ninoy’s letter to eva estrada kalaw, feb 83


San Francisco

Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw

Dear Prima:

I was very touched by your concern, but I am seriously considering returning to our country soon. I think my usefulness in America has come to an end. And I think, I’ll be able to help the opposition from there more effectively than from the safety of America.

I am very worried by the seeming growth of the CPP/NPA. I do not know if Marcos and the defense establishment share my anxiety because I am afraid they are not privy to the information that have come my way. I sincerely believe that if current trends are not reversed, by 1985 the CPP/NPA will be a real threat to our Republic and way of life.

Doy and I discussed a possible dialogue with Marcos. Tragically, as I pointed out, only Marcos today can peacefully return our country to the long road back to democracy. Should Marcos die tomorrow, there won’t be anyone in our country with enough power and/or legitimacy to restructure our democratic form of government and/or re-establish the necessary institutions to restore democracy.

While I do not believe that Marcos today is in full control of the government I still believe he has enough residual power to restore certain institutions and set certain acts in motion that could hasten our return to democracy. I agree with the analysis of many Filipino watchers that Imelda is now a power in her own right. That Danding and Enrile through their control of the Coconut bank are powers to reckon with. And that Marcos today has to be careful lest alienating any of these power blocs may destabilize his regime. However, Marcos has enough residual power to influence major events.

If Marcos is sincere in holding clean and honest elections, I think we can get clean and honest elections in a majority of regions. Admittedly, his orders may be disregarded by certain local and even regional bosses, but I think with our opposition’s help, we can still manage a clean election and there will be enough people in the bureaucracy who will follow him. The key is sincerity. Tragically, I think the only power that can make Marcos sit up and listen is the US government-given the circumstances. We should therefore do everything in our power to enlist the help of the US government through Armacost and our friends in Washington. We have been doing our thing here, and you must now do your thing there. On our own, Marcos will never dialogue with the opposition sincerely. He must be pressured by a credible force that can really do him great harm. Other than the communist superpower, only the US can fill this bill.

If the US will refuse to help in this effort, I see the following scenario unfolding:

1. Marcos dies and Imelda will take over with the consent of all present actors. Divided they may fall, so they will first close in the wagons. Meanwhile, all actors will jockey for vantage position. Tragically, he who holds the gun will have a tremendous advantage. The armed forces under Ver will therefore be the major power contender. I think Ver will first try to consolidate his hold on the military before he makes his move. He will therefore strike a deal with Imelda and will prop her up till he is good and ready. Imelda will be a willing partner to the military. In time, the military will ease out Imelda and make her the scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong. Hence, we are definitely looking down on an inevitable Junta.

I believe, Danding and Enrile when Marcos dies will be content to play along so long as they are not removed from their funding source. In the event a Batasan election is called, Danding and Enrile will fund their own candidates to the Batasan in the hopes of controlling the same. But this assumes that there will be elections. We may not get to this stage and I do not see Danding and Enrile pulling a coup against Imelda and Ver. Of course you may argue: suppose Ver sides with Danding and Enrile? I do not see this possibility because Ver knows Imelda will need him more than the two guys. Hence, he’ll side with Imelda. Furthermore, Ver knows that Enrile moved heaven and earth to get Eddie Ramos the four star CS job. So there is really nothing for Ver to side with Danding and Enrile. And I submit: Ver today has effectively jockeyed his loyal followers to key positions and is the third most powerful man in the Republic.

2. The moment Imelda is eased out, the CPP/NPA will benefit from the massive disenchantment of our people. As in Nicaragua, the middle class will radicalize towards the left not right and overnight the CPP/NPA will be awash with funds and supplies. This will bring us to the brink of a civil war not unlike what is now unfolding in El Salvador. It is possible that the US might intervene and force our military junta to take in a Filipino Duarte. But I won’t bank on this. The US will panic once a junta is established and chances are it will side with the junta in an effort to prevent a greater menace: a communist takeover.

3. This scenario can be prevented if we can elect a truly representative Congress that can act with legitimacy should anything happen to FM. In a vacuum, the military will surely step into the breech.

4. Will Marcos see the logic of this proposal? No, if we do not succeed in getting super power support. FM sat down with the MNLF only when Kaddafy gave the MNLF full support. FM will soon be taking the CPP/NPA seriously the moment he is convinced the USSR is behind the latest shipment of arms. On their own, FM knows he can keep the CPP/NPA in check. But the entry of foreign supplies changes the power balance. In the same token, FM will take our moderate opposition seriously only if the US pressures him towards true democratic reforms. And it should be presented in such a way that he will adopt our proposal for his own good if not survival.

I realize many will criticize us for even thinking of possibly opening a dialogue with Marcos. Some will call this an imperialist plot designed and conceived in Washington. But if we are to prevent a communist takeover, we must help Marcos inspite of himself find a peaceful solution to our crisis.
I am sure the CPP/NPA will be most unhappy by the holding of a clean and honest election because this will delay their timetable.

Clean and honest elections will provide fresh hope to people almost desperate. If we are to prevent the rapid radicalization of our people to the left we must present them with a credible hope and that can be accomplished if we can work out a peaceful transition scenario with the top actor: Marcos.

Only a hopeless people will turn to communism. We must therefore exert every effort to convince Marcos that a genuine return to democracy is the only sure path out of the enveloping red tide.

Only more democracy can defeat communism. Increased repression will only hasten the communist victory.

While we are enlisting the help of Armacost, some of our people should start contacting our former colleagues who have gone to Marcos: i.e., Maning Pelaez, Enchong Sumulong, Lawrence Teves, Landring Almendras, even Leonie Perez and Manong Joe Roy. I think someone should try to get all the senators together and discuss this developing crisis. Collectively I think the last elected senators of the Republic can still bring Marcos to his senses. Someone should contact Turing Tolentino, Liwag, Maning Pelaez and Joe Roy. If we can convince these people of the urgency of the situation, together they can secretly call all the rest of the senators. I think, to propose a clean and honest election to Marcos will not be taken as subversion by the first couple. But only if we can convince our former colleagues on the gravity of the situation can they in turn convince the First Couple.

It has been suggested that maybe we should wait for the proper time: When the insurgents have already demonstrated their capabilities for major destruction. However, if we wait too long, events might overtake us and I am afraid when the present trickle of bloodshed becomes a flood, violence would develop a momentum of its own and we will all be sucked into the vortex. I pray to God this won’t happen.

I think Marcos today is the least of our problem. Soon, maybe sooner than later, Marcos will go. It is indeed ironical that it will be the greatest tragedy if Marcos dies tomorrow without filling in the present vacuum, without a credible institution. We must exert every effort to create this credible institution fast-a genuinely elected Congress that will truly represent our people so that in the event of Marcos’ passing, it will be able to carry out a peaceful transfer of power.

Am I indulging in an impossible dream? I hope not, for the sake of our people. Every bloody revolution has inevitably consumed its own children. What will be our future if the killers of today will become our leaders tomorrow? The lessons of Iran and Nicaragua are too fresh to be forgotten.