Wednesday, October 25, 1972

The discussion was on a resolution filed by Toto do la Cruz that the 166-man body designated (by who else?) to write the Constitution should authorize the Steering Council, as its ad-hoc committee, to prepare the first draft. And what about the rest of the delegates? Placed in the ice box!

During the interpellations, Toto said the meaning is that, hereafter, the whole Constitution would be written by the Steering Council, to be submitted to the 166-man body for ratification. Also, the Steering Council and this body may change any provision already approved in plenary session on second reading.

It was made plain during the interpellation that this would mean that we would be in the situation where we were during our pre-Convention meetings. In other words, the Con-Con, through the Steering Council of the 166-man body, would start all over again. All our work of the last 16 months in the Con-Con would be set aside—although they would be “taken into consideration.” All our efforts and all the expenses of the government were for naught.

I wanted to stand up and fight what I felt was a conspiracy to frustrate the people’s will. So the Convention is no longer the representative of the people. It is now a rubber stamp of Marcos!

One problem was that last night Sonny had phoned me and requested me to meet again with Toto this morning. It might be too late if I were to see him only in the afternoon.

I knocked on Toto’s door at the Sulo Hotel. Toto answered from the locked room that he was busy. Instead of opening the door to let me in, he asked me to call him up from the lobby.

Could Toto have a girl inside? Did I unwittingly disturb some romancing inside? But no, it seems more likely that he was in his room with some other Marcos boys preparing the stage for today’s golpe. Could this be the mystery room of the Rasputins where the fate of a nation is being decided?

Over the telephone, Toto told me he was busy. I could only talk to him this afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

I was quite disappointed; I had travelled to Quezon City Hall in the morning just to talk to him. Nevertheless, I swallowed my pride. Remembering that he is somewhat close to Sonia Aldeguer, one of my three closest friends in the Convention, I suggested that perhaps I could ask Sonia to send her vote by cable from Rome where she is in a nunnery and confirm it upon her arrival? He replied this would be a wise move.

I repaired to my room to phone Sammy Occeña in Davao. Sammy said he had voted already. He was firm. In conscience he could not vote “Yes.”

“Good for you!” I hung up.

I tried hard to contact Sister Digna or Sister Elizabeth to tell either one of them about my talk with Toto de la Cruz.

Last Sunday, I had advised Sister Digna to leave things as they are. Anyway, Sonia could not come home. I said she is lucky because she need not be forced to vote “Yes,” as she might be if she were around; there are rumors that she is also in the “secondary list.” But just in case Sonia might want to vote, we might, perhaps, arrange it such that she could cable her vote and say that she was confirming it upon her arrival. After all, Toto said it could be done.

I phoned Caling Lobregat to get the telephone number of Sister Digna. Caling told me she had talked to Sonia last night and Sonia said she had voted “No.” Caling suggested that we should capture Sonia’s cable and try to persuade her to change her vote to “Yes.”

I poured cold water on the idea. “I think we should respect her decision.”

I spent more than an hour trying to get Sister Digna or Sister Elizabeth on the phone but the number Caling gave me was apparently wrong. Then, I gave up—quite happy that, anyhow, Sonia had already voted “No.”

I talked to Mrs. Ferrer also to give my advice to Raul Manglapus in the U.S. to send his vote along the line of what I was going to tell Sonia. She said she would explain this to Manny Peña.

I sent word to Sonny’s secretary for him to call me up between 2:30 and 4:00 p.m. But his call didn’t come.

When I entered the session hall, Toto was already on the floor.

How could I now argue with him publicly? It was crucial for me to first, be able to talk to him about Sonny. But this was now no longer possible. I may now have to cross swords with Toto. Still, it would be difficult to come out strongly against his proposal—an outrageous proposal foreordained to pass because of numbers. What a pity! This was clearly a conspiracy.

It was unbelievable, but true. Oka Leviste said there was no choice. But I could not vote for this deliberate frustration of our will—the unceremonious junking of the decisions taken by us in the last 16 months.

This was one of our darkest hours in the Convention. I went out of the session hall during the voting without casting my vote. I was informed later that only 12 people voted against the outrageous resolution for the body to surrender all powers to the Steering Council.

There was some lame opposition to the resolution from Julian Locsin and Ikeng Corpuz. The surprising thing was that it seemed that the Sponsorship Council has been decimated. It is supposed to be the largest body in the Convention. What about the committee chairmen and vice chairmen? Why did they not utter any word of protest?

This could not be true, I told some friends. But Oka Leviste said this was true. Once more, he said that the Constitution has already been drafted in Malacañang.

In the meantime, the 12 committees on economic affairs have been meeting under my chairmanship. One might ask, what for? The answer, perhaps, is that the Steering Council might yet, hopefully, adopt most of our ideas, coming as they do from the committee chairmen, vice chairmen and representatives to the Council.

Am I being hopelessly unrealistic?

We should still go on and finish our work and then submit our draft to the body. If it is turned down—as very possibly it would be—then we could place on record that those were the provisions that we had wanted. We should then be speaking to the future and no longer to the present; the present is beyond redemption. We shall then explain to history that this was not our will and that insofar as our will was concerned, we wanted the provisions approved by our committees in the economic grouping.

It was like dying a little, I thought; the whole machinations in the Convention were making us die a little.

Saturday, October 21, 1972

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

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

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

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

            Masyado naman… masyado naman, he uttered in disgust.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Damn Marcos!” I muttered.

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

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

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

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

“What if I’m in the list?” I asked.

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

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

But why is everyone expecting that I will be arrested?

Tuesday, September 26, 1972

Michael Mastura was going to discuss the Christian-Muslim conflict in Cotabato at our ALDEC religious gathering. We were frantically asking Pastor Jun Lagunsad and Louise Palm to fetch Michael. I knew that he has become very reluctant about his speaking engagements because he, also, is afraid. He confided his apprehensions to me yesterday: he could be in the dreaded “list” (of those to be arrested by the military) because he has been critical of the government. There was an item in the Daily Mirror in which he was reported to be blaming President Marcos for the Christian-Muslim conflict.

I calmed his fears. There would be no problem because this was a group of earnest Christians trying to find out the truth in order to understand our realities—that’s all. They were young Christian leaders from some 12 countries who were caught by martial law and could not fly over to Cotabato for an actual look into the deteriorating relations between Christians and Muslims there.

Finally, Michael arrived at 11:00. By then, I had sacrificed my attendance at the Sponsorship Council meeting of the Con-Con.

Two hours later, at the Con-Con session hall, Ding Lichauco looked at me with gratitude for my concern. He seemed quite tense. He said that he was not sure whether he would be arrested or not. He has been half expecting to be taken since last Saturday.

I told him that if he was going to be taken into custody at all, he might as well give up and not entertain any thought of hiding because his chances of survival would be greater by giving up.

I felt sorry for Ding. Ding is not guilty of subversion.

“I am peeved at the straitjacket methods of some of our activist students. I think they have a pretty shallow analysis of the situation,” I comforted him. “Of course, I believe in their struggle for human liberation, but I work for liberation from a Christian perspective not in terms of a violent revolution.”

Ding was emphatic that he did not believe in Maoism either. In fact, he said, these “radical” students are guilty of adventurism. He said that his article on imperialism, precisely, was not Marxist in analysis or approach. He said he has done more to arouse nationalism among our people with his paper on imperialism than the activists have done with their Maoist slogans.

We felt that many Maoists in our country are both adventurists and romanticists who actually are far more dogmatic with their doctrines than we had supposed them to be.

“How long would the detention last, if it should come?” There was a faint note of desperation in Ding’s voice. “Tito Guingona has told me that martial law would last forever.”

Ding, in his agitated state of mind, was losing his rationality.

“Don’t believe Tito. After the government shall have caught the people it would like to catch, martial law would probably be lifted. And you could always read and write in the stockade,” I comforted him.

“But what if it should last for a year?” His voice trailed off.

“No, I don’t think it would last that long. Besides, you are not guilty of any crime.”

After about 30 minutes of our conversation, I said as a parting remark: “In the remote possibility that you are taken, Ding, send an SOS. I may be able to help you in some way.”

“Yes,” he replied sadly.

I left Ding and went to Bobbit Sanchez and Caling Lobregat.

Ten tense minutes passed. Suddenly Caling came to me and bent towards me.

“Ding has just been taken by the military.”

“What?” Unnerved, I slumped on my seat.

Sig Siguion-Reyna came to me and whispered that he was with Defense Minister Johnny Enrile, his brother-in-law, last night. These people mean business, he said. While he was with Enrile, they talked about a news item that Roquito Ablan was seen at Forbes Park. Sig said that Enrile himself ordered his soldiers: “Well, let’s put him immediately in the stockade, otherwise the people might say we are playing favorites with these people. We must get him in immediately.”

Likewise, when he was with Enrile, there was a phone call from President Marcos asking Enrile whether Mrs. Gordon, the mother of delegate Dick Gordon, was in the list. Enrile answered that she was in the first list but that he had already taken out her name. Enrile told Marcos he didn’t know why she was arrested by the military in spite of the fact that her name had already been taken out of the list.

But who prepared the list of politicians, student leaders, newsmen and dissenters to be arrested? It could not be Enrile because he knows me quite well. He knows I’m neither a Communist nor a man of violence; simply a practicing Christian who believes in the need for democratizing wealth and economic power in a society whose hallmark is that of distressing social and economic inequalities. Indeed, if we should really want to achieve development, we have to institute radical changes in our social structures, even as we should work for far-reaching changes in the structures of the world economy.

Sig warned us that there are many people in the list, and that the arrests have only started. He has also heard over the radio that according to President Marcos, mere speculations and rumors are punishable.

“In other words, do not speculate, do not spread rumors, do not think.”

Pabling Trillana interrupted our talk. He told me in a subdued tone that he had just signed a manifesto passed on to him by Tito Guingona.

“What was it about?” I asked.

“The manifesto opposing martial law, similar to the Diokno manifesto I signed and passed around four days ago.”

“You must be careful,” I advised him like an elder brother.

He became visibly afraid. He pleaded with me to talk with Tito Guingona and persuade him to try to “hold” the document that he had signed.

I continued advising Pabling Trillana. This is not the time for these things. We are now under difficult conditions.

He repeated his plea for me to talk with Tito.

I went to Tito. He was tense. He showed me the manifesto. He asked me to sign it, but I demurred.

“In fact, for your own safety, you should not release that,” I chided Tito. “Mrs. Trono has just told me she was worried about you because you are in the ‘list.'”

Mrs. Trono, although a Marcos supporter, showed genuine concern. “Guingona is innocent and is a good man. To all of you, young people who are innocent, please keep quiet. What can you do?”

Here was a rabid Marcos partisan—a political enemy—now showing sympathy for us. The springs of human compassion are indeed inexhaustible!

“Ninoy Aquino is so powerful but where is he now? What can you do? And you, Caesar, please don’t get involved. You with your transparent idealism, you should be serving your people, not be languishing in jail. And please tell Guingona not to get involved.”

I related all these to Tito, but he seemed ready for martyrdom. “We might as well express our last words before being taken in.” There was a note of bravado in his tone of voice.

“But there is no sense trying to be a martyr by courting detention. And what do we achieve? If we have to speak out, and risk our lives, let us do so. But let us be sure of our objective. Let us act at the right moment.”

“After all, we would just insert it in the records. He would not read it before the Convention.”

“Tito, you are a patriot. You and I are about to be arrested. Should we also get our friends involved?”

Could this be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Is it not better to be a live coward than a dead hero? I salute Tito. Indeed, there are moments in our lives when we are compelled to certify what we think and what we believe.