AMIDST the ramblings of the President, making himself look like the only savior of this Republic (while many of the invited foreign dignitaries, except perhaps for the Chinese ambassador, could only sit in disbelief and silence as they witnessed up close and personal how a bullying Filipino leader talks and looks like) -- ranting and cursing to high heavens that all those who oppose him, have different opinion, and belong to the other side of the fence are stupid and evil -- we cannot help but look back at those brave men and women who risked to run against the tide in both chambers of Congress when earlier they voted against the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao for another five months, more than the 60 days that our poor Constitution allows. And it is heart-pounding to note that this time not just one Bicolano – but two – belongs to these intrepid ones when 45 years ago, only 18 members of the Constitutional Convention at that time voted “No” against the Marcos-dictated Constitution. Interestingly, also
18 members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted ‘No’ against what the incumbent President asks to extend Martial Law in Mindanao for at least five months more, or until December this year.
In November 1972 under the repressive Martial Law, the late Ramon Diaz, as Constitutional Delegate of Camarines Sur, voted “No” with 17 other delegates from other provinces in the country, with even four of them voting while behind bars in military prison camps, to oppose the approval of the hastily-crafted Constitution that was started in the time of civilian authority under then President Ferdinand E. Marcos but was finally completed in November 1972, barely two months after Martial Law was declared by the same despotic president throughout the land in September that same year. Yes, the late Ramon Diaz of Naga City, was the only brave soul from Bicol that put on the line his life, family and personal career to vote according to his conscience, while all the rest of the Bicolano delegates, including such names as Raul Roco, Antonio Sison, and Eddie Alanis, (who are now all deceased), among others, voted the way that strongman Marcos wanted it).
In July 1972, only a few days before President Rodrigo Duterte’s second State of the Nation Address, an overwhelming number of our senators and congressmen gifted him with a resounding “Yes” to Martial Law extension in Mindanao, while Marawi City, the major site of the armed conflict, already seemed to have been pulverized but our soldiers can’t yet get the job done. But two Bicolanos, namely Reps. Gabby Bordado of Camarines Sur (he belongs to the same congressional district as Diaz’), and Edcel Lagman of Albay, courageously voted against the avalanche, risking their future re-election because they would surely henceforth be getting nothing (‘ni isang kusing) from Malacanang for their public works projects and to meet their people’s demands for assistance in their districts, unlike those who made known they would do anything that this administration wishes (for more perks in return). Some of the other notable names that were in solidarity with Lagman and Bordado were Sens. Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Risa Ho
ntiveros, Francis Pangilinan and Reps. Antonio Tinio, Jose Christopher Castro, and 10 others.
The fearless men who joined Diaz 45 years ago (bless their souls!) included Dakila Castro of Bulacan, Marcelo Fernan of Cebu, Decoroso Rosales of Samar, Sedfrey Ordonez of Nueva Ecija, Jose Santillan of Cavite, and the four imprisoned Con-Con delegates (for being accused as pro-communists) Teofisto Guingona, Napoleon Rama, Jose Mari Velez, and Alejandro Lichauco. Their names are immortalized in the book, “Martial Law in the Philippines: My Story,” which ironically was written by former Sen. Nene Pimentel, the father of today’s rabid pro-Duterte Senate President Koko Pimentel. The elder Pimentel was the pro-democracy activist mayor of Cagayan de Oro City when he was arrested and jailed by Marcos’ uniformed Martial Law henchmen.
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, one of those who voted against the Martial Law extension asks: “Kailan ba natin pakikinggan ang mga babala ng kasaysayan?”