Sunday, December 19, 2010

*230. HON. AMELITO MUTUC, Arayat's Ambassador to the World

OUR MAN IN WASHINGTON. Ambassador Amelito Ramirez Mutuc, from Arayat, overcame his humble beginnings to become a successful lawyer and later as a top-ranked diplomat under the Macapagala Administration. ca. 70s.

One of the first high-profile politicians I remember seeing as a kid was the former diplomat Amelito R. Mutuc in 1970. Campaigning for a seat in the 1970 Constitutional Convention, he had passed through our street and had seen my parents who waved at him while his car sped by. The former envoy was a very close friend of Msgr. Manuel del Rosario, my mother’s brother, and so he stopped briefly to chat briefly with my parents. That was my first and only brush with this accomplished grey-haired, bespectacled diplomat, who rose to become one of the most powerful men under Macapagal’s Administration as his Executive Secretary and as our point man in Washington.

His rise to prominence in the diplomatic filed belie his very humble beginnings that began with his birth in 1922 in Barrio Candating, Arayat to parents Anselmo Mutuc and the former Ramona Ramirez. His father was the town’s municipal clerk for many years and then became a Chief of Police.

Amelito had four other siblings—Amor, Fe, Sol and Luz. An uncle, Fr. Nicanor Mutuc Banzali, who also happened to be the parish priest of Arayat, offered to send the Mutuc boys to school as his father’s meager salary as a government employee was not enough to fund their early education. Amelito attended Arayat Institute then finished his high school in Guagua as class valedictorian.

In 1936, he went to Manila for his law studies and he ended up enrolling in Ateneo by accident. The University of the Philippines in Padre Faura was the first choice of Amelito’s father for his son, but when they waited for hours without managing to enlist, the older Mutuc took him to Ateneo—which was just across U.P. As luck would have it, the Jesuits took Amelito in.

Amelito finished his Associate in Arts as class valedictorian and later completed his law degree in 1942 as salutatorian. In his class were other distinguished graduates like the future congressman Joaquin Roces, Ramon Felipe Jr. (the valedictorian who joined the Dept. of Labor), Raul Roque, Pablo Diaz and Alberto Avanceña.

The next years proved to be very trying for Amelito and his family. In 1943, his father Anselmo, an outspoken anti-Communist, was kidnapped and presumably killed by Red elements in his own hometown of Arayat, known as the hotbed of Communism. Left alone to fend for her children, Anselmo’s widow gave up her teaching job and set up a boarding house on Padre Faura St. in Manila, which Amelito helped run.

Amelito’s graduation also coincided with the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, so right after graduation, he deferred his practice of law and returned to Arayat, where he headed the town’s Catholic Action Unit. After the War, he set up a small law office at the Villongco Building in Quiapo after being invited by lawyer Claudio Teehankee to join the Araneta Law Office.

In 1948, he decided to strike it on his own , putting up an office in Dasmariñas, Manila and serving the legal needs of such clients as Roman Santos, an Apaliteño who operated various enterprises ranging from fishing, insurance to banking (Santos founded Prudential Bank). At the same time, he also joined the faculty of the Ateneo Law School, teaching legal history, brief making, legal research, torts and damages.

The legal luminary was also famous for his dashing good looks, and for awhile, the eligible bachelor was romantically linked with high society girls. But, in 1952, he chose instead to marry a kabalen, the beautiful Blanca Medina, daughter of Dr. Esteban Medina and an AB Assumption graduate. The Medinas were considered to be one of the richest families of Arayat then. On their honeymoon to the United States, Amelito visited Harvard. He decided to enroll there and in a year, he finished his Master of Laws. Their union would produce 7 children: Jose Maria, Corinna, Rosa Maria, Emmanuel, Victoria and twins Pietro and Paulo.

The young lawyer’s career was boosted when he was elected as the 7th President of the National Jaycees from 1954-55. In 1957, Amelito caught the eye of then congressman, Diosdado P. Macapagal, who consulted him about his plan to run for vice president of the Philippines. Amelito thus launched “Macapagal for Vice President Movement”, and from thereon, became the future president’s right hand man. When Macapagal was elected to the highest post in the land in November 1962, Mutuc was named as the Executive Secretary in his cabinet.

That same year, he was appointed as Ambassador to the United States. During his 1952 graduation in Harvard, his classmates had predicted that in ten years, he will return to the U.S. as an envoy. Their prophecy, said in a jest, was thus fulfilled when he assumed his post in Washington D.C. from 1962-1964.

In February 1965 however, Amelito defected from the Macapagal camp, dealing the Liberal Party a severe blow. He had earlier been linked to the shady dealings of American businessman Harry Stonehill who owned and operated several multi-million enterprises in the country including cigarettes and oil. Stonehill was found to have bribed high-level government officials, including members of Macapagal’s cabinet. He was subsequently deported.

When Ferdinand Marcos thwarted Macapagal’s re-election bid, Amelito joined the new president’s circle. He was said to have been one of Marcos’ henchmen who helped protect his so-called “Marcos Gold”. Amelito continued legal career, and, in 1977, he became the president of the World Association of Lawyers. In the next decades, he also gradually distanced himself from politics. His reputation still rests on his brilliance as a lawyer, a diplomat and a cabinet official who helped build the credentials of the Macapagal Administration. Amelito Mutuc, Arayat’s envoy to the world, passed away in 1994.

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