By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) joins the Tañada family and the Filipino people in celebrating the 110th birth anniversary of Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada and thereby drawing inspiration from the rich legacy he has bequeathed to the Filipino people.
Among his many outstanding contributions to our unceasing struggle for national and social liberation, the NDFP wishes to stress his unwavering and militant fight for the national sovereignty of the Filipino people.
We can never forget his inspiring presence at the Senate vote on the extension of the military bases treaty with the US on September 16, 1991. Although this was the day of his dialysis treatment, he went to the Senate in his wheel chair. The Senators against the US military bases led by his son, Senator Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada, valiantly strove to persuade their colleagues to reject the extension of the bases treaty, which President Corazon Aquino campaigned for and mobilized thousands in demonstrations.
By a vote of 12 to 11, responding to a strong anti-bases mass movement inspired by Senator Lorenzo Tañada and other patriotic citizens, the Senate ended more than 400 years of foreign military presence in the Philippines. Standing up from his wheelchair, Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada, shouted at the top of his voice: “Mabuhay!” Thereupon, the Senate and the crowd in the Senate Hall, gave him a long standing ovation! Outside the Senate building, tens of thousands rejoiced, under pouring rain.
Senator Lorenzo Tañada’s firm stand for the national sovereignty of the Filipino people is a consistent thread in his life.
As an elementary school pupil in Atimonan, Quezon, he joined a protest against the school’s American principal. It was a protest against the principal’s order to stay during weekends to build a playground, thus preventing the pupils from going home. When he was a college of law student, he was an ROTC major. On UP’s Armistice Day, he exhorted his fellow cadets to take their training seriously because they may need their skills against the Americans if the country’s independence would not be granted.
After being known as the chief prosecutor against Japanese collaborators and as the Chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and an uncompromising crusader against graft and corruption , Lorenzo Tañada was “offered” the presidency by the CIA agent, Col. Edward Lansdale. He firmly rejected this “offer”, knowing that accepting it would make him beholden to the US.
In 1957 he teamed up with Claro Mayo Recto in the Nationalist Citizens Party. Recto and he ran as candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency, respectively with a program for national independence and economic sovereignty. President Carlos P. Garcia, who had succeeded Magsaysay, won the election by using the resources of the government to his advantage.
Senator Lorenzo Tañada founded the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism in 1967 and was elected its founding chairman. During the Marcos dictatorship, he became a leader of mass protests and a series of alliances in the mass movement. He became the inspiring leader of the parliament of the streets.
He was unrelenting in his militant campaign against the US military bases and presence of US troops. He rejoiced with the Filipino people on the historic vote against the bases on September 16, 1991.
We need to draw strength and inspiration from Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada’s rich legacy, as we persevere in our struggle for national and social liberation against US imperialism and other foreign and domestic exploiters and oppressors, especially against the US-backed Arroyo regime that tramples upon our national sovereignty and inflicts intolerable repression on the people.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines renders the highest honor to Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada. May his rich legacy of fighting for the national sovereignty of the Filipino people and defending their national and democratic rights and interests, be a source of strength and inspiration, as we persevere in our struggle for national and social liberation.
Long live the noble and inspiring memory of Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada!