October 31-November 6, 2011
Vol. II No. 73
RONALDO E. RENTA
TOTO C. CAUSING
Design & Layout:
RONALDO B. HERICO
All news articles and opinions expressed by the writers
are entirely their own and do not reect the opinion of the
publisher, the management or the editor of this publication.
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A FLASHBACK TOMARTIAL LAWPRESS DAYS
orty years after the Martial Lawwas declared bythen PresidentFerdinand E.Marcos on September 21, 1972, anti-Marcosand pro-Marcos newsmen squeezed the National Press Club(NPC) like the myth of Bernardo Carpio push-ing his two hands inopposite directions justto stop two mountainsfrom clashing with eachother.It was even charac-terized by two groups of newsmen suppressingor attacking each other.But then the NPC man-aged to wade throughthe darkest days of pressfreedom to survive untilthe triumph of libertycherished by both the pro and the anti.Back then, the NPCwas the center of thewar between the mili-tant writers and the“Marcos-leaning” writ-ers.The militants took in-spiration from Saturnino“Satur” Ocampo, a Ma-nila Times top businesswriter and a die-hardfreedom-loving jour-nalist. Soldiers arrestedhim the night beforeMarcos proclaimed the
Despite the fear per-vading from the power
of Marcos, another rm
A clipping of the Sun- day issue of the Phil- ippines Daily Expresswhen then President Ferdinand Marcos de- clared Martial Law onSeptember 21, 1972.The declaration wastriggered by the ‘zar- zuela ambush’ of De- fense Minister JuanPonce Enrile.
believer in the freedomof the press and speech,the late Antonio “Tony” Nieva, became the mili-tant president of the NPC. Nieva’s act of defy-ing the dictatorial re-gime is a legend today.
He stood rm that Fili
- pino writers should befree and should not bedictated upon by the powers-that-be. Nieva was aChavacano from Zam- boanga City, locatedat the tip of the elon-gated land connectingfrom the left corner edge of Mindanao is-land through a neck that spreads down tothe southwest, stoppingright in front of BasilanIsland.While still alive, Nieva was a Filipino-Spanish Creole. He washot-tempered and hap- py-go-lucky. As NPCleader, he opened the
bar at the 4th oor of the
NPC building for mediamen to relax after a dayof rigors as journalists.Those who chose notto antagonize Marcosfor fear of completelylosing the freedom of the press and of losingwork were antagonized by anti-Marcos penmen.There was lack of compassion among the brave that they ostra-cized or despised the“pro-Marcos” writers.They did not forgivethose who were workingfor newspapers operated by publishers and edi-tors who reasoned outthey behaved in such away because they be-lieved in strict rules of discipline. The reason-ing was looked with dis- belief because the truthis these news entities
were run or nanced by
Marcos cronies or rela-tives.Upon the other hand,the “pro-Marcos” writ-ers accused those whowere in the league of Ka Satur that they wereonly being used by com-munists and political op- positions whose agendawere to crush Marcos, aUniversity of the Philip- pines law scholar, a con-gressman, and a senator before getting electedPresident in democratic polls in 1965, defeatingthen President DiosdadoMacapagal, perceivedas the complete oppositeof his daughter GloriaMacapagal Arroyo, whorose to power in a man-ner described by SusanRoces as one of steal-ing the presidency, “notonce but twice.”To this writer, Mar-cos was a visionary, be-lieving that it was onlythrough an iron handthat the people can bedisciplined.But this writer be-lieves Marcos erred inhis belief because theFilipinos are descen-dants of freedom-lov-ing Rajah Baguinda,an Indonesian chieftainwho left the Sri-Vishay-an and Madjapahit Em- pires. The ascendantswere warriors and fami-lies who rode balangays,an outsized banca withoutriggers, to land onMindanao and spreadlater to the Visayas andLuzon islands.Marcos clampeddown on the free-wheel-ing media he looked atas tools of his enemies.He closed down
ManilaTimes, Manila Chroni-cle, Daily Bulletin, Eve-ning News
and other media vehicles suchas radio and televisionstations.The proofs thatMarcos got it wrongare the events thatoccurred thereafter.Filipinos be-came enemies of Marcos. He alsolost the support of almost all writ-ers, except for those employedin newspapers beholden tohim, like the
published by the latePalanca awardee Keri-ma Polotan Tuvera, wifeof Marcos presidentialassistant Juan Tuvera;
The Times Journal
, published by KokoyRomualdez, a brother of then First Lady ImeldaMarcos; the
Daily Ex- press
, run by crony Ro- berto Benedicto. Therewere only a few news- papers during MartialLaw.The only other jour-nalists not critical of Marcos were the sports-writers and those writ-ing for movie maga-zines. No other political pages that could existlegally that time, other than those that trumpet-ed the political ideologyof Marcos. Only clan-destine news entitiescould dare to exist.The Marcos propa-gandist news pages werecalled “Marcosism” by the late HumanitiesProfessor Pura SantillanCastrence, of Manuel L.Quezon University anda respected writer.The media entitiesthat went against Mar-cos --
Malaya, Daily Inquirer, Bulletin
andthe so-called “mosquito press” were actually lit-tle newspapers that had bitten the Palace dicta-tor.The NPC, believe itor not, was then guard-ed by a Marine soldier.Many journalists whowere unrepentant andwho did not side withMarcos were incarcer-ated in Fort Bonifacio,Taguig barracks.Because newsmenare like blood brothers,Ka Satur was given a pass to attend an NPCanniversary at the NPCBldg. along with bigmen of Marcos, includ-ing then Blas Ople. KaSatur escaped by pass-ing through a secretstaircase at the back of the building.At one instance,anti-Marcos newsmengot a chance to hit atsome pro-Marcos jour-
nalists when a big re
hit a big hotel alongEpifanio delos SantosAve. (EDSA) corner Roxas Blvd., PasayCity. Heritage Hotel isnow the one standing atthis spot.It was one occasionthe pros and the an-tis met. They reported
the conagration that
trapped foreign tour-ists. Hotel waiters en-tertained media menwith the consent of thehotel management, en- joying free foods, beersand other amenities inan open veranda at thesafe side of the hotelfacing Roxas Blvd.,when the other side of that road was still partof the waters of ManilaBay.The antis, mostlycovering Pasay CityMayor Pablo Cuneta,maliciously reportedthe next day that threereporters—this au-thor who was writingfor of
,Boy Tingzon of
and Joseph Lariosa of
—stole clothnapkins, novels andwhat-have-you fromthe hotel.Roberto “Bobby”Burgos, brother of anti-Marcos
publisher Jose “Joe”Burgos, led the tiradeagainst the three.Daily, the militantnewsmen reportedintrigues against thethree they consideredenemies although theywere all NPC mem- bers-brothers.Irinco (this writer)was bothered by theturmoil. He soughtthe advice of lawyer Demetrio Loresca, ananti-Marcos oppositionleader from Muntinlu- pa City and a survivor of the Plaza Miranda bombing used by Mar-cos to justify the proc-lamation of MartialLaw.“Willy, don’t wor-ry, they (anti-Marcosnewsmen) are just on
a shing expedition,”
Loresca said.Irinco kept his cool.But he checked if hehad a criminal casewith the police that he
dropped by the ofce
of then Brig. Gen. Ru- ben Escarcha, SouthernPolice District (SPD)director, a friend andoften a subject of hisstories about policeincidents happening inthe cities of Makati, Pa-say, Parañaque, Taguig,and Muntinlupa.“Don’t worry, Willy,you’ve no case in my jurisdiction,” Escarcha,a former Manila PoliceDistrict ace policemanwhorosefromtheranksto aone-star generalrank, as-sured thiswriter.ThenLt. Gen.Fidel V.Ramos,who wasthe ArmedForces of the Philip- pines (AFP) DeputyChief of Staff and thechief of the PhilippineConstabulary-Integrat-ed National Police (PC-INP), called a pressconference in ManilaHotel to patch up themedia war.After the Ramosmeeting with the antisand pros, the intriguesweakened.But Nieva, a hard-core anti-Marcos jour-nalist, likewise calleda press conference atthe NPC Bldg., invit-ing Irinco, Tingzon andLariosa. This writer didnot attend on an adviceof Atty. Loresca.Tingzon and Lariosa joined the meeting andthe result was devastat-ing.The two were forcedto leave the country.Tingzon went to Can-
ada and Lariosa ed to
New York City.Irinco kept calm,stayed and chose toweather the storm.Whatever each jour-nalist did during thosedark days, they all con-tributed to the birth of the People’s Power Revolt that gatheredall freedom-lovingFilipinos to crush onceand for all the dictato-rial regime and compel
Marcos to ee.
At last, this writer who is now a lifetimemember of the NPCand the rest of his coun-trymen tasted freedomanew.