Thursday, November 23, 1972

Our dwindling group went to the house of Pepe Calderon at noontime to assess the situation. There, Cecing Calderon (Pepe’s brother) told us that according to Toto de la Cruz, we should be around on Monday because Monday will be the second reading on the Constitution. This is the most crucial voting, the decisive one. The third reading will only be a formality.

Cecing was warned by Toto not to be absent because it seems that one of the conditions that would be imposed was that to be a member of the Assembly one must vote on second and third reading—in addition to the requirement already imposed that only those voting affirmatively for the transitory provision would qualify.

The initial plan was for Pepe Calderon to be absent while his brother Cecing would be present and would abstain. Totoy Nepomuceno was thinking of abstaining. Bobbit and I were thinking of voting “No.” Naning Kalaw was thinking of abstaining. Joe Feria did not tell us what his thoughts were.

Cecing thought that considering the fact that most of us have already voted “Yes” on the transitory provision, it would be natural for us to vote “Yes” now, too. However, Bobbit Sanchez argued that to vote “Yes” is practically to recommend the Constitution and it is really very difficult to recommend it because there are problems particularly on the provisions concentrating the executive powers on the prime minister.

I gave Joe Feria a lift when we returned to Manila. He broached the idea of a smaller group of us meeting next Saturday morning for a prayer meeting. I approved of it. Perhaps we have not really been a prayerful group of delegates in spite of our daily rituals of invocations. We should really make a sincere effort to ask for God’s guidance on this very crucial issue. I thought that we should really be certain that we have the courage to do what God expects us to do at the moment.

Is God coming down to save us?

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.

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.

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.