POLITICS THE VOICE OF VERITASIN PHILIPPINE

by JamesR. Rush

27 1985/No. Asia IJRR-3.'851
ln Veritas, encounters colthe one voiceof the pivotalelement lective political spectrum of the Philippine - the broad,confused,hopeful, center.lts and despairing Christian editorial preferencefor Corazon with Aquino's together candidacy, the philosophical and emotional backing of the CatholicChurch, makeit a small but potentforce.
Among the most dramatic consequencesof the assassination Benigno of Aquino on August 21, 1983 was the revival the Philippines a full-blooded in of press.Sidelined independent and muzzled for the first decade of martiallaw, newspeople independent mien and of dissidentviews moved boldly into the open in the midst of the extraordinary public reactionto Aquino'sdeath. First produced pamphlets tabloids, hastily and then newspapersand magazinesprovided full and lively coverage of the funeraland subseouent rallies and demonstrations, articulatingpopular sentimentsof griefand outrageand venting publicly political frustralong-suppressed tions. Facedwith this displayof dissihad not dence,the Marcosgovernment the oresenceof mind or the nerve to crack down harshly.As the president and his men grittedtheir teeth, an independent and highlycriticalpressrelt emerged the Philippines. has since in becomea primaryelementin the unraveling of the New Society. Amongthe moresubstantial its pubof licationsis Veritas,a hardy weekly of news and commentaryinformallyaffiliated with the local Roman Catholic Church,that had by September1985 achieveda respectable nationalcirculation of some 44,OO0. The ideafor a oublication like Veritas had emergedmany monthsearlier,in the spring of 1983, from within the Conference for Bishoos-Businessmen's (BBC), organian HumanDevelopment businessof zationcomposed prominent inclinations likeand men of oppositionist Therewas a mindedseniorclergymen. of clear needfor a truthfulrendering the news,they agreed,and yet the plan languished. was Benigno Aquino's murder lt aftermath that finally and its tumultuous provokedthe BBC promoters,like so many others, into action. Still, fearing governmentreprisal,they asked Jaime Primate of Cardinal Sin, RomanCatholic to the Philippines, act as publisher, assumingthat PresidentMarcoswould to be reluctant bear down too conspicuously uponthe Church.He was agreeable, but certain churchly proprieties caused him to assumeinsteadthe role editor Felix of informalpatron. Veritas's Bautistadescribed ensuingrelationthe ship of the cardinal to the Veritas creators one of joininghands"in the as publication a national newsmagazine, of in in secular tonebut Christian perspecwould be happy, tive. . .." The cardinal wrote Bautista in his first editorial,"to help in every possibleway."l is Thus, althoughVeritas in fact an in"not publication it receives dependent one cent" from the cardinal, says Bautista- it has been linkedcloselyto Cardinal the Churchfrom its inception. Sin permits Veritas to be distributed throughthe vast nationwidenetworkof for Catholic churchesand schools, example;he also needlespotentialadverrun tiserswhen revenues low.As if to fix the affiliation popularly, Veritas is publishedeach Sunday(althoughit appears on the newstandson Thursday), and photographs and storiesabout the sermontoo, cardinal, and the occasional featured. are conspicuously The most importantlink betweenVerItas and Cardinal Sin is editor Felix Bautista.Bautista has been a professince1946,havingbeen sionaljournalist senior Philippineseditor for Agence

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law FrancePresseand pre-martial editor ol the EveningNews alongthe way. Like many other prominent Filipino journalists,he moved easily in and out of circles,heading academic and political for a timethe Department Journalism of at the University SantoTomasand, in of Dio1965,helping managePresident to dasdo Macapagal's unsuccessful reelectioncampaignagainst challenger with FerdinandMarcos.His connection in the cardinal began,he recalls, 1971 , at a time when Bautistawas teaching theology ("a strong leaning")at Santo Tomasand JaimeSin hadjust beenappointedBishopof lloilo.Sin'sbrother, a colleagueat SantoTomas,approached Bautistato write the new Bishop'sinauguralspeech. Thus begana productive collaboration. Felix Bautistadid not actually meet Jaime Sin until he was named Archbishopof Manilain 1974,but from that time until Veritas was launched he workedfulltime as a wordsmith,mediarelationsmanagerand informaladviser to the prelate,who was elevatedto the cardinalate 1976.The cardinaleviin dentlyinsisted that BautistaeditVeritas. Enhanced a certainaffinity temperof by amentand sympathy, association the of the two men continues this day; in adto dition to editing Veritas, Bautista still writes about 40 soeechesand homilies for the cardinal each month.This close and personalaffiliationis the most imoortant element of the tie between Veritasand the Church. Despitethis, Verlfasis clearlynot the The originaland continuing cardinal's. board of directors is dominatedby influential businessmen: VicenteR. Jayme (chairman)is presidentof the Private Development Corporation the Philipof pines; Jaime Ongpin is chairmanof (copperand gold BenguetCorporation mining);SantiagoDumlao,Jr. is executive vice president and general managerof UnitedPulpand Paper;and president Republic Jose Concepcion, of FlourMills(andthreeothercorporations, director of five more). These are men with high profiles civicleaders. as Jayme has headedthe Bishoos-Businessmen's Conference; Ongpin is an outspoken leaderof oppositionist businessmen; and Concepcion, chairmanof the National CitizensCommitteefor Free Elections, or NAMFREL. Vicente Paterno, another member the board,is a formerMinisof ter of Industry. Onlyone clericsitson the board;this is RolandoDizon,Brotherof the Christian who is president Schools, of the CatholicEducational Association of the Philippines, was operations and chairmanof NAMFRELin 1984.

Ohis is a smallworld,one tellingillustrationof which is the award Dizon receivedrecentlyfrom the ManilaJayceesas one of the countrysOutstanding Young Men. The Head Judge for the competitionwas CardinalSin, and tt{e. panelof judges includedFelixBautistal VicenteR. Jayme and VicentePaterno. is Jose Concepcion also a prominent Jaycee.) nexusof Churchand The high-level businessat the helm of Veritasintersects with anothergroup,that which actually provides the magazine'sweekly subregularcolstance.These are Veritas's umnists and contributors journalists, educators,and public figures recruited from amongManilaseliteinby Bautista telligentsia- as well as its staff of professional reDorters. Bautistaassembled this team and it is he who acts as broker between them and the board.He claims, however, that the board - which meets weekly - rarely intervenesin editorial matters,relyinginsteadon hisjudgment editor Melinda and that of his associate Quintos de Jesus: "l have an ideal Likewise, the wide editorialsituation." rangeof topicsand pointsof view represented in Veritassuggestthat Bautista himself operates with a light editorial hand.Yet a distinct voicedoesemerge, and it is a voice considerablymore secular,diverse,and angry than the cardinal's. For whom is Veritaswritten?Clearly not for the masses. Veritasouite conand a sciouslyaddresses well-educated influential minority, many of whom are and alsoamongthe comfortable affluent, and at leastamong the middleclasses. The level of discourse in Veritas assumesa high degreeof literacy,and much that is said in its weeklyopinion columnswouldbe only vaguelycomprehensible to those not accustomedto writing and thought at the university nment level.Verlfas's occasional entertai section, "Manila Tip-Off,"features announcements the balletand theater, of "art"filmsand musicrecitals, and exhibiit tionsof painting and sculpture; might tell you about the latest in cabaret,or where to find good jazz. Although reviews of popular films do appear in Veritas, gaudy movieads otherwise the in so ubiquitous Manilaneverappearin its pages. Veritas is by no means popular.Veritasspeaksto and from the the society, upperechelons Philippine of which elitegroup,including Church, the provided political, social has traditionally (and in its own eyes, moral)leadership. In this time of national crisisand excitement it callsout to its own and savs, [4/e must do something!

Veritas did at first dedicate itself to a policyof "criticalcollaboration" with the Sin'sviews, echoingCardinal authorities, at but Felix Bautistaacknowledged the outset that "at the presenl lime" Veritas than colbe'more critical wouldpossibly laborative."Indeed,this has been the case. Reading Veritasfrom week to week is to witness,as though readinga seismographchafting someterrestrial upheaval, the reactionsof Manila'smoderateoppositionists what Felix Bautistacalls to aroundus.' Eachissueconthe disaster tains a distillationof the past week's gossip,and new outrages. revelations, Despiteits small featuresabout enterof food,and stories humanintainment, terest, Verltasscontentsare overwhelm' ingly political.This reflectsdirectlythe of obsessivepreoccupation the magazine's formateurs with the political tate of their country. It also reflects how little control or leverage they have over that fate, for to read Veritas is to hear the frustrated whose major citizens voicesof Filipino is, act of citizenship all too often,lo react franto the awfultruth,and to speculate tically about it. So, from week to week Veritas reacts to the latest events: the Agrava Board - delegatedby the President to investigateBenigno Aquino's why? murder- has missedits deadline, (rumors of this, rumors of that); the what AgravaBoardhas split its decision, (rumors, rumors); Presithe happened? dent has not appearedin publicfor a week now, why? (rumors again); the Presidentis dying, it is only a matterof The when (Haveyou heardthe latest?). weeksturn, and as they do the dissident choruslatchesonto yet anotheroutrage or hope upon which to fix its anxieties - Marcosdeliversa speechcallingfor at reconciliation New Year's;the trial of Aquinoconspirators begins; the alleged agitationsand mass actionsprompt arrests and detainments;the opposition politiciansattempt to create a unified front,and fail,and try and fail again. . . occur and again;ripplesof dissidence within the ruling party; a Ministeris sacked; reformers appear within the military; priests, journalists and demonstrators are "salvaged" (murturns its dered);off and on, Washington to attention the Philippines. concenthe ln reporting news,Veritas trates on the major events that reflect assuming, badlyuponthe government, fairly enough,that the Marcosgovernsucmentcan tout its realand imaginary in cessesquitethoroughly thosepublications and mass mediait controls.Stateactionsand uttermentsof the president,

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ancesof the FirstLady,and the behavior public relations of Marcos'sministers, men, and others of the president's coterie are subjected to the keenest skeptical scrutiny; and all the ambiguities,deceptions, and hiddenagendas are held up to the light and exposedto ridicule, scolding, and righteous indignation. lt is thus oneof Veritas's self-appointed rolesto monitorthe behavior the king of and his court and to show that however powerfulPresidentMarcosmay be, he can no longeradorn himselfwith propaganda,rhetoric, and the freshlyminted mythologies the New Societywithout of yell havingsomeone out,'Look!,the king isnl wearingany clothes!" weekafter So, weekVeritas carps,whines,and grieves and ridicules government, the attempting to foster informedpublic anger and, thereby...change.

military. putit another To way," wrele he in February 1985,.we want our pride backas a people." !,1.itinH'i 11, 1,1:. Week by week Bautista wrapsthis familiar litany around latest the scandal :,{ f,lri,l{ ps.&d or issue, never straying fromthebasic far message this government mustgo! He applauds protesters, the activists, andoppositionists callsuponthem and to unifyand to pursue theirendsnonviolently. also He seeks applauds and individuals withinthe system who still attempt exercise responsibilities to their independently in a principled and manner, the members the Agrava of Board, for example, "right-thinking and elements in the AFP (ArmedForces the Philipof pines) otficer corps- thankGodthere are still many of them!" Knowing, however, that President Marcosstill holdsmostof the cards, and therefore alltooaware changes substance that of must come still fromhim,Bautista directs personmostof hisumbfage Marcos at ally,callinguponhim to behave acin cordance with the high principles and selflessness characteristic his so of rhetoric. This, he acknowledges, be a may fool'serrand. one must havefaith but that therewill be "resurrection" the for Philippines following "bleakest and its blackest of Black Fridays." thisto For comeaboutone mustnotonlyprotest, picket,boycott, complain, march,and pray.ForFelix organize; mustalso one Bautista finaloption notthearmed the is onebutthespiritual and,tellingly, one, in an editorial August, called last he upon hisreaders prayforPresident to Marcos, to pray thathewill"give his. . . pride" up andusehis'considerable talents helo to people. his sutfering pasBautista's wittyand sometimes ButVerlfas considerably than torlyeditorials, is more lacedwith Biblical allua single-minded harpy.lts voiceis not sions, suggest strongly the current that only an angryone. In the contextof crisis thePhilippines itsorigins in has in journalism, of thejournalism a failure human Filipino and of character, theflaws in of opposition particular, voiceof in the Veritas is also unusuallyliterate, thoughtful, complex,and Christian. qualities pervade publication, These the but they are mostobvious Veritas's in editorial writing, boththat of its official editors thatof itsregular and columnists. In his lead editorials Felix Bautista reminds readers almost weekly his on a basisof the 'revolting ugliness the of repressive regime,' reiterating comthe mon grievances dictatorial caprice, militarism, poverty, injustices, insecurity, and stateviolence and restating the common demand that "ourdemocracy to with its [be] restored us,"complete checksand balances, honest civilservants, clean elections, a responsible Felix Bautista and

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greed,and the lust for of selfishness, power. Theirovertandbluntest message government go!"but maybe"This must is, theirtone, directed those power, at in in a word,"Forshame!' calling for In reform for the restoration demoand ol Bautistais calling cratic institutions, equallyfor the restoration goodness of in pubtic service for decency, sincerity,honesty, selflessness. clearHe and ly agrees thecardinal: problem with the is a moralone,and it requires moral a solution. Associate EditorMelinda Jesus. de authorof the opinioncolumn"The Human Factor,"writes in the same often spirit.2Her weekly reflections focus upon opposition, upon the and the urgent need a newkindof leadership for political to unifythe confused massbe"thedictatorship the right" tween of and "the violentthreatof the revolutionary |eft,"a groupthat potentially includes leftists step everyone frustrated from one awayfromtakingup a gun,on the one side,to "right-thinking" officers on army the other.Withinthis mass she is a forces," champion the "middle of or moderates, "the independents," all or euphemisms thenonleft, given for or, the confusion fluidity politicalthought and of in the Philippines |eft." today, "less the She callsuponthemto bandtogether andexertthemselves the hubbub amid politics. and dissension opposition of Should theynot do so, thenthe more radical elements surely will seize upthe oer hand. She also assertsthat the moderate conoppositionist elements tinueto represent real consensus the among population large, that, the at and factherefore, *represent crucial they the greater tor in attracting numbers the to protest movement."

Thus her messageto the Philippine left is - You need us. too! She therefore urges them to drop the "sanctimonious arrogance" they displaytoward moderates(regarded as1ackng in compassionl and sympathyfor the masses,because r. or theseare identified with big-business withAmerican interestsJ to'join with and other Filipinosnow workingfor change in the Philippines." How to identify and bring forward a leaderwho can bring togetherthe disparateelements Filipino of dissent- this has preoccupied Jesus as it has so de politicians many others.The professional havefailedto do this. She believes they are too concerned "with an electoral triumoh . . . to return their oartiesand themselvesto power."In attemptingto do so'the payment political of debts,the return of politicalfavors"will inevitably play its time-honored role. Even if "the politicians'could wrest power from the president,it is not good enough:"Concerned Filipinosare now looking to a new breed of politician,more atuned, more directlyin touch with the needsof the broad spectrumof society.""lronically,"she writes,"thosewho woulddeny theirambition probably oneswho are the possessthe personalqualitiesnecessary . to leadthe nationto recovery . ..'What is needed is a transcendentfigure. In scanningthe pool of potential unifiers, only one was sutficiently transcendent, untaintedby selfishness, and heroicto suit the need: Mrs. CorazonAouino. Melindade Jesushad long ago written of Cory Aquino in extraordinary terms, the new widow who in the wake projected of her husband'sassassination a"rare profileof strengthand courage," an "awesomeinner calm,"whose presence at prayer vigils, marches, and rallies could'holdand unifythe disparate elementsof protest," and whose "reluctant participation in [subsequently] the decisionsand actionsof the opposition suggesta keenintelligence a sound and judgment. . . ." By March 1985,as oppositionistgroups flounderedabout in the search for a potential presidential candidate, for CoryAquinoemerged, de Jesus, the'Lightin the Tunnel." she as lt decided to run, she could unite the politicenterand sweepthe'professional cians"into the background. De Jesus then wrote, "The key to Cory'ssuccesswouldbe the publicconfidenceplaced in her integrity, her intelligence, disarming her lackof personal ambition."Here was the new breed of politician, principled who the individual transcendedcorrupt institutions,petty ambitions, loyalties. and compromising Herewas a leader,in short,whose fun-

Father Joaquin Bernas damental qualificationfor office was her goodness.A moral solutionto a moral problem. Melinda was not uniquely This insight although she did playa conde Jesus', spicuous role in articulating it; more broadly it was a growing consensus of among the intelligentsia the center. Nudging CoryAquinointothe limelight, into candidacy and eventually a possible for presidentwhen the opportunityfor elections at last became concrete, becamea goal not only of de Jesus but also the prevailingpoliticalhope within the collectivevoice of Veritas. JoaquinBernasis a legalscholar,a Jesuit - f rom 1976to 1982 head of the orderin the Philippines and now president of the Ateneo,widely regardedas in the finestprivateuniversity the Philippines. His "Occasional Reflections" are the learned, tightly reasoned, cogent thoughts of someone steeped in the Westernclassicsand Englishliterature Law, all of and expert in Constitutional which he is. FatherBernascitesShakeand speare,Demosthenes, RobertFrost familiarly,and, never inclinedto talk once beganhis coldownto his readers, "As umn with the sentence, Miltononce whenthe wrote,wherewereyou nymphs remorseless deep closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas?" Bernasshareslhe Veritasperception of the MarcosNew Societyas a tyranny of and the felt injustices the system.As he pointsout repeatedly, however,"lt's not . . . just a questionof fairness.lt's Alalso a questionof constitutionality." applies sharp his thoughFatherBernas knifeof logicto widelydivergent aspects of New Society life, he is as his best

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when dissecting sinewytissuesof the the Marcos constitutionitself and all the resolutions,regulations,and decrees that constitute legalistic the basisfor the regime'slegitimacy. Becausehe believes the wisdomof in writtenconstitutions the rule of law. and Bernasis especially galledto observehis own governmentpervertthese tools of democracyand justiceto meetthe needs of dictatorship. "We have seen the external trappingsof constitutionalism the document, plebiscite, referenthe the dum, the assembly,the electionsmanipulated as to legalize type of so the authoritarianism which 18th{enturylegal thought sought to curb through written constitutions." Ferdinand ls Marcos dica tator? Yes, of course he is, answersBernas, and it is his constitutionthat makes him so; the constitution,after all. allocates the president to personally the powerto imposemartiallaw,to suspend the writ ol habeas corpus, and to legislateby decree,and it rendershim forever immune from prosecution resulting from his official actions.s Dependentupon the uncheckedpower of the executive,the entire judicial system is corrupted:justices are suborned, lawyers intimidated,witnesses frightened - "legitimateand socially n e c e s s a r y . . . p o w e r sa r e b e i n gp r o s _ tituted to make them instrumentsol president harassment and repression." Marcos,in short, is "killingjusticesoftly with due process."As for finding anit convicting the slayers of Benigno Aquino, "there can' be no adequ-ate juslice under the presentregime.'; Echoing FelixBautista and Melinda de Jesus, Father Bernas also expresses frustration overthe failures opposition of leaders"to set aside personalambition and forge a unitedand people-oriented stand." Some opposition politicians "seem to be merely waiting for their chanceto do theirown brandof the Marcos act on the people." reflecting In upon this problem,it is Bernasthe theolooian who surfaces. CitingDietrich Bonhoe-fe/s ideaof costlygrace,he callsfor benevolence,pardon,and love:"Therecan be no reconciliation withoutthe priceof selfdeflation." When institutions or when fail, they have been thoroughly corrupted, a societymust call upon its good people. JoaquinBernasapplies weapons the of reasonand criticalanalysisagainstthe Marcosregime,using them to peel off, layer by layer, its garb of constitutional legitimacy leaving and him standing bare before his people. But he is also concerned lest those who opposethe government intoa reasonless fall disposition and fail to differentiatebetween the

Salvador P. Lopez properrole and functionof legal institutions,on the one hand,and the manipulation and abuse of these by dictatorial regimeson the other, Thus, always,a respectfor laws,for the words in which theyare expressed, the logicbuiltinto for their meaning. This is Bernas's mostchallengingagenda,to instillrespectfor the law itself even as he exposes its abuse. He alsocautionshis readers againstother reasonless prejudices, such as the kneejerk assumption that the military is responsiblefor every act of capricious violence.Keep your head, he says, use your mind, think as well as feel! SalvadorP. Lopez,anotherof Veritas,s featuredcolumnists, also calls his readers to thought. Lopez is Veritas's most distinguished contributor, havingonce held severalseniorambassadorial oosts. includingAmbassadorto the United States, having been president of the University the Philippines, elitenaof fhe tional (public) university,and, before martiallaw, foreign ministerunder FerdinandMarcos. column,'ln Light His the of Truth," reflectshis cosmopolitan life and wide readingin political philosophy, and a knowledge worldaffairsunusual of in the Philippines, where the average cosmosseldomtranscends limitsof the "Philippines-America" in Veritas. even ln his column he broodssagelyabout the state of affairs in his country. Like Father Bernas, Lopez grieves overthe debasement the philippines, of democraticinstitutions, constitution. its its legislature, courts.lt is not our inits stitutionsthat have failed us. it is our leader. has made'every He aspectof national life subservientto his will and pleasure,or subjectto the interestand cupidity of his friends."Echoing the others, Lopez says that Marcos'sflaws

are not flawsof intelligence skill - inor deed, Ferdinand Marcosis exceptionalfy gifted - butol characfer.Marcos'ssin is the sin of ego, "overweeningselfesteem, pride, arrogance,hubris." A columnillustrating Lopez's styleand approachis his "Letterto President Marcos on the Usesof Power,"publishedin February1985.In it Lopezreflectsupon the roleand behavior GeneralCharles of de Gaullein post-warFrance,particularly upon the foundingof the Fifth Republic "on the basis of a new Constitution closely patterned on his own political philosophy and tailoredto his own personalrequirements." President lf Marcos patterned own 1973constitution his after de Gaulle's of 1958, as is often suggested,then the president'should inbe terestedin how he handledthe terminal years of his presidency. . . ." ln short, Lopez reports, following political disordersde Gaullemade preparations for withdrawinglrom power, proceededto hold a valid referendum (whichhe lost), and then resigned."Today Charlesde Gaulleis remembered the statesman as who rebuiltFrancefrom the ruinsof war and restoredher to her accustomedrank as a greatnationof Europe." Lopez,who served as a diplomat in France both beforeand during the de Gaulleyears, 'l goeson wistfully, haveonlythe faintest recollection who Madamede Gaulle of was or their children."Presidentde Gaullewas a studentof history. knew He the connoisseu/s technique handling for power like a bottle of fine wine": he decanted slowly,mindfully it savored the best of it; and then "put down his cup" before imbibing the dregs. As for the wine of power, he says to Ferdinand Marcos,the dregs "can be acrid on the tongue." In the past year SalvadorLopez has writtenratherhopefullyabout eventsin Chinaand India,and forebodingly about eventsin LatinAmerica,especially with referenceto his fear of a militarycoup in the Philippines. This fear peakedin Novemberand December1984 when President Marcos disappeared from public view for several weeks; in his Veritascolumn Lopez called this ,,The Hour of MaximumDanger." Addressing UnitedStates-philipplnes relations,Lopezacceptsthe realityof the Americanpresencein the philippines, realistically acknowledging that "we live in a bipolar world dominated by two superpowers, in sucha world,in the and region where we live, the room for maneuver can get rather tight.,,The Philippines has become"a virtuallv indispensable American outpostand operating base in the bipolar world of the

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And this, he undogmaticsuperpowers.' distortsAmericasview of ally observes, as, realityin the Philippines, for example, when Secretaryof State Shultzexwith measures' oressedhimself"satisfied taken by PresidentMarcosregardingthe Aquinokilling. This strategic interest aside, Lopez otherwisedisabuseshis readersof the illusion that the PhilipcommonFilipino "in pines is fundamentally important the schemeof Americanpowerand policy." ln the current crisis, will President Reagan"feelany concernover the status as and future of the Philippines an outpost of freedomand democracyin a part of the world that is dominatedby totaliAmregimes?" tarian and authoritarian bassadorLopezleaveslittledoubt as to his own soberinganswerto this rhetorical question. lndeed,the voice of Veritaswould be soberwere it not for almostponderously Beltran's Veritas column, LuisD. Beltran. "Straightfrom the Shoulder,"began as a weeklyotferingof politicalgossipand tart commentary,but it has veered into towardsatire.lt is probably creasingly his irreverentand funny column that many readersfirst turn when breaking into a new issueof Veritas.Beltranmay havefound in satirethe perfectmedium seem what mustsometimes for ridiculing behavior of the willfully self-incriminating the president,his wife, and the swarm of relatives,confidants,generals,and cronieswho now comprisethe government of the Philippines. "Therepublicof Banana," Beltrantells places us, "is one of the most miserable is on earth.lts capital,Metronila builton a mountainof garbage,its streets are patrolledby secretmarshals,a there are no electionsand no officialsexcept for

the president and his wife, who are knownformallyas the Top Bananaand ChiquitaBanana.The two of them and their Cronies,as well as the childrenof their Cronies, receive all the incomea derivedfrom the country'sexport prod- + ucts. bananas and citizens." In the Reoublicof Banana favors are traded among the privilegedfew, shamelessly knownas the Smart Bananas,who fly for free on Banana Air Lines (BAL) and "admire masses whomthe impoverished they "can leavethe because and idolize" Republicof Bananaat any time theY Bananinos ParticiPate want in vicariously the good life by watching the Republic'smost popular TV show, "Lifestyles the Rich and Infamous." of do Some Bananinos objectto all this, but the collectivemembers of the Ba' just Opposition nanaUnitedCooperative the meanwhile can'tseem to cooperate; New BananaArmy,the NBA, lurksmenacingly on the fringes. In Beltran's HadriSociety, Republic Banana/New of of an works in the Department Elegance, and it is his job to tailor the English languageto meet the needsof the government. Hadrian has redefined the phrase "early stages of influenza' to cover kidney transplants and heart bypasses, for example, and is now of studyingthe possibility making "norand with'catastrophe" mal' synonymous "Truth,honestyand integrity'' "disaster." to will soon be consigned an appendix in his New Society Dictionary,to be called"ArchaicElegantEnglish." Gregorian, headof the Department as handlespublic relaof Enlightenment, tions for the Top Banana and controls the Banana Press.sHe explainswhy, on the day of BenignoAquino'sextraordinary funeral, the government-controlledpresschoseto ignorethe massive funeraland to headlineinsteada story Gregorian: abouta man hit by lightning. *. . . eversincemartiallawwas declared, there have been plentyof funerals,but only a few peopleare hit by lightning." us too, It is Gregorian, who informs that will Mrs.lmeldaMarcos not run for President unlessshe hears "the voice of the people calling her to service."All the room,he is rehearswhile,in an adjacent employees ing a gleeclubof government called"The Voice of the People." Althoughthe beam of Beltran'scynigoverncismis focuseduponthe Marcos ment, like all good satiristshe does not of spare the follies and hypocrisies his the oppositionpolitiallies, particularly cians. In an especiallysharp depiction an in March1985,he imagines opposinof tion candidate(certainly intendedto depict Cory Aquino) on the campaign

dicthe trail - denouncing U.S.-Marcos on tatorshipand multinationals university campuses,then advocatingremovalol U.S. bases and the end of the IMF " s t r a n g l e h o l d "o n t h e P h i l i p p i n e economy,all of this "followedby quiet . officials . . with U.S.Embassy meetings where he can explain . . . he reallY doesn'tmean it." ln November1984Beltranenvisioned of a new stagein the history his Republic MarSociety.President of Banana/New cos goes on leaveto writea 1OO'volume and .A Junta historyof the Philippines assumesPower. Known as SALVAGE" SALVAGE,in this instance,stands for "supreme Agency Leaders for Victory and Against the General Emergency," under General Coup D'Etat it has asreuponthe unanimous sumedauthority questof the legislature, whosemembers all were,unfortunately, absentduringthe voting pending evaluationof their subversion cases. Colonel Gregorianpresides over their first news conference, asks,'Sir,how long and whensomeone to do you expectthe currentemergency soonas we wipe last,sir?"he replies:'As secesthe out the Communists, Muslim the armies, Marxists, the sionists, private the Maoists,the CatholicBishopsConference, the Basic Christian Communities, Unido,the PDP-Laban latthe [the ter two are oppositionpartiesl,Namfrel the who attended Aquino and everybody funeral." to columnresponds the Luis Beltran's pervasive feelingthat, in the Philippines just*ridiculous! today,thingsare* A brief scan of a single issue of Veritas,selectedat random,gives one an ample taste of its style and range beyond the editorialpages. As it happens, no major event dominated the June 30, 1985 issue - the trial of the on lumbered indeAquinoconspirators reacting the to forces, cisivelyopposition probabilityof presion-again-otf-again found unity as elusive dentialelections, as ever; and the NPA continuedto nibble its way inward into the body of the beleagueredNew Society. For 1985 it was a fairly typical week. Verifas'smock tabloid cover featured a large photograph of oppositionleader and former Senator Salvador Laurel (popularly .All known as Doy) under the bold title, the Wrong Moves";and under smaller pictures of two opposition politicians partiesotherthan Laurel's representing - Eva EstradaKalawand RamonMitra - was the caption"Oh Doy! Doy, Doy!" ln the week's feature article Laurel is in for roundlycriticized maneuvering the Philippine legislature (the Batasan

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Pambansa)to havehis party,UNIDO,ofThus,the opposition. ficially declared the dominant opposition The backpageof the June30, 1ggs r**** party," at the expense of the others.6 Veritas carries reports theAquino two on AlthoughVeritasis editorially commitThe article,by Veritas seniorwriterRina trial,onetelling twonewprosecution ted to nonviolence, of and unequivocally ,,suspicion,,, JimenezDavid,refersto a witnesses, otheraboutthe pending so, its coverageof the radical left and the which David narrowly avoids owning, decision the special by court(theSan- communismin the Philippines not is that "thereis more stylethan substanc-e diganbayan)as to whether or not nearlyso vociferous its treatmentof as in the man"and "thesinking feeling that testimonies the accused of militarv of- the Marcosgovernment. begin with, To he isnt verydifferent fromthe guy whose ficers theAgrava to Board couldbe used manywithinthe Churchhavelongsince regimehe wants dismantled.,, Another as evidence the prosecution.T for This absorbed aspects of Marxist social featurearticle,"BreakupsRock Bavan.,, article emphasizes allegeddisagree- analysisin tandemwith the growth of a addresses the coming apart of the ments between stateappointed the pros- politicized, "people-oriented" movement "cause-oriented' coalition calledBAyAN, ecutorManuelC. Herrera, whomthe within the Philippine Church,a movean attempt to bring together nonparty reporter praisesfor attempting exto ment fosteredby the teachingsof Vatiorganizationsof the left and centei. ecute responsibilities his vigorously, and can ll and the localacclimatization the of BAYANcongressdelegates,Veritastells p. hissuperior Bernardo Fernandei. who theofogy of liberation.lo Veritas ot "werepolarizedinto their respective is us, depicted obstructing as Herrera's efcoursechampionsand defendsactivist ideological camps, riven by suspicions, forts.Read: Hereis a decentmanwithin priestsand sisters.What is more,it has insinuations and [referring the selecto thesystem whosehonest etforts beare repeatedly carriedstoriesthat depictthe tion of officers]. . . outrightaccusations ing thwarted by the corrupt regime. New People'sArmyl1 sympathetically, oI powerplayand election manipulation." Other articles of economiCdesper- or at leastneutrally, tell and has given indi-

ation among unemployed laborers sugar in NegrosOccidental, the military of authorities Davao who refuse to in release imprisoned'subversives' despite courtdecisions eitherrelease acto or 'l ammorally quitthemconvinced that somereleased communist subversives areguilty," Regional Unified Command ChiefBrig.General Dionisio Tan-gatue is quoted saying andof a successas ful general strike the Export in Processing Zone at Bataan.An economist reports that'WeCould a Mini-Boom See by the End of the Year,"and Veritas board member Bro. RolandoDizon describes positiveimpressions his of China, whichhe had recentlv visited. The June 30, 1985issueof Veritas alsocontains special a four-part report on newdevelopments within philipthe pine Church,relatingparticularly to government-provoked against terror religiousactivists an ltalian missionarv. Father TullioFavali, recentlv had been slainby Civilian HomeDefense Forces (CHDFs) Mindanao andthegrowth in of BasicChristian Communities.s but also addressing mini-scandal the surrounding ordination the philipthe of pines'newest cardinal, Ricardo Vidal, when lmelda Marcosswept into the Roman celebrationsVidal's as (uninvited) patroness. Promptedby a HarvardBusiness SchoolAssociation the philippines of round{able meeting whichdweltupon thetopic insurgencythephilippines, of in LuisBeltran's column June30describof eda U.S.-Philippine exchange military of advisers, "Captain JohnRambo Lt. and JuanRambutan," Bautista, Jesus and de andFr.Bernas addressed nature all the and threatof the New People's Army, dwelling theproblem finding, de on of in Jesus'words,"an optionbetween Mr. Marcos and the NPA.'e

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for and viduals to struggle, anti-feudalism realconcern the commifted thearmed and workers. . . ." One enof or to a radicalanalysis the current peasants such in the to crisis,an opportunity air theirviews counters second an article'The as AsuncionDavid Maramba's readers. betoreVeritas's of class - will A striking example thiswasVeritads Dilemma the Middle of Repeat ltself in whichMaram-r with(Fr.) History lenglhy interview May1984 in in ba turns the mirrorof the left upon tr Balweg, priest a ordained the Conrado now modernday illustrados the sort who of Word(SVD), Society the Divine for in an NPA commander north central pubfish (and read) Veritas:the wellreformist modand is with educated, articulate, The interview illustrated Luzon. photographs Balweg, oneof which erateupperclasses whosespirit"sinin of the he poses dramatically before moun- cerely surges forward" but whose 'interests holdthem back." M-16at the ready. material tain rice terraces, to in Ontheotherhand, addition a prG of Balweg asserts validity thearmed the Veritas relates religious spiritual founddreadof armedrevolution, to struggle'and 'WhenI was ordained. it is repelled whatit viewsasthe radical by commitment: loward totalitarianism, letfsinclinations was stressed that the essence of priesthood theotfering oneslifewith its avers'on dissent, its arrogance and to is of leadership. inin assaulting moderate the . no absolutefy conditions. . ." Veritas in with troduces interview an editorial Thereis the fear,expressed one inthe reporter interviewing by calls stance aVeritas entitled "Listening Balweg'which to should armed the Balweg's for decision armedrevolution oneof the"Reds,'that who many "a compelling succeed, eventually aspectof the national revolutbn to that and struggle thepainfuloption some arenowsympathetib thecPP andits lrill organizations wakeup one atfiliate Filipinos havebeenforcedto take." day and say,Hey,this isn'twhatI had Torced take" to the Filipinos havebeen view, in mind." in optionof violence, the Veritas proclivities commuThetolalitarian of conditions of because the deplorable prevailing manypartsof the Philip- nistscan only be tamed,arguesS.P. in pines, by themto jointhe legal it to conditionstakespains docu- Lopez, inviting process. theyarepermitted to lf An in of ment. article theedition Septem- political 'egalitarian, antidescribes doso,theywillsupport ber 29, 1985,for example, trendsand propoanti€litist hunger destitution thesugarlands capitalist, in and full but of Negros, hiringby sugarplanters sals" theywillnotachieve power, the judging the experF by saye, of men of thousands paramilitary to sup- not,Lopez "all press including encesof othercountries, and, the angryex-workers, among or democratic waves liberal democratic social laborers themselves, unemployed partyhas where Communist the of new recruits the New People's states for in beenallorved participate parliamento Army.A local priestsays,'there'sno question NPAhasthesupport the on of tary govemment the solecondition the people." similar picture the in thatit abide thelawandlorswear emerges fre by A quentVerltas articles addressing condi- useof violence." VeritaCs most basic attitudetoward tions elsewhere. in "Red Zone in as (July1984). charMany Filipino is Eastern Mindanao,' communists expressed, written Dr. by acteristically,a prayer, in recruitsto the NPA, Veritasseemsto in for Jose V. Abueval2 and published say, cannotbe blamed joiningthe poverty, LVe the Lope/scolumn: pray theComthat militarization, communists: that munist revolutirnaries . convinced .. capricioususe of state power and rights, would be violence, abuse human the of and a peaceful democratization a variety of other preventable undenrvay,which in theyandall political have are catastrophes, leftsomegoodpeo- prisoners givenbacktheirfreedom people in ple - indeed, goodChristian wouldparticipate through amnesty, an political a non-violent democratic with no plausible alternative. Fromthe and perspective is just another transformation build a strongand Veritas this to aspect the awfultruth. of unitedFilipinonationand a just and Veritads and equitable society all its members." for coverage communism of peacefudemocratization is Achieving as | the left in generaldisplays well a nacuriosity someinand the great"lf Only. . .' of Philippine degree sincere of trospection. firstcan be illustrated tionalfife.andfor Veritas its constiThe and favorable im- tuencyit is the paramount obsession. by Bro. Rolando Dizon's pressions reformsin the People's Other problems, asalleviaturgent such of "Looking Be- ingtheproblems economic decay and Republic China, called of of yond Communism," which he de- masspoverty of rectifying Philipin the and as with States, scribes Chinese communism "acom- pines'relationship theUnited plex form of socialism" stressing wilffindtheirsofutions a @nsequence as 'peaceful Veritas thuspreocis coexistence, anti-imperialism, of itsachievemenl.

whose bewiththegovernment, cupied genuine democto havior seems thwart ratization everyturn - the February at may,at longlast,mark 1986elections point- andwiththeefforts of a turning and organizations, inallof thoseparties, who dividuals seekto bringthe governVeritas Marcos down. mentof Ferdinand politicians of is highly critical opposition of and andtheirfailings, of thebehavior groupsof the left the "cause-oriented' precisely at their because success unifiso cationmatters much.Giventhe inpolarization national in evident creasingly politics, opportunity the restorafor the institutions the by tion of democratic unifiedforce of the centermay soon if a become lostopportunity, it has not already. is Veritas onlyone amongmanyoPposition publications the Philippines in circulatoday, notthatofthehighest and con' to tion.lt speaks andfor a smaller stituencythan the daily newspaper or Malaya,for example, Mr. and Ms revealsa great Yel Veritas weekly.i3 political inthePhilippines, life dealabout the one lor in it,distilled, encounters colelement the of voice fltepivotal of lective political spectrum- the Philippine and hopeful, despair' confused, broad, center. ing Christian No political label satisfactorily although the ol describes voice Veritas, with individuals affiliated themagmany azine,such as SalvadorLopez and themselves as describe Father Bernas, Political ideas very are social democrats. today, however, fluidin the Philippines the and what reallyanimates voiceof and of is Veritas a collectivity convictions are,ontheface some which of feelings, of it, contradictory suchassympathy whoare, those among for revolutionaries anticommunists ideologically, confirmed - andmany which vague. LoPez are of hopein calling the expresses broadest and for a "free, plural, participatory humanesociety...." and is Thevoiceol Veritas ambivalent aboutmanyissues howto confused and of solvethe problems inequality poverty, example, and whatto do for to subservience aboutthe Philippines' The and States its interests. the United militarybasesare a blight American but national sovereignty, uponPhilippine shouldbe doneaboutit what,exactly, Thesethingsare unresolved. remains And agonized upon. it hasbeen brooded by constantly the classicproblemof By in moderates a dictatorship. participatingin the corrupted of institutions government we notperpetuating tyare (Boycott elections!) canwe Or ranny? the (Particifromwithin? change system the

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JRR-3-'85/9

pate! lt is our best hope.)About the imoortanceof democraticinstitutionsit has no doubts, however: an independent judiciary, separate and balancing executiveand legislative branches subject to popular through will freeelections, and basicfreedoms and rightsconstitutionally guaranteed.Finally,it welcomesthe Church and its leadership,primarily RomanCatholic,as an essentialforce of moral directionin nationallife. The voiceol Veritas- humanitarian. principled, and Christian- embodies the idealsand convictions well as the as ambiguities and doubtsof a maturepersonality,a personality nurturedin an intellectualtradition (mostly Western)of highcivilization. cherishes lt diversity and dissent,and, in one way or another, embraces both Bonhoeferand Balweg although no meansequally.lt has not by the confidence certainty. visionfor of lts the Philippines therefore complicated is a one. Indeed,it may be that this manyNOTES 1. Veiltas,November20-26,1983. Unless otherwisenoted,subsequent quotations are all from Veritas. 2. When Bautistarecruitedher, de Jesus had recentlybeen fired from the governmentlinked The Bulletn, where her column rankled the powersthat be. 3. He refers,of course,to the martiallaw constitution 1973, as amended. t/erifas, of March24, 1985. 4. Govern.ment vigilantesquads. 5. President Marcossministerof information is GregorioCendana.

personifies edged vision is too complex, too fully the hope of the center. human,to assertitselfpowerfully amidst ln CoryAquinothe voiceof Veritashas the polarized clamorand violence the of found an idealized vision of itself. late New Society. Animating hope placedin her is an the At the heart ol the voice ol Veritas is imageof almostspiritualpowerto many the understanding that true demoeracy Filipinos. Recalled Melinda Jesus, by de must be achievedthrough a dialogi'[sit is the imageof CoryAquinoat her hustween wisely wrought institutionsand band's funeral, calling the gathered principledpeople.The imperfections of mourners silentprayer:'lmmediately, to pre-martial democracynotwithstand- the massivecrowd stood still in hushed law ing, the currentcrisisis fundamentally s i l e n c e , h o l d i n g u p t h e i r f l i c k e r i n g the consequence immoralleadership. candles lightup the darkness night." of to of It is the integrityof our nationallife that 1985] [December must be restored. And thus it has been the voice ol Veritasthat has put forward Postscript: Flux et Veritas and extolledCory Aquino as the one perBeginning August1985, in Melinda de son of sutficiently broad,indeedheroic, Jesustook a yea/s sabbaticalleavefrom popular acceptanceand unquestioned her editorialresponsibilities Verltas at to goodnessto challengeFerdinandMarbe Journalist Residence the Univerin at cos in the presidential elections of sityof Michigan. December In 1985Luis February 1986.lt hascalleduponher not Beltranjoined the Philippinelnquirer as only to unifythe disparate and bickering editorof its daily edition. forcesof opposition to put the presibut dent and his government shame.She to

6. This designationentitles it to certain privileges should electionsoccur. 7. Ultimately decidedin the negative, thus pavingthe way for the eventualacquittal. 8. See James R. Rush, "The Philippine Church: A Faith That Does Justice," UFSI Reports,1984/No. 31. 9, S.P.Lopezsuspended columnin April his for personalreasons,and has since revivedit. 10. See James R. Rush, "The Philippine Church.. ..'

11. The armedwingof the Communist Party of the Philippines. 12. ProfessorAbueva is Secretaryof the United Nations Universityin Tokyo and a distinguished social scientist. 13. Circulation, respec55,000and 300,000 tively.Guy Sacerdoti, The Born-again media," Far EasternEconomicReview,May 23, 1985, p.31.

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