Johny Mercado, Manny Almario, Bessie Buencamino.

Tanada presented very compelling and clear case in support of petition to declare “citizens assemblies” and “referendum” unconstitutional.

Government solicitors did not present anything except to say the matter is political in nature, hence does not fall within jurisdiction of SC.

Justices Castro, Fernando, Barredo and Teehankee asked most of the questions during SC interpellation. From their line of questioning it was clear they were convinced by Tanada’s argument (that “citizens assemblies” and “referendum” were unconstitutional). But it was obvious that SC justices were really scared. These 10 old men looked like sick men — sick with fear.

I saw how Marcos made a travesty of this “last bastion of democracy” when a messenger from Malacanang delivered the Presidential proclamation to Chief Justice Concepcion declaring that the 1971 Constitution was already approved and in effect “in compliance with the will of the people.”

After Chief Justice Concepcion finished reading the proclamation, there was complete silence in the SC chamber for more than one minute. The justices were speechless, Tanada was speechless, the newsmen were speechless, even the government solicitors were speechless. I had the feeling that the eerie silence was actually a silent prayer for the demise of democracy in the country.