The Inquirer editorial, Bunker mentality, has set the tone for what today will be about: as Inq7.net puts it, a Labor Day showdown.Labor and other forces are insisting on a show of strength -and of daring. The Palace has hunkered down and announced it’s prepared to issue a proclamation along the line of Proclamation 1017 (the Supreme Court, on the other hand, previously announced it will rule on challenges to 1017 by May 2, tomorrow).
The PCIJ has a series of devastating articles comparing the stratagems resorted to by two beleaguered presidents -Marcos and Arroyo- concerning the constitution of their times:
There are the editorials penned by Teodoro M. Locsin, which helped put “tuta” in the political lexicon of the times: Constitutional Convention Or Malacañang Kennel? Editorial for January 22, 1972 and Same dog, different collar? Editorial for March 18, 1972.
There’s reportage on the issues, personalities, and developments in the Constitutional Convention: The Politicalization of the Constitutional Convention, by Edward R. Kiunisala, January 22, 1972 and The Constitutional Convention: Nakakahiya! by Edward R. Kiunisala, February 26, 1972.
The best contemporary account of the 1971-73 Constitutional Convention’s descent into disrepute is “How democracy was lost: A political diary of the Constitutional Convention of 1971-1972” (Augusto Caesar Espiritu) which you can still find in bookstores (a very slim book, inexpensive, but makes for gripping reading).
Here’s an extract from the book, which was his secret diary during that time. The date was October 20, 1972, a Friday. Martial Law had been proclaimed less than a month before. The convention was given a choice: approve the draft, and sit in the Interim National Assembly the new Constitution would establish; reject the draft, and give up the chance for future office. Wote Espiritu:
The proceedings were tense; or should I say, shameful?
There were vigorous speeches against the provision by Justice Barrera, Gary Teves and Leonie Garcia. The whole Convention looked with admiration at these three musketeers who have displayed their guts by speaking against what is a foreordained provision and, in so doing, were taking the risk of incurring the wrath of the political gods.
There were many more minor skirmishes. The one thing that sticks to my mind is the fact that insofar as talking or reasoning with the majority was concerned, it was like talking to a wall. There was absolutely no way for them to accomodate another view. They were determined to ram through whatever they had decided.
Teroy Laurel made a brilliant defense of his proposed amendments to the draft. We should not limit membership to the National Assembly to the delegates who would opt to serve, as was provided for in the draft, because this was really making the thinga mockery; it was humiliating.
It would seem from the amount of applause he received and the rasing of hands that followed, that the amendment was carried. Indeed, it was announced by Abe Sarmiento, who was then presiding, that the motion was carried.
But then Fidel Purisima demanded voting by tellers. This changed the situation. Many delegates would not express their true wishes because the walls of the session have many eyes: the dissenters would be watched by Big Brother!
In the voting by tellers, the result was 128 to 123 -or something like that- in favor of retaining the original draft provision which states that members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention who opt to serve in the Interim Assembly by voting affirmatively would be the only ones who would be members of the National Assembly. This is cearly immoral, unfair and unjust –but the proponents have made up their minds
Yesterday, I casually told Ramon Encarnacion that perhaps the President would be a little more reasonable than his own lieutenants in the session hall. I overheard Bebet Duavit was willing to give 72 hours to those who were not present during the voting to signify their intention of voting affirmitavely. I, therefore, went to Duavit in order to persuade him to lengthen this to, say, two weeks, to enable those who are abroad to come back and give their decision. But Duavit said this was impossible. As it was, he was only trying to get them to agree on this 72 hours’ grace, but not as an amendment to the provision. It is going to be some kind of suspension of rules before actual voting on the amendment.
Later, I rose, anyway, to introduce an amendment to extend the time for those who are absent to be able to vote. Before I could complete my first few sentences, however, the floor leader, Munding Cea, cut me off, and on the same theme, said it would be completely unfair and unjust to preclude our colleagues who are not present from voting…
To our great chagrin, Toto de la Cruz, chairman of the Committee on Rules, stood to oppose this.
How could anyone in conscience oppose something like this? Where is our sense of fairness? But then, a people secure in their numbers and certain of their purpose can too easily forget that democracy requires tolerance!
Aruro Pacificador would not brook any modertation. Evidently following a “script”, he announced that those absent would be given 72 hours, provided they personally cast their votes in an open session. When some amendments were proposed, such as to allow voting by cablegrams and tegerams or letters, Pacificador, his porcupine hair blasphemously pointing heavenwards, arrogantly gesitculated. “this is under question, I better withdraw my motion,” he haughtily trumpeted…
So we had to vote…
The tension in the air was very heavy during the voting. The roll call took place. There were 14 “No” votes…
Afterwards, the dominant group made a motion to have our vote considered, for all purposes, as the same vote for the second and third readings.
It seems no quarter are to be given. Like a no-prisoners taken stance in war. In other words, the majority would take what it can -everything- now; why wait?
It was indecent, of course. But decency could not wait any longer. Immediate voting was done -and it passed almost unanimously.
In one stroke, so to speak, we actually voted on second and third readings on the provision in question -and that means then that the provision is finished -passed!
What is done is done. We have failed our people… We were elected to be members of the Convention, not to be assemblymen. The grant of extraordinary powers and the ratification of all actions of the President does not seem to bother the delegates too much. The fact that ours is now a rubber stamp Convention and that the Assembly would be a rubber stamp Aseembly does not really matter. What is ultimately important to them, it would seem, is that we are going to be members of the Assembly -so the next area of concern is what salaries we are going to have.
My attitude towards Constitutional change on the President’s terms has not, essentially, changed since July 8, 2005, when I blogged Big, bold, and lies. These columns of mine also help explain my position: Rule of the lawless, and Unintended unity. For those unconcerned about canceling elections, there’s Elections are like water.
My column for today is Why revolts fail. The topic is appropriate as today is the fifth anniversary of the May Day Rebellion. The historical specter of that rebellion shouldn’t be overlooked, Conrado de Quiros says; and Amando Doronila adds that the working class has become a tool for middle class radicals and the government, both eager to use them as justifications for more extreme measures.
Fr. Joaquin Bernas S.J. seems pleased with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court.