July 26, 1986
Tolentino’s “Last Hurrah”
Tolentino’s counter-revolution was no spontaneous combustion; it had all the earmarks of a deliberate, pre-meditated and cold-blooded putsch.
By Edward R. Kiunisala
It really started last March 30, when the exiled tyrant, 33 days after he had been kicked out of the country by the bloodless People Power revolution, tried to resurrect himself politically by declaring war against the Cory Aguino govenment before foreign media and some 3,000 kababayans in Honolulu. On that day, Easter Sunday, while the whole of christendom commemorated the resurrection of Christ, the gospel from Hawaii was that the overthrown Ferdinand Marcos was coming back to the Philippines to reclaim Malacañang.
Constitution of the Philippines
The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy, do ordain and promulgate this constitution.
Farewell, My Lovely
Does that not say all that the Preable of a Constitution should say? And more memorably than the preamble of any other constitution?Think of one more memorable. Anything coming close to it in resonance of phrase and grandeur of thought. It is like the ringing of great bells or the opening of the doors of a cathedral.
But the Preamble of the l935 Constitution is part of a charter that required the approval of the American President for it to become the Supreme Law of the land. It is U.S. made, nationalists will say. It is not truly ours. Yet it has been most inspiring and useful to the Filipino people from its proclamation until the Japanese Occupation and after three years of that rule of force, from Liberation until the Marcos Occupation. Then “constitutional authoritarianism” took its place, complete with a “constitution” enacted by the most shameless collection of political protitutes in the history of any nation, and “approved” in a fake referendum. Who among the decent and honorable did not mourn the passing of that “U.S. made” Constitution of l935? Filipinos fought and died for the restoration of the rights and liberties enshrined in that charter, only to have it abrogated by a Filipino and his creatures in that disgraceful convention. The l973 “constitution” is made in the Philippines, all right . By Filipinos to their everlasting shame and dishonor. They were not selected as the members of the Constitutional Commission now engaged in drafting a new charter were, but elected. Elected by a foolishly trusting people whom they betrayed with absolutely no qualm of conscience, having none. A Filipino handiwork, indeed Philippine-made, all right.
But in what way waxs the l935 Constitution U.S. made? That it required the approval of the President of the United States before it could be in operation and effect did not make it any less the products of Filipino minds and hearts. Claro M. Recto presided over the body that drafted the charter, and he is hailed today as the nationalist par excellance. (Nationalist though he was, that did not stop him from collaborating with the Japanese invader as secretary of foreign affairs in the made-by-the-Japanese government. Thus, he must have thought, he and his fellow-collaborators would somehow serve as a kind of buffer between brute Japanese force and the Filipino people) Recto, and like-minded Filipinos, drafted the l935 Constitution, and when a Filipino would subvert it. Recot went after that Ilocano with all the passion and eloquence at his command. Yet, it was a “U.S.-made” Constitution.
(Incidentally, the present Free Press editor, overwhelmed by the language and vision of the conclusion of one of Recto’s speeches on American bases in this country, likened it to “the closing of the doors of a great cathedral.” only to have Recto write, saying it was more like “the creaking of a garage door.” Self-depreciation is a mark of the superior man.)
Where did Recto get his knowledge of Constitution Law if not, aside from other sources, the American?So did his fellow constitutionalists, and that is true of those who claim the same savvy in the Constitution Commission now. They are all, to a great extent, if not mainly, “U.S.-made”consitutionalists. But, surely, that is nothing to be ashamed of. The American Constitutionis is, after all, the best of America. Is there any better?
But what’s good enough for America is not necessarily good, or good enough, for us. We’re different, our situation not so happy. We are still trying not to be, after all, an American colony. So, a Filipino Constitution. by all means – a decolonized one. However . . .
Farewell Old Constitution. May the new serve the Filipino people better than you did. And may its statement of purposes, its Preamble, equal if not transcend the old so that it may resound in our minds and possess our hearts in the days to come. Like a poem. For such is the Preamble of the l935 Constitution: a poem.
Farewell, my lovely!