Friday, October 27, 1972

Oka Leviste and I met at the Sulo. Tony Velasco came late, as did Inggo Guevarra’s representative. Aying Yñiguez also dropped by.

We met to consolidate the provisions on trade, tariff and commerce and on foreign loans and investments. I then reorganized and integrated the whole article on the national economy, dividing it into five parts—namely, (1) development planning, (2) industrial and commercial policy, (3) agriculture and agrarian reform, 4) monetary and credit policies and (5) public finance. Under the last section on public finance, I grouped budget and appropriations, taxation, public works and audit.

While we were meeting, Sonia Roco (Raul’s wife), Mely and Lito came in. After some pleasantries with them, I went back to my table with Oka, Inggo Guevarra’s representative, and the two secretaries. Soon afterwards, who do you think should appear? Raul Roco and Sonny Alvarez!

What a pleasant surprise. Sonny was grinning; he was spoiling a crew cut. Raul was jubilant.

I was overjoyed to see our “outlaws.”

Sonny told us that he had set the wheels in motion for his freedom. Celso was to meet with Enrile. Also, Father Reuter was supposed to talk to Enrile. Meanwhile, Manong Tony Raquiza was going to see the President.

It was past 1:00 p.m. when I entered the Philippine Sugar Institute building. Oka was speaking at the time. I gave the papers to him. “Thank you, Dr. Espiritu,” he said. Then he announced over the loudspeaker: “Dr. Espiritu has just submitted the draft on economic and fiscal policy.”

I then withdrew to the aisle and accosted Manong Tony Raquiza who was about to leave. I pleaded with him to go to the President on behalf of Sonny. Manong Tony said he had talked to Sonny but he had not seen the President since martial law.

“Well, Sonny needs to be saved; in fact, Romy and Raul have already been removed from ‘the list’ through the efforts of Enrile,” I said.

“And they have been even more critical than Alvarez,” Manong nodded understandingly.

            Manong Tony paused for a while, then continued: “Some of Ninoy’s friends from Tarlac may be Communists, but not Bren Guiao. Bren is not a Communist. And I also want to help Rondon; he is not a Communist either.”

I pressed him to see the President. He promised he would try to see him tomorrow.

Before the Steering Council dispersed, Charlie Ledesma announced that the members of the new Steering Committee of Marcos loyalists should now get their refined sugar.

I know of course that I am not a member of the inner circle; if anything, I am some kind of an enemy. Nevertheless, I jokingly asked my friend, Charlie: “May I also get one?”

He was quite busy looking at the Steering Council members; he did not hear me.

“Can I also get one?” I repeated; it would have been awkward for someone not a member of the “inner circle” to be standing by and not speak. Charlie still did not hear me.

So I uttered in a louder voice for the third time, “May I get one also?”

“Oh, yes, yes, you may get,” was the nonchalant reply.

I froze. Charlie had been friendly with me in the past. We used to recite the poems of the Romantics whenever the sessions were boring. We both love Shelley and Byron and Wordsworth… And of course I did not need the sugar. I was being flippant—because we used to be “comrades.”

Celso Dans, a reporter of the Daily Express, was then eating at the hall. He asked Charlie, “Sir, may I also get one?”

He was swiftly rebuffed: “There are not enough packages.”

I felt somewhat ill at ease. “I did not know that you did not have enough,” I said, returning my package.

“Oh, no, no,” Charlie condescended, “you may get one.” And in the same breath he called out to Pepe Abueva, “Doctor, please get your package.”

We walked towards the elevator. Chito Castillo put his arms over the shoulders of his comrades in the new Steering Council: “Mabuti sa economics, tapos na tayo. Ginawa na nila Caesar.”

Tony de Guzman reacted swiftly in a high pitch: “Ah, hindi, hindi... wala ‘yan.” He did not know that I was just behind them.

Chito pulled him aside. “We were just utilizing the brains of Caesar,” he whispered to Tony.

Tony then saw me as I stepped into the elevator to join them. He asked in quick succession: “How much did you shorten the provisions? Did you remove those that should he subject to legislation?”

Was there a note of contempt or of condescension?

“It’s hard to generalize,” I replied. “Why don’t you read what I have prepared?”

There was an awkward silence.

“What a transformation!” Nene Pimentel shook his head in disbelief, when he heard the story later.

Thursday, October 26, 1972

The members of the various economic committees met at the Sulo. Present were Oka Leviste, Gary Teves, Estoy Mendoza, Artemio Lobrin, Celso Gangan, Dolf Azcuña. Leo Castillo from Davao also came to get a free meal. Domingo (Inggo) Guevarra’s representative was also there.

Gary didn’t want to come because after yesterday’s vote, he thought there was no point in having to discuss these provisions. I persuaded him to come, though.

Some questions were asked by our economic thinkers. Why should we still meet?

I told them that we might as well finish our work and submit this to the Steering Council. Oka Leviste, with Tony Velasco, has been dishing out to us, since yesterday, his consuelo de bobo that although it might be the Steering Council sponsoring it now, the ideas would still be ours. In fact Tony Velasco has tested the limits of credibility by suggesting that in his extra-sensory perception (ESP), the different groups are meeting about the same things and are all converging towards the same results.

Hogwash! Strange things are happening indeed to what I had thought were sane people in the Convention.

Chito Castillo twice peeped in because, apparently, an ad hoc subcommittee of the Steering Council was going to meet on the economic provisions—that is, Chito, Oka and three other members of the Steering Council. Oka assured us that our own group would constitute the hard core of the subcommittee. Chito agreed. Et tu, Chito! From their point of view, we are to become the nucleus of the subcommittee on economic affairs of the Steering Council.

We actually made progress, except that we were not able to discuss the provisions on agriculture and land reform.

During the meeting, Celso begged to leave at 12:00 o’clock noon to go to Enrile, he said, to surrender someone. He told me privately that he was with Sonny Alvarez last night and that they were looking for me. He said Sonny was finally able to vote.

I was very glad to hear this.

Tuesday, October 24, 1972

At 7:15 a.m., Sonny Alvarez called up. This was an unexpected call from a dear friend over whose safety I am concerned.

            Sonny is one of the most committed delegates to the Convention. His concern for the poor and vulnerable sectors of society is genuine. And his social vision is broad. It is for his convictions that he is under suspicion by the military—as a leftist.

            An excellent debater, Sonny has impressed many of us at the Convention. He is my alter ego at the Convention.

Sonia Aldeguer and Raul Roco are the two other closest and dearest friends with whom I have spent long hours of discussion and fellowship.

When martial law was proclaimed, Sonia was in Rome; she is a novice of the Religious of the Sacred Heart. Sonny and Raul both went into hiding immediately after martial law was proclaimed.

Sonny said he was coming to see me in the house for some advice. I told him that I was about to leave for Rizal Park to jog. We could meet there. He agreed.

I waited for more than an hour but Sonny did not appear. Upon returning home, I was informed that he had come to the house and left word that he was proceeding to President Macapagal’s house. He was once—when still a UP student—an aide to Macapagal.

On the way to the meeting at 10:15, I met Toto de la Cruz. Of the three men in the Con-Con special group, Toto is about the closest to Sonny. Sonny wanted to know if there is any way by which he could be made to vote without endangering himself. Toto replied that he is not sure how this could be done but that, in any case, he is going to think about it and consult the other two.

At the economic, group meeting, we made quite a bit of progress in integrating the different provisions. After a while, we decided that we had worked so much—from 10:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and so we were going to adjourn to meet again on Thursday. We decided that Ding Quintos and Manong Raquiza should definitely be there so we could discuss the provisions on agriculture and natural resources and land reform. Preferably Teresita (Tessie) Flores should also be there so we could also listen to her draft provisions on social justice. We also decided to invite Celso Gangan to discuss the report of the Auditing Committee and Ben Campomanes and Fanny Cortez-Garcia for their drafts on foreign loans as well as monetary and credit policies.

We did gain much headway today.

Upon our adjournment at 2:45 p.m., I received a call from one of the Con-Con secretaries, Miss Perfecto, saying that Cecille Guidote, Sonny’s fiancée, had phoned and left a cryptic message: I am supposed not to have heard from anyone; I have not spoken to anyone.

I did not quite comprehend the full impact of the message, considering my earlier discussions with Sonny. I was under the impression that he wanted me to do something to enable him to vote.

At the session hall, before we started, I asked President Macapagal whether Sonny had seen him and he answered that he had but that their meeting was inconclusive.

Macapagal was optimistic. We added that the opportunity to vote that was given to Romy Capulong and Raul Roco is not specifically limited only to the two of them, so he (Macapagal) could always interpret this to mean that Sonny could also be allowed to vote.

Macapagal was not sure whether Sonny would want to vote “Yes,” though, “considering his ideological persuasions.”

I am, of course, very happy for Romy Capulong and Paul Roco, of whom I’m very fond. But I could not see the relevance to Sonny of the lifting of their warrants of arrest. And of how ideological persuasions could influence him one way or the other.

I suggested to Macapagal that, perhaps, he could talk to the three new powers—Francis Zosa, Toto de la Cruz and Ven Yaneza.

He replied that it is not necessary to talk to the three because any one of them would be sufficient. He felt that of the three, the one most flexible on this matter is Francis. He repeated that it is a matter of Sonny’s own decision.

I gathered later that their discussions were indeed inconclusive.

I looked for Toto. “Toto,” I said, “I understand that it is better that we assume that nothing has been said, that I didn’t tell you anything, that we didn’t hear from Sonny.”

            “Bakit naman?”

“I do not know but I gather that this is the best thing under the circumstances.”

“All right.” He was greatly relieved.

The meeting then started at the session hall. Ikeng Corpus stood up to say that the Sponsorship Council had been meeting under the chairmanship of Delegate Prof. Augusto Caesar Espiritu, who has the matter under control. Some applause followed the commercial.

I talked to Celso, the closest among us to Sonny. He had not seen Sonny at all lately. I told him that I had heard from Cecille. Celso is afraid that in two days’ time, the option would run out so in this brief period, we should find ways of helping Sonny. So we went to the office to phone Cecille. To my surprise, the answer that we got was very negative.

Cecille was very tense. She was absolutely determined that it is best that nothing should have been heard, that no one knows what is happening and no one knows where Sonny is.

“It is best that we leave it at that,” she said with finality. “Anyway, the voting would have nothing to do with Sonny’s liberty; it will not guarantee Sonny his freedom.”

Of course, she is right. It is his freedom that is important. The others are of little consequence.

Cecille added that she is almost desperate. And her phone is tapped.

I felt sorry for her. I wonder if she was speaking on her own out of her concern for Sonny? Or was this Sonny’s own decision?

Celso and I were also getting desperate ourselves.

“How long will he continue in hiding?” Celso asked gloomily. “He cannot be hiding forever.”

In bewilderment and near depression, Celso and I parted. I proceeded to my meeting with two business partners, Dr. Ricky Soler and banker Ting Orosa, Jr., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Ting was in a light mood. “Honorable Delegate, we have not met for a long time.”

I answered, “Yes, Honorable Orosa, that is so.”

Ricky bantered, “He has been in the stockade.”

“I was presenting myself but they wouldn’t take me,” I quipped.

We were introduced to the Marketti people from Belgium who were having a meeting with Ricky. They left after a while.

A minute later, Ricky received a long distance call from Col. Freddie Ablan. He is in Singapore on some business negotiations. Apparently, a joint venture is being organized by Freddie Ablan and Sig Siguion-Reyna with the people from Belgium. Ricky was hoping our Consultasia management group would be able to do the project study on the matter.

We continued talking in a light vein. But Ting was getting fidgety after a while.

“You know, Ricky,” he said with some apprehension, “all hotels are now bugged.” His last words trailed off into a whisper.

He emitted a soft, nervous laughter.

Ricky insisted, quite proudly, that his office was not bugged. But Ting persisted in a trembling whisper: “All hotels are now bugged, Ricky.”

Ricky stood up and said triumphantly. “You want to be sure that this place is not bugged? I’ll show you.”

He walked briskly towards his desk. We bent to look under it. And we nearly froze in fright. A bugging instrument, precisely was right there—planted under Ricky’s desk! The telephone speaker was firmly stuck there!

Ricky was visibly shocked. Ting turned pale.

We calmed down after a while. Then we continued our discussion. We felt that perhaps there would be no more tapping instruments in the room. I showed them the two Grandjean memos on our proposal to float bonds in Europe.

Ting is one of our ablest bankers. The banker’s banker, some people say. It is such a pity that he was not able to leave the country in September. He could have gone with Grandjean in Zurich to Wuttke and other bankers to work on the government’s bond project.

Ricky responded that Ting should have no difficulty leaving; he (Ricky) could make the arrangements with Colonel Salientes—the undersecretary of defense. He was very sure he could get a clearance from the DND for Ting provided Ting receives a cable from abroad saying his presence is necessary at a business meeting of a given date.

“But I can not make the same offer for Dr. Espiritu.” Ricky gave me a whimsical look and smiled.

Ting answered that this was not even necessary because the closest man to the President himself, namely Bobby Benedicto, is working on his clearance papers. Nevertheless, he said, it seems almost impossible to leave. It is not easy to get a clearance to leave now even on a legitimate business trip.

We somehow got to talking about the possibility of my taking a business trip, too. Ricky repeated that I should not attempt to apply because my name was previously in “the list” and that according to Sig Siguion-Reyna, it was only removed by Enrile. Ting seconded the advice saying that at the moment I should not apply for a clearance for a business trip because the military are suspicious of me.

“What makes you think this way?” I asked in apprehension.

“This is a fact; I heard this.”

“Why? Why this?” I persisted.

Ting suggested that when I was president of the Philippine Chamber of Industries, and likewise when I served as a member of the National Economic Council, I must have made statements which were critical of President Marcos. He therefore advised me not even to attempt to apply.

“Perhaps, after a while, after things shall have quieted down, the military would allow you to leave but at the moment, you should really stay put,” he warned me.

I felt unhappy about these confirmations by my two partners that it would be difficult for me to secure a clearance for business travel. It was some comfort, however, to hear Ricky confirm that I was no longer in the DND list.

Thursday, October 5, 1972

Some five delegates are already in the army stockades. In the haphazard enumeration by the government-controlled paper, The Daily Express, the last two delegates named were Ramon (sic) Espiritu and Jose Mari Velez of Rizal.

As I entered the session hall, Joe Feria met me. “I was afraid you were already taken in.” And Charlie Valdez added, “You better go up because there is so much speculation inside the session hall about you.”

True enough, as I entered, there was some excitement on the part of the delegates who were thinking that I must have already been arrested. Jun Catan was saying that if it were true that I was arrested, then they would have taken the wrong man because he knows that I am a fair-minded man. Moreover, I am not really a man of such means as to be able to finance subversives. Twice he told me that he had said this to Roberto (Bert) Oca.

Delegates Pedro (Pete) Valdez and Manuel (Maneng) Concordia were quite concerned. Sergio (Serging) Tocao had allayed their fears by telling them that last night we were together until almost 10:00 o’clock so it could not be possible that I have been taken in because usually arrests are staged at night.

Some fuzz ensued upon my entrance. Many delegates rose to meet me. Abe Sarmiento, Con-Con vice-president, who was then presiding, had to bang the gavel: “Please! May I request all delegates to please take their seats and listen to the Speaker.”

I felt guilty that my entrance caused some disorder in the hall because many delegates started milling around me. They seemed genuinely happy to see me.

I had to keep on telling the delegates in a light vein, “By the way, my name is not Ramon.”

Later, in the afternoon, I met Celso Gangan. He said there is a difference between the high level criticisms and statements such as I was making and the low level ones that have been made by some people. “I am sure they would not arrest you because you have been taking a high level in your discussions,” he said.

Small comfort.

President Macapagal later told us that in the Planning and Administrative Review Committee a decision has been made to create a group that is smaller than the Plenary Committee but large enough to be democratic and to ensure support by the plenary. Such a body, he said, will be composed of the executive officers of the Convention, namely, the president, the president pro tempore, the vice-presidents, the chairman and members of the Steering Council, the chairman and members of the Sponsorship Council and the floor leaders. This would amount to something like 126 people.

These people would go over or write entirely the draft of the New Constitution, using as bases (1) the drafts already approved on second reading, (2) the consolidated provisions, such as the provisions on the national economy adopted by the chairman and officers of the 12 committees under Ramon (Monet) Tirol, and (3) those provisions which shall have been written out by the Steering Council based on the committee reports, after such reports shall have been harmonized.

There seems to be merit in what Macapagal is proposing. This would probably enable the Convention to finish its task by January 13, 1973.

He has a valid point when he said that all of the delegates, irrespective of their individual views and convictions, are interested in finishing a good Constitution as soon as possible so that the Constitution can be presented before the Convention fizzles out.

In the evening, I went over President Marcos’ book, Today’s Revolution: Democracy. I had read the first two chapters last year but, in the light of present developments, there is a need to read the book again, particularly the more practical chapters in the middle portion and the last chapter entitled “The New Society.”