Today, as the incumbent Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continues to dangle the threat of Martial Law and snarls at professional media for doing its job, the story of journalist Alejandro “Alex” Esclamado becomes quite relevant and poignant.
In this guest post, Yvonne — a long-time member of Cyber Plaza Miranda — recalls the bravery of Esclamado who could have had an easy life. He was a province mate of Imelda Marcos – Raissa
Remembering Alex Esclamado and the tentacles of Marcos dictatorship
Guest post by Yvonne
When Raissa Robles was writing her widely acclaimed book ‘Marcos Martial Law Never Again’ I shared with her some leads on Alejandro “Alex” Esclamado, one of the many oppressed victims of Marcos martial law.
Alex was a victim of a different type of torture – economic and mental anguish.
What stands out about Alex is that he was an American citizen living in California; his torture highlighted the far-reaching tentacles of the Marcos dictatorship beyond Philippine territorial boundaries. And it showed clearly how the Marcos regime would stop at nothing to protect its dictatorship.
But Alex’s torture did not make it to the cut in Raissa’s book. [Note from Raissa: Actually, I ran out of pages. So I decided to concentrate on the torture and atrocities in the Philippines.]
I’m reminded again of Alex when House Representative Gary Alejano of the Magdalo Group filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte.
People are asking: why would Alejano file his complaint when it is likely to fail in the House where Duterte supporters comprise the super-majority? Surely, it is an act of futility, so they say.
Or, is it?
Maybe one of the reasons for Alejano’s action is the same reason that prompted U.S. Congressman Phillip Burton to take the floor of the U.S. Congress on October 8, 1975 to talk about Alex – to put into the official records of Congress the atrocities of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship against Filipino-Americans so that those atrocities may not be forgotten by future generations.
Hopefully the impeachment complaint against Duterte will likewise provide a window where future generations of Filipinos can take a look back at the Duterte administration many years from now.
Indeed, after some 40 years later I’m able to glimpse back into a dark episode of the Marcos dictatorship, thanks to Congressman Burton. And because Alex and his fight against the dictatorship are not widely known in the Philippines, I want to share his story so that he may be a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving Filipinos.
Let me start by quoting from U.S. House Congressional Records of October 8, 1975, page 32448:
MARCOS THREATENS U.S. CITIZENS
The SPEAKER pro tempore:
Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California (Mr. PHILLIP BURTON) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. PHILLIP BURTON:
Mr. Speaker, according to reports published in Washington and San Francisco among other places, the Marcos regime in the Philippines, which is presently under investigation by the U.S. Attorney General for allegations of attempted bribery of a witness before a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, is using intimidation, blackmail, and economic reprisals against American citizens critical of the Marcos regime. [NOTE from Raissa: Burton was referring to Primitivo Mijares, Marcos’ chief propagandist who had turned whistleblower and testified in the US Congress.]
A distinguished publisher, Alejandro Esclamado, owner of the Philippine News, has been singled out by the Marcos government in an attempt to silence American journalistic criticism of that regime.
I deplore these outrageous practices and I am asking the Attorney General to expand his investigation to include this matter. Such practices are all the more
shocking in view of the long tradition of deep friendship and respect between the
Philippine and American people. I am placing in the RECORD at this time two newspaper columns outlining this monstrous behavior on the part of a foreign government toward U.S. citizens.
With his speech Representative Burton provided the full text of the articles ‘THE MARCOS AFFAIR’ written by Jack Anderson and ‘ANTI-MANILA PAPER-EDITOR CLAIMS MARCOS THREAT’ written by Andrew Curtin. The articles have since then been included in the U.S. Congressional Records.
The U.S. Congress and Justice Department investigated the bribery allegation in 1975 – it charged that President Ferdinand Marcos offered Primitivo Mijares a $50,000 bribe not to testify on Capitol Hill about the widespread corruption and tyranny in the Philippines. When Mijares refused to accept the bribe, Marcos brought criminal charges against him and sought his extradition to the Philippines. Mijares was Marcos’ former press censor who turned against the dictatorship and wrote the widely revealing book ‘The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’.
The Philippine News, a weekly newspaper in San Francisco that was owned and published by Alex Esclamado, covered the bribery story extensively in its front pages. It was the latest of a string of explosive investigative news reporting by the Philippines News, the only major Filipino newspaper in the U.S. to oppose and fight the Marcos dictatorship from the start when martial law was declared.
Among others, Alex wrote extensively about the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino, and had strongly lobbied the U.S. Congress to cut off U.S. military and economic aid to the Philippines to manifest its displeasure and apply pressure on Marcos.
Alex and the Philippine News were at the receiving end of Marcos’ ire when the bribery scandal was exposed. Through his various emissaries, Marcos exerted immense pressure on Filipino-owned travel agencies in the U.S. to boycott and withdraw their ads from the newspaper. The travel agencies, which accounted for about 80% of the newspaper’s income, were intimidated into closing their advertising accounts. The resulting severe financial hardship for Alex and his family nearly caused the newspaper to fold.
The pressure on the travel agencies came in the form of requests for cooperation from Marcos emissaries. These “requests” were veiled threats that failure to cooperate with Malacanang would have adverse effects on the travel agencies. It was implied that the government would withdraw the privileges given to these agencies to engage in the travel and tourism business. Visitors and tourists to the Philippines were given privileges such as free customs inspection and other courtesies at the airport. Those courtesies could be withdrawn from passengers or clients of travel agencies that did not cooperate with the government. And the government could also deny visas, commercial papers and other documents to clients of the non-cooperating travel agencies.
Alex and his family ran into financial hardship as a result of the boycott. They lost all their properties that they had mortgaged to keep the newspaper running.
A Marcos emissary offered to buy the Philippine News for $10 million, an offer he thought the heavily indebted Alex, could not refuse. But Marcos was mistaken, Alex rejected the offer.
When the boycott, the threats, and the buy-out offer did not work, Marcos tried a different tactic – he financed new Filipino community newspapers to compete with the Philippine News to force it out of business.
Here is an excerpt from Andrew Curtin’s article:
“They’ve tried everything in their efforts to silence the paper,” Esclamado said. “Coercion, threats on my life, pressures on my family, attempts to buy me out. They offered me a very handsome price.”
Esclamado, his wife Lourdes and their seven children all are American citizens.
But some members of his staff are not, he said, and Marcos officials have subjected them to possible deportation by canceling their passports, compelling them to seek political asylum here.
“Every time we’d break a major story,” · Esclamado said, ”I’d hear from some anonymous male caller. He’d say things like I ought to be afraid for my life, or remind me that I had children who could be in danger.”
On three occasions, Esclamado said, he reported the calls to San Francisco police. “I asked the phone company if there was any way to stop or trace the calls and they said no, he said. “
“The basic issue here is freedom of the press,” Esclamado said. “What it amounts to is that a foreign government is trying to put an American newspaper out of business.
In 1989, Alex received the Philippine Legion of Honor Award from President Corazon Aquino. The award reads in part:
“For his distinguished and outstanding service to the country during the past 20 years. Often a lone voice in the United States, he relentlessly championed Philippine freedom and democracy without regard for personal safety in the face of the threatening might of the dictatorship.”
“Through his newspaper, the Philippine News, he continuously published the truth about the repressions of the dictatorial rule, suffering great financial loss and harassment of his family. His testimony before the US Congress revealing facts about the assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., and the oppression of the Filipino people, helped change US policy towards the Philippines.”
In 2011, Alex returned to his hometown in Leyte. He died there in 2014 after a long battle with illness.
hahaha, pwede na siyang tawaging dutertrip.
marami siyang trip.
swerte ng pinas kay bduts.
idagdag pa si mucha, paandanar, pantyleon, etc…
My issue with Duterte’s foreign trips is that he is bringing along supporters who are not members of the cabinet or high ranking national government officials – like Cayetano, Bongbong, Imee, Mucha Uson, Sandra Cam, etc.
This makes the appearance of providing junkets, or making payola, to his supporters as political payback for their support at the people’s expense. Could be illegal, too.
I heard that the gold in saudi arabia/arab peninsula has higher concentration which make it very attractive for female shoppers: more carats, the gold darker and shinier. the design unlike those normally seen in pinas at pwedeng ipagmayabang as being unique and one of a kind. agaw pansin. anything bought by imee, sandra and mocha could be considered part of presidential baggage and not go through customs.
I am taking two days off from writing.
Will resume Saturday.
Magmumuni-muni muna ako.
DUTERTE ON TRACK TO BECOME THE MOST TRAVELED PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT
With his current trip to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Bahrain), President Duterte would have visited 16 countries in 10 months since assuming the presidency.
At this rate of foreign travels, Duterte is on track to be the most frequent foreign traveler, easily beating Gloria Arroyo, at an estimate of average of 19 trips per year..
Here is a summary/estimate of the average yearly foreign travels of past Philippine Presidents:
Corazon Aquino – 3 trips per year
Fidel Ramos – 12 trips per year
Joseph Estrada – 8 trips per year
Gloria Arroyo – 13 trips per year
Benigno Aquino – 8 trips per year
Rodrigo Duterte – 19 trips per year
budget sec ought to give us a rundown of how many millions digong has already racked up on overseas travels, spending money left, right and center. and pinas is more poorer for it. the trip to saudi arabia can be facilitated by our attache’ to look into the welfare of ofws working there, that’s what our phil embassy is for. and now, digong is duplicating the work of the embassy.
also, digong spends lot of time traveling and commuting between his two offices, one in malakayang, the other in dabaw. he spends more time traveling than managing the country.
Pdutz also has ‘Larga la dabaw’ …ala Trump’s Marga la lagim’. . .
October 2017 for Alaska. Then South Pole after which North Pole. Back to Hawaii. Then Fiji. Diretso Solomon Islands. Daan Darwin, Australia.
Liko sa New Zealand. Kanan sa malayo Malvides or Faulkland. Tuloy Bermuda. Saglit to Cuba. Silip sa Florida…Disneylanding!
December D.C. Washington. Talon L.A. Back to Larga la Dabaw na naman.
too much travels and hapi-hapi makes digong a dumb boy.
Can you give an enumeration?
In his first 6 months of presidency last year (2016), Duterte made 11 trips to:
The above travels cost the Philippine government P277 million pesos,
In the first 4 months of this year (2017), he visited
14. Saudia Arabia (on-going)
15. Qatar (on-going)
16. Bahrain (on-going)
Those are 16 countries in 10 months, which extrapolates to 19 countries in one year.
Already, arrangements are being made for his trips to:
17. Russia (in May)
18. China (2nd visit in May)
19. Israel (no date set yet)
20. Germany (no date set yet)
holy macaroni! 277 million pesos spent just to catch ‘algae’, not good return for money yan, he, he, he. digong is casting his net far and wide and what did he get? lumot. why would foreigners invest in pinas when the govt is not stable? and the only consistent in digong is his inconsistency. digong cannot be trusted, he says one thing, and another the next day, given today, recant tomorrow.
worst, digong threatened to change democratic govt to federal and that would be alarming to foreign investors. if there is instability and change of govt, investors may have to renegotiate deals and agreements anew, and maybe, lost out altogether with more and higher charges to pay. federal govt may not honor previous deals done by democratic govt and new policies could be put in place, much to the detriment of foreign investors.
so, the smart investors will have to wait out the instability and not waste money. there are other countries more stable and good to invest money on. and all digong gets from the countries he has gatecrashed is promises and plans and smiles and handshakes as fake as his own. he is given welcome, fed and then shown the airport. good riddance.
I used some of your info Yvonne….hope it is ok with you…
Johnny Lin says
Liars and cowards hiding behind arrogant posture
“Few days ago,Australia, USA and Canada warned their citizens to stay away from tourists spots in Visayas region”
“Duterte through his spokesperson SecAbella downplayed the threats boasting that the AFP could prevent terrorists actions, practically ignoring th warnings”
“Abu Sayyaf raided a tourist resort inBohol leading to many deaths”
Duterte’s focus is on drug war killing poor innocent Filipinos in a cowardice way by EJK.
Bragging that it can protect the citizenry from terrorists is big lie. Pretending to be a big boy knowing in reality that it’s powerless is child play. Pretender with Arrogant behavior don’t have a place in leadership role.
Incompetent President Duterte and his men with mayoral ruler instinct are dangerous to the people.
Duterte should have cancelled his state visit to the Middle East and went to Bohol, similarly when Duterte administration criticized Robredo when she did not cancel her Xmas vacation while Bicol region was ravaged by typhoon.
He he he
while bohol burns, digong is out partying in saudi arabia with whole bunch of extras, enjoying himself and living the high life. parang si imelda si digong, magastos at mahilig sa travel overseas. he likes to party while pinas suffers.
Johnny Lin says
Before I fulfill my penitence this Lent, nailing myself on the Cross for the first time in Cutud San Fernando Pampanga, I will curse Duteterte for promising do many lies to the FILIPINOS when he travels. My wish for my penitence is not to save my soul but to save Duterte, wishing him to stop cursing and telling lies.
When he went to Indonesia he promised to discussed with prime Miister Widodo to save Jane Veloso from death penalty but after landing in Indonesia, his press sec Abella said that Duterte was misinterpreted.
Before leaving to Saudi Arabia Duterte promised to bring home FILIPINOS pardoned from death penalty row in Saudi by talking to the King. Upon landing in Saudi, his press Sec Abella said that Duterte was misinterpreted. He would bring home those given amnesty.
Lies and explanation of denial engaged by Duterte and Abella are becoming too familiar.
Latest Pulitzer Prize winner in Breaking News journalism is an Australian photojournalist telling the story of dead FILIPINOS from the drug war of Duterte. His pictures painted thousand words but Duterte did not comment, not even ONE word about this Pulitzer Prize winning news about his war on drugs. Sec Abella, being as proficient as Duterte in telling lies said that the journalist did not tell the truth.
Pictures don’t tell lies. Men do like Abella and Duterte.
3 nails to be hammered to my limbs are sacrifices meant for: one for Duterte, one for Abella and the last one for the greatest liar, Ferdinand Marcos( may his soul continue rotting in hell)
the idol of Duterte
He he he
I have comments on Marcos, Duterte, and the Pulitzer awards but they went on moderation.
…at ang sabi ni alan cayetano ,isa sa mga entourage, ngayon sa news: saudi king, bilib kay pangulong duterte.
kahit-ano should give us verbatim translation, o kaya, word by word of what saudi king said. I dont believe in what kahit-ano said, I only believe in what journalist said lalo na yong covering the saudi king.
on the other hand, baka ho sinabi ng saudi king na I’ve never meet an idiot before, and now, I have. kaya, bilib daw yong king kay digong, asia’s local idiot, he, he, he.
A PULITZER PRIZE WAS AWARDED BEFORE FERDINAND MARCOS’ DOWNFALL
WILL THE PULITZER AWARD ON DUTERTE’S DRUG WAR BE OMINOUS OF HIS DOWNFALL?
In 1986, the Mercury News, a leading newspaper in the San Francisco Bay area, earned a Pulitzer award for international news reporting for its reports on government corruption under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law dictatorship. The series of reporting by noted journalists Lewis Simons, Pete Carey and Katherine Ellison “documented massive transfers of wealth abroad by President Marcos and his associates and had a direct impact on subsequent political developments in the Philippines and the United States.”
The award came in the heels of the hard-hitting investigative reporting by Alex Exclamado and the Philippine News.
This week Daniel Berehulak, a freelance lensman of The New York Times won a Pulitzer award in the breaking news photography category for his story on Duterte’s war on illegal drugs in the Philippines. The widely read and provocative article “They are Slaughtering Us Like Animals: Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal anti-drug campaign in the Philippines our photojournalist documented 57 homicide victims over 35 days” was published on December 7, 2016 in the NYT.
Is the Pulitzer award in journalism ominous of things to come for President Duterte, as it did for Marcos?
oot: kasama sina imee matrcos at mocha puson sa entourage ni du30 sa kanyang oficial trip sa middle east. du30 vows to bring home 5,000 OFWs from Jeddah
——- mucha puson mukhang lumalabas na part two ng BRUNIE BEAUTIES?!
Duterte’s travel to the Middle East is supposed to be a state visit but Imee Marcos, Mocha Uson, and Sandra Cam, among others, are not cabinet members or state officials. It tells us in no uncertain term that these foreign travels have become a floundering our limited resources.
* have become a plundering of our limited resources
I don’t know how big the Presidential bedroom is aboard the plane…….
this is my good friday peace offering: I think, digong’s airline bedroom must be big enough to accommodate his oxygen tank/concentrator, else he’ll have difficulty breathing while asleep. though airlines are careful about having extra oxygen tank on board dahil baka it will cause explosion mid-air if tank is not properly sealed. the trick is though, to ‘knock out’ digong with muscle relaxant, o kaya, sedative meds early on the flight and he wont need that much oxygen asleep. he may still have to be monitored though and roused at the end of the flight.
as well, those offering him accommodation probly have oxygen reserved and ready for him to use as needed. cumbersome, but.
Oxygen from Mocha Ison ‘o Sandra Cam by resuscitation – mouth-to-mouth, will do initially. vice-versa.
and to rouse digong after a tiring long haul flight, si kahit-ano (cayetano) at si mocha ay nagkinabawan! he,he, he, habang si imee at sandra have their own kinabawan ilocos style, all for digong viewing pleasure. gave him such adrenaline rush at long lasting yata yong effect, kamuntik tuloy nadapa si digong sa qatar. still in cloud nine and couldn’t see the way ahead. oxygen saturation 95% !
sorry po, medyo ignorante kasi si digong and would not know what to do in foreign countries kaya ang dami sa entourage. wala rin yatang tiwala sa sariling admin kaya may dalang mga outsiders, may sidelines. there to give extra gloss or cover over any gaffes made. digong cannot stand alone, nangangailangan ng mga abay yan, sungkod sa bisaya. dala-dala ang buong cheer squad, so where’s the cheerleading constest? he, he, he.
dapat sa senado, senators ought to question digong’s expenses and put stop to his extracurricular activities. he cannot go on spending money while batangas as well as others regions are in state of calamity and needed rebuilding. kung ipagpauba ni digong sa foreign aids and donations ang rebuilding, god have mercy on us all.
The questions for Filipinos are: do we choose China over America? Do we try to remain neutral? Or do we move back to the American (and European Union) side once Duterte is out of office? Op-ed Philnews paper.
My opn: Neither in the sense that choosing one and abandon the other.
China is a Communist totalitarian regime. Yet, mixes its existence with free trade with the rest of the world. A Chinese Menu at that. Chopsuey lasa.
What China will not have is free elections a product of democracy. 1 Billion 300 Million people. If 1 Billion voters will cast votes how will it be done?
On a 2-Party system? or a multi-party system? By region or provinces? With 1 central lawmaking body a Senate or Assembly of lawmakers for the whole nation?
But India’s population is bigger than China with 1 Billion 400 million, more or less.
With a multi-party system I think. A democracy. Compare the 2 country systems
Philippine should chose Philippines only but free to do what it wants to do without closing its doors to other nations.
What is ‘neutral’? What does it mean to ‘move back to the American? Or European Union side? China trades with America. It has I think a most favored nation [Clause] status with America USA.
Open door policy for Philippines and Philippines First. Best for Philippines.
best friends ni digong ang mga chinese and yet, they never give us intel. americans gave intel, and abu sayyaf expidition to bohol was stopped on time: binigo ng armed forces natin.
once digong gets impeached and vacates malakanyang, the next president should be one capable of independent thinking and certainly not a fentanyl addict. he must be up to date with local, national and international events and current affairs, well rounded, friend to all and enemy of none.
he must put the interest of our country above all, not joma’s, jalandoni’s, npas, abu sayyafs and certainly not china’s.
he must also learn to keep his opinions to himself, his mouth shut, not to speak just because a microphone is thrusted at him. and if he make a mistake, to acknowledge it and not cover it up by committing another mistake.
he must have morals and ethics, not wishy-washy, and must have respect for life and property. must not have dalawang opisina too, one in luzon, the other in midanaw, spends lot of time commuting between the two offices kaya napabyaan tuloy ang bayan. and on top of that, may copious overseas travels pa and racking up expenses.
A PULITZER AWARD LEADING UP TO THE DOWNFALL OF A PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT;
WILL ANOTHER PULITZER AWARD BE LEADING UP TO THE DOWNFALL OF ANOTHER?
In 1986, the Mercury News, a leading newspaper in the San Francisco Bay area, earned a Pulitzer award for its reporting on political corruption under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law dictatorship. The award came in the heels of the hard-hitting investigative reporting of Alex Exclamado and the Philippine News.
This week Daniel Berehulak, a freelance lensman of The New York Times won a Pulitzer award in the breaking news photography category for his story on Duterte’s war on illegal drugs in the Philippines.
The article “They are Slaughtering Us Like Animals: Inside President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal anti-drug campaign in the Philippines our photojournalist documented 57 homicide victims over 35 days” was published on December 7, 2016 in the NYT.
Is the award ominous of things to come for President Duterte?
mayroon tayong matandang kasabihan”walang utang na hindi pagbabayaran”.
maaaring magtagal bago mabayaran, pero darating ang oras nang pagbabayad.
sorry po, marami ang nabayaran sooner than later, dahil karamihan sa kanila ay bumoto kay digong. they got the president they deserved, and were treated accordingly. again, I say, sorry. they can cry, they can rant, but if they want to correct their mistakes, they know what to do.
impeach digong! free de lima!
‘DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos yesterday said her brother, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., is eager to go back to work in whatever capacity he can to help the administration of President Duterte.’
Then appoint BB as one of the Barangay Captains In Ilocos Norte!
If Bongbong Marcos would accept an appointment from President Duterte that would be construed as abandonment of his election protest against Leni Robredo for the vice-presidency.
That is right…an abandonment but Imee is trying the waters with her statement that BB wants to work as he’s without work now. BB could be ready to abandon his election protest.
What say you Mr. President? To appoint him [BB] say as DILG Chief is profitable for the 2022 pres’l election.
To continue with BB’s election protest, is he sure he will win? How short or long should BB wait to win or LOSE? If BB loses his protest, will he have a good chance for 2022 elections? Not a positive answer from me.
Go ahead Mr. President…from Imee with love…give BB a job.
right timing sws released their latest survey: 11percent drop in satisfaction rating of the vp.
Ancient Marinet says
He who pays the piper calls the tune.
Nuff said about popularity surveys.
Ancient Mariner says
Political surveys have lost their luster after most of pollsters in the U.S. predicted that Donald Trump will not win the U.S. presidential election. It was a real shocker how most of them got it so wrong.