A personal manifesto

41

Since August of last year, I have been asked to guide the regular proceedings of the various assemblies of the National Transformation Council. The NTC, as everyone knows by now, is asking that President B. S. Aquino 3rd and his regime now step down and allow a caretaker council to take over, because of his obvious accountability for the Mamasapano massacre and so many other unpunished crimes against the Filipino people.

This has not sat well with some who, instead of arguing against the idea, attack those advocating it, not by accusing them of any crime, but by calling them names. They find it unthinkable that the idea of regime change and system change should be coming from those who had been part of past administrations, including one from the Arroyo administration and another from the Marcos years.

A great saint reminds us not to stop at every barking dog on the road. This is a wise counsel I will avoid for now, for the sake of those who may have completely forgotten our history and those who have not read it at all. Many of our errors arise not so much from malice as from ignorance. Whether in politics or in religion, this tends to be the case.

Reading to the nation Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law edict on Sept. 23, 1972 will forever remain part of my political history. But I will not apologize for it. The communists, who are still with us today, were on the rampage and threatening to take over the government; martial law was Marcos’ best response. Somebody had to read the proclamation, and it was my duty to read it. Was that my crime?


Martial law lasted eight years. Many abuses were committed by those in power, just like now. Was I one of those? Did I, during that period, or at any other time in my life, commit any kind of abuse or injustice, or even simply use strong, unparliamentary language, or raise my voice on anyone? Did I seek any special favors or contracts from government or any private party either for myself, my relatives or my friends? Or did I not work to free detained newspapermen and help them leave the country if they liked; lift press censorship and normalize the situation in the press as soon as possible; and put correct information at the service of the people? Did I not initiate the program that put public discipline back on the road, and delivered public assistance to those in need, to the point where housewives were asking me to personally tell their husbands not to be coming home so late?

How it all began
But let me start where I should.

I was born and grew up in the poorest town of Catanduanes. I went to school half-clad and barefoot, crossed seven mountains every weekend to attend third year high school in the next town, then took a boat to Manila without a ticket in search of a better life. I did every odd job to finish high school, and then wrote speeches for some congressmen to go to college.

In 1963, I left college and began my career as a wire service journalist. In 1966, I moved to the Manila Daily Bulletin and became a diplomatic reporter and columnist. In 1969, at age 29, I was invited to the Marcos Cabinet and became the world’s youngest Cabinet member.

I served as press secretary, presidential spokesman, speechwriter and secretary/minister of information to the most brilliant political leader of the time. Each of these jobs required at least one individual to be in charge of it, and yet I was alone. My friends called me Kit, but Marcos called me— always in the plural—Kits.

Martial law and a vote of confidence
In 1972, Marcos declared martial law “to defeat the communist insurgency and build a New Society.” The local press was immobilized, but a hostile international press took over, watching every word and move of government. One had to move with extreme caution, as though trapped in a minefield. And yet in 1975, I received an unexpected vote of confidence. In an international survey, TIME Magazine named me, together with Ninoy Aquino, one of the world’s rising young leaders—- “150 Faces of the Future.”

The 1978 interim Batasan elections followed. I was elected to the Batasan, as one of the 12 regional assemblymen for Bicol (Region V). I got the highest number of votes, despite the fact that I came from the smallest Bicol province, which accounted for not more than 5 percent of the total votes; and despite the fact that the old politicians on my ticket worked very hard to exclude me from the winning slate.

Breaking with Marcos
In 1980, I broke with Marcos on the issue of “dynastic politics and real change.” I left the Cabinet, while remaining in the Batasan, where I teamed up with Doy Laurel and the marginal opposition from Central Visayas. This was three years before the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, and six years before the EDSA revolt. I stood alone, without an army or a political party, but I decided to remain in the country, despite all suggestions that I join Ninoy and the “steak commandos” in the United States.

In 1987, after a political appearance in Washington, D.C., someone called to ask if I could talk to Marcos in Makiki. I agreed with no commitments. But as soon as I rang at his door, his aide ushered me in, saying, “Sir, the Minister who caused your fall is here.” I quickly protested the affront, but from inside the house, Marcos called out to say, “Kits, I heard that, but don’t take offense. I’ll explain.” And as soon as I walked in and we shook hands, he said, “You know, the consensus here is that if you did not leave the Cabinet, I would probably still be there.”

It was the best compliment I ever received from the man.

Opposing the Marcos amendments
At the Batasan, I opposed the constitutional amendments that would revert the flawed “parliamentary system” back to the old presidential and allow Marcos to run again for president. In the only public debate ever held anywhere before the plebiscite, I rallied the Bicolanos against the amendments. I ended being bodily carried by the audience above their heads at the end of the debate. Bicol became the only region to reject the amendments. But I was vilified later for putting up a candidate against Marcos; four years later I also lost my Batasan seat. In 1992 in Carson City, a Malacañang operative asked me for my forgiveness, saying he had been in charge of the operation against me in 1984, and that his instructions were, under no circumstance should I win.

Supporting Cory
Marcos called for a “snap presidential election” in 1986. I supported Cory Aquino against Doy Laurel as the opposition candidate. Doy ended as her teammate. I accompanied Cory on her first political sortie to Bicol, but quickly disengaged after she said she saw no need for a responsible campaign organization nor for a program of government. “The people are angry with Marcos, we don’t need anything else,” she said.

Greatly disappointed, I said I would just vote for her, but could not campaign for her anymore, since I would not know what to say about her proposed government. ButI joined the crowd at EDSA, cheered her oath-taking as revolutionary president at Club Filipino, and thanked her sister-in-law Lupita Aquino-Kashiwahara for suggesting that I go to Cojuangco Building in Makati “to ask for the Cabinet position of your choice.”

Later, the late Speaker Monching Mitra came to offer me, on Cory’s behalf, the post of Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. I thanked her, and him, but declined.

In 1986, Cory asked me to interview her on her TV program on her upcoming US state visit. In Washington, I watched the US Congress bloom with yellow roses on the lapels of its members and other national politicians as Cory addressed them from the podium.

Fundamental disagreements
But major political differences intervened. I found it unacceptable that the President who had come through “people power” had to handpick 48 men and women to write a new Constitution because she could not trust the people to choose their own delegates to write it. I also found it unacceptable that she had to dismantle the nation’s energy program and other useful projects simply because they were initiated by Marcos; and that she barred Marcos from coming home from Hawaii, where the Americans had dumped him, in order to answer for all the crimes he was supposed to have committed against the Filipinos.

With (now Senator) Juan Ponce Enrile, whom Cory had just sacked as her defense secretary, I campaigned against the ratification of the 1987 Constitution. Upon its approval, I joined the Grand Alliance for Democracy’s senatorial slate in the first disastrous election held under Cory.

Tear-gassed at EDSA
I was tear-gassed at EDSA while protesting its results, and had to air my grievance before a global forum in Washington, D.C. before Enrile was allowed to take the 24th winning senatorial slot. The only other GAD candidate allowed to win was the former movie actor and future president, Joseph Ejercito Estrada. All 22 other candidates, including the unbeatable Arturo Tolentino, simply lost.

The Senate record
I was finally elected to the Senate in 1992, reelected in 1995, as a pro-life and pro-family advocate, on a shoestring budget. I became and remained Senate majority leader through five changes in the Senate presidency, and earned the title “Moral Conscience of the Senate.”

Summing up
Here I have tried to show that I have served on both ships of state that sailed the seas during the Marcos and Cory Aquino years, and not a moment for personal profit.

I am no longer as unwashed and barefoot as on the day I left my hometown on the typhoon belt, but I have not become a man of wealth. Despite my having run the entire information machinery of government for ten long years, I do not own a single share in any newspaper, radio or TV station, or printing press. I own nothing beyond my basic needs; I have no material attachments.

I have not been implicated in any scandal in my public or private life.

I have never employed bodyguards and go anywhere unescorted, without fear of being attacked by anyone I had offended or failed to treat right. Once my car broke down on a mountain road in Quezon Province, and I had to ask for a lift from a family who could not believe seeing a crazy senator stranded alone in the forest.

Twice I met with Nur Misuari at the height of his power, before he made peace with the government. When he asked where was my security, I pointed to his troops. Likewise, I went up Camp Abubakar to talk to Haji Murad during the presidential campaign of 1998. When asked the same question, I pointed to a group of Muslim women who had come with me in a jeep.

I once trod the dark and reputedly dangerous labyrinthine streets of the Muslim ghetto near Quiapo under the littlest light to pay my final respects to an old Muslim friend who had died in the foreign service. When I got to the wake, they said to me, “You walked alone! You could’ve been shot!” “No, I never walk alone,” I said. “I always walk with my Guardian Angel and my God.”

A human person, first and last
This, for me, is the bottom line. I am first a man, a creature of God, before I am anything else. My whole being will be judged not on the basis of some ideological label, which I reject, but on the basis of what I have done or failed to do in the love and service of others. I have no enemy among men because I am no enemy to anyone. No one has done me any wrong I have not forgiven, nor am unable to forgive, and I long for the day when all of us can joyfully forgive one another in love and peace.

fstatad@gmail.com

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41 Comments

  1. I just want to ask Senator Tatad, is there a Constitutional basis for a Caretaker Government? While I’m not totally shutting my doors on a reboot, I’m not sure how the NTC would hold up when there is a clearly outlined line of succession.

  2. Cecilia Dimaculangan Maranan on

    isa po ako sa nagkapalad na nabigyan ng pagkakataong dumalo sa inyong una at ikalawang pagpupulong ng National Transformation Council, na inyong isinagawa dito sa Lungsod ng Lipa sa compound ng SFS Minor Seminary .
    Sinususugan ko po ang mga adhikain at layunin ng NTC sa pagsasagawa ng isang matapat makabayan at maka Kristiyanong gawain para sa kaunlaran ng ating bansa lalo na ang pagtangkilik sa kapakanan ng mga maralita at pagbibigay linaw sa mga katiwalian na ginagawa ng mga matataas na pinuno ng ating bansa , Salamat din po sa malasakit ninyo at sa lahat ng mga kaanib ng NTC tungo sa pagkaroon ng pagbabago ng liderato sa ating bansang Pilipinas. MABUHAY ANG NTC, PAGPALAIN TAYONG LAHAT NG PANGINOON

  3. lleuxquiocho on

    proud to be an Ilocano , and prouder to have gone against the grain during Marcos rule… even brought home pro-Cory election paraphernalia where i was ostracized… now, i’m at my proudest to say that my Cory fanaticism was a disillusion… but move on i did… hope we’ll be on the same boat again… thanks kit tatad!!!

  4. I may not be fully aware of what transpired during the rise of the yellow empire as I was in the brink of committing suicide then when my very first venture in etablishing my business practically collapsed in my face because of Ninoy’s assassination but I believe you 100%, why? Because one of your nephew is my very best friend since our teen age days. In fact when we’ve decided way back then to run our very own inbound travel agency I asked him to approach you for help, and what he told me then, I will never forget: Uncle Kit has no money, if ever we ask for financial assistance, if we ask him to to use his influence to someone in the government, we are inviting trouble. Words of wisdom and probably great moral advise, anytime.

  5. Since Mr. Tatad wrote a personal manifesto, I hope Manila Times will not classify my post as ad hominem since it critiques what he wrote and omitted.

    Tatad claims that he was for Cory during the snap elections, but during the EDSA revolution itself, Tatad went on TV along with other Marcos loyalists (either channel 4 or 9) like Ronnie Nathanielz to support the Marcos regime (as rebels had cut off Malacanang). There is footage of that in the archives.

    Tatad has never stood against corruption of the Marcoses even as the PCGG with the help of the US, Switzerland and international banks had recovered $4B, with more to recover. He has never denounced the Marcoses for corruption.

    Tatad even supported Erap Estrada, standing in the way of opening evidence at the latter’s impeachment trial.

    Tatad claims that he has no need for bodyguards since he has no enemies. But the people remember, and they have refrained from voting him in again in government.

  6. Guillermo Hernandez on

    Eloy,

    Where have you been over the past four years…….looks like you have just arrived
    from Mars.

    This PCOS-elected Aquino makes Marcos look like a Boy Scout….Estrada a Cub
    Scout ….and GMA a Girl Scout…….single-handedly, he has :

    1. Trampled the Philippine Contitution through the BBL…EDCA…. DAP..etc
    2. Destroyed the entire electoral process through the PCOS…engineering the
    wholesale cheating in the 2010 and 2013 elections;
    3. Disrespected the Supreme Court ……and double standard of justice for his
    critics and political oppositionists;
    4. Absolutely corrupted Congress through blantant and open bribery of
    Congressmen and Senators…..effectively eliminating the check-and-balance
    balance between the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

    ” Economic advancement of the country ” ? ? ? ….. Why do 10,000,000 Filipinos
    have to earn their living outside the Philippines ? …… Why is the middle class almost
    none-existent ? …… Why in the number of poor people ever growing ? …..Why do we
    still import massive quantities of rice from neighbouring Asian countries ? ….Why?

    • eltee mulawin on

      >>> Simply because Filipino People of the Philippnes from the very first day campaigned of Cory to the present regime became MORE GOSSIPERS, GULLIBLE AND TSISMOSO AT TSISMOSA. AND THE PEOPLE HAD BEEN AN IDIOT. THEY ARE ALL TO BE BLAMED. THE LOVE TO HAVE A MESS IN THE GOVERNMENT.
      >>> it is not who and what kind of a president, senators, respresentatives have this country, BUT IT IS WHAT KIND OF ELCTORATE OR VOTERS AND WHAT KIND OF ELECTION CODE OR LAWS THIS COUNTRY HAVE?????

    • You are clueless of what you are talking about. To point out one that why still a lot of Filipinos working abroad. To answer you is why a lot of Americans, Chinese Europeans also worked outside their country. Citizens working outside their country are carrying their country and it shows how good Filipinos are. Poor??? In America theirs lot of poor/homeless people. Poor people are everywhere. Massive import of rice???Just remember the name “typhoon” why. Disrespect the supreme court??? Wooooo…to talked about them is part of democracy. They are not perfect and they should be reminded as part of freedom of speech. For, they reverse some of their decision. Example: Justice Corona..happy he was booted. The first time I heared election anomaly in 2010. Losers always claim it. Maybe you lose that time of election, just accept it and get over it.

  7. Samuel Santos on

    Perhaps should should have asked Greg Cendana to read the martial law proclamation then. I was told Greg would do anything to please you (and Macoy, of course) including wiping with his white handkerchief the chair you’d sit on.

  8. This de facto administration has been resorting to argumentum ad hominem, attacking the person of those who dare to speak against it instead of the substance of the arguments of its dissenters. Ad hominem is the weakest of all possible arguments.

    You say all financial institutions are double positive of the economic advancement of the country and that China-based foreign investments are moving out and into the country, where are those brick and mortar investments they are saying? We should have seen or felt them by now. That fact that we, those on the ground, have not seen them at all simply means, it is just wishful thinking.

  9. Robert A. Evora on

    why not come home, eloy, and find out if the economy is really growing in the philippines…once you come home, gaping problems of poverty and corruption will change your mind….

  10. Amnata Pundit on

    You are as onion-skinned as ever. There will always be detractors wherever you go and whatever you do, even in heaven. Just re-think your NTC stand, you are being used by hidden powers.

    • Amnata Pundit on

      You said you left Cory during the snap election because she had no program of government besides her hate Marcos campaign. Well, what is NTC’s program exactly?

  11. I learned my serious lessons in politics from Sen.Tatad having served his office as his first executive assistant and concurrent media relations officer; committee secretary; and finally, as director for political affairs. I had my contributions as well as my failures in working with him. I shared in many of his ideas but disagreed to in some. But all through this years I have kept my respect for him as he made me realized back then that there are certain things much more important than just my politics – foremost of which is God’s existence and God’s forgiving love not just for some for everyone.

  12. Claro Apolinar on

    I felt a lump in my throat when I was reading your personal manifesto, Sir Kit Tatad.

    Our dreams of a Philippines growing ecnomically and developing socially and educationally have not become a reality because there most Filipinos who were born to enjoy their inheritance from rich parents, and those Filipinos who make it locally with some exposure abroad, are so contented with their own LUCK wthut seeing that all the growth rate they read about in the media that mostly cooperate with the ruling elite tell the story told by the US and international media.
    Thy never demand INCLUSIVE growth and development from our government and business, banking and finance leaders.
    It’s also sad that most of the OCWs (now called FWs) and Filipino immigrants who have become permanent residents in the US are so self-directed that they agree completely with the way the foreigners look at us. They are happy enough that they can send their families back home some money. They don’t even realize that they money they send is not enough really because half of it is used by their children and wives foolishly.
    Other nationalilties are more sincerely concerned with improving their countries and the lives of their fellow citizens back home. Our foreign based Flipinos have become supporters of the elite who have homes both abroad and in the Philippines and want our economy to remain bleak and underdeveloped.
    Where permanent and refular employment continue to get worse but may show an upward trajectory because the workers are all CONTRACTUAL.
    God bless you. Sir Kit Tatad. I know you are a member of Opus Dei. May the teachings of St. Josemaria spread to those who control our economy and society. Unfortunately it hasn’t.

    • So true we, the country’s blood as they say, the workers or the laborers were like slaves here, we are being deprived of our rights through contractualization. Anyway, its amazing to see that there are some filipinos here who are still vigilant and remembers the history vividly.

    • Larry Ebersole on

      The development of a country does not rest solely from the people nor solely from the government. It is a tandem solution; as the people earn and save, the government should give the ways for the savings to be utilized for development of the countries economy and the interest of the on who is putting the savings. How do you think the vast of money sent in by the OFW be put into savings when there is no attractive place to invest it. therefore better to spend it lavishly on yourself and your family rather than saving it and only the oligarch like banks and the moneyed using it

  13. Guillermo Hernadez on

    Kit,

    Please be our next President ……the country badly needs a man of your character to lead this country.

    Gullermo

    • Sir kits, I second Mr GH motion, You’re the man! Your stature, intellect, passion and sincerity put you head and shoulders above anybody else who are president wannabees.

  14. I may not agree with you all the time Sen. Tatad, but you are consistent with your opinions, beliefs and principles. You are a patriot and one of the best minds this country have. God bless you Senator K. Tatad!

  15. congratulations, sen. tatad. i think you are one of very few who did not enrich in government service. senator, dito sa amin sa leyte, ang daming politicians na naging multi millionaires within a span of 6 to 9 years. i think you know them, senator tatad. thanks for your article.

  16. Well done, Sir Kit Tatad. A very humble and unselfish person. We hope you will be one of the cabinet secretary of presidential hopeful Mayor Rodrigo Duterte one day soon, God willing!

  17. Bill San Ramon on

    Your humble life story is similar to my life story. I love it. I grow up the same place you grow up. Born in the poorest Barrio and poorest town. Walked half- clad and barefoot, climb every mountain for four years just to finish high school and took a boat to Manila, worked hard at any available job until finished college and take a plane for the United States and never return until I am financially stable.

  18. Justaskingseriously on

    A great big AMEN!!! And prayers that Filipinos like you will thrive and multiply to put a halt to the crazy VICIOUS CYCLE in Philippine governance.

    Through your journalistic talent, I have come to grasp the enormity of the challenges the Philippines must overcome.

    Thank you, Kits, very very much.

  19. ELIODORO M. PONIO on

    Dear Mr. Senator:

    I do not care what few people call you. As far as my family and I are concerned you contributed much to the welfare and interest of our country. I do regret II supported you when you run for the Senate. You are one of the best, if not the best, senators our country has ever had.

    Pagkatapos ko pong binasa ang headline, punta na ako sa “Opinions” at ang inyong column ang una kong binabasa.

    My family and I will always pray for your good health and safety. God is good – He will always protect a good man. Continue the good work, Mr. Senator.

    Bro. Eli Ponio

  20. Alejo Rosete on

    Thank you Kit!
    Now I know who is Senator Francisco (Kit) Tatad.

    I read all your columns/comments and admire / love it.

    Thank you Kit for telling us the truth what is
    happening in our country today.

  21. Rodolfo Mojica on

    Mabuhay po kayo Senator Kit!! Sana po ay ipagpatuloy nyo ang malayang pagpapahayag upang maging well informed ang mga kababayan natin.Lagi ko pong inaabangan ang inyong column dito sa ManilaTimes.

  22. Sana makita ng dios ang lahat ng kabutihan mo at ibigay pa ang katalinuhan kailangan at lakas,upang bago dumating ang panahon,makita mo ang tunay na daan papunta sa kanya!

  23. sonny dela cruz on

    You should say sorry for working for Marcos but say just for a job to make a living for your family and you will be forgiven. Thanks for being HONEST.

    • John Miranda on

      Cory dismantle the energy program and useful projects of Marcos, that makes Cory worse than a thief. Kit should be sorry for supporting Cory.

  24. You’re the man Sir Kit! Thank you for sharing with us some highlights of your life story. We could now readily decipher and relate to the message you convey everytime you write your column. Your balanced approach in tackling issues on moral, ethical and spiritual dimension clearly manifests the points you just shared. More power to you sir Kits!

  25. P, Akialamiro on

    Contrary to what you claim as “not a man of wealth”, you are one of the “real” wealth for, to me, you are a Christian. . Truly, you are blessed and you are a model to all leaders. I could just imagine the progress, material and otherwise, to the Philippines, if only others managed to emulate you.

    Your personal manifesto is a bit late for me to read, but I am glad to know more about you. As a struggling Christian, I admire you.

  26. Enrico Ike Tuvera on

    I quote from your article:” I found it unacceptable that the President who had come through “people power” had to handpick 48 men and women to write a new Constitution…” Isn’t NTC doing the same thing now, handpicking members of a caretaker council to take over the government upon Aquino’s resignation? Why is it unacceptable to you if one puts aside democratic ideals but acceptable if the NTC does the same?

  27. It is just hate and feel very much left out politically, the way you are writing your commentary. I do not know why you are always presenting a picture to your readers(if you have any), that the Philippines is down to earth a failure. Here abroad(USA), all the financial institution are double positive of the economic advancement of the country. They even wrote that, because of the Chinese behavior, lots of company will withdraw their operation move it to the Philippines because of the upswing situation of the country. Your comments and plan of action to the country are so out of tune that those financial groups/investors will laugh at you for they have their own figure to contradict your comments. All the plans of your country are hopes to bring it all to failure which so sad. Please accept that politics in your part is over and your country is growing and the chances of all the corrupt former officials will never go back to the Philippine. You are just a bad part of the communist wanna be who lelt leftout. Accept it and feel good.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      It is not hate but pity for what is happening. One can go extremes just to express oneself in times of hope or hopelessness. We should not fault a man in expressing his thoughts unless we have proofs contrary. We are a free nation. God bless the Philippines.