This book is unfinished. The Filipino people shall finish it for me. I wrote this volume very, very slowly. I could have done with it in three months after my defection from the conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos on February 20, 1975. instead, I found myself availing of every excuse to slow it down.
A close associate, Marcelino P. Sarmiento, even warned me, “Baka mapanis’ yan.” (Your book could become stale.) while I availed of almost any excuse not to finish the manuscript of this volume, I felt the tangible voices of a muted people back home in the Philippines beckoning to me across the vast Pacific Ocean. In whichever way I turned, I was confronted by the distraught images of the Filipino multitudes crying out to me to finish this work, lest the frailty of human memory or any incident a la Nalundasan-consign to oblivion the matters l had in mind to form the vital parts of this book.
It was as if the Filipino multitudes and history itself were surging in an endless wave presenting a compelling demand on me to perpetuate the personal knowledge I have gained on the infamous machinations of Ferdinand E. Marcos and his overly ambitious wife, Imelda, that led to a day of infamy in my country, that black Friday on September 22, 1972, when Martial law was declared as a means to established history’s first conjugal dictatorship. The sense of urgency in finishing this work was also goaded by the thought that Marcos does not have eternal life and that the Filipino people are of unimaginable forgiving posture.
I thought that, if I did not perpetuate this work for posterity, Marcos Might unduly benefit from a Laurelian statement that, when a man dies, the virtues of his past are magnified and his faults are reduced to molehills. This is a book for which so much has been offered and done by Marcos and his minions so that it would never see the light of print. Now that it is off the press, I entertain greater fear that so much more will be done to prevent its circulation, not only in the Philippines but also in the United States. But this work now belongs to history.
Let it speak for itself in the context of developments within the coming months or years. Although it finds great relevance in the present life of the Filipinos, and of Americans interested in the study of subversion of democratic governments by apparently legal means, this work seeks to find its proper niche in history which must inevitably render its judgment on the seizure of government power from the people by a lameduck Philippine President. If I had finished this work immediately after my defection from the totalitarian regime of Ferdinand and Imelda, or after the vicious campaign of the dictatorship to vilify me in July-August, 1975, then I could have done so only in anger.
Anger did influence my production of certain portions of the manuscript. However, as I put the finishing touches to my work, I found myself expurgating it of the personal venom, the virulence and intemperate language of my original draft. Some of the materials that went into this work had been of public knowledge in the Philippines. If I had used them, it was with the intention of utilizing them as links to heretofore unrevealed facets of the various ruses that Marcos employed to establish his dictatorship.
Now, I have kept faith with the Pilipino people. I have kept my rendezvous with history. I have, with this work, discharged my obligation to myself, my profession of journalism, my family and my country. I had one other compelling reason for coming out with this work at the great risks of being uprooted from my beloved country, of forced separation from my wife and children and losing their affection, and of losing everything I have in my name in the Philippines-or losing life itself.
It is that I wanted to make a public expiation for the little influence that I had exercised on the late Eugenio Lopez into handpicking a certain Ferdinand E. Marcos as his candidate for the presidency of the Philippines in the elections of 1965. would the Filipinos be suffering from a conjugal dictatorship now, if I had not originally planted in Lopez’s consciousness in 1962 that Marcos was the “unbeatable candidate” for 1965? To the remaining democracies all over the world, this book is offered as a case study on how a democratically-elected President could operate within the legal system and yet succeed in subverting that democracy in order to perpetuate himself and his wife as conjugal dictators.
I entertain no illusions that my puny work would dislodge Ferdinand and Imelda from their concededly entrenched position. However, history teaches us that dictators always fall, either on account of their own corrupt weight or sheer physical exhaustion. I am hopeful that this work would somehow set off, or contribute to the ignition, of a chain reaction that would compel Marcos to relinquish his vise-like dictatorial grip on his own countrymen. When the Filipino is then set free, and could participate in cheerful cry over the restoration of freedom and democracy in the Philippines, that cry shall be the fitting finish to this, my humble work….
A Summer Night in Washington, D.C.
The capital of the United States Of America had always incited in me the inner feelings of love of country, a feeling which I seem to overlook while I am actually in my own terra Firma on Philippine soil; it is as if one is given a sudden urge of imbibing, and seeking to belong to a vital footnote to, history. Except for his latest trip of mine which I was pondering this sultry summer night on June 16, 1975, everytime I visited Washington, D.C. which, to me, stands out not only as the capital of the United States but also of the democratic western world as well as the U.S. allies in Asia, I always felt that I was invested with a sense of mission of my country, even though my trips to this capital of the world had always been undertaken by me in my capacity as a simple newspaperman.
So it was the way I felt in June, 1958, when, as a your reporter for the now defunct Manila Chronicle, I first set foot on Washington, D.C. my first trip to Washington, D.C. was in connection with my coverage of the State visit of then President Carlos P. Garcia. The thought alone of going to Washington, D.C. that square mass of land carved out of the territories of the states of Mary land and Virginia, becomes awe-inspiring; being in D.C. itself gives one a sense of history. As two great journalist-observers of Washington, D.C.put it, “the numerous national monuments that give Washington, its physical and spiritual identity are as revered by the home folks as they are by the thousands of tourists who come streaming in every year at cherry-blossom time.”
Indeed, a great many people attempt to make it to Washington, D.C. not only because they seek to honor America’s great national heritage, but also because they want to be part of it, in however small a way. But on this summer night of Jume 16, 1975, I felt that somehow I just might be a part of the history of the United States and of my country, the Philippines, or perhaps as an insignificant footnote, but certainly a part of the historical record of one of the chambers of the bicameral Congress of the United States of America. In the midst of such heady thought, I was, however, sobered up by a warning given earlier by former senator Raul S. Manglapus, president of the “Movement for a free Philippines” that I should not except too much-presumably by way of publicity-out of this visit to Washington, D.C. I should rather think of my mission in Washington, D.C. Manglapus suggested, as a bold strike for a great national struggle being waged by Filipinos back home in the Philippines.
I told Manglapus that I was going to Washington, D.C. in response to an invitation of a committee of the United States Congress. I will not be seeking headlines. I am not going to perform any heroics. I told myself that I almost did not make this trip to the U.S. capital, were it not for the foresight and valued assessment of a graying Bataan warrior who, while his colleagues are enjoying the blissful luxury of retirement and quiet life, has taken on a second struggle for the freedom of his country.
It was col. Narciso L. Manzano (USA Retired), a Bataan war hero whose exploits are documented by Gen. Carlos P. Romulo in his book, “ I Saw the Fall of the Philippines, ” who brought my name to the attention of, and insisted on my appearing before, the best forum available as of now to any struggle for the peaceful overthrow of a dictatorship-the United States Congress.
It is an historical irony that one of the few really effective fighters in the United States against a dictatorship that has engulfed the Philippines is this authentic and unassuming hero of the battle of Bataan. Manzano is a no nonsense brutally frank man who used to coach soccer teams in Manila. Now supposed to live in retirement in San Francisco, Manzano has proved to possess more energy than several men half his age. Not given to unnecessary delays and red tape, Manzano instead has waited for no man and depended on no one in carrying out his one-man battle against despotism in the Philippines.
He staked his very life fighting a despotism imposed by foreigners during the dark days of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. The man is now waging another heroic battle against a home-grown tyranny. Manzano has flooded the U.S. Congress and the White House with telegrams, personal letters, mostly handwritten, documents and press clippings pointing out why American officialdom should not support the dictatorship in the Philippines.
Manzano even managed to convince television stations in the San Francisco area to grant him free air time in refuting single-handedly the overpowering propaganda of the Manila martial regime in the United States. In fact, Manzano and Antonio Garcia, MFP information officer, were the only two persons who supported me mightily in my decision to go to Washington D.C. Manzano used some of his contacts on Capitol Hill to make sure that I would be heard in committee by the United States Congress. It was the case I was about to state, and the very decision I have made to state such case, before the U.S. Congress that gave a sense of purpose, a mission for my country, and a sense of entering the threshold of history.
At the time, I tried to relate the feeling I had to the fact that, the United States of America, on the eve of its bicentennial, had found a most auspicious, if regrettable, occasion to dramatize the wisdom of its Founding Fathers in opting for a responsible living presidency at the apex of government. I imagined the delegates to the Continental Congress rejecting overwhelmingly in 1776 certain well-intentioned proposals that the former British colonies of North America embrace a dictatorial form of government for the newly-independent nation.
I thought that the situation that was presented the United States of America 199 years after its launching into independent nationhood was the exemplification of the principle of taxation with representation; people pay heavy taxes as the price of their having a voice in the affairs of government. The propitious occasion was, of course, the forced resignation of President Richard Milhous Nixon on August 9, 1974, under pressure of an impending impeachment trial in the wake of the Watergate scandal.
It demonstrated in ringing tones-louder perhaps than when the bells of Philadelphia tolled the end of the British rule over the North America colonies-that, under a rule of the republican government of the United States of America, no man, however high and mighty he might be, can be above the law, and the great American system founded in 1776 would know how to deal with a man who places himself above the law or tampers with sacred and hallowed institutions of the United States of America.
I was thinking at the time that, whatever condemnation might be reserved for the ill-fated Nixon presidency. Nixon, alone of all people, acted heroically to make the American system work by his resignation from the premier White House post. Nixon himself being a part of that system knew exactly what to do when the fateful event came upon its hour; never for a moment, it seems, did Nixon think that all the screaming agitations within the various sectors of U.S. society to have him disciplined for his breach of faith were an illegal conspiracy of the rightists, the centrists or the leftists in collaboration with members of the American Media, youth movements and the general American public, to overthrow the duly-constituted government of the United States of America.
The conditions in Washington, D.C. and across the continent of the United States at the time of Nixon’s Watergate crisis suited to a “T” the description of conditions of the Philippines a few months before September, 1972, as described by Romulo, in his capacity as secretary of foreign affairs of the Philippines, before the Commonwealth Club of California on May 24, 1973, in San Francisco. Romulo declared that the Philippines at the time was “ mired in the other darker depths of democracy-the bickering, the factionalism, the corruption, the aimless drift, and more than these, the rebellion of the alienated xxx.”
Romulo’s employer in the Philippines viewed and interpreted the conditions in Manila in a different light, in a most absurd way. And yet, freedom-loving Americans viewed the agitations in their country in the wake of the Watergate scandal-agitations which also paralleled Philippine conditions resulting from official corruption, abuses and ineptitude-as developments that are as serious and as normal as that with which democracy is faced and for which democracy does, in its own tedious, humane and noble way, ultimately found the proper solutions. As for Nixon, he obviously viewed all the exercises resulting from Watergate, concerted or disparate as they may have appeard, as a solid indication that Americans no longer wanted him to rule for he had lost his moral and legal authority to lead the country from the seat of the ever –living presidency.
He saw the light; that democracy rejuvenates itself in the system of government of the United States by the very act of renewal of faith by its own people in the system. Indeed, Nixon could have contrived some serious crises, like plunging America into a new war in Indochina or provoking some economic crises that might have compelled his tormentors to forget Watergate in the maintime. As a matter of fact, in Manila at the time, the Department of public Information, on instructions from the office of the president, encouraged coffee shop talks that Nixon would hold on to the presidency by provoking some world crises that would require Americans to close ranks behind their President.
Nixon did indeed agonize over the decision he had to make in bowing to the superiority and workability of the American democratic system over and above the personal or ethnical interests of one man, be he the President of the United States or the lowly Street Cleaner. And, as Nixon agonized personally over his duty to strengthen the fabric of the American system of representative government, voices of sympathy, admiration and condemnation for his strength of will in his hour of crisis crisscrossed the world. “Sayang si Nixon, kaibigan pa naman natin.
Kung mayroon sana siyang martial law powers at may lakas ng loob na katulad ng sir natin….e, di, okay na okay lang siya sa white House. Wala sana aabuso sa kanya.” (What a pity for Nixon, considering that he is our friend. If only he had martial law powers and had the courage like our sir [to exercise the powers] … then he would be stable in the White House.
He wouldn’t have to take those abuses [criticisms from Congress and the American Media, among others.] “Oo nga sana, pero wala siyang ganyang powers na katulad dito sa atin.” (Yes, but he doesn’t have such powers under the American Constitution as we have under ours.) the dialoque at the time was between Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, as they talked about the difficulties of President Nixon at the hands of Judge John Sirica, and the select Senate Watergate Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Sam Ervin and Rep. Peter W. Rodino, Jr. respectively, not to mention the unrelenting independent investigations of the mass media.
The scene of this dialoque was Marcos’ Public “study room” where the first lady had stopped by after disposing of her own callers for the day in her “Music Room.” The First Lady, who spoke first, really felt sincerely sympathetic to the beleaguered President Nixon whose administration had initially given backing to the military-supported New Society of Ferdinand and Mrs. Marcos. and now, it was the sincere wish of the conjugal rulers in Manila that President Nixon should be able to set up just the kind of military government that the duumvirate have in the Philippines so that the America’s Chief Executive could extricate himself from the tightening noose of the Watergate Scandal.
The smug conjugal leaders of the Philippines knew exactly what they were talking about. They had just done in their country what they had hoped Nixon would be able to do in the United States; they had availed of, to their personal advantage. An extreme measure provided for an actual emergency by the Constitution of the Philippines under the provisions of Article II, Section 10, paragraph (2), which stated: “The President shall be the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of the Philippines and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion. In case of invasion, insurrection, or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”
As early as the date of their improvident dialogue on Nixon’s predicament, which was about December, 1972, the Marcoses of the Philippines were already forming definite ideas about extending the influence of their conjugal rule in the Philippines into the United States of America. This is because they have found out rather painfully that the military-backed New Society launched by Marcos has not drawn significant support among the overseas Filipino, much less among the rank and file American in the U.S. Mainland.
On another occasion, the First Lady revealed during one of her noon day talks with the people around the President, which included my self, that President Nixon had given his “ personal blessings” to the imposition of martial law in Manila. Mrs. Marcos disclosed that President Marcos had an overseas telephone conversation with President Nixon a few days before September 21, 1972.
Her recollection of the phone conversation was that Marcos told Nixon that bombs were exploding all over Manila and that Communist-instigated demonstration were assuming uncontrollable proportions; that he (Marcos) is under compulsion to proclaim martial law to protect the integrity of the Republic and its interests, including the varied American interests in the islands; and that Nixon told Marcos to “ go ahead” with his plans” because Nixon wanted to see if martial law would work here.” Mrs. Marcos revealed that President Nixon wanted to find out how well Marcos would be able to wield his powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces to extricate himself from his political troubles.
The implication of her statement was that Nixon knew very well in advance Marcos’ political plans when the Philippine President “sought” the U.S. President’s clearance to impose martial law in his country. At the time, Nixon himself was already facing seemingly insurmountable political troubles arising out of the Watergate scandal. The First Lady claimed that Nixon wanted Marcos’ martial law to work effectively “because he might find need for a model which he could adopt later on in the United States.” “We are actually doing Nixon a favor by showing him here in the Philippines how martial law can be wielded to save a President from his political troubles, ” Mrs. Marcos declared.
Contrary to the wishes of the Marcoses, President Nixon did not choose to concoct any device or stratagem that would have allowed him to avail of the commander-in-chief provision of the United States Constitution, suspend civil and political rights and thereby silence all criticisms and opposition to his rule in the White House. Nixon chose resignation and temporary infamy at his St. Helena in San Clemente, California, as his own heroic contribution to the cause of strengthening the fabric of the democratic system of government in the United States of America.
It was the peaceful, orderly and legal manner by which the United States’ system dealt decisively and unerringly with Nixon’s Watergate that made the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial more meaningful; its system of removing an erring and unwanted Chief Executive becoming the object of hope and aspiration in desperation among oppressed and tyrannized peoples, like the 45 million Filipinos now groaning under a yoke set up by a home-grown tyrant. And when oppressed peoples think of the American system, with its living presidency, the microcosm of their thoughts, aspirations and hopes for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” turns hopefully to Washington, D.C. the capital of the world where people can look up to a Washington Post to expose government venalities and official shenanigans without fear or favor.
Filipinos look up to Washington, D.C. as their own special capital city, too. There are justifiable grounds for this attitude, although the ultra-nationalists in my country would denounce it as colonial mentality. Momentous events have taken place in Washington, D.C. that helped shape the destiny of that 7, 100-island archipelago known as the Republic of the Philippines. It was in Washington, D.C. where, at the turn of the century, then President William Mckinley “had a divine inspiration”1 that convinced him that it was the mission of the United States to “civilize and Christianize” the Philippines; it was that divine inspiration which impelled Mckinley to decide to order the U.S. Far East Fleet, commanded by Commodore George Dewey, to destroy the Spanish Fleet off Manila Bay, thereby paving the way for the colonization of the Philippines by the United States.
Thus, upon the establishment by General Wesley Merritt of an American military government in Manila, on August 14, 1898, President Mckinley, who was girding for a reelection, intoned: “The Philippines are ours, not to exploit, but to develop, to civilize, to educate, to train in the science of self-government.” As the Philippines came under American rule, Filipinos never faltered in their desire to govern themselves. Numerous missions and resolutions were dispatched to the United States by leaders of the Philippines independence movement even as the Philippines enjoyed benevolent American rule, enjoying the protection of the bill of Rights as found in the U.S. Constitution.
All the agitations for self-rule for the Filipinos ultimately resulted in the passage by the two chambers of the U.S. Congress of two similar Philippine freedom bills, one introduced by Senator Millard Tydings in the Senate and the other authored by Congressman John McDuffie in the House. Enacted by the United States Congress and signed into law by president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the so-called Tydings-McDuffie Act was accepted by the Philippine Legislature in behalf of the Filipino people on May 1, 1934.
The Tydings-McDuffie Law provided for the establishment of a Commonwealth Government and recognition of Philippine Independence on the fourth of July immediately following the end of the ten-year period from the date of the Commonwealth inauguration. More importantly, the Tydings-McDuffie Law provided that a Constitution, subject to approval by the President of the United States 2 and to ratification by the Filipino people, 3 shall establish a republican presidential form of government for both the transition Commonwealth and the Republic to be declared independent. Independence was granted the Republic of the Philippines on July 4, 1946. thus from 1947 to 1961, the Philippines marked its Freedom day on July 4.
In 1962, a Philippine President (Diosdado P. Macapagal) reset that day of Philippine Independence to June 12, the date in 1898 when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed the independence of the Philippines from Spanish rule from the balcony of his home in Kawit, Cavite. The Filipino people, however, continue to celebrate July 4 as Philippine-American Friendship Day or Republic Day. the radical move of Macapagal was described by admirers as nationalism of the highest order, but what could not be erased was the observation that the change was effected in the wake of the rejection by the U.S. Congress in February, 1962, of an omnibus bill which would have granted the Philippines additional war payments to the tune of $78 million.
Included in the proposed additional war damage payments was a personal claim made by a certain Ferdinand E. Marcos for $8 million to compensate for good and war material he allegedly supplied the American guerillas in Mindanao during the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. The U.S. War Damage Commission had earlier rejected the same personal war damage claims of Marcos as “fake.” 4 one of the fiery supporters of President Macapagal on his transfer of the date of Philippines Independence was then Senator Ferdinand E. Marcos who delivered an emotional oratory denouncing “America’s ingratitude” for the Bataan sacrifices of Filipino soldiers, like him.
In the course of his fiery speech, Marcos even went through the emotions, along with another senator (Eulogio Balao) whose heroic exploits in the battles against the Japanese have never been questioned by anyone, of returning to the United States embassy in Manila all his 28 war decorations, most of which he had obtained 17 years after his alleged heroic exploits in the war. 5 Marcos’ act of “returning” his war medals to the United States embassy prompted then Senate Majority Leader Cipriano Primicias, Sr. to ask rhetorically: “How can he return those medals to the U.S embassy when all but two of them are Philippine decorations which he obtained only a month ago and 17 years after the war?”
In any case, when Marcos himself became President of his country in 1965, he upheld the decision of Macapagal and to this day leads his nation in celebrating Independence Day every 12th day of June. Washington, D.C. is thus of special significance to the Filipinos. There was even a time when Filipinos, especially the newspapermen, considered going to Washington, D.C. a special pilgrimage in much the same spirit that a Filipino Muslim looks forward to a visit to Mecca in Jeddha, a lifetime obligation.
Thus, Filipino newsmen found themselves in the 50s and early 60s making a mad scramble for the much-coveted Fulbright and Smith-Mundt travel grants offered through the State Department in order that they could acquire the status symbol of having made the trip to Washington, D.C. lately, however, the status symbol has had some changes, with Filipino newsmen considering that the trips to Moscow or Peking are the current “musts” for media men. The outstanding symbol of a Filipino newsman’s achievement in Washington, D.C. is, of course, Abelardo “Al” Valencia, the first Filipino correspondent of the associated press before World War II, who is now doing some press and public relations work for the Philippine embassy in Washington, D.C. I imagine that the patriotic feeling that Washington, D.C. awakens in me when I am within her fold works similarly for most other Filipinos who are awed by the relevance of the U.S. capital to their own lives as citizens of the Philippines.
It was in Washington, D.C. where Proculo Rodriquez, Jr., the man largely responsible in Preventing the commission on Election from being used by the rulling Liberal Party in 1965 in cheating when presidential candidate Ferdinand E. Marcos, launched the first protest against martial law by staging on September 25, 1972, a one-man demonstration in front of the Philippine embassy. It was also in Washington, D.C. where another Filipino, Napoleon Sr., single-handedly invaded the Philippine embassy and held hostage the Filipino envoy, Ambassador Eduardo Z. Romualdez, for 11 hours to dramatize a demand that his son, Napoleon, Jr. be given an exit permit from the Philippines. 6 in so doing, Lechoco, Sr., a former Manila Newman and crusader against graft and corruption in government, heroically called world attention to the tyranny, oppression and repression going on in the Philippines. There must be in the atmosphere or conditions that are a monopoly of Washington, D.C. that would induce men to take action that, viewed singularly as such acts, would lead other ordinary men to conclude that such actuations are foolhardy, such as the actions taken by Rodriquez or by Lechoco, who are both Filipino immigrants in the United States.
And yet, a district court in the district of Columbia rejected a defense argument that Lechoco, Sr. acted in a state of sanity in holding Ambassador Romualdez hostage in exchange for his son. On the night of June 16, 1975, I was assessing the impact of Washington, D.C. on the lives of Filipinos, including mine at the very moment, in much the same way perhaps that John W. Dean III must have pondered his own predicament while preparing to blow the whistle on his formers boss.
It could have been just a coincidence, but I could not help thinking that I was an “insider” in the Marcos administration in much the same manner that Dean was in the Nixon White House and that what I was about to do the next day (June 17) was to expose a gargantuan political scandal that would dwarf the Watergate scandal which broke out in Washington, D.C. just two years earlier, on June 17, 1972.
I was studying the worlds I would have to utter for the June 17, 1975 affair of mine, serenely on that sultry summer night of Washington, D.C. amidst the comfort of the fairly efficient air-conditioning system of Room No. 733 of the Mid-Town Motor Inn, an ideally-located motel almost midway between the White House and the U.S. Capitol building complex, with address at 1201 K. St. N. W. Washington, D.C. my room phone rang and, after some hesitation, allowing it to ring a few times more, I grabbed the receiver to say, “Hello? Yes?” “Operator!” interjected a voice from one end of what surprised me then as an overseas call, a call that would later turn out to be a notorious episode in the history of the Philippines, “the man answering is my party already. Tibooo! Botibss… Si…”
Just a moment, Mr. Secretary, ” interrupted a decidedly oriental female voice, so familiar to my eardrums as that of an overseas telephone operator from Manila. And so much familiar was the clear voice of the man who now wanted to establish urgently a line with me, 10, 000 miles away. I could recognize his voice inspite of the waterfall like hissing sound that an overseas telephone connection makes. After all, I have been associated for years with the now agitated possessor of that voice; I have carried on overseas telephone conversations with him three times a day for over a one month period from San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. on a quasi-state affair of the “highest priority “ rating.
The project in which I was involved at the time had “highest priority” rating because the principal was the female half of the ruling duumvirate in the Philippines, the first Lady Imelda Marcos. it was not only the consideration of her personality that made the project of such “high priority”; it was what she wanted to accomplish that made me and other hirelings of the dictatorship in the Philippines work in earnest.
She wanted the American media to take notice of her in a favorable light as she pulls-as programmed at that time-another “diplomatic coup” in the United States to Match her diplomatic triumph in being able to visit China’s aging Chairman Mao Tse-tung in Peking in September, 1974. the Philippines’ First Lady was sorely irritated that the international media have played down her triumphant Peking trip. Only the controlled Manila press spoke glowingly of her “achievements” in the field of diplomacy by her China visit.
She blamed Information Secretary Francisco S. Tatad for having previously poisoned the foreign press against her. I was asked to help out in the new image-building project for Mrs. Marcos in the United States; I was their all around propaganda man, especially on projects where the official link of the government must not be established, if they should fail. My mission was to establish in my “ private capacity” contact with the overseas Filipinos opposed to the martial regime in the Philippines. The job I had to do was not an easy one; otherwise, it could have been just assigned to one of the officials or staff employees of the Philippines embassy in Washington, D.C. or the consulate General in New York. But I was brought all the way from Manila to handle this particularly messy job.
“So, Mr. Mijares, you have become their Donald Segretti, ” quipped Alejandro del Rosario, city editor of the defunct Manila Chronicle and now information attaché at the New York consulate, as he reported to me on orders from Ambassador Ernesto Pineda, the consul general to New York, to assist me in the prosecution of my mission. We set up headquarters in one of the rooms of the commodore Hotel on 42nd street in New York City, avoiding being seen at the Philippine Consulate in order to maintain the “cover” that I was contacting the exiles on my own initiative. I was soon joined by public relations practitioner Jose T. Tumbokon with whom I was supposed to be travelling on private business.
If my mission had been a sure thing, it just might have been grabbed, instead of being delegated to me, by Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez, the favorite brother of Mrs. Marcos. an ambitious, rapacious and insatiable man, he wants to be known as the Kissinger of the Philippines because he had performed for President Marcos some diplomatic trouble-shooting which, he said, should place him on equal stature with U.S. State Secretary Henry Kissinger; but coffee shop wags in Manila have already dubbed him “Kokoysinger” or “the man who’s got cuckoo-y on his head.” Kokoy realized the difficulty of my assignment, but he thought that I just might be able to do it. I almost did. The mission flopped, not because of lack of goodwill on the part of the Pilipino exiles or of resourcefulness on my part, but because of the stupidity and penchant for duplicity of Kokoy himself.
My mission was discussed and cleared beforehand by Kokoy with President Marcos. coordination was then assigned to the man who was now so eager to talk to me on his night of June 16, 1975, by overseas telephone. I made sure myself , however, that it was really the President’s desire that I fly to the United States- As I did on October 21, 1974, to arrange a meeting between the Philippines’ bejeweled and extravagant First Lady and the Filipino exiles who constitute the overseas opposition to the martial regime in the Philippines. The first lady had persuaded her husband-President to allow her to go to New York to Inaugurate on November 14, 1974, the $8 million Philippine Center on Faith Avenue.
Of course, Leandro Quintana, business editor of the Philippines News, swears that the first Lady of the Philippines, aside from doing official chores for Marcos, had been observed by him strengthening her Israeli connections at the Carlyle Hotel in New York, specifically with an Israeli violinist. When I said my goodbyes to President Marcos on October 19, 1974, to undertake the “get Manglapus mission, ” the President gave me specific instructions on the line I should take in talking to the former senator. Marcos did not entertain any illusion, much less a desire, such as which Mrs. Marcos had, on the dismantling of the apparatus of overseas opposition to his dictatorial rule in the Philippines. He gave me the impression that he would as a matter of fact prefer to have a semblance of an opposition from abroad to the martial regime; also, he wanted a man of Manglapus’ stature to lead such a movement.
Marcos told me that the last emissary he had authorized to see Manglapus goofed. The emissary was retired Philippine Navy Commander Juan B. Magluyan, a townmate of Manglapus and former comrade in the guerilla movement during the Japanese Occupation. He instructed me to reiterate to Manglapus the message he had authorized Magluyan to convey: that Manglapus could concentrate on graft and corruption among top military commanders in attacking martial regime, and that he should also condemn the old society politicians for driving Marcos to declare martial law. I surmised that the objective of Marcos in seeking to convey a message to Manglapus was to make the former senator do what Marcos could not himself do: upbraid the military commanders on their deep involvement in graft and corruption under the matial regime.
At the same time, Marcos also wanted to prevent possible unification of domestic and overseas anti-martial law efforts by alienating Manglapus from the sidelined political leaders back home. After spelling out his instructions to me, Marcos advised me to return to Manila as soon as possible since the media Advisory Council has to be reorganized. I told him I had already drafted and and passed on to Presidential executive Assistant Jacobo C. Clave a decree replacing the MAC with two smaller censorship and licensing councils.
The decision to abolish MAC was made by Marcos on October 15, 1974, during conference which was attended by Bulletin Today publisher Hans Menzi, Secretary Tatad, and myself. The contact with the Filipino exiles, specifically elements comprising the “Movement For a Free Philippines, ” which is headed by former Senator Manglapus, was programmed principally for the First Lady. It was to have had certain sinister purposes which not even President Marcos figured out when he put his stamp of approval to the project; he did not even realize that the amount of government funds he had approved for the First Lady’s trip would be multiplied no less than ten times in an arm-twisting method that only an extravagant First Lady like Mrs. Marcos is capable of doing.
Firstly, the contact with Filipino Exiles was to be held out of Marcos himself by the female half of the ruling duumvirate in Manila that, every-where Imelda might be, whether she be in mainland China or continental America, she becomes an instant hit; her irresistible charms work on heretofore antagonists, opponents and biter critics of the conjugally-managed New Society in the Philippines. Secondly, it was going to be exploited later on as a death-blow to the overseas opposition to the martial regime in the Philippines. It was to be a ruse, the plan being to make it appear that the exiles led by Manglapus had sought the kind-hearted help of Imelda in seeking forgiveness for their anti-martial law activities in the United States.
As a matter of fact, during her stop-over in Honolulu on her way to New York, the First Lady read a statement that her dictator-husband was offering amnesty to all overseas Filipinos who feel they might have committed a crime or crimes against the New Society. It was a ridiculous offer because, as very student of law realizes, no citizen of a country, excepting those in the diplomatic service, can be held liable for any act he may have committed outside the territorial limits of his country even though it be a violation of his country’s laws. Thirdly, the “feat” of making the exiles “surrender” to Mrs. Marcos was also going to be beamed to President Gerald Ford in Order to compel a decision on his part to receive the First Lady at the White House, an expected happening that Imelda and Kokoy figured would complete the scenario that Imelda Romualdez-Marcos is a hit whether she be with Mao or Ford.
Kokoy was supposed to have started the groundwork for the White House “conquest” by Mrs. Marcos, having convinced his brother-in-law that he was the best man to do it in view of his ”strong connections” in the State department. However, when Kokoy received negative feedbacks on his efforts to make his sister crash into the White House, he decided that the First Lady should make a big show of contacting the dissident Filipino exiles. The “show” was expected to do the trick in the program to stampede Ford into receiving Imelda.
However, none of the tricks resorted to by the First Lady or her sock-less brother ever worked on Ford. But they never got bored being rejected by Ford. There apparently are several reasons for the failure of the continuous assault by the First Lady on Fords White House. One of them is that President Ford is not in Favor of lending the prestige of his office to totalitarian regimes, especially so in the case of countries which have enjoyed expensive experiments in democracy at the expense of American taxpayers and which experiments have been brought to naught by the whims and caprices of home-grown tyrants.
The other reason is said to be very personal; that the First Lady, following a cue from President Marcos, had snubbed Ford when he visited Manila some time ago as a minority leader in the House of Representatives; that was before Ford became an appointive U.S. Vice President and later as an appointive U.S. President. And then, Ford is said to be wary that a visit by Imelda would necessarily include a chat with Mrs. Betty Ford, an encounter that might contaminate Mrs. Ford with the ideas of Imelda on jet-set parties and expensive junkets abroad and on meddling in the affairs of state. All the varied details and ramifications of the deceitful plan to get the First Lady to hold a “reconciliation” conference with Manglapus and company, as well as other aspects of the image building project for the First Lady were matters I have had to discuss for over a one-month period, three times a day, over the transoceanic telephone with the man who now so urgently wants to establish telephone contact with me. The sound of anticipation from the man speaking at the other end of the line was discernible to me even 10, 000 miles away.
After all, I have said an irritated “hello, yes” as I answered the intermittent ringing of my room phone. I recalled that the man who now wants to talk to me was a man who was almost as thorough and as methodical as the President we both used to serve. I have had occasion to discuss with him over the transoceanic telephone in November, 1974, even such details of Mrs. Marcos’ trip involving the air transportation to New York of a battalion of security agents belonging to the President Security Command and how they should be shielded from the media people of New York. he would remind me over the phone that I should be meticulous in misleading the Manglapus group on the number of free-riding “Blue Ladies” and other government officials ordered to go to New York to provide the “crowds” which would “ adulate” Mrs. Marcos. always, the man would remain me that it was” the desire of the President” that Mrs. Marcos be made very happy in New York and persuaded to stay there a little longer, obviously to keep her off his back while the President undertook matters of outmost concern to his own personal well-being. This particular overseas phone caller and I were among a handful of the closest assistants of dictator-President Marcos.
We had direct, unrestricted access to the heavily-isolated dictator virtually 24 hours a day, although our entry into the Marcos corridor of power was paved in different ways. Although I was functioning strictly as a newspaperman, covering the political beat for the now defunct Manila chronicle, I worked closely beginning the year 1963 with then Senate Minority Leader Ferdinand E. Marcos on instructions of my publisher, the late Don Eugenio Lopez, Sr. the acknowledged “President-maker” in the Philippines in those days.
The reason was that, as a political writer, I successfully convinced Lopez that then Senator Marcos should be backed by the Lopez political-economic power in wresting the senate presidency in 1963 as he (Marcos) was the presidential timber “best-equipped” to dislodge the incumbent President, Macapagal, in the 1965 presidential elections. Marcos eventually won the presidency in 1965, and won reelection in 1969, but I stayed on in my job as a newspaperman with the Lopez empire.
When Marcos and Lopez broke up their alliance in 1972, I chose to side with Marcos, and was thus compelled to transfer to Marcos’ newly-established newspaper, the daily Express. Thus, even before the imposition of a dictatorial martial regime, I found myself closely collaborating with Marcos in New management under conditions of a still very free press in the Philippines. Upon the imposition of martial law on September 21, 1972, I assumed the role of a “media czar” for the regime with my election as President of the Malacanang—controlled National Press Club of the Philippines, my assumption of the position of chairman of the Media Advisory Council and my being held put personally by President Marcos as the sole conduit between the military government and the practicing media.
Considered a man “outside government, ” I performed various functions for President Marcos. I was generally accepted as an ex oficio member of the Marcos Cabinet, having access to all Cabinet meetings and even closed-door military briefings. While functioning as chief propagandist for Marcos, I also served as a “Devil’s Advocate, ” a role which I had taken to heart in my honest belief that the imposition of martial law in the Philippines was a temporary emergency measure “to save the Republic” from a Communist take-over. It was my pursuit of the “Devil’s Advocate” role, which Marcos himself assigned to me in view of my “non-official” status in the place, that eventually led to my disenchantment with the regime.
On a number of occasions, I have had to denounce corruption and abuses of leaders of the defense and military establishments, and somehow they managed to find out about my memoranda to President Marcos on these matters. Some military officers actually proposed that I be arrested and placed in the military stockade without prior notice to the President on changes that I was a former staff member of the defunct Manila Chronicle. However, the military establishment had it on good authority that I was highly thought of by President Marcos and, in their view, it was politics not to antagonize a man who had such an influential and powerful friend. To be sure, there were early attempts on the part of the military’s office for Civil Relations to bring me within the pale of its emergency jurisdiction over mass media.
I had invariably brushed off such attempts to make me clear my writings with the OCR with the statement that they have “ presidential clearance.” At that time, the military just didn’t know the role I was playing for the martial law regime. However, the OCR officers have heard about my easy access to the President. One day in December, 1972, Colonel Noe S. Andaya, OCR chief, felt called upon to summon me to the OCR office at Camp Aguinaldo. I did consent to see Andaya but only after I had “cleared” my trip with the President himself. Marcos asked one of his presidential assistants to monitor my trip to the OCR office.
It turned out that Andaya wanted me to explain a piece I had written in my column, “PM Views, ” which was critical of Senator Gerardo A. Roxas, president of the suspended opposition Liberal party. Andaya said it was “un-New Society” of me to have assailed Roxas in the manner that I did. I answered him that particular column was “ordered” by president Marcos himself. As a matter of fact, I told Andaya, a presidential assistant was waiting for a telephone call at the Palace from the OCR chief so that he could authenticate my claim on who ordered that the Roxas column be written the way it was published. Andaya did make the call and he got his answer.
Later, the presidential assistant told me that he added a few more words to this effect: “ it is the President’s desire that you do not waste the time of Tibo Mijares by asking him to explain to the military what stories the president had ordered him to write.” Andaya turned very apologetic later on. He stressed that it was not the desire of the ORC to question the orders of the commander-in chief of the armed forces. The good Colonel, who later on became a close personal friend, explained that the ORC merely wanted to do its job of policing media. I utilized my conference with Andaya to let him and the military know the nature of propaganda work that I was doing for Marcos.
Fortunately, I had with me at the time some of the handwritten directives of President Marcos on what columns I should write and what stories I should program for the Daily Express and the other newspaper allowed to publish. I had with me President Marcos’ own handwritten “story ideas” which I was supposed to stagger for the Christmas holidays of 1972-1973. At the time, Marcos was already preparing to cancel the scheduled plebiscite on the martial law Constitution (1973) and to call the first referendum among the Barangays. I showed the handwritten notes of the president to Andaya. After that conference, my stock with the military soared to new heights. Andaya could only plead with me that I “let-us in the OCR know once in a while” what major news stories I would be farming out on orders of the President “so that we can coordinate.”
Andaya added that really would know best how to develop the column and news story ideas dictated by the President. The military, and subsequently the entire nation, were to accept as a matter of course that anything that appeared under my by-line in the newspapers were the “thoughts of Marcos.” the truth was that there was hardly any column I had written which I cannot support with physical evidence of the handwritten directive of Marcos on how a particular column should be written. Most of the pieces I had written as news stories or columns about how excellent were the thoughts, acts and deeds of Marcos were actually dictated by Marcos to me.
I was, therefore, not a free agent when I wrote about the “thoughts of Marcos” in my columns in the daily Express publications. My column was more generally accepted as “President Marcos Views” and not as “Primitivo Mijares’ views.” When Information Secretary Tatad suspended newspaper columns in April, 1973, the President ordered Tatad in writing the following day to reinstate “PM Views” immediately. I started entertaining second thoughts about my support and propaganda work for Marcos towards the end of the year 1973. it is difficult to pinpoint the exact point in time when I did. But it must have been right after December 30, 1973, which was the day Marcos’ second and last term in office under the 1935 Constitution ended.
At about that point in time, I began to realize that Marcos imposed martial law, not to save the country from a Communist rebellion and to reform society, but to hold on to the presidency for life-and as a dictator. I decided then that I would have to eventually jump Marcos’ ship. However, I felt that I could not dissociate myself quietly from the Marcos regime. I somehow to make public my rebellion against Marcos’ plan to become the Philippine ruler for life.
The Filipino people never gave Marcos a mandate to rule for life when they elected him to the presidency in 1965. I wanted to perpetuate into the records of history the machinations of a man dead-set on becoming a dictator in his own country. When I felt I was ready to defect from the Marcos regime, I contacted a worthy ally, former Evening News man Cris D. Kabasares and asked him to tell Alex A. Esclamado, editor publisher of the Philippine News, about my plans. Cris wrote under his by-line the story of my defection on February 20, 1975.
I was not expecting any telephone call that late night of June 16, 1975, as I have already parted company with Proculo Rodriguez, Jr. who had accompanied me earlier in the evening for dinner at the residence of a friend, Betty S. Torres, at silver Spring in Maryland. The only man who could conceivably call me at that late hour was Cristobal Manalo, former legal counselor at the Philippines embassy “fired” by Marcos in September, 1972, because he was an “Iglesia ni Kristo” member. However, he could not have known where I was billeted at the time.
I must confess though that, during the almost four months preceding this trip of mine to Washington, D.C. I have stood most of the time in morbid fear that a telephone call such as the one I am now called upon to receive might just intrude into my life. I was irritated that a phone call would somehow interrupt me at the time of my study of a speech, the preparation for which has just been as long as the fear I have entertained that kind of telephone call might come. For the phone call turned out precisely to be about that speech I was studying in my room at the Mid-Town Motor Inn in Washington, D.C. the phone call came at that point in time when, while reviewing my speech, I was recollecting the circumstances of an earlier visit to Washington, D.C. and comparing them with the reason for my current trip.
Somehow I could establish a link. Tha fare I used for my flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. was the unused return portion of my plane ticket which was issued to me in Manila when I left the Philippines on October 21, 1974, to pursue my mission for the First Lady. I recalled that it was the First Lady who ordered me to fly to Washington, D.C. from New York on the night of November 18, 1974, to help out in “rescue” operations for Ambassador Eduardo Romualdez who was then being held hostage by Lechoco inside the chancery. Having been informed earlier that Lechoco was a former newsman, Mrs. Marcos decided that I should rush to Washington, D.C. and try to establish a dialogue with the ambassador’s captor.
It seems that Kokoy had flown earlier from New York had called up the first Lady that he had been unsuccessful thus far in establishing any contact with “Nap.” Marita Manuel, a staff writer of the daily Express assigned to the press corps of the First Lady, contacted me at the Hotel Roosevelt suite of National Media Director Gregorio S. Cendana where members of the support groups for the First Lady’s New York Trip then had converged on hearing about the siege in the Philippine embassy in Washington, D.C. but before I boarded the 9 p.m. commuter flight of the eastern Airlines out of La Guardia airport, I took time out to place an overseas call to the man who, on this night of June 16, 1975, wanted to talk to me by overseas phone.
I told him briefly about the siege at the Philippine embassy, and then warned him that the First Lady’s mind was being poisoned by some courtesans to the effect that “Nap” Lechoco was his protégé, and that, as a matter of fact, Mrs. Marcos had asked me for his home phone number at New Manila in Quezon City, presumably to give him a call and initially mark him for the needed immolation for the predicament that had befallen her cousin, the ambassador. Thus, when the First Lady’s call came through to the house of this man, he was ready with a believable reason that obviously saved him from premature political damnation by the conjugal dictatorship in the Philippines.
These things flashed so fast in my mind, even as I held my mid-Town Motel Room phone receiver and heard the Manila overseas operator courteously cut off the caller from the Manila end: “Just a moment, Mr. Secretary… Sir, this is an overseas call from Secretary De Vega. Are you Mr. Mijares? I answered hesitantly, but managed to say, “Yes, this is he.” Then I heard another familiar voice, which I can identify anytime anywhere as that of Agent Arturo Boquiren, of President Marcos’ Study Room communication cubicle, stating: “Doc, na’andito na si Mr. Mijares… hold the line, sir.” My overseas conversation with Presidential Assistant Guillermo C. De Vega and his principal was reported to the outside world in the widely-syndicated column, “Washington Merry Go-Round, ” of Jack Anderson and Les Whitten, on July 2, 1975, thus:
“MARCOS TRIED BRIBING WITNESS”
WASHINGTON- President Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines’ strongman, offered a witness a $50, 000 bribe the other day not to testify on Capitol Hill about corruption and tyranny in the Philippines. The witness, Marcos’ former press censor Primitivo Mijares, was prepared to tell the uncensored story of the Marcos regime to a House international relations subcommittee. ON THE EVE of his testimony, Mijares received a personal call from Marcos in Manila urging him not to testify. Then an aide got on the phone and offered him the $50, 000. the money actually was deposited in a San Francisco branch of Lloyds Bank of California in the names of Primitivo Mijares and Ambassador Trinidad Alconcel, the Philippines consul general. Thus Mijares couldn’t withdraw the $50, 000 until the consul general counter signed the check. Mijares not only went a head with his testimony but informed Chairman Don Fraser, D-Minn.., of the bribe attempt. Fraser’s office notified the justice Department, which is investigating.
WE HAVE confirmed that $50, 000 was deposited in the names of both Mijares and Alconcel in saving account No. 0662-46062 at Lloyds Bank of California. The bank’s records show that Alconcel removed Mijares’ name from the joint account on june 18, the day after Mijares account, he simply became disgusted with Marcos and sought asylum in the United States. An approach was made in May to persuade him to come home. A colonel in Marcos’presidential guard, Romeo Ochoco, looked up Mijares in San Francisco. OVER COFFEE and doughnuts in a 24-hour restaurant, they talked about a book that Mijares is writing about the Marcos dictatorship. He plans to call it “The Conjugal dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda.”
The colonel was soothing. “He said Marcos would talk to me about my complaints, “ recalled Mijares. But the former press censor felt he knew Marcos too well to trust him. The colonel’s visit was followed by a series of telephone calls from Ambassador Alconcel, who had heard that Mijares would be a star witness at freser’s hearings on U.S. Philippines problems.
The consul general tried to persuade Mijares not to testify and, when Mijares refused, to “pull the punches.” In return, the former censor was promised that Manila would “help” him. HE FLEW TO Washington, nevertheless, to testify and checked into a downtown Washington motel. Not long afterward, on June 16, he received a call from Manila. It was Marcos, “Mijares told us. “He started out by calling me by my nickname, “Tibo” He asked me not to testify, because of what it would do to his ‘new society’
“I told him it would be difficult to back out since I was already under the committees’ jurisdiction. He told me his assistant would tell me something, that they had something for me.” Then Presidential aide Guillermo de Vega got on the line, according to Mijares, and began speaking in a mixture of Tagalog and Spanish to confuse possible wiretappers. The aide said $50, 000 would be awaiting Mijares in San Francisco if he didn’t testify.
But if he went a head with his testimony, warned the aide, it would be a “declaration of war.” Mijares Held firm. Two hours before he was scheduled to take the stand, he received a call from Alconcel imploring him not to testify and reiterating that the money would be on hand in San Francisco. But the onetime censor, having renounced his former way of life, took the witness chair and testified in detail about vote fraud, corporate theft, payoffs, illegal jailings and general corruption.
Mijares laid all these crimes right at the door of Marcos, his family and cronies. Nor did Mijares spare himself in his testimony. Now he is trying to convince U.S. immigration authorities that there is a place in the United States for a newspaperman on the run from totalitarianism. In compliance with a suggestion from John M. Salzberg, staff consultant to the House Committee on International Relations, I prepared an affidavit detailing the circumstances of the bribe offer and submitted it to the committee.
6. Lechoco, a native of Masbate, Philippines, entered the Philippine embassy and held the ambassador at gunpoint on Nov. 18, 1974, demanding the release by the martial regime in Manila of his son, Napoleon, Jr. he said that his son, who was been granted an immigrant visa by the U.S. government, was being deliberately blocked in his attempt to leave Manila in retaliation for the anti-martial law activities of the elder Lechoco in the U.S. The Martial regime capitulated to Lechoco, Sr. granting his demands in exchange for the release of Ambassador Romualdez unharmed. There was the general observation among Filipinos at home and abroad, however, that, if the envoy had not been a Romualdez, the martial regime would not have yielded so easily to the demands of Lechoco. The ambassador happened to be a first cousin of the first lady.
7. That at about eleven o’clock in the evening of June 16, 1975, EST, while I was reviewing my opening statement to be given to the Committee, I received an overseas telephone call from Manila. The person at the other end turned out to be my very good friend and former colleague at the Malacanang Palace, Presidential Assistant Guillermo De Vega. He told me he was calling from the study room President Marcos and that the President wanted to talk to me. Our telephone conversation, as far as I can recall, went on as follows, after the usual amenities: SECRETARY DE VEGA: “ Tibo, gusto kang makausap ni sir. Tibo, sir [meaning President Marcos] want to talk to you.) President Marcos: “Tibo, puede bang huwag ka nang sumipot sa komiteng’ yan? Alam mo, marami na tayong problema dito. Baka madagdagan mo pa. mabuti pa ay bumalik kana kaagad sa San Francisco.” (Tibo, would it possible for you not to appear before the committee? Your testifying my add more to our problems. It would better if you returned to San Francisco immediately.)
11. Executed on July 10, 1975, in San Francisco and verified by Bernard Bayloc, a notary public.
Mijares: “But sir, there is no way I can back out now. I have already placed myself under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee.” President Marcos: “here is Gimo (Secretary De Vega) and he has something to tell you.” (Then transferring the phone to Secretary De Vega.) Secretary DeVega: “Tibo, bumatsi kana diyan and training will arrange for you ‘cinquenta’ in San Francisco.” (Tibo, I suggest you get out of that place right now and return immediately to San Francisco where Ambassador Trinidad Alconcel will arrange ‘Fifty’ for you.) Mijares: “Mogs, (a nickname I use in addressing Secretary De Vega) hindi na puede. Nasabi ko na sa komite na nandito na ako sa Washington. I have to testify.” ( Secretary De Vega, it is impossible now to withdraw. I have already informed the Committee that I am now in Washington, .C.) Secretary De Vega: “Iyong figure ay libo. (the figure are thousands.) and you will get another Fifty (meaning Fifty Thousand Dollars) when you leave the United States.
Since you may not want to come home to Manila, you may want to go to Australia to be with your sister. We will send you another Fifty upon your arrival there.” Mijares: Samalat na lang, Mogs. Pero, hindi kita puedeng mapagbigyan. (Thank you anyway, Secretary De Vega, but I can not accede to your suggestion.) Secretary De Vega: “I will not accept your negative answer now. Pag-aralan mong mabuti iyan, Tibo. (Consider this proposal carefully.) you know very well that, if you testify that would mean a Declaration of War on your part against us here.” Mijares: “I realize that, and you can be sure I will act accordingly. Goodbye, Doc.” Secretary De Vega: “Sigue na, Tibo. (All right, Tibo.) Take care of your self. Trining (Ambassador Trinidad Alconcel) will contact you.” 8.
That, at about 8:45 A.M. EST of Tuesday, June 17, 1975 (5:45 A.M. San Francisco time), the day of my scheduled testimony before Congressman Fraser’s Committee, I received a long distance call from Ambassador Trinidad Alconcel from San Francisco. Alconcel, in so many words, made me understand that he had received instructions from President Marcos to give me Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50, 000.00) which he has been authorized to draw from the Philippine National Bank Agency in San Francisco. Presuming that I would no longer testify before the Committee, Alconcel asked me to take the first available plane to San Francisco so that he could deliver the money to me. I told him that I could not change my plans anymore, even if I wanted to. However, he insisted that he was going to the Philippines National Bank the first hour that morning to arrange everything. Then he hung up.
In dangling the $50, 000.00 for my non-testimony and another $50, 000.00 for my departure from the United States, President Marcos was obviously quite sure that he was making me an offer I would hardly be able to refuse. Yes, every man has his price. I have just been offered mine, and the dictatorial regime that goes by the false façade of sponsor of a new society in the Philippines could sit serene, insured for the price of $100, 000.00 against a damaging expose by an insider in a forum where the New Society would get hurt most.
Either by oversight or some providential happening, the martial regime of Marcos miscalculated; it failed to reckon with that little possibility that I might also be influenced by the high fallutin’ principle that there are things in this life which are more precious than gold, like the duty and obligation I owe to myself, my family, my profession, my country and its history. Dictator Marcos was so sure. He had been assured by his consul general in San Francisco.
Alconcel, that I have softened and ripened for a bribe four months after my dramatic defection from the Philippine Government. Alconcel had surreptitiously interviewed my close confidants in San Francisco, among them being Lino Sarmiento and Crisostomo D. Ibarra, and he had gathered the valuable information that I was now living in a state of utter penury, unable to meet my obligations, let alone my requirements for my daily bread. The reports that have reached Marcos in Manila through Alconcel were correct in a certain sense. And so, they thought, I was ripe for the picking. My situation was, however, more in the nature of being impecunious.
Having operated as a man and as a leader of men on terms so unconscionable by any yardstick, Marcos obviously overlooked the possibility that any man, even I, could harken to the voice of conscience-as I did. One such voice of that I will always treasure in my life is that of Antonio Garcia, a colleague In the newspaper game in the days before martial law and now information officer of the movement for a free Philippines. When I bade Tony goodbye on June 15, 1975, as I prepared to fly from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. he gave me a most valued pep talk, thus: “Padre, you have an appointment with history; our suffering country men will emblazon in bold letters their gratitude to you for what you will do in Washington, D.C.”
12.Garcia was delegated by Manglapus In early November, 1974, to hold talks with me in New York on my proposal for a meeting between MFP leaders and Mrs. Marcos. with advise from Hermie Rotea, who knew how I operated in Manila as a newsman, Garcia opposed the proposed conference between Mrs. Marcos and Manglapus, behind closed-doors; he demanded that it be held in public. Kokoy rejected the proposal that the conference be opened to the U.S. news media. I had already made a choice-even before such choice was ever presented to me in concrete and tempting terms by that overseas phone call from President Marcos.
I restated this choice-or decision-almost a month before my scheduled testimony before two persons who would fully appreciate such a decision on my part. They were D.H. Soriano and Juan A. Perez, chairman of the board and publisher, respectively, of the Daily Express for which I worked as a reporter-columnist from March 1972, until my defection in the United States. “D.H.” and “Johnny” had sought me out in late May in San Francisco on their own, having come in from New York where they negotiated certain contracts for the daily Express.
They were not about to negotiate with me to go home; rather, they wanted to satisfy themselves that a personal friend, their ace reporter, was at least in good shape and knew what he was doing. As a matter of fact, D.H. and Johnny made it plain that they would respect my wishes to be left alone-if didn’t want to meet them at all-when they requested that I be put in touch with them by Ms. Lourdes Poblete, widow of the late newsman Augusto Poblete, who is now employed as a family health worker by the city and country of San Francisco. Over cups of coffee at Naper Tandy’s of the Hyatt Hotel on Union Square, I assured them that I am still able to keep body and soul together. “Would it not be better if you abandoned what you are doing now and come to terms with the President? I am sure the old man would welcome you back.” Johnny suggested.
I answered D.H. and Johnny in the language we three fully understood as newspapermen. I happen to have a “scoop, ” I said, “a big story.” I then posed the question to my two former colleagues in the Philippines: if you, as newspapermen, have an exclusive story of wide public interest, would you sit on it as you are now advising me to do in this case? I really got the newspapermen in D.H. and Johnny. They looked at me with just one question on their faces. What do you mean? Tibo? And so I reminded them of things they themselves knew very well, about my relationship with President Marcos and the female half of the ruling duumvirate in the Philippines.
Of course, D.H. and Johnny both knew this more than anybody else. They knew that, as a reporter-columnist of the Daily Express, I had devoted more time to serving the President as a propagandist and press censor than in actually earning my pay in the newspaper. Although there were different managements, I knew serving the interests of one entity anyway; President Marcos owns the Daily Express. Both D.H. and Johnny knew that I was “that close”to the first family; I could enter his inner sanctum at anytime, expect when he was doing very personal things.
The Philippine News 13 put it more succinctly this way in reporting on my defection: Mijares is the only private newsman- as a matter of fact among the few persons- who could go in and out of the Palace Study room and talk to the President without having to go through frisking security agents. He does not have to have a prior appointment-as most people who want to see the President are required to submit to these days. As a matter of fact, Mijares displays a “blue pass” personally handwritten by Marcos requiring him to be with President from the time the first presidential caller comes in the morning until the dictator retires for his afternoon nap.
Mijares wanglad the hand-written “blue pass” because he has to consult the President on topics for his daily tri-lingual column, “PM Views, ” which had come to be known as “President Marcos’ Views.” It is widely known in Manila that Mijares became national Press Club President upon the suggestion of Marcos who wanted to keep an eye on the media people, most of whom the Philippine dictator had labeled as “subversives” or “enemies of the state” for their critical writings on his pre-martial law government. Marcos even strengthened Mijares’ hand by naming him the MAC chairman.
It was in his capacity as MAC chairman that Mijares once had to act as hatchet man for Marcos in investigating Arnold Zeitlin’s reporting on the rebellion of the Muslims in southern Philippines.
Both D.H. and Johnny knew the unique and special role I have had to perform for the conjugal dictatorship in Malacanang. Having fortunately walked the corridors of power in the official seat of the powerful duumvirate, I became privy and witness to the sinister manipulation of one man and his scheming wife during a dark hour in the tragic life of my country. This was a scoop, my exclusive story. I owe this story not only to myself as a newspaperman; I owe it to my suffering family which I have had to temporarily deny my fatherly love and attention in my pursuit of my rendezvous with history; I owe it to my country and its correct history.
I set my appointment with history when I defected from the dictatorial regime of Marcos on February 20, 1975. I feel I must continue to honor my commitment to history. I consider this a sacred duty, the performance of which should put my country’s history in its proper perspective in order that it can render its just and unflinching verdict on the power grab pulled by Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in the Philippine on September 21, 1972.
It was with this tone of conversation that I bade goodbye to D.H. and Johnny at Naper Tandy’s that afternoon.”what we
13. issue of Feb. 20-27, 1975, page 1.
Are really interested in finding out, ” reiterated D.H., “is that you are okey.” Take good care of yourself, Tibo, if I had a terrific story likes yours, and if I had the credentials to tell it as you have, I would certainly do just what you seem determined to do, ” Johnny declared in the true newspaperman’s way. “just make sure, Tibo, you don’t salsal your story.”
“Johnny, there is no need to salsal. My difficulty is how to confine everything I know in 500 printed pages, ” I quipped. For D.H. and Johnny, my task was simplified into a case of a newsman writing a “scoop.” However, for my friend and now suffering comrade, Antonio Garcia, my upcoming testimony before the Subcommittee on International Organizations, of the house Committee on International Relations, was my fateful appointment with history.
I prepared for that appointment with history. Earlier, Salzberg informed me that I would have 15 minutes to read a prepared statement before the committee, which is chaired by Rep. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.), when I testify on June 17, 1975, as the rest of the time would be utilized by the committee members to question witnesses. I realized that 15 minutes would be too short for me to be able to spell out the lurid details of the story of an evil man’s lifetime planning to become his country’s first dictator.
Would it be possible to submit a lengthy memorandum which I could submit to the committee as an integral part of my testimony? Fortunately, Salzberg answered that it would be perfectly all right. I then decided to look at my forthcoming testimony before the Fraser committee as an opportunity to make public an outline of the book I have promised myself upon defection that I would write for posterity, not as a money-making venture.
Questions are. Of course, being raised why I “jumped from the banig to the sahig. I have answered this by stating that what I am trying to do is to protect the integrity and patrimony of the country from the merciless plundering by Marcos and his gang. In civil law, the children have the right and obligation to take court action against their own parents to protect their legitime from being impaired by the improvident spending of their parents. It was in this spirit that I took the actions I did on February 20, 1975, and other occasions. I will persevere in this course
14. the literal meaning of this word in English is “masturbation.” However, as it has been developed as Filipino newsman’s lingo, it means overembellishment, or complete concoction, of a news story to make it appear plausible. 15. this is a take-off from a tagalong saying, which runs: Umalis sa banig at lumundag sa sahig. The figurative meaning is that one who was wallowing in luxury or something good abandoned it for worse or uncertain lot.
Of action. I spelled this out in my defection statement of February 20, to wit: History fated me to bear witness at very close range, and even champion, the imposition by President Marcos of Martial law in the Philippines on September 21, 1972, ostensibly to suppress an escalating Communist rebellion and to establish a New Society. As Malacanang reporter of the daily Express (which is owned by the Presidents family), I became among Dictator Marcos’ mere handful of trusted confidants at the onset of martial law.
As a media man, it then fell on my lot to support and justify the imposition of martial law; on my shoulders were entrusted an intensive and continuing campaign to bend the filipino’s mind toward accepting what the one-time defendant in a murder case for the cold-blooded shooting of a political rival of his father had decreed. I saw myself as nothing less than Hitler’s propaganda minister. Joseph Goebbels, with oft-times more powers and prerogatives than Marcos’own docile, self-serving and egotistical information secretary, Francisco S. Tatad.
But I needed no convincing about the justice of FM’s cause. Having covered Philippine congresses and Philippine Presidents from the proclamation of the Philippine independence on July 4, 1946, I could see that what we started out to do was in the right direction. With the spreading violence and upheavals in the old Philippine social and economic structure, martial law seemed the only way for the salvation of my poor and ravished country and people.
In a word, this patriotic task assigned to me by history, I did with all the honesty and sincerity of feeling I could muster. But now, also with equal, nay, even more honesty and sincerity, I find I must sever my bonds with the so-called New Society. The false façade is off; the mask that is the “smiling martial law” irreversibly shorn off the face of its author, and real appearance of what after all is a stern despotism is bared for all to see.
President Marcos has, wittingly or unwittingly, consciously or unconsciously, digressed and treasonably betrayed- with the full of and gleeful collaboration of top associates and relatives, mostly in-laws- the avowed objectives that we originally set out to do more than two years ago. By their rapacity and unbridled appetite for political and economic power, Marcos and his gang has transformed the terms “New Society” and “Bagong Lipunan” into “New Scandal” and “Bagong Likuman, ” respectively, to fit into a parodied term of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “Gulag Archipelago” into a dreaded version of a Philippines’ “Gulangan Archipelago.”
In due time, I shall have the occasion to bare the gory and intimate details, as only a trusted (erstwhile) insider could have gleaned, of the notorious scandal going on in the Philippines that would make Watergate a drop in the bucket and President Nixon a piker placed side by side with Marcos. As an insider, I must cry out with all the vehement protest I could muster that the martial regime of Marcos was nothing but an ill-disguised plot to perpetuate himself, his wife and/or son in power by consolidating the political and economic resources of the country under his control.
What President Marcos is doing in the Philippines, it has now dawned on me, is in accordance with a long-studied, methodically prepared plan to take over an entire country politically and economically for himself, his family and his cronies, preparatory to setting up an empire, and for all this, Marcos has jailed innocent people, on fabricated charges, ranging from alleged economic opportunism to plotting his assassination. Incidentally, I know for a fact, as I have gleaned from investigative reports to which I have gained access, that there is no iota of evidence about the Mafia having goofed eight times in having Marcos killed; much less is there any evidence that would link anybody now in military custody to any attempt on the life of the President. I shall be dealing on these points in the coming weeks, and with other matters involving the manipulation of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Convention, all to suit Dictator Marcos’ objectives.
Since the moment of my decision to severe ties with Marcos comes on the eve of the holding of a multi-million peso farcical affair blatantly purveyed as the Philippine referendum, I must dwell on this point immediately. The referendum is going to be a farce; the results are a foregone conclusion. Not even all the patriotism and honesty of Commision on Elections Chairman Leonardo B. Perez can stop the gang of Marcos from reporting that the people voted overwhelmingly for the continuation of the martial law administration. I know whereof I speak. I was one of the few persons who fabricated the results of the referenda held in January, 1973, and in June-July, 1973.
Having made my decision to disengage from, and eventually expose the ills of the Marcos military dictatorship, I must, at the same time, beg forgiveness of some good men within the Philippine Government for whom I have nothing but admiration and goodwill. I wish they would take some risks in the interest of the return of democracy in the Philippines- as with this step I now make. This step I now take, knowing that it transcends all personal and official consideration, risking as I now do even the very lives of my wife and children in the Philippines. With this step, I must abandon my country temporarily and seek asylum in the United States of America along with my associate, Atty. Crisostomo D. Ibarra. For must now cry out to articulate the anguished cries of sorrow and pain of the millions of oppressed and dispossessed Filipinos. Having lost their civil liberties at the onset of martial law, they are now in grave danger of losing their hard-earned patrimony in the hands of the rampaging Dictator Marcos and his gang.
I might have added- but found it unnecessary to state-that I was probably naïve to think that in the changed situation in the Philippines, as in the martial law situation, ideals would prevail, not realizing early enough that, as authoritarian regimes go, the rulling clique must perforce get the lion’s share of everything.
I have tried to explain fully the rationale, as well as my sorrow and regrets, for the present course of action I am taking in a document which I hope would reach my family and my countrymen in the Philippines some day, although I have doubts if most of them would ever understand my motives, considering that the martial regime’s propaganda machine had launched an over-kill campaign to destroy my image and credibility with what I know as “black propaganda.”to my mind, the point that should be grasped is not whether I am a good or bad man, but whether I tell the truth about the martial regime in the Philippines. Most of the things I have said-and now write about extensively-have been or are matters of public knowledge among the people of the Philippines. I am just here providing some heretofore unknown, but logically-acceptable links to fit things into the Marcos jig-saw puzzle of perfidy in my country.