Re your Feb. 3, 2007 editorial on my fight against political dynasties in the Senate, you contend that because I read to the nation Marcos’s martial law proclamation in 1972, and voted against the opening of the envelope that had intended to prove a charge not included in the Articles of Impeachment against then President Estrada in 2001, I should be the last person to propose anything that might help voters choose the right candidates in the May elections.
That certainly breaks new ground in editorial writing.
You also say that I have turned the dynasty issue into an exclusive problem of the opposition, although it afflicts the administration even more. That is a misstatement of my position.
Martial law was proclaimed in 1972, pursuant to the 1935 Constitution which allows the President to do so “in case of invasion, insurrection, or rebellion, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it.” That I read Proclamation 1081 to the nation is now history. That I did not write it or proclaim martial law myself or administer it or send people to jail is also now history.
If reading that proclamation was a crime, then I should have been jailed after Marcos fell. If it was a moral offense, then the Filipino voters would not have elected me to the Batasan in 1978, and to the Senate in 1992 and 1995. If it had deprived me of my right to fight political dynasties, then Marcos would have rapped me for it when I broke with him in 1980 over the dynasty issue in Catanduanes.
The issue is this: I expected UNO to act more honorably than our adversaries. But our leaders were resolved to behave even less honorably and ram down our throats their dynasty choices without a debate or a process. How could they now denounce President Arroyo’s dynasty politics when they have decided to exceed her own excesses? That was my complaint.
At the Estrada impeachment trial, I refused to join the eight senator-judges who called for Estrada’s resignation and acted more like prosecutors despite their oath “to do impartial justice.”. I refused to prejudge Estrada and to entertain anything that tried to prove a charge not included in the original complaint from the House of Representatives. I wanted to follow the law, not the crowd. Then Senate President Nene Pimentel upstaged everyone else by announcing his “resignation as Senate president as soon as his successor shall have been elected.” He then went to EDSA and acted as microphone-holder for the acting President.
When Pimentel opened the controversial envelope later, he found nothing that implicated Estrada. That confirmed the correctness and wisdom of our legal position on that envelope. It had no legal existence before the court. Pimentel never resigned; he was the bitterest man when the senators finally replaced him at the opening of the next Congress.
Who do you think now should apologize to the nation, no matter how late?
What happened to me in 2004 is no secret, and I have tried to document it. But much of the data came after the deadline for filing protests. I did not have the money for it, and it was not necessary to proclaim to the world that it happened because we could not afford to pay for watchers in most places. And everyone wanted to focus on FPJ’s presidential protest. Thus, I had wanted to make electoral reform a precondition for participating in the May elections. I was the original proponent of a boycott.I am initiating a movement for the restoration of human values in politics not on the basis on my own strength, which is open to question, but on the basis of the moral right of our people to demand the best that is their due from their political leaders, the political parties and the state.