Conjugal – Chapter V – Infrastructure of Martial Law
(These are excerpts of the Conjugal Dictatorship book by the late famous Filipino journalist and ill-fated Primitivo Mijares. A friend lent me this private collection of excerpts from the book condensation serialized in a daily newspaper in the Philippines in the late 1980s, after the Edsa Revolution. The widow of Mijares is a recently retired Regional Court Justice of Pasay City in 2010. She should be the rightful owner of the copyright of this book, but unfortunately she is unresponsive to my attempts to contact her. I could not locate also the children of Mijares. I could not locate also the original publisher, the Union Square Publishing of SF, CA, as it was dissolved as a corporation in 1994, per google-search. These are only excerpts and also not complete. But materials are enough for complete understanding about Martial Law regime of President Marcos as revealed by the Mijares, before he disappeared mysteriously during that regime.) (For private use Only. I can lend you other excerpts upon request.)
Marcos did not panic into dictatorship.
Weeks before Marcos rang the curtain down on democracy in the Philippines, the whiff of revolution was sharp and unmistakable. It was evident that the country was
on the verge of its biggest social upheaval. The pace was dizzying. And most everybody, from Marcos to the common street walkers, were “blaming Communists and their agents provocateur for every’ rally, demonstration, or terror-bombing.
Few knew that Marcos had. been exploiting the unfolding revolutionary drama.
Marcos was well on his way to setting up the excuses to extend his term in office long enough to launch an imperial dynasty in the Philippines. He was doing it with a
fine Hitlerian hand that would make the burning of the German Reichstag the job of a piker.
The greatest infrastructure ever undertaken by Marcos was on. It was done behind the back of people who trusted him, people who rallied to him and who relied so much on him to bring to reality a dreamy campaign slogan that “This nation can be great again.” It was treachery of the highest order, far outweighing the treacherous shooting of Julio Nalundasan.
But there were visible crowd-pleasing infrastructures, too. Ribbons of cemented highways and bridges spanning rivers and linking heretofore inaccessible areas to the
main arteries of commerce. Public works and “green revolution.” All these were undertaken only to conceal the greatest personal and political infrastructure that Marcos had decided to set up for himself and his gang.
The beginning infrastructure for martial law was actually laid down by Marcos as early as the first day of his assumption of the Philippine presidency on December 30,
I may be guilty of hindsight now for hindsight can be so easy but I can see that the first concrete step taken by Marcos to steel himself for the declaration of martial law came when he decided to appoint himself as his own Secretary of National Defense
when he assumed the presidency for the first time.
And the conjugal dictatorship shaped up at about that time, too. Imelda had decided, after a few days of occupancy of Malacanang. that she and Ferdinand need not
give up the Palace after eight years. Thus, the “Blue Ladies” would get bored listening to Imelda talk about the enormous problems o! the country which no President can solve in eight years. With the familiar naughty wink of her right eye, she would wind up her
peroration by stating: “‘We (a vague collective pronoun which could mean including the ‘Blue Ladies’) will stay here in Malacanang all our lives.”
Thoughts of one day ruling as strong man under martial law were already in the mind of Ferdinand E. Marcos as early as his student days in the University of the Philippines.
Oral evidence on the thoughts of Marcos about martial law was provided to me boastfully in the manner of persons reveal the intimate secrets of demi-gods whose
confidence they want everybody to know they enjoy. They were Marcos’ favorite classmates, Ambassador Roberto S. Benedicto, GSIS Board Vice Chairman Leonilo Ocampo and Agrarian Court Judge Felicisimo Ocampo. They were all Upsilonian fraternity brothers of Marcos.
The President himself did repeatedly explain to me that a martial law regime for the Philippines was virtually a lifetime ambition for him. He would talk about his youthful ambition for a strong-man ruler for the Philippines during his spare hours on
Saturdays, about noon time, and Sundays, after the six o’clock evening mass at the Malacanang reception hall. I sort of monopolized the time of the President during those hours. It was just inconceivable that any of the presidential assistants Clave, De
Vega and Tuvera – would abandon their own personal infrastructures on weekends to be
with the President.
I hid compelling reasons to see the President even on Saturdays and Sundays. I was a seven-day week newspaperman, I was working as a reporter-columnist for his
newspaper and doubling as his propagandist and media censor. I took advantage of his leisure moments to shoot the breeze with him; pick his mind, so to speak. I was duty-bound to compile enough story ideas and column materials for days in advance, not only for my newspaper but also for the other newspapers whose Malacanang beat reporters rely on me for presidential “news.”
I am still puzzled up to this time though why Marcos really gave much of his time. During those Saturday and Sunday sessions, he would ask me what the people outside were thinking about. He wanted to know from me if the people really approved of the
state of things under a martial regime. It was during those talks that I would act out my role as a “Devil’s Advocate.” He would also talk about future plans of the regime in jig-saw pieces, not in their entirety. He would put his ideas across in various ways. He
would ask questions, or talk about ways of dealing with people who still oppose the martial regime, or declare the necessity of doing certain things In those sessions, the
President would make me feel that he was intentionally making a gesture of making me bask in the reflected glory of the dictatorship, or that history was calling upon him to make a truthful account of his stewardship of the nation through a man of his confidence like me.
Although I discovered so much out of my closeness to the President, it has exacted a toll on my family life. The heavier toll came, of course, during my last departure for the United States on an official mission for the Marcos regime. The trip led to my defection and forced separation from my family. I used to have spats with my wife over my absence from the house when I have to be with the President on Saturdays and Sundays, the only
days of the week, she would argue, when she and I could both be with the Children. I could not have told her then that I was being driven by an irresistible urge of history to pick the mind of Marcos – even spy on him or pry into his secret files as I did – in order that I can reveal to posterity the full and unexpurgated story of the perfidy that Marcos had foisted on the Filipino people. I myself realize this only now.
During those weekend sessions I had with him, the President would talk on any number of things, including the ambitions and incompetence of most of his Cabinet members, or the rapacity of the husband-wife team of Juan Tuvera and Kerima who want to be bigger newspaper oligarchs than either Benedicto or Kokoy. Almost always, his favorite topic though would be the supposed historical, and legal basis of the
regime of martial law he had established in the country. Then UP senior law student Marcos, according to the President’s own account to me, wrote a legal thesis to comply with the requisites for graduation on the wisdom and necessity of a regime of “consti-
tutional authoritarianism” to husband the economic and political development of the Philippines. He wrote that a “strong man” President was what the Commonwealth needed. Although he harped on the theme of “constitutional authoritarianism” in his
legal thesis, Marcos recalled, what he actually had in mind as a student was exactly what he had established as a New Society in the Philippines. He wished then – as he had realized with martial law — a military dictatorship, with the military kept subordinate to a civilian President calling the shots all the way.
“I know what’s on your mind, Tibo,” he smiled at me as I knitted my eyebrows and prepared to say something about a military dictatorship. “I will never share powers with a military junta. It will be worse than sharing the powers of government with a Con gum”
All these were undertaken only to conceal the greatest personal and political
infrastructure that Marcos had decided to set up for himself and his gang.
Marcos correctly guessed what was on my mind, I had another thought coming up. However, I dared not betray it. It would have been impudent of me to have stated that lie would be further diluting his powers to share them with the martial leaders since martial law has compelled him to put up a conjugal dictatorship with Imelda.
The Idea of a meddling wife being allowed to rule jointly with Marcos in Malacanang was not yet in the consciousness of law student Ferdinand when he out-
lined his “constitutional authoritarianism” regime in his legal thesis. His UP classmates. especially Benedicto and Noning Ocampo, recalled that Marcos actually subconsciously conditioned himself for the eventuality that a woman would one day share whatever political powers he might have.
Young Ferdinand eyed for conquest at the time another U.P. student, beauteous Ma. Aurora Quezon, eldest daughter of then President Manuel Luis Quezon. The tune that Marcos whistled to his classmates was that, to get to the pinnacle of power politics in the Philippines, which was his ambition, he has to marry the daughter of a politically-powerful man.
It was not only Baby Quezon that young Marcos had eyed. There is also voluptuous Carmen Ortega by whom Marcos now has children. Carmen belonged to the politically powerful clan of the Ortegas in La Union; a bona fide member, not just a poor
relation. Marcos really aspired that early and intended to employ cunning and deceit to be his country’s dictator one day.
The actual planning for martial law started when Marcos became President. Although Marcos had dreamed of the authoritarian rule early enough, he was understandably in no position to do anything until he could assume the No. 1 position within the gift of the Filipino people. Before he could make it to Malacanang, however, Marcos had had to hurdle two major obstacles, among others, from the direction
of two Visayan personalities, namely, Manila Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson and then Senate President Pro Tempore Fernando Lopez. On both occasions, it was Imelda who saved the day for Marcos.
The Lacson hurdle cropped up in 1957. The colorful Manila mayor notified Nacionalista party leaders that he had compiled a “dossier” on Marcos which should
help the NP candidate. Dr. Jose Peralta, defeat Marcos in the upcoming elections. Ferdinand was then up for reelection to his third term in the House of Representatives. Lacson was sore at Marcos because the latter had propositioned him into putting up
a Lacson-Marcos team for the presidential elections that year. The mayor also had not forgotten that Marcos had married Imelda. Somehow friends of Marcos in the NP tipped off the Ilocano congressman on the Lacson dossier, which reportedly had been prepared with the legal expertise of a prominent lawyer named Jose W. Diokno. Not unlikely as one of the Marcos tipsters was Speaker Pro Tempore Daniel Z. Romualdez, a first cousin of Imelda.
The first impulse of Marcos was to have it out with Lacson, obviously thinking that Manila was Ilocos Norte where the law of the gun was supreme. He thought perhaps that this time he could settle an old score with the Visayan. Lacson had earlier beaten Marcos black and blue in a fisticuff while both were working as assistants in the law office of
Don Vicente Francisco. However, Imelda pleaded with her husband to abandon his own plans of dealing with Lacson. She had her own way of neutralizing the Manila Mayor. Not long afterwards, a beaming Mayor Lacson told City Hall newsmen, including myself, that there will be no bombshell against Marcos; Imelda had talked him out of it. Instead,
he would stand as godfather for the Marcoses’ first born, daughter Imee.
The second obstacle came shortly after Marcos had clinched the NP presidential nomination in November, 1964. Marcos and Imelda decided that Fernando Lopez was the “best choice” for the vice presidential nomination. Lopez belonged to the NP “old
guards,” and his becoming Marcos’ running mate would firm up the support of the Lopez economic-political bloc headed by Don Eugenio Lopez, Sr.
But Lopez had made a pledge earlier that if he lost the NP presidential nomination, he would say goodbye to politics. “No, no.” Lopez declared to two emissaries dispatched by Marcos – Speaker Jose B. Laurel. Jr. and former President Carlos P. Garcia. He said he was quitting, period.
Marcos wracked his brains. On the threshold of victory, he would not allow any further obstacle. No price was too great to pay to have “Toto” Nanding in his ticket. Yes.
the natural choice was Imelda. She could use her wiles. summon her tears, in talking to Lopez, which she did when the old Politico went up to her suite at the Manila Hotel on November 17, 1964, instead of allowing Imelda to call on him to beg for the acceptance by Fernando of the vice presidential slot.
Just as Watergate was peanuts compared to the Marcos-espoused Philippine scandal so was the Segretti operations a child’s plaything compared to the measures
undertaken by Marcos to subvert the political process ever since he captured the Philippine presidency.