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.

Monday, October 9, 1972

Barbara Howell interviewed me. She is a Christian journalist based in Singapore who is staying at the Ellinwood Guest House.

She introduced herself as the wife of Leon Howell, who was here last year. I had met him at a meeting of the Land Reform Committee of the Convention. They are journalists sponsored by the five national church bodies in the United States to undertake some kind of journalistic work over a period of three years.

These were some of the things I mentioned to Barbara: It was possible that martial law itself would last for a period of two years. However, the rising wave of fear would probably subside after a few weeks. Restrictions would probably be liberalized but curfew would still be there. And the people who would have been caught and placed behind bars at the army stockades would continue being there.

Because of the decline of lawlessness, of robberies and violence, it can even be that after some time, martial law might be accepted by the masses of people as a timely action by the government. Of course, insofar as foreigners are concerned, they would not experience the kind of apprehension that many Filipinos have. They would only know that it is now possible to walk around without having to be afraid for one’s life or pocketbook.

In fact, Barbara agreed, she got the feeling that she had a greater fear for her safety last year than when she came in a couple of days ago.

It would seem, at least for now, that many of the reforms that President Marcos is launching are laudable: land reform and the collection of firearms have, in particular, found popular support. A growing number of people are of the view that without martial law, land reform could not have been launched.

The issues of civil liberties—the loss of our individual freedoms, the gross violations of our human rights, the demolition of our democratic institutions—these seem to be clearly understood and felt only by those who are politically aware. For the majority of our people, who have historically been the object of exploitation, the denial of our individual freedoms does not figure in their lives.

Barbara’s impressions reminded me of the First Philippine Economic and Trade Mission to the Soviet Union, Hungary and Poland, organized by the Philippine Chamber of Industries in 1967, which I headed. Precisely because we were foreigners in these Communist countries, we did not concern ourselves with the fears of the local people. What seemed apparent to us, and which impressed us then, was that there was more prosperity and greater discipline among the people in Russia than during the ancien regime. We were hardly sensitive to the repressions of the regime; after all, we were treated with great hospitality. Of course, not really having known freedom in their long history of oppression and domination under the Romanovs, in time the Russians have accepted their loss of individual freedom. And we, foreigners as we were, did spend a good deal of time looking over the physical manifestations of technological progress in Russian society and called them good.

But now we know what it is not to be able to speak out in our country, and not to be able to leave our country. The apparatus of repression is efficient. We are being controlled effectively. Worse, for many, the “salvaging” and disappearances of family members, or their arbitrary arrests and tortures are the price of Marcos’ sinister move to “save the Republic.”

Surprising though it may be, quite a number of businessmen now approve of martial law. Why not? An element of stability has been achieved. Peace and order is necessary for businessmen to ply their trade. For many of them, that is enough. But what peace? The “peace of the graveyard,” to quote the German poet Friedrich Schiller. It does not really matter.

The other information that I conveyed to Barbara was the possibility that there will be a transition government, that is to say, there will be no elections in 1973 but simply extension of offices of the president, vice president and the members of Congress until 1975. Apparently, from all indications, this would jibe with the growing expectations that there would be no election in 1975.

George Borromeo of Camiguin was in a joyous mood when I arrived at the session hall. The assumption, he said, is that if the transition provision is approved immediately after approval of the new Constitution in a plebiscite, we shall be sitting in as assemblymen.

This, apparently, is the word from Malacañang. So, when George sponsored an amendment saying that the members of the National Assembly shall receive ₱5,000 a month each, with allowance including equipment, transportation, travel and technical staff also amounting to ₱5,000, he was in effect giving Noli Aguilar (who was sitting beside him) and the other delegates a lot of salary starting upon the approval of the Constitution. And it will be approved, he prophesied.

I was speechless at this outburst of jubilation. “What are we in power for?” I still recall how much, in our youth, we had condemned Senator Avelino who had uttered those immoral words.

I was almost rudely interrupted in my musing by Delegate Simplicio Apalisok who sidled up to me for advice. He said that perhaps it would be good to get the imprimatur of the Palace before publishing some photos and documents of the External Affairs Committee.

I told him there was no harm in doing this. However, it should be done in a very quiet manner.

Poor Apalisok. His concern was for his monthly publication in the Con-Con really.

“You know, it was Ding Quintos who was responsible for getting the President’s signature on the ₱4.2 million budget for the Constitutional Convention,” he said in innocence. I was not sure whether he meant the regular budget or its supplement. Quintos, he continued, apparently, is in close relations with the President.

“But Bebet Duavit is the chairman of Marcos’ politburo in the Convention, with Arturo Pacificador, Toto de la Cruz, Tony Tupaz, Antonio (Tony) de Guzman, Vicente (Vic) Guzman, Peps Bengzon, Venancio (Ven) Yaneza, being among the outstanding members,” one delegate said, joining our conversation.