Monday, November 6, 1972

Juan (Tio Juaning) Borra was in one of his rare moods. He was delivering a stirring speech at the office of Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva, with an audience of three. Apparently, Marcos has told his “boys” that he did not want them to take their oaths of office as members of the interim National Assembly immediately after the ratification of the Constitution. The “boys” are revolting against this because this is the kind of “consuelo” they had expected from their master in Malacañang,” he smiled,

Does this mean the tutas will bark but will no longer wag their tails, Tio Juaning?” I asked.

The 166-man body met this afternoon but the session lasted only for ten minutes. We were given until Wednesday, two days from now, to file our amendments to the new draft prepared by the Steering Council.

This is outrageous. To begin with, we were forced to submit amendments last Friday. Now we were informed that this is already passe’; they were amendments to a draft Constitution that, in the meantime, had been revised by the Steering Council.

I had a little chat with Estoy Mendoza, Fanny Cortez-Garcia and Monet Tirol at the coffee shop. Monet told us that he had advised Tony Tupaz to try to accept some amendments because there was much grumbling from many delegates. He said they are completely surprised by the fact that apparently the Steering Council, in the graphic word of Fanny, is “steamrollering” the Constitution.

Monet, too, was quite unhappy over the situation. As a matter of fact, almost every delegate is unhappy over the fact that the Steering Council has arrogated unto itself the exclusive task of writing the new Constitution for us. Many delegates, including Fanny, are now so frustrated that they do not feel like introducing any more amendments. Estoy, for one, said he would not do anything anymore.

He told us that poor delegate Felixberto Serrano, former secretary of foreign affairs, the brilliant old man who had been so conspicuously silent in the past 18 months, had spent four nights almost without sleep, working on his amendments. He has drafted voluminous amendments. He has finally tried to do his duty after having acquiesced all along to the manipulations of the majority—due to what irresistible pressures, I wonder?—only to find out that he was amending the wrong Constitution.

Estoy is just fed up. So is Fanny.

I told them I had filed amendments last Friday. Today again, I was rushing new amendments; I was going to put in their names as cosponsors.

They were happy about this. “Go ahead,” they said, “but as for us, we don’t want to do anything anymore.”

The fire of enthusiasm is gone from many delegates. What a pity that we have an assembly of talents but only a mediocre Constitution—at best—will, in the end, be framed. Mediocre? Hopefully—and not worse—a reactionary constitution for a dictator.

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.

Saturday, September 23, 1972

It was strange, I thought. There were no newspapers and no radio broadcasts in the morning.

At about 8:00 a.m., the Korean, Moonkyoo Kang, and Pura Calo, a Filipino, who were jointly running the ALDEC, visited me at my house and asked me how I felt. I told them that I was quite disappointed last night with the SCM in that in trying to set a new reading of the gospel, they seemed to have given a Christian organization, the Student Christian Movement, a neo-Maoist strain. I believe in a theology of liberation, I hastened to add; but liberation in Christ, not through a forcible overthrow of government.

“Obviously, you have not heard the news,” they exclaimed. “Martial law has already been declared.”

I nearly fell off my seat!

Martial law declared? Impossible!

“Yes, it is true. That is the reason why there are no newspapers and why radio stations are not in operation.”

Forthwith, I rang up my friend, Solicitor-General Estelito Mendoza, to find out if this were true. Titong was out of the house but his wife, Rosie, said this is probably true. She added that Defense Minister Enrile was ambushed yesterday afternoon. By whom?

I told her that I was, in fact, preparing to address the meeting of the Christians Concerned for civil liberties at the St. Joseph’s College today. Rosie advised me to stay home and not attend the meeting.

I immediately tried to reach my friends—Sonny Alvarez first, but Sonny’s phone was busy. Next, I tried calling up Sonia Aldeguer but I was not successful either in contacting her.

I got Pres. Pro-Tempore Sotero (Teroy) Laurel on the phone. Teroy confirmed that the news is true. He had it from good authority: from his own brother, House of Representatives Speaker Jose Laurel. He added that two of our fellow delegates have already been arrested, namely, Nap Rama and Joe Mari Velez. Teroy suggested that we just meet more or less socially but that in the meantime, we should lie low.

I called up Raul Manglapus; we have to plan on what we should do next.

I was informed that Raul had left for the U.S. a couple of days ago.

Next, I tried calling up Raul Roco, but Raul was out of the house. Fearful for his safety, I rang up the home of his father-in-law, Congressman Malasarte. I was able to get his wife, Sonia, who said that Raul had “gone out.”

I rang up Alejandro (Ding) Lichauco, but Ding’s phone was busy.

I went to the Convention Hall. The streets were almost deserted. By late morning there were still no newspapers, no radio broadcasts. In Quezon City, I saw two cars of soldiers with one civilian on the front seat in each of the cars—obviously taken into custody.

There were some soldiers at the checkpoint near the Quezon Memorial Circle, but the soldiers didn’t molest anyone.

At the Convention Hall, there was a note of hushed excitement, frustration and resignation. Now the reality is sinking into our consciousness. Martial law has been proclaimed!

Rumors were rife that our most outspoken activist delegates, Voltaire Garcia, Joe Mari Velez, Nap Rama, Ding Lichauco and Sonny Alvarez have been arrested. I met Convention Sec. Pepe Abueva and he informed me that this was what he had also heard.

The whole day, practically, was spent by us tensely waiting for some news. All sorts of rumors were floating around.

It was repeatedly announced that President Marcos was going to give an important message at 12:00 noon. Twelve o’clock came and went, and there was no news; there was only an announcement that this was going to be made later. At 2:30 p.m., a new announcement came: this would be done at 3:30 p.m. Then it was announced that due to the fact that documents were still being looked over by the President and that TV sets were still being installed at Malacañang, the message of the President was going to be later, between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The people could hardly wait. At 7:00 p.m., over the radio, during dinner with the ALDEC seminar participants, we heard President Marcos explaining the grounds for declaring martial law as well as the general orders given to the secretary of national defense, Juan Ponce Enrile, and to Press Sec. Francisco (Kit) Tatad. Tatad’s big face popped out on TV. He read for more than an hour, in what seemed to us sinister monotone, the full text of the presidential proclamation.

“Big Brother is watching us,” exclaimed one of the participants while looking at Tatad’s face which filled the TV frame. But this is not 1984! George Orwell showed up too early in the Philippines.

Tatad was continuously pouring out words that seemed to seal the fate of our people. We sat there and listened in mingled fear and confusion.

Sadly and fearfully, we speculated on the possible fate of our militant friends who had spoken at the ALDEC seminar, yesterday and day before yesterday. They must have been taken into military custody already. Ding Lichauco must surely have been arrested, we conjectured, and Dante Simbulan, likewise. Possibly also Dodong Nemenzo, we thought. The Korean, Moonkyoo, tried to cheer us up. He has a tape of Ding Lichauco’s lecture and he said he would tell everyone that he has the last lecture of Lichauco before he was arrested.

Thursday, September 7, 1972

This morning, I had a full hour’s chat with President Macapagal. Majority Floor Leader Edmundo (Munding) Cea and Vice Pres. Abraham (Abe) Sarmiento were with us part of the time. I was telling Macapagal that he had delivered a mesmerizing speech yesterday in favor of the ban-dynasty resolution. In fact I heard it said, by some delegates, that that was his finest hour.

I also suggested to Macapagal that there are perhaps two options for us. The first is to just simply freeze the ball and let the Convention work as slowly as possible so that the plebiscite on the new Constitution may only be done after the expiration of Marcos’ term in 1973. This would really, in effect, ban the incumbent. In fact, Convention secretary, Jose (Pepe) Abueva, has also suggested the same thing.

Another possibility, I said, was to declare a recess until January 1974.

We then talked about the transition government resolution filed by Oscar (Oka) Leviste and Antonio (Tony) Velasco. To my great surprise, Macapagal said what was almost unbelievable to me up to then—that this resolution might pass.

For some delegates, the point is, the ban-dynasty provision has already failed anyway; Marcos would surely win. Therefore, we might just as well postpone the election and hold over the positions of elective officials. The bonus is that we, the delegates, would be there in the first parliament. This is the substance and spirit of the Tony-Oka transition government resolution.

Incredible, I said. How can such a self-serving resolution pass? I remember now that Antonio (Tony) Tupaz had told me that definitely this would pass. I had dismissed the idea quickly then. But last night, Pepe Abueva was telling me that this just might pass really, for all we know. Macapagal sadly confirmed this: “Yes, that might even pass.”

This now seems to be a serious matter—where before, only Oka Leviste and Tony Velasco believed in it. But, of course, the come-on is irresistible. Who wouldn’t want to be in the first parliament—without even having to fight it out in an election contest?

 Macapagal did not know that Gary Teves and Adolfo (Adolf) Azcuña all along have been voting independently. Macapagal was quite surprised by what I said about Gary, because Gary’s uncle, Senator Teves, and his father, Congressman Teves, were allies of Marcos. I said, “Oh, yes, all along he has been with us.”

I like the kid. He is sincere and competent; I feel that young people like him should be encouraged and supported. He has voted independently of the way Congressman Teves and Senator Teves have been voting in Congress.

The other politician’s son who has surprisingly been consistently voting with us is Adolf Azcuña. The voting record of Adolf has really been progressive and independent. In fact, although he is an assistant attorney at the Bengzon law office, his record is poles apart from that of Peps Bengzon. In Adolf’s own words, some six months ago, his vote was 85 percent of the time different from that of Peps. Now, again, on the ban-Marcos resolution, he voted with us. He did not have second thoughts about his true colors.

Of course his local political rival, Ernesto (Erning) Amatong, is not very certain of Adolf s persuasions. Is he really independent of his father’s influence, this son of Congressman Azcuña? Nevertheless, Erning is a fair man and he has acknowledged to me that he is impressed by Adolf. He agrees with me that Adolf has been showing himself to be a sincere and independent-minded and conscientious young man.

Erning Amatong, as expected, voted with us. He is an old reliable, really. So did Vincenzo Sagun.

At noon, I went to the meeting of the Independent-Progressive bloc at the home of Pepe Calderon to discuss our options.