A glimpse of martial law and a candid selfie of me

17

“It matters not how straight the gate,
How charge with punishment the scroll,
 I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”
– From Invictus by William Ernest Henley

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Every September 21 of every year, people remember the declaration of martial law. The thing that comes to mind almost automatically is the chain of human rights violations. The immediate conclusion of the victims and their families is the slogan “Never again!” They are then joined by a chorus of pretenders who condemn human rights violation and President Ferdinand Marcos in the process. Why pretenders? Because these people did nothing when human rights violations were epidemic during Martial law. They were silent. They were hiding in the silences of their homes. They were out of the country enjoying the luxuries of their second home. They were cooperators of the Marcos regime – many of them serving in government and many more were luxuriating in their businesses.

Many of them were instruments of the regime. But when the Marcos regime was terminated, they were the ones installed in positions of power and enjoying the luxuries and privileges of the new regime which was more corrupt than the demonized Marcos government.

Time changes
Has time changed? It has. But graft and corruption and human rights violations remain, even with greater force than during the time of Marcos. Add to that the inutility of the justice system, the uselessness of Congress of the Philippines, the decay of the executive branch, the scandal of the electoral processes, the complicity of mainstream media in singing praises to a discredited system, the infection of graft and corruption in the military and the police, the docility of our people rendered hopeless by a system that they could not understand.

Everyone wants accountability for human rights violation. Was Ferdinand Marcos accountable and responsible for those violations? Yes, only for reason of command responsibility. But Marcos is dead and his accountability and responsibility died with him. Who then should be held accountable for wanton human rights violation?

The persons accountable and responsible for human rights violation during martial law are still alive and kicking. They are their eminences – Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile during martial law, one time President of the Senate, Congress of the Philippines and now senator of the realm; and former president Fidel Ramos, then Chief of the Philippine Constabulary during Martial law.

Why Enrile? He implemented Martial law and he was the Martial law czar. He signed the ASSO – Arrest Search and Seizure Order – and he was the overseer of the Martial law prisons, “safe houses,” and detention centers. Ramos? He too was the overseer of the Constabulary prisons, “safe houses” and detention centers. Ramos managed the biggest detention center of the Philippine Constabulary – the Headquarters Philippine Constabulary Gymnasium (HPC) – and its allied prisons in Camp Crame.

So the festival of evil and corruption in this country continues. Everyone says we need a revolution. But everyone wants the other fellow to do it for him. So no effective and successful revolution takes place except in the mountain fastnesses of this country where the enemies of the rebels are lack of food, lack of shelter, lack of medicine and medical attendance, leeches, mosquitoes, snakes and what have you. Of course, you and I know, we all know, that waging a revolution in the mountains is insane. But this country is insane and another demonstration of insanity does not spell any difference.

So who is at fault that we are in this quagmire or slough of despond? Don’t look at our leaders. They are not the principal culprits. The fault is yours and mine why the country is like this. In the well-remembered lines in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

“The fault dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

On these premises, I keep on asking myself, what have I done to right the wrongs of the past and of the present? It is a nagging and pestiferous question. So I have this answer.

A candid selfie of me
After getting out of the Marcos political prisons during Martial law, I decided to do battle with the Marcos regime by joining the political opposition. In 1978; when Marcos challenged the opposition to participate in the first elections for the interim Parliament during Martial law, the Manila-led national opposition almost to a man decided to reject the challenge, except former Foreign Minister Salvador P. Lopez, former mayor Rama of Cebu City and this writer who opposed the decision. The theory of the old men of the opposition led by President Diosdado Macapagal was that to participate in the elections would legitimize Marcos.

With utmost respect to the oldies but with intense vehemence, I replied that the Philippines is not the USA, France and Britain where legitimacy means elections. In developing countries like the Philippines, possession of power is legitimacy. So I told them that if we do not wish to respond to the Marcos challenge, the only legitimate avenue for us would be to join the armed revolution. Everyone was silent; there were no takers.

So I finally told them that I would organize a regional political party in response to the Marcos challenge. I did by organizing the legendary Mindanao Alliance (MA). It was the first regional party to be organized in the Philippines with lawyer Firdausi “Seng” Abbas of Lanao as secretary general and lawyer Jesus Balicanta of Zamboanga City as regional chairman for Region 12.

As the Marcos regime was interested in the Opposition participation in the 1978 interim Parliamentary elections, Mindanao Alliance was featured prominently in the front pages of the martial law media. MA fielded candidates in four regions in Mindanao and MA blasted the Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) in Region X composed of the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur and Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Camiguin and the cities of Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Gingoog and Surigao; and in Region XI composed of the provinces of Davao, Cotabato del Norte, South Cotabato, Zamboanga del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.

The day before the filing of certificates of candidacy for the interim Parliamentary elections, Secretary Raquiza told me this: “You know, Bono, President Marcos is waiting for you to agree to run under the KBL in the coming elections. Why not run with us and you will top the winners in the region and even beat Pelaez. You have no money and no organization, how can you win?”

Diplomatically, I replied, “Tata, you are right about the things that you said except that it’s not just money and power that can make you win elections, if the elections are clean and honest. The ultimate judge is the people and I’ll take my chances with the people. Anyhow, Tata, thank the President for me for the offer.”

The rest is history. We clobbered our opponents in the Region. We won the election but we lost the proclamation. None of the MA winners in Region XI, which meant all MA candidates, was proclaimed. In the case of Region X, eight of the nine MA candidates won; Vice-President Emmanuel Pelaez was the lone KBL survivor in the MA avalanche. But there was a strange twist in the case of Region X. Marcos, probably curious about the turn of events in the region, President Marcos called Vice President Pelaez and Secretary Antonio “Tony” Raquiza to a meeting in Malacanang.

There, as related by Raquiza, the following conversation took place:

PRESIDENT MARCOS (FM) asking PELAEZ: Manny, why did Canoy, Adaza and Geotina clobber your group in the Region?

PELAEZ: No, Mr. President, there were only two winners in their group in the Region and we have to proclaim both of them as without their proclamation, we will have trouble in the Region.

FM: Who?
PELAEZ: Canoy and Adaza.
FM: Proclaim Canoy but not Adaza.

You might ask this question: Why did Marcos order that I be not proclaimed but Canoy. Well, Marcos was a student of Sun Tzu’s the Art of War where the first rule in warfare is to know yourself and your enemy. Knowing that, you can wage a hundred battles and win all of them. In the words of The First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, I was one of the Opposition leaders whom Marcos studied seriously and when she came back from exile in Hawaii, she told me during the launching of Joe Lad Santos book, “You know Homobono, without your mouth in Parliament we will still be in power today. My only consoling thought is that we are out of power and so are you.”

In the first local elections in 1980 during Martial law, I ran for Governor of Misamis Oriental and I was one of two opposition governors out of 73 governors in the whole country. Pelaez was the political kingpin in my province. I had no mayor, no local officials and fighting the machinery of the national government. Marcos delivered a speech against me in the capital of my province. The people of Misamis Oriental smashed the Marcos and Pelaez machinery by an astonishing majority of more than 20,000 votes.

As governor, I constructed more than 1,000 shallow and deep wells throughout the province which virtually erased gastro-enteritis and all other water related diseases in the area; built concrete bridges over streams, rivers and brooks which never saw bridges for more than a century; built kilometers of farm to market roads reaching the tips of the mountains, unseen before with all the governors before me; built schools all over my province; cleaned the provincial capitol and the surrounding park; streamlined government operations; quick and immediate response to calamities; re-oriented government officials and the people of my province on proper governance and correct human behavior, including love of country and care for their neighbors.

Most of all, in the process of reorientation, I told the people that partisan politics was over after the elections and whether they like it or not I am the Governor of Misamis Oriental, not just of my political party or any vested group. I disciplined my province with actual performance without having to kill anyone to prove my point. The people marched with me because they knew that I meant business and I knew how to do my job right.

Snap elections of 1986
Before the snap presidential elections of 1986, President Marcos talked to Secretary Raquiza and asked him this question: “Tony, how do you solve the problem like Adaza?”

Raquiza replied, “The man has no money. His car is an ordinary Toyota. He does not have a house in Manila. So you know the solution to the problem.”

Marcos, by way of reply, asked Raquiza, “Did you tell me that he is your friend?”

Raquiza answered, “Yes, Mr. President, he is like my son.”

President Marcos finally commented, “Tony, I am afraid, you don’t know the man.” Since Marcos studied his opponents and was a student of Sun Tzu, his judgment of me was bull’s eye.

After I got elected as governor, I had this interesting incident in the office of President Marcos where he tried to persuade me to join him on the argument that I should join him for the following reasons: that we both graduated from UP law; that we dreamed dreams for our people; that I was an ideologue and so was he; and after a pause, he said that we were two of kind. Of course, I did not join him despite the compliments because I valued my integrity and honor more than anything else.

Again, before the snap presidential election of 1984, Marcos and FL Imelda tried to persuade me to leave for the United States with my family and check in at the Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland, USA. I politely refused them. But a few days later, my friend MP Edelmiro Amante, who became a congressman and later Executive Secretary to President Ramos, told me that a group of businessmen wanted me to leave for the USA with my family for a consideration of no less than $50 MILLION. I also refused saying that if I did that I would die within 15 days because every morning when I look at myself at the mirror, I’d see a man with two horns and I could not just stand that.

When I was in the regular Parliament, I delivered speeches that were hated by the Marcos boys; led the impeachment charge against Marcos and the inquiry into the so-called Marcos loot; and I was the last man standing in Parliament disputing the figures in the Certificates of Canvas that Marcos won the elections.

With Cory Aquino as President, I was the first outsider to whom Cory offered a seat in the Supreme Court. I rejected it on the argument that it’s for old men but the real reason is that the Cory boys wanted to buy my silence with a seat in the Supreme Court. Cory pressed me to choose any position I wanted except the Cabinet but I just told her that I was not interested in a job and I just wanted her to succeed as President.

When Fidel V. Ramos became President I was told by Speaker Joe de Venecia and later Executive Secretary Amante that I could immediately be appointed to the vacant position of Chairman of the Comelec or Solicitor General which was to be vacated by lawyer Raul Goco who was on his way to becoming Ambassador to Switzerland. I did not accept any of these jobs. I hate any form of compromise, especially if it involves my integrity.

Why am I writing this? I just want to set the record straight for people who don’t know me and who ask what I have done for this country. On top of this, they better not ask me about my academic and non-academic records as a student from elementary to UP because they will just embarrass themselves with my reply.

I am not running for any office. I am not a movie star or a singer in a contest. I am not an advertiser for any product or a political campaigner for God knows who. I don’t give a damn whether people like me or not. I just want to do something for God and country. That is all there is to it. That’s why I write columns and books, to fulfill God’s will and design a country of my choice, not anybody’s, but mine. I just want to do what I think is best and what is right, and the rest of the world can go to Hell, if they want to.

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17 Comments

  1. Bono,I am glad you are still around to deliver punches that sting to this present dispensation full of hypocrites. I was in college when you delivered the impeachment speech against Marcos and watched with glee the reaction of the Marcos boys as they jumped in chorus demanding you quit the rubber stamped Batasang Pambansa.I followed your career since then because you are the lone opposition fighting the monolithic KBL. I have wondered what happen to you during the Cory years only to find out that you are one of the wanted men of her administration. Your commentary on the presidential bid of Duterte justified my belief that he is just one of them whom you fought in the Martial Law dictatorship.

  2. Thank you for this “selfie”, Mr. Adaza. Now that I know more a bit about you, I can read your articles with a lot more context, and understand where you are coming from.
    For awhile, I thought “here is another dreamer”. It is good to know that you were an active part of the anti-Marcos Opposition. I just wish or hope that there are still some politicians out there with the same sort of integrity and character (in her own way, Rep. Leni Robredo seems to be one). Sometimes I feel like Diogenes with his lamp looking for an honest man in Ancient Athens. When I read about all these corrupt plunderers and oligarchs, I can only lament and feel sorrow for our beloved country. Indeed, we need an electoral revolution!.

  3. Bonifacio Claudio on

    My take is that the Marcos Martial Law was declared to save the democratic republic from communist initiated armed rebellion; hence, human rights were SUSPENDED to effectively defeat the various rebel factions in cahoot with the NPA. So you & the Yellow people have your glory restoring the “status quo” before the declaration of Martial Law & The New Society. That “status quo” you equate as “democracy”. Look around you, please lang, and search your conscience if the benefits of your “status quo democracy” trickled down to the majority, like me, kumain-dili as the purported raison d’être of the Yellow Ribbon on your lapels. This new republic of your “status quo democracy” is actually MUD and all the Yellow gov’t & elites who wallow in it are pigs; and these pigs made the kumain-dili to slid down to the abyss of hunger, misery & hopelessness. THE EVIL THAT MEN DO LIVES AFTER THEM , THE GOOD IS OFT INTERRED WITH THEIR BONES… Marcos was no saint, but he was BENEVOLENT !!!

  4. You are a unique breed, Mr. Adaza. You’re admirable, whether you like it or not. May your tribe thrive. (I think a younger brother of yours was a classmate of mine in some of the pre-law subjects at MAQU).

  5. I feel your pain Mr. Bono., but let it be said and shall be recorded in the hearts and minds of our people and in the history of our political evolution that your leadership, compassion, honesty, integrity and your dedication to serve the meek, the unfortunate, and the mentally disabled so that they “can breathe a little easier” shall resonate throughout the generations to come. In my book of heroes and patriots, you are closer to the stature of Mahatma Ghandi in terms of character, mental and intellectual fortitude. There is but one aspect of Ghandi’s life that changed the history of India which is not too late for a man of your stature to follow. In addition, I share with you Ghengis Khan’s wisdom when he united nomad tribes in north Asia – “What happens tomorrow will happen what is bound to happen and also said that an action committed in anger is an action doomed to failure.” I thank you for “selfie” and it gives me hope that one day, one of our student leaders will keep the flame of your ideals eternally burning all over the archipelago. Whatever you do my brother is guided by God and is already written in the heavens. I humbly thank you again for your service. May God bless you always!

  6. “…I was the last man standing in Parliament disputing the figures in the Certificates of Canvas that Marcos won the elections.? Quote

    I affirm what Bono penned in today’s op-ed column. I was there in BP Hall. If I may add, he is courageous, brilliant, and humble. Of course, he is bar topnotcher too.

  7. Venerando Desales on

    In parallel with your article, the National Transformation Council (NTC) should, likewise, join the 2016 elections even if the COMELEC Chairman himself could not guarantee that there will be clean and honest elections. The condition nowadays is reminiscent of the situation during the 1978 elections and 1986 snap elections, all designed to give an impression of legitimacy to the Marcos regime. The issue then was dictatorship resulting in human rights violations and economic hardships to the people. Now, the issue is also dictatorship by the administration paving its way to party dynasty with the same results, only in different form which is a culture of greed for those in position of power and shameless violations of all laws. Who knows if by Divine intervention the PCOS machines will honestly count votes? Or even if they rig the elections, there will be peaceful revolution again, I hope so, as there will be no victors in a bloody revolution. My point is that greed and thievery had penetrated our psyche that only divine intervention can cast away. Will someone exorcise the Philippines, please?

  8. Mario Jalandoni on

    Hi Bono. I have always admired your achievements. Thank you for listing them down chronologically to remind others to do their share in nation building. Congratulations and with my highest respect for you.

  9. What you think is best and right is on your own skull only. You can go to toilet while the rest of the world will go on revolving while you’re squatting in your toilet throne. A man who thinks he is right and the rest of the world is wrong is not a man but a worm with out brain but tails in both ends. Despise by women.

    • Excuse me, but what is your point? Based on his “selfie”, Mr. Adaza is the last person to be a hermit while “the rest of the world go on revolving”. I suggest you re-read the article. Something must have passed you by!

  10. Looking back now from the Martial Law years, how would you describe the wisdom, if there is, about the imposition of Martial Law of President Marcos and his New Society. As a visionary leader with a strong mind, what factors broke his iron hand to achieve his vision.

  11. Now we know what you did for the province of Misamis Oriental. Can you tell us what you did for the rest of the country?

  12. Concise and appropriate I dare say. May I just add my 2 cents worth, the reason why the filipino people are not very enthusiastic towards the Aquinos and their successors is that they never provided a better alternative to Martial law, after they came into power. Right now, when you talk to people below 35 years of age, they do not share the passion against the Martial law regime as say, people in the 36 to 50 years of age. Reason – no alternative and uplifting situation was provided by the “savers of democracy”. Na bantay salakay ang Pilipinas. President Cory and Noy, between the two of them, had 12 years of Presidential power and yet, we have the DAP/PDAF/Napoles scandals/Malampaya/Kamag anaks/ Kabarilan etc. Mass transit is BS; taxes are thru the roof (which is why people dont care about paying taxes) and we have a President Noy/successor Mar who does not show empathy to the people by lowering taxes, Abaya et al, has been entering confidential negotiated biddings instead of building bridges/roads/mass transport; A suspended PNP chief who ordered a botched assault/and did not send back up when things got too hot and demoralizing law enforcement everywhere/All of the Presidents men, except for Joel V, never charged for any PDAF case.