Salvador Laurel, the president Filipinos should have had

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Emeterio Sd. Perez

Emeterio Sd. Perez

THE usual topics that appear in this space have to give way to a tribute, not to a businessman that would qualify this piece under Due Diligencer, but to a politician. The deviation is timely because today is the 11th death anniversary of Salvador H. Laurel. So much has already been written about him and his achievements as a senator and vice president of the Philippines I see no reason repeating them here.

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This piece has nothing to do with what most Filipinos already know about the man who would have been president had he not passed up the chance to lead the country. Instead, his love of country prevailed upon him when he put aside the rare opportunity to be elected president in favor of Corazon Aquino, who was only incidental to the historic People’s Power Revolution in February 1986.

Because this piece it not about the mother and her son, I am not writing anything about them. Like Benigno Aquino Jr., the late senator, Mrs. Aquino, the first woman president, has been overprotective of Hacienda Luisita that she chose the distribution of pieces of paper instead of farmlands to her family’s tenants, who, in effect, were made to shoulder part of the Cojuangcos’ debts. Like his parents, President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd would not touch the family jewel probably because he is one of the potential heirs to the property.

Rather, I am recalling here my brief—as a matter of fact very brief—encounter with Laurel, the president that Filipinos did not have and instead got a woman to lead them after a dictatorial regime that lasted more than two decades.

I could not remember the exact date when a co-worker at The Manila Chronicle and I met Laurel at the corridor of the Chronicle building owned by the Lopezes and where the late Don Eugenio Lopez used to hold office. The “ex-future” president and an editor of the paper were returning to the paper’s editorial office while my officemate and I were on our way to take our break.

After Laurel and Rodolfo Reyes, the paper’s editor, passed by us, I whispered to my officemate. “He is our next president.” That’s exactly what I said as I vividly remember it today.

But I did not know that the more memorable but very much familiar quote was forthcoming from Laurel. Acknowledging our presence, he looked back and said: “Thank you very much.” I translated this to mean he wished my wish would be realized someday.

This very brief encounter with Laurel happened sometime in 1972. As history had recorded, he did not make it to the presidency, one of the reasons, perhaps was Marcos’ proclamation of martial law on Sept. 2, 1972 to extend his rule.

Then came the snap election on Feb. 7, 1986. Laurel, the leader of the opposition against Marcos, was in the news as the potential standard bearer of United Nationalist Democratic Organization, a new political party that he organized and which helped topple the Marcos rule. I told myself my “prediction” that he would become president was about to be fulfilled.

If martial law frustrated my wish for a Laurel presidency, then his gentlemanliness to give way to a woman virtually killed my “he-is-our-next president” prophecy. When he agreed to run as a woman’s running mate for the sake of the country and the unity of the opposition, I presumed he chose nationalism above everything else.

The rest is now part of history and let history judge the direction the Philippines took under Aquino the mother presidency from 1986 to 1992 and how she mistreated Laurel by refusing to abide by their agreement to equally divide her six-year term between them. Her reign, which was good only for the members of the yellowish tribe, resumed after 18 years, this time under the six-year presidency of Aquino the son that would end on June 30, 2016.

esdperez@gmail.com

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5 Comments

  1. Doymwas so trusting…and not a malicious sense in his bones…he loves his country and you all Filipino people…

  2. The author and I may have been around during those years, but wish to reiterate that the 1986 People Power Revolt did not represent the total population of the Philippines but merely 1% of the Filipinos led by minority rich Filipinos and a controversial Catholic Bishop Cardinal Sin whose personal agenda was not truly purported for a true democracy for all Filipinos. When Pres Marcos who became seriously with kidney failure, legally it was then Vice-Pres. Arturo M. Tolentino (author of UNCLOS ) should have been installed as President not Cory Aquino whose personal agenda was to hold unto Hacienda Luisita which is now more apparent that the son himself used the taxpayers money creating DAP to impeach CJ Corona who legally followed and award (CARP) the 6000 plus hectares that legally belongs to the poor farmers and GMA is imprisoned by this President for the same reason.

    • True! But history will be rewritten by coming generations who will scrutinize the Marcos era without fear and with much objectivity…

      but it impossible to happen in this generation because any comment to justify some of Marcos’ major political decisions would brand the person as a Marcos loyalist.

      The majority of media were former activists, student activists, or at least supportive of anti-Marcos government and unpopular voices are suppressed because they have demonized Marcos and his government.