TRIBUTE | Lorenzo Tañada, a maker of heroes

After martial law, Senator Lorenzo Tañada walked out of the Senate that he served so well, and never returned. He joined the parliament of the streets against the dictatorship.

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 Privilege Speech of Senator Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, marking the 114th birthday of Sen. Lorenzo Tañada, 13 August 2012

Today, I speak before this honorable body not to expose, oppose, nor condemn. In this time of great debates, sorrows, and calamities, I take the time to praise of a man from whose vision came forth a stream of heroes, especially in the days and years of severe oppression, tyranny, and dictatorship.

When the Martial Law Regime deprived us of rights and liberties, scores of Filipinos became heroes.

Those years yielded stiff and widespread resistance among lovers of freedom and democracy. The intelligentsia and common tao, the rich and those who toil, they joined hands to fight for freedom in hills and streets.

DAPAT MAISALAYSAY NANG PAULIT-ULIT ANG KANILANG LABAN PARA MAITATAK SA ISIP NG MGA NAGNANAIS BALIIN ANG DEMOKRASYA NG BAYAN, NA HANGGANG KAMATAYAN, LALABAN ANG PILIPINO PARA SA KATOTOHANAN, KALAYAAN, AT KARAPATAN - GAANO MAN KATAGAL ANG HIRAP NG PAKIKIBAKA.

[THE STORY OF THEIR FIGHT SHOULD BE TOLD OVER AND OVER AGAIN SO AS TO WARN FUTURE DICTATORS AND EVILS THAT, UNTIL DEATH, FILIPINOS WILL FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY, FREEDOM AND OUR RIGHTS – NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES.]

They are worth remembering: Chino Roces, Evelio Javier, Rolando Olalia, Alex Boncayao, Eman Lacaba, Lean Alejandro, Cory Aquino, my fellow Atenean Edgar Jopson, and a horde of heroes from the youth and toiling masses who offered life and limb for freedom.

There were senators among them: Benigno Aquino, Jr., Jose “Ka Pepe” W. Diokno, my father Teofisto Guingona Jr, Jovito Salonga, and Aquilino Pimentel whose consistent opposition to a dictatorial regime gave way to suffering for them and their families. But they did burn a light of encouragement and hope to a fighting people.

But there was one man among them - a senator like us - who saw coming the seeds of discontent long before Martial Law - and did something about it.

He made heroes.

From the revered halls of the Philippine Senate in the sixties, he chaired the broadest United Front this nation has ever seen – the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism or MAN.

In the fold of the historic movement he organized were religious organizations, youth groups, labor unions, peasant federations, civil rights societies, and every progressive movement of the political spectrum.

Every one he welcomed for the singular purpose of preparing the nation for the forthcoming years of struggle for freedom and civil liberties.

It is from MAN that scores of heroes walked in the people’s protracted fight against the Dictatorship from the seventies through the eighties.

Ladies and gentlemen, I refer to the grand old man of Philippine politics, Lorenzo “Ka Tanny” Tañada - the longest-serving senator in Philippine history.

His contemporaries were Claro M. Recto, Jose P. Laurel, Eulogio “Amang” Rodriguez, Elpidio Quirino, and Ramon Magsaysay. He outlived them all.

Throughout his 25-year stint as senator, Ka Tanny’s stance against graft and corruption, inequality, and tyranny was infallible.

But it was Ka Tanny’s acts as nationalist and defender of Philippine sovereignty that makes him a legend.

A day after the declaration of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, Senator Tañada walked out of the Senate halls never to come back.

He joined the parliament of the streets instead.

Ka Tanny did not just give the people’s struggle for freedom a face. He did not just grace mass actions. He joined the parliament of the streets as an active participant in planning, organizing, and execution of propaganda work.

There he fought political repression, braving police water cannons and batons at the head of huge rallies and demonstrations against the Dictatorship. Far beyond count, Ka Tanny lawyered the cases of those who were jailed, injured, and killed in the fight for freedom.

In 1985, eighteen years after founding the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism, Ka Tanny co-founded Bagong Alyansang Makabayan or BAYAN with Lean Alejandro, his junior by scores of years.

In his wheelchair, Mang Tanny was honored with a long standing ovation on September 16, 1991 at the Philippine Senate. It was the day the Salonga-led senate rejected the lease of Subic Naval Base, the last U.S. military installation in the country, thus ending the presence of U.S. military bases in the country.

At that point, the job of Senator Lorenzo Tañada was done. Less than a year later, he passed away at the age of 93.

Ladies and gentlemen, I take the opportunity of this privilege speech to honor Ka Tanny. On August 10, 1898 in Gumaca, Quezon, God gave this blessed country His Lorenzo Tañada. He just celebrated his 114th birthday last Friday.

Lorenzo Tañada, Filipino, Statesman and a National Hero.

 

 

 

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