full article by Barbara Mae Dacanay published in July 4, 2010 issue of Manila Bulletin
Twin souls beat in Homobono “Bono” Adaza’s breast. The ex-governor, one of the country’s acknowledged constitutional experts, has revealed himself to be a true Trotskyite (a believer of eternal revolution) in his new book, Presidentiables and Emerging Upheavals, launched before the May 10 polls.
Although the book offers sharp assessments of several presidential candidates, underneath his critique, Adaza interestingly confesses, for the first time, his participation in several failed efforts to promote the establishment of a “true constitutional revolutionary government” during the reigns of former presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Arroyo.
The idea of revolution is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Adaza argues that Section 3, Article II of the constitution describes the Armed Forces of the Philippines as the “protector of the people and the state” institutionalizes the concept. A previous section states that the Philippines is a “republican and democratic state,” a declaration that “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them”. “I was against these provisions in 1987, but I soon realized their importance in protecting revolutionaries,” he chuckles.
Adaza, a human rights defender (of leftists and activists) during the era of former president Ferdinand Marcos from the 70s to the mid-80s, became a much sought after lawyer of arrested right-wing rebel soldiers s in the coup years that followed the strongman’s ouster in 1986.
With the publication of his latest book, Adaza, a former pro-Moscow leftist in his college days at the University of the Philippines, has declared his sympathies for revolutionary change in the emboldened ways of right wing rebels.
But Adaza’s wicked pen has also criticized right wingers like Gregorio Honasan and Antonio Trillanes IV (who were eventually elected as senators) as “geniuses for failure,” because of a missing ingredient in their coup attempts. In his typically scorching style, Adaza observes: “If brains were available, courage was a deserter; if courage was present, brains were absent. What a pity! What a tragedy! What a catastrophe!”
A successful people-backed military mutiny ousted Marcos and propped Corazon Aquino to the presidency in 1986. Military-backed street protests that were launched by those who were outraged by the abrupt ending of the impeachment trial of former president Joseph Estrada in late 2000 resulted in his ouster in February 2001.
From these major events, Adaza has retained a deep hunger for more coup plots, implying that after successive attempts, the right coup should have ultimately installed the perfect leader in the Philippines. Exasperated by the failure of well-intentioned right-rebels’ coup plots, he points out, “Something must be wrong with the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), its curriculum, its career orientation, and the officer corps of the military establishment.”
In the book, he further identifies the cause of the malady: “(the officer corps’) obsessive love of the good life, embrace of the culture of corruption, blatant lack of love of country, inability to live and promote human values, adherence to opportunism and betrayal for personal gain, and failure to know and realize the role of the military in nation building.”
About coup plots, Adaza has plenty of interesting inside stories to tell.
In 1987, after the installation of President Aquino, Joseph Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile were included in Grand Alliance for Democracy’s (GAD) senatorial slate. “We had an unwritten agreement that no one would allow himself to be proclaimed should there be cheating in the congressional elections. There was cheating on a massive scale. We decided to do our own version of (the 1986) EDSA 1,” Bono recalls. The plan was to open the gates of Camp Crame to a large crowd of protesters. A colonel tasked to open the gates wanted Enrile and Ramos, then Chief of Staff, to lead the people in the takeover. Enrile had consented to the plan but having made it to the senatorial roster, “he disappeared into the night.”
Estrada, too, had easily made the senatorial lineup and was not around. Soon, both were proclaimed election winners.
Adaza also castigates the Ramos presidency from 1992 to 1998. It was “indecisive, lacking boldness against graft and corruption, and (had) no vision to change the country.” Because of this, “I convinced Brig. Gen. Edgardo Abenina of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) to visit (then vice president) Estrada at Manila’s Old Congress. We tried to test the waters with Estrada, whether he would be willing to participate in the bid for change of leadership within the context of the Philippine Constitution.”
Instructing Estrada about a revolutionary’s constitutional rights, Adaza says in his book, “The moves being planned meant replacing President Ramos to meaningfully change the system. You (Estrada) just use the Constitution to bring about the desired change.”
Because of Estrada’s constant evasion, “(in the end), Abenina and I did not pursue meetings with him since he was too traditional a politician to seriously entertain dramatic changes through non-electoral but constitutional means,” says Adaza.
During Estrada’s impeachment trial at the Senate, Adaza says he was actively trying to convince (then) Chief of Staff Angelo ‘Angie’ Reyes (from the second week of December 2000), to abandon the president. “I said it was consistent with Section 3, Article II of the Constitution, which provides that the Armed Forces of the Philippines are the protector of the people and the state”. He adds, “Since Estrada was betraying the interest of the country and the Filipinos through graft and corruption and blatant mismanagement of the affairs of government (the idea spoke for itself and Reyes did abandon Estrada to his fate).”
But when Estrada was arrested for plunder (in 2001), Adaza narrates, “His friends asked me whether remnants of Abenina’s RAM, and with a significant number of people in Metro Manila, could get Estrada out of confinement and restore him back to office. I told them it was probable.”
An imprisoned Erap asked how much it would cost to pull a constitutional coup against the Arroyo administration. “The group’s estimate was P 500 million.
Estrada wanted to talk with the group’s decision maker at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (where he was confined). The place, however, was electronically monitored. The group turned down this meeting. (Later) Estrada told the group that the principal purpose of the coup was his restoration to the presidency for three months. The group leader did not accept this and said Estrada would be restored as president (only) for a day, (then he should) create a revolutionary government with him sitting as adviser of the National Governing Council.” Rejecting the idea, Estrada eventually postponed the initial delivery of P10 million, then backed out totally, claiming “the enterprise was too dangerous.”
In 2005, former deputy director of the National Bureau of Investigation Samuel Ong released a CD of Arroyo’s taped conversation with Virgilio Garcillano of the Commission on Elections allegedly to ensure a majority win from Mindanao in the 2004 presidential polls.
As a lead lawyer during the House of Representatives investigation, Adaza recalls Ong as saying that former Secretary of National Defense and chief of staff Renato de Villa and (former Makati City) Mayor Jojo Binay had given him (Ong) assurances that the military and civilian groups would come out to support him after he gave his testimony.
“No military and organized civilians came to Ong’s rescue, which would have paved the way for Arroyo’s downfall. De Villa lost his credibility (to Ong). Binay became one of the politicians who could not deliver on their promises at the crucial moment,” Adaza notes.
An unceasing political fault-finder with an insider view of Philippine politics, Adaza has come to realize that all civilian leaders after Marcos had “very soft feet of clay”. They all “lacked the brains and balls” to be true revolutionaries, not knowing that their inherent rights for real changes are already enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
Messiah in the people’s womb
So his dream of a true Philippine leader continues. He is the man waiting for the “Messiah to be borne in the womb of the people”. This true leader must have the guts to “declare a revolutionary government” within the 1987 Constitution.
“There is no way you can move this country forward without sweeping institutional and ideological changes,” Adaza explains, giving credence to the so-called Cory constitution which he is also critical of. Many will not totally agree with the former leftist and now hard-core constitutionalist with definite adventurist flair, that a true Philippine leader must be taken from the mold of right wing coup plotters.
Is he also predicting that the serious sway of the 40-uear old left-wing movement is almost over in the Philippines?
Adaza, a former congressman, former governor of Misamis Oriental, and top UP law graduate, has the wisdom of experience to back up his notorious claims.