Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Magnificent 12 or Malevolent 12?

1991 was the year that was...

In 1991, the Philippine Senate rejected the US bases treaty in a vote of 12-11. The 12 senators became known as the “Magnificent 12.”


Now called the Magnificent 12, they were derided then as the Dirty Dozen and accused of being out of touch with the rest of the country.

The Magnificent 12 comprised then senators Agapito Aquino, Sotero Laurel II, Ernesto Maceda Jr., Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr.,Rene Saguisag, Jovito Salonga, Wigberto Tanada, and Victor Ziga supported Resolution No, 1259 of Non-Concurrence to a "Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security" or the proposed agreement that would have allowed the US military bases to stay in the country for another decade.
  1. Former senator and senate president (July 27, 1987-January 1, 1992), Jovito R. Salonga -
    "In our history as a nation, our best years were when we took our destiny in our hands and faced the uncertain future with boldness and hope and faith. Those were the times when Filipinos experienced a sense of national renewal and self-respect. The Revolution of 1896, the battle for the liberation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945, the struggle for freedom during the darkest years of Martial Law culminating in the mountain peak experience of EDSA in February 1986, how can we ever, ever forget these high moments in the life of this nation?



    "September 16, 1991 may well be the day when we in the Senate found the soul, the true spirit of this nation because we mustered the courage and the will to declare the ned of foreign military presence in the Philippines, and helped pave the way to lasting peace here and in the world. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they sall be called the children of God", our Lord said in His deathless sermon on the mount.



    "Therefore, I vote No to this treaty, and if it were only possible, I would vote 203 million times No. I also vote as sounding YES to this resolution of non-concurrence.



    "Salamat po at Mabuhay and bansang Pilipinas"
  2. Former senator, Sotero H. Laurel -
    "I realized, Mr. President, how difficult it is for propularly elected public officials to disagree with the sovereigh people on matters that directly or indirectly affect them. Easier it is for them to say "Show me where the people are going, and I shall lead them". But the times, Mr. President, call for moral courage: the courage to differ and take a position on controversial issues in the larger interest of all the people themselves. It is now time for inspired and well-informed leadership, and it is itme for leaders to lead.



    "In the pursuit of our common goal to build a new world order of democracy, peace, freedom, and security, it is also better, I believe, to be a strong independent ally than remain a weak and subservient sattelite. For these considerations, Mr. President, based on law and reason, I vote for the resolution of non-concurrence, which of course, means I also vote against the treaty."
  3. Former senator and senate president (November 17, 2008-June 30, 2010 & July 26, 2010-June 5, 2013), Juan Ponce Enrile - "We collectively echoed the sentiment of the Filipino people to unshackle themselves."
    "I have a higher estimation of our people's capabilities than this moment entertains. I have a higher opinion of Filipino courage than this government has, because it rescued me at EDSA. I calculate a higher sum of our military's collective strength than its poor leadership claims for it, because I saw it go through many victories in my time. Finally, I have a higher vision of this country's destiny than as a depot of diminishing importance of a foreign power.

    "The country we can be - strong, proud, progressive - is dying to be born, but cannot until this unequal relationship expires. A new dawn is aching to break but cannot until the senate lays down its final verdict on the U.S. bases and a long unequal relationship.

    "That verdict can only be as I hereby vote: no, no and no. No more and never again. God save the Republic.

    "Long live the Filipino people.
  4. Former senator and President of the Philippines, Joseph Ejercito "Erap" Estrada - "our finest hour"
    "We have a shameful past which we now must redeem. Let this be our finest hour as we face the judgement of history.



    "Kinakailangan po natin ngayon na magkaisa. Kinakailangan na po nating magbuklod-buklod... sa iisang diwa... sa iisang layunin... sa iisang paninindigan at paniniwala... na tayong mga Pilipino lang ang makakapagligtas sa kapwa Pilipino. At kapag nagawa po natin ito, sisikat na muli ang araw sa lupang hinirang.



    "We must now complete the unfinished task -- our unfinished revolution, not with bloodshed as our forefathers did, but with the stroke of a pen. We merely have to sacrifice our comforts while our forefathers had to give up their lives."
  5. Former senator, Victor Ziga - "one of my proudest moments because the Senate had been able to resist fancy rhetoric and cheap propaganda."
    There appears to be a growing orchestrated attempt to create a supposed clamor for the ratification of the proposed treaty. The tactics being employed remind us of the same attempts to gain popular acceptance for martial rule.



    I refuse to ride the crest of this fleeting popularity. I refuse to be deceived by fancy rhetoric and cheap propaganda. I refuse to sacrifice our national interest in exchange for a bundle of vague promises. Rather, I choose to continue to work for what I believe is right and just for our country. I therefore submit my action to the lasting judgement of history with my conscience and my conviction as my cause.
  6. Former senator, Agapito "Butz" Aquino, brother-in-law to then President Corazon Aquino - "I love my country more than I love my President."
    "I am calling on the Filipino people to take heart in this dawn of our nation's birth. With our redeemed pride and honor, let us join hands, roll up our sleeves, and get down to work toward the long-overdue overhaul of our society. Together let us hasten the emergence of a hardworking, confident, self-reliant, community-oriented, civic-minded, and law-abiding citizenry.



    "By insisting on my stand of rejection, I have risked the comtempt of my friends, lost the support of my constituency, and earned the anger of the president whose opinion and approval I value. Nevertheless, I stand firm in my decision to vote against the proposed treaty. As i have already said, I love my country more than I love my President"
  7. Former senator and senate president (November 13, 2000-June 30, 2001), Aquilino Pimentel Jr., - "Go ahead. Do your worst and we shall do our best." 
    "We who vote on this treaty have been subjected not only to pressures, but also to threats. In my case let me tell all concerned that during the past regime, I have laid my life on the line. I have been arrested and jailed no less than four times. I have been ousted from office twice - all because I would not bow down to the imposition of a dictatorship that was, by the way, kept in place through U. S. support, and because I had wanted to contribute my bit to keep alive the flame of freedom that illuminates the country today.



    "On this day, therefore - the day of our final deliverance, I hope, from the clutches of a colonial power - I say to those who threaten us with political oblivion or physical extinction for our vote of rejection: Go ahead, do your worst, because we will do our best"
  8. Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tanada III, son of former senator Wigberto Tanada - "the bases treaty gave US forces 500 hectares of what had been hunting grounds of the indigenous Aetas of Zambales. The Aetas were given the exclusive right to scavenge off the scraps." 
    "Today is our turn to perform our duty to history".

    These words were uttered five years ago, yet they now are more relevant than ever. In the words of Senator Lorenzo M. Tanada "We could live with certain shortcomings or even mistakes in the choices we may make regarding our form of government or electoral systems, but in the matter of drafting or enforcing a sovereign charter or defining a self determined direction for our future, we cannot shirk our historic responsibility, in the supreme task in building a sovereign nation.
    Mga kababayan, tanggihan natin ang tratadoing ito. Tanggapin natin ang pagsubok nang pambansang kasarinlan at kapangyarihan tungo sa kapayaan. Ngayon na! Mabuhay ang sambayanang Filipino.
  9. Former senator, Orlando Mercado, who served as Defense secretary under Estrada - "today, we have only ourselves to blame and to praise" and "the plan is that we will stand on our own."
    "With my vote, I call upon the people to hold firmly and dearly on to national pride and self-respect. These are not mere words, as some of those driven by despondency to cynicism sneer at. "We cannot eat our pride", they say, and appealing to basic needs, ridicule the people's capacity to sacrifice with dignity intact. They would want us to swallow our pride by accepting this grossly inequitable treaty.



    "National pride and self-respect are not mere words. They are solid and indispensible values that we must nurture and strengthen within ourselves. They are what make a nation and not just a population.



    Vote YES to non-concurrence"
  10. Former senator, Rene A.V. Saguisag -
    "It is true that jobs and money may be lost; however, this expected consequence yields to time and effort. But no nation becomes great without being prepared to give up much more than these. Success as a nation can only come after effort, unity, hard work, and fervent prayer. And it crowns struggle, sacrifice, selflessness, self-reliance, and self liberates from the dangers of our own fears, insecurities, diffendence, and timidity.



    I vote YES to friendship. I vote YES to cooperation. I vote NO to the basing rights agreement - one thousand and one times NO."
  11. Former senator and senate president (October 10, 1996-January 26, 1998), Ernesto Maceda -  
    "I refuse to be hounded by the phantoms of Malacanang, I heed the call and clamor of the youth who have shouted so long , "This is our generation, this is our future. Set us free today. Unchain us now. Vote NO to further domination by the United states".



    "I share in the dream of those who will not surrender to despair; and so in conscience I join them in rejecting this dracula of a treaty, this insult to the national intelligence, this disgrace to the worst diplomacy. I join them in following my conscience in rejecting this document.



    "In this summer of disaster and discontent, I vote NO to a document of emnity, division and disadvantage, and another instrument of surrender.
    "Mr. President, at three o'clock in the afternoon for God and country, consummatum est"
  12. Former senator and vice president of the Philippines, Teofisto T. Guingona, Jr. -  
    "This is a decision to break off from the shackles of the past. It is time we came into our own, time to become fully self-reliant, time to stand by ourselves in cooepration with others as equals, time to end our dependency relationship with the United States of America, which it spawned at times to their interest and advantage.
    "Men like Andres Bonifacio, Manuel L. Quezon, Claro M. Recto, and Lorenzo M. Tanada dreamt of breaking the shackles of foreign dominance. We are Filipinos, and the destiny of our nation lies in us. Let us stand together. Let us face the challenge. Let us build the future"
References:

Enrile: US access to PH bases may violate law
Primer on EDCA, by one of ‘Magnificent 12’
Where are the magnificent 12 the dirty dozen?
Senators remember day when they rejected US bases treaty
20 years later, senators who rejected US bases hailed anew
'Magnificent 12' members join 20th anniversary celebration of US bases rejection
Lessons from September 16
Beyond Sight – The false patriots
The Day the Impossible Happened
The Magnificent 12 and the U.S. BASES
September 16, 1991: The Day the Senate said ‘No!’ to Uncle Sam
Philippine Senate terminates US bases

President of the Senate of the Philippines
Roll of Senate Presidents

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