First Quarter Storm 1970
First Quarter Storm 1970
CELEBRATE THE FIRST QUARTER STORM OF 1970,
HONOR AND EMULATE THE HEROIC ACTIVIST YOUTH
Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Kabataang Makabayan
January 26, 2020
Beloved fellow activists,
Once more I wish to express warmest greetings of solidarity to the First Quarter Storm Movement and my congratulations for the successful preparations directed by the FQS@50 Coordinating Committee for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the FQS of 1970 from January to March this year.
I am happy and gratified to have participated in the preparations from the beginning in 2018 by presenting at the maiden forum of the Forum Series on the FQS of 1970 an overview of this event as framework for succeeding forums until 2020. I discussed the chain of events in the 1960s that led to the FQS of 1970, its distinctly great historic significance, its far reaching consequences and continuing relevance.
By way of further contributing to the celebration of FQS, I have also proposed to the International Network for Philippine Studies the republication of the book, First Quarter of 1970. This can be read as a partner to the eye witness and insightful reports in Jose Lacaba’s book, Days of Disquiet and Nights of Rage.
It carries the evaluative articles of Amado Guerrero, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines and editor of Ang Bayan, on the series of mass protests by students, teachers, other professionals, workers and other urban poor who rose up and asserted the general line and popular strength of the national democratic movement and rocked the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system from base to rafters.
The Significance of FQS of 1970
The FQS of 1970 broke out in the revolutionary spirit of continuing the unfinished Philippine revolution and confronted the three evil forces that oppressed and exploited the Filipino people: US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism then chiefly represented by the Marcos regime.
The gigantic mass protests in FQS of 1970 were unprecedented in scale and intensity, They were the culmination of the long series of smaller mass protests launched by the youth from 1961 onwards and carried out even more militantly and more widely since 1964 under the leadership of the comprehensive youth organization, Kabataang Makabayan.
Marcos had just won his reelection by spending a colossal amount of public money in the 1969 presidential elections and was widely denounced for the resultant soaring of the prices of basic commodities. Reacting to protest mass actions in December 1969, he threatened to declare martial by way of intimidating the opposition and the people.
But he would concur with the reformists, including the clerico-fascists who called themselves social-democrats, that charter change was necessary to prevent the social volcano from erupting. He had the ulterior motive of imposing a fascist dictatorship on the people by initially using transitory provisions of a new constitution.
On January 26, 1970 in front of Congress, 10,000 student demonstrators came from the Catholic schools under a reformist leadership. The bigger KM contingent, consisting of students and workers, joined them. Marcos made the mistake of ordering the attack on the demonstrators after a cardboard coffin was thrown at him by a small group headed by the radio broadcaster, Roger Arienda.
The police brutality inflicted casualties on the student demonstrators. But it served to ignite the series of mass protests, which ranged in size from 50,000 to 150,000, from January to March 1970 in the national capital region. These spread to other universities, colleges and high schools on a nationwide scale.
As a result of its previous work in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the youth in the sixties, the KM was able to spearhead the FQS of 1970 as it grew and developed. At the same time, the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP) sought to build a broad united front to oppose the US-Marcos regime.
The FQS gave birth to so many youth activists and so many youth groups. The organizers and speakers of the main political organizations and cultural groups played a key role in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the youth. They generated thousands of young activists who advanced the national democratic movement in schools, urban communities, factories and farms.
The FQS became a cultural revolution, as Prop-ED teams, schools for national democracy and cultural groups of creative writers and artists proliferated and became active. Revolutionary literature flourished. The marches and rallies were always enlivened by artistic murals and performances.
Many of those who joined Kabataang Makabayan, the Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan and various cultural groups in the course of the FQS eventually became proletarian revolutionaries and joined the Communist Party of the Philippines. They were determined to carry out the people’s democratic revolution through people’s war in response to Marcos’ threat and preparations for fascist dictatorship.
By the time that Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus on August 21, 1971 and then proclaimed martial law on September 22, 1972, there was already a large corps of educated youth and workers determined to wage the people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war.
All the time that the Marcos fascist regime enjoyed the support of US imperialism, the conservative opposition was reduced to making legal protests and lobbying for the US to change its policy of supporting Marcos. The CPP led the people’s resistance by waging armed struggle in the countryside and carrying out workers’ strikes and lightning mass protests in urban areas.
The CPP was energized by activists from the FQS on a nationwide scale. They did revolutionary mass work among the workers, peasants, indigenous people, youth, women, professionals and other people in order to wage all forms of struggle, especially people’s war, against the fascist puppet regime.
Despite the grave risks of capture, torture, prolonged detention or death, the veterans of the FQS contributed greatly to the development of the armed revolutionary movement and the building of underground and aboveground organizations and networks for people’s resistance.
The aggravation of the chronic crisis of the ruling system by the Marcos regime and the rise of the armed revolutionary movement ultimately persuaded US imperialism to consider the regime as more of a liability than an asset and thus started to junk him from the time that Marcos made the mistake of having Benigno S, Aquino assassinated on August 21, 1983 and unwittingly igniting the gigantic mass protest actions from 1983 to his downfall on February 25, 1986.
The activists generated by the FQS of 1970 were in the forefront of the mass protest actions from 1983 onwards, which ranged in size from 50,000 to several hundreds of thousands. They constantly waged all forms of struggle against the Marcos regime until 1986 when two to three million people rose up on Edsa and the contingent of more than one thousand people directly encircled the presidential palace and compelled the fascist dictator to give up power and flee in a US helicopter.
Continuing Relevance of FQS of 1970
Since the fall of the Marcos fascist dictatorship, many veterans of the FQS have continued to contribute to the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation in various capacities in the legal democratic movement or in the field of revolutionary armed struggle.
In the course of this protracted struggle, FQS veterans have paid for their achievements in serving the people by working hard, going against tremendous odds and making sacrifices in terms of martyrdom and deprivations.
They are leaving to the current generation and succeeding generations a great legacy that must be cherished as a source of inspiration and as a lasting relevant guide to patriotic and revolutionary activism.
To this day, the FQS of 1970 remains relevant to the continuing struggle for full national independence, democracy, social justice and all-round development against the persistent semicolonial and semifeudal conditions.
The FQS of 1970 is a fountain of knowledge and collective experience about the socio-economic and political conditions of Philippine society, the general line of people’s democratic revolution, the strategy and tactics of the revolutionary struggle and the mass line and slogans that can arouse, organize and mobilize the people.
We can learn from the FQS of 1970 how to prepare for gigantic mass protests, how to use indoor and outdoor rallies on campuses and communities, how to do propaganda and agitation, how to make artistic works to serve the mass actions and how to assemble at different points in a city and then march to the converging point.
It is our noble and urgent task to celebrate the First Quarter Storm of 1970 and to honor and emulate those who participated in this revolutionary storm by carrying out mobilizations, forums and other gatherings.
Today the best way to fulfill our task is to call on the broad masses of the people to rise up against the tyrannical, treasonous, murderous, corrupt and mendacious Duterte regime and realize the intensification of mass protests and other forms of struggle in order to hasten the end of this malignant regime.
We are confronted today by a regime which idolizes Marcos and which is quite similar to the Marcos fascist regime in being a puppet of US imperialism and chief representative of the local exploiting classes. It would be a sterile way of celebrating the FQS of 1970 if we do not pay attention to the need for mass protests against the Duterte regime.
It should be easier now to carry out mass mobilization against the regime because the legal democratic forces are now far stronger than they were in 1970 and have become far more experienced in waging mass struggles.
The chronic crisis of the ruling system has been aggravated by extreme oppression and exploitation under the combined policies of neoliberalism and fascism. These conditions are exceedingly favorable for strengthening and advancing the national democratic movement through mass struggles.
In view of the gross crimes of the Duterte regime against the people, it is necessary and possible to realize a broad united front to arouse, organize and mobilize the people in their millions against the common enemy.
Rely mainly on the basic forces of workers and peasants, win over the middle forces of the urban petty bourgeoisie and the middle bourgeoisie and take advantage of the splits among the reactionaries in order to isolate and destroy the power of the enemy regime.
It is high time for the Filipino youth and people to rise up against a terrorist and plundering regime that has terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in order to wage all-out war against the broad masses of the people and their revolutionary forces as well as thelegal democratic forces.
It slanders the people’s democratic revolution as terrorism, labels activists as communist terrorists, extends the murderous methods of Oplan Tokhang to the brutal suppression of political opponents and critics and uses the slogan of anti-communism in order to militarize and make fascist the entire reactionary government and society.
Without a strong mass protest movement, the Duterte regime will continue to carry out its scheme of imposing fascist dictatorship on the people through charter change. In fact, the regime has continued to impose a state of national emergency on the people since September 4, 2016.
The Filipino youth and people of today must cry out as in the FQS of 1970: Makibaka, huwag matakot! Digmang Bayan ang sagot sa Martial Law!. Their organized forces are far stronger than ever before and the desire of the people for revolutionary change is far stronger than ever before.
The escalating oppression and exploitation under the policy regimes of neoliberalism and fascism are inflicting intolerable suffering and are driving the people of the Philippines and the world to wage all forms of resistance against imperialism and all reaction.
The crisis of the Philippine ruling system coincides with the crisis of the world capitalist system. Conditions are exceedingly favorable for the Filipino people to advance their struggle for national and social liberation and contribute significantly to the global resurgence of the anti-imperialist, democratic and socialist forces of the people.
Long live the revolutionary spirit of the First Quarter Storm of 1970!
Down with imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism!
Long live the memory of martyrs and heroes of the FQS of 1970!
Long live the FQS veterans and their successors!
Makibaka, huwag matakot! Digmang bayan ang sagot sa martial law!
Continue the national democratic movement!
Long live the Filipino people!
ON THE JANUARY 26 DEMONSTRATION
Ang Bayan 1970
Significance of the January 26 Demonstration Students all over the country and the broad masses of the people are happy about and proud of the militant demonstration of January 26 on the real state of the nation. They regard it as a fitting rebuff to the mendacious “state of the nation” address delivered by Marcos, the fascist puppet of U.S. imperialism and chief political representative of the big bourgeoisie, the landlord class and the bureaucrat capitalists.
The militant January 26 demonstration on the real state of the nation is a great milestone not only in the revolutionary student movement but also in the broad revolutionary mass movement. Although the main protagonist in the militant action was the students, there were contingents of militant workers and peasants who joined the students in revolutionary solidarity.
The militant January 26 demonstration sets the keynote for more massive and more combative mass actions in the city during the current decade of the seventies. It represents a new and higher degree of development of the entire mass movement that unfolded during the previous decade of the sixties. By all indications in the international and national situation, the reactionaries will rot even more rapidly and the January 26 demonstration is merely the opening salvo for bigger mass actions in the near future.
It is a blow against the reactionaries to be followed by more and bigger blows. The magnitude and resoluteness of the militant masses were unprecedented. For nearly three hours, more than 60,000 demonstrators stood their ground and battled 7,000 policemen and troops who employed on them the brutal “anti-riot” methods taught by the A.I.D. Public Safety Division and by special “counter¬insurgency” agents of the JUSMAG.
The mass of students acted in self-defense and unleashed a tit for tat struggle against the fascist brutes. The militant January 26 demonstration stood firmly in just condemnation of the rottenness of the entire system and the rise of fascism. It was inevitable that the reactionaries would attempt, as they did futilely, to suppress through counter-revolutionary violence the truth that the mass of protesters spoke about the state of the nation in opposition to the brazen lies that Marcos dished out to the Congress.
The manifestoes and slogans chanted by the demonstrators against the reactionary state and the fascist puppet chieftain expressed clearly the real state of the nation. The demonstration in front of Congress was a far greater and more honorable assemblage than the joint session of the House of Representatives and the Philippine Senate that met to celebrate their fraudulent and terroristic election and to listen to the lies of the fascist puppet chieftain Marcos.
The Tactics of the Enemies of National Democracy The enemies of national democracy are bent on misrepresenting the January 26 demonstration as a demonstration for nonsense like “non-partisanship” in the forthcoming constitutional convention. They wish to obscure the fact that the demonstration was mainly on the real state of the nation. They wish to make the demonstrators appear reformist, instead of revolutionary, notwithstanding the resoluteness with which the students fought the reactionary police and troops. In the first place, the reactionaries, with Marcos and Manglapus in cahoots with each other, have deliberately spread to the mass media that the January 26 demonstration was exclusively concerned with the forthcoming constitutional convention.
A handful of priests, nuns and seminarians were deployed to help the police and the Metrocom prevent 50,000 demonstrators from voicing out the basic issues about the real state of the nation. Overestimating their capacity for deceiving the people, the reactionaries tried to disperse the demonstrators immediately after Marcos had delivered his “state of the nation” address. They wished to make it appear that Marcos could lie in public without being seriously rebuffed. But the demonstrators shouted the truth that Marcos is a puppet and fascist before, during and after he arrived to peddle his mendacity.
The shouts of the people against reaction and for revolution drowned out the petty and sham issue that the reactionaries tried to raise. Two political mummies of counter-revolution, Emmanuel Pelaez and Luis M. Taruc, tried to misrepresent themselves as friends of the people. But they were strongly repudiated. Peleez was hit on the head by a student for suggesting to the police to use water cannons and tear gas, instead of truncheons. As soon as Taruc appeared on the scene, the demonstrators in unison called him a traitor and a scab and stopped him from usurping the micro¬phone.
In the course of the demonstration, the demonstrators clearly grasped their political objective: to expose the real state of the nation and to oppose the lies of the reactionaries. Even the minority group of Catholic-school students joined the bigger mass of students from non-sectarian schools. The Students and other demonstrators united, especially when the fascist brutes waded into their ranks and wantonly attacked them. Immediately after the demonstration, Marcos commended the police and the troops. Later, true to their nature as fascists and demagogues, the reactionaries led by Marcos hypocritically called for investigation of police brutality and praised the students while they talked of possible “communist infiltrators” in the ranks of the students.
This is a worn-out tactic of the reactionaries in their vile attempt to divide and rule the students and the people. Until now, the reactionaries prate in the press about the issue of “non-partisanship” in the constitutional convention as the exclusive issue of the demonstration. This is consistent with their line of preventing the people from speaking out on the real state of the nation. The Christian Social Movement and its allied organisations have once more shown themselves up as partisans of counter-revolution by describing the students as victims of “infiltration” in order to soften up the just condemnation by the people of fascist brutality and the miserable state into which Marcos has plunged the nation.
Demagogues of both the NP and LP are also trying now to entrap student leaders into a joint House-Senate committee investigation. This is a worn-out device of the reactionaries to conduct a witch-hunt under the guise of helping the students. The “nationalist” prestige of Tañada is now being conveniently used for this purpose. The chief fascist puppet Marcos himself is now seen in so many newspaper pictures pretending to be magnanimous and solicitous about the victims of state brutality. “His Majesty”, together with other rotten politicians, is now trying to flatter a handful of scabs in the student movement and mislead others with intrigues in presidential audiences. Labor racketeers like Oca, Hernandez, Arniego and Co. are also helping Marcos obscure the real state of the nation and attack the student movement and have offered their strike-breaking services.
Be Resolute in Struggle The January 26 demonstration should be the inauguration of a nationwide campaign to make the students aware of the real state of the nation and the despicableness of fascism and to enmass them to the fold of the national democratic revolution.
Ideological, political and organizational preparations should constantly be made to launch bigger mass actions taking national proportions against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
In cities, the revolutionary student activists and masses should develop the strongest worker-student alliance. As the national crisis bred by the fascist puppet regime of Marcos is fast worsening, the students and workers should always join up to launch mass actions against their oppressors and exploiters.
All reactionary attempts to split up or draw away the students from each other or the students from the workers and other progressive sectors of the population should be vigorously rebuffed. To the countryside, the students must also go in order to link themselves up with the biggest democratic force in the country, the peasantry. They must make rural investigations and participate in the peasants’ struggle as already demonstrated by quite a number of students.
The initial requirement for the truly progressive student masses is to make rural investigations and mass work in conscious preparation for fuller participation in the uncompromising armed struggle against the tyrants of this society. The guide for taking the road of national democratic revolution is the Programme for a People’s Democratic Revolution of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Brutality of January 30-31
ON THE JANUARY 30-31 DEMONSTRATION
The Brutality of the Reactionary State Not satisfied with the brutal breaking-up of the January 26 demonstration in front of Congress, the reactionary regime of Marcos Perpetrated on January 30-31 far bloodier and more brutal crimes against more than 50,000 students, progressive intellectuals, workers and peasants who demonstrated in front of Malacañang.
Four student heroes enrolled in various large schools in the Greater Manila area were wantonly murdered with rifle fire by military troops and the police. Hundreds of other young men and women were seriously injured and maimed for life. They filled six large hospitals in the Greater Manila area. The savagery of the shooting and truncheon beating conducted by the reactionary troops and police was such that until now scores of demonstrators continue to be on the verge of death. Hundreds of militant demonstrators were arrested and wounded demonstrators were thrown into PC and Army trucks like hogs for the butcherhouse. Many of those arrested were subjected to torture and long hours of interrogation by PC investigators. Some of those apprehended are still being missed by their schoolmates and friends.
Even after the demonstration, the fascist brutes continued to kidnap and arrest students and other demonstration leaders in the futile attempt of the Marcos puppet reactionary regime to blackmail and intimidate them and forestall more and bigger mass protests against its bloody crimes against the people. Immediately after the demonstration, the reactionary government filed sedition charges against demonstration leaders and other militants, closed the schools in the Greater Manila area and turned its spies against patriotic students and leaders of mass organizations suspected of organizing more protest actions.
A ban on protest demonstrations was brazenly imposed. During and after the demonstrations, the fascist puppet chieftain Marcos called all his top henchmen in the major services of the reactionary armed forces and briefed them for more intensified suppression and intimidation of patriotic students and organizations. The U.S. A.I.D,-trained brutes of the Manila police as well as those of the suburban areas were organized to be let loose on the demonstrators. Never has there been a more open and bloodier suppression of democratic rights in the city than the suppression of the demonstration of January 30-31.
The Revolutionary Courage of the Students and Other Demonstrators
The militant participants of the January 26 demonstration in front of Congress were never cowed by the brutality of the reactionary state. They came back with more intense patriotism and courage to join the January 30-31 demonstration against the reactionary state and the fascist puppets of U.S. imperialism. The militant students, constituting the majority of the participants in the demonstrations, came in big numbers from 36 universities, colleges and high schools in Manila. Also participating were representatives from more than 40 universities and colleges in the provinces.
Together with contingents of workers and peasants, they gave full play to the revolutionary spirit of “It is right to rebel” against U.S. imperialism and local reaction. They fought tit for tat against the reactionary troops and police with explosives made on the spot, iron bars taken from street railings and stones. They commandeered a fire truck to break the main gate of Malacañang and a bus to break the lines of the advancing hordes of Metrocom men and set fire to several army and police vehicles, including trucks, jeeps and a cop motorcycle. The patriotic demonstrators shouted revolutionary slogans condemning the fascist brutality of the reactionary state and calling on the workers, peasants, students and progressive intellectuals to unite against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and the Marcos puppet reactionary regime.
The residents in the demonstration area were inspired by the dauntless revolutionary spirit of the demonstrators as they held their ground against the attacks of the armed brutes of the reactionary state. They took in many wounded demonstrators and even treated them. Frightened out of his wits, the fascist puppet Marcos gave the order to shoot the patriotic demonstrators and had a helicopter ready for his immediate escape from the ire of the militant demonstrators.
Apart from the 2,000 reactionary troops which unleashed the sanguinary suppression against the demonstrating masses, AFP chieftain Manuel Yan ordered the 12,000-man strong PC on “red-alert”, and the air force, navy and army on “blue alert”. He even summoned Task Force Lawin, the Marines and five companies of the Special Forces from Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija to reinforce the troops in and around Manila. This has clearly shown the utter panic of the Marcos reactionary regime in confronting the militant masses of demonstrators. In mortal fear of further mass protest actions against its corrupt and brutal regime, it has kept a large number of reactionary troops in the Greater Manila area up to now.
After the demonstration of January 30-31, the patriotic students and other demonstrators have continuously fought in various forms the reactionary puppet regime and vowed to develop their struggle in scale and depth. Their dauntless revolutionary spirit has inspired and won the sympathy of the broad masses of the people throughout the country. Mass actions are sweeping the country in support of the January 30-31 demonstration and in protest against the fascist terror perpetrated by the Marcos puppet reactionary regime.
The revolutionary courage and heroism of the students have lifted the hearts of the oppressed and exploited people all over the country. They have in a big way fanned the flames of revolutionary struggle. The entire Filipino people are increasingly awakening to the need for armed revolutionary struggle in the face of armed counter-revolution.
Subsequent Tactics of the Enemy Within 24 hours after the sanguinary suppression of the patriotic demonstrators, the fascist chieftain Marcos babbled in his “nationwide call” through the mass media that the militant mass demonstration was either “communist-inspired” and “not communist-inspired” in a desperate effort to tone down the immediate nationwide condemnation of his bloody crimes. Marcos has tried in vain to cover up the fact that the broad masses of the student demonstrators together with workers and peasants, are united in their common feeling of indignation against and in their resistance to his puppet reactionary regime and his U.S. imperialist masters.
He cannot hope to split the ranks of patriotic students, workers and peasants who will always rise up inasmuch as they have reached a new and higher level of consciousness against the enemies of national democracy. Marcos has tried to wash his hands of the blood of the patriotic demonstrators brutally murdered and maimed by his henchmen – the reactionary military troops and police. He even has the impudence to demand gratitude from the people because he has exercised “tolerance” and restrained himself from murdering more students or formally suspending the privilege of habeas corpus. But his hypocritical speech cannot erase the fact of the unprecedented murder of four student youth and maiming and mass arrests of hundreds of patriotic demonstrators under his regime nor can it hide the truth that all this is but a preparation for further bloody suppressions of patriotic militants and organizations and the national democratic movement in general.
Marcos’ January 31st red-baiting statement has set the line for the subsequent bicameral hearings being conducted by Congress. It is evident from the pattern of interrogation in the hearings that militant and patriotic organizations are the object of this witch-hunt. This again is a dirty scheme to divert the attention of the people from the bloody crimes of the Marcos reactionary regime and to stifle the growing mass movement of the Filipino people against U.S. imperialism and its local reactionary allies.
It is not surprising fur such a politically bankrupt regime to concentrate its attack on those who truly speak and act for the national democratic interests of the people. Not a single one of its henchmen who brutally attacked the patriotic demonstrators has been apprehended and tried. Far from putting the blame on the reactionary troops and police, Marcos even lauded their “exemplary” conduct in the murder, maiming and mass arrests of the patriotic militant demonstrators. Together with his gang of fascist brutes, Marcos led a field mass at Malacañang Park where he took the opportunity to exhort the troops of the reactionary armed forces to prepare for more sanguinary suppression of the people’s struggle for national liberation and democratic rights.
Marcos callously manipulates the Catholic Church through Cardinal Santos, the bishops and the priests to chasten the demonstrators for having militantly acted in defense of their democratic rights. True to his role as an apologist of the counter-revolutionary state which exploits and oppresses the Filipino people, Cardinal Santos is first of all “concerned” about the “destruction” of “private property” than about the wanton killing of four student demonstrators and the serious injury of hundreds of demonstrators by the Marcos fascist gang. He clamours for a “dialogue” only after a monologue of bullets burst out from the guns of the reactionary troops and police to repress the indignant voices of the patriotic demonstrators who gathered on that historic day of January 30 and fought back for more than six hours till the early hours of January 31. in more cleverly couched terms so as not to appear “political”, he has also warned against “ideologies” which “sow disunity” among the people.
This is a vicious attempt to hide the truth that never in the history of our country have the Filipino people forged such a militant unity against such a hopelessly corrupt regime which has extremely isolated itself from the overwhelming majority of the people because of its virulent opposition to their national democratic aspirations. After the murder, maiming and mass arrests of patriotic demonstrators, the Marcos puppet regime would now dangle before the students monetary and other material bribes such as the promise of a $0.6 million trust fund for so-called “student welfare programs and projects” and the creation of a “national student commission”. But the students know better. They are very much aware that this is but one ace of the counter-revolutionary dual tactic of the fascist puppet regime to soften up their struggle against the reactionary state. They are more vigilant than ever about the dirty trick of buying off scabs in the student and youth movement. In order to attack the surging patriotic student and youth movement, the Marcos reactionary regime is resorting to the use of fascist gangs and even the “Monkees”. It has also sent infiltrators and agents into youth meetings and conferences in the foolish hope of splitting the ranks of patriotic and militant organizations of youth and students.
The Marcos reactionary regime continues to mobilize thousands of military troops for guarding the Greater Manila area. It has ordered the PC authorities of various zones to organize their own “anti-riot” squads to suppress the rapidly spreading wave if indignation rallies and demonstrations against the brutal suppression of the patriotic demonstrators in Manila. The puppet regime of Marcos in its role as the chief hatchetman of U.S. imperialism and feudalism has been so discredited before the eyes of the broad masses of the Filipino people that only the most rabid counter-revolutionaries will ever try to save it from its inevitable doom as the local revisionist renegades are vainly attempting to do by crying in dismay about the “purely anti-Marcos” line of the recent militant mass demonstrations. Evidently, this is for the sole purpose of begging political capital from the Marcos reactionary regime in the form of allowing them to participate in bourgeois parliamentary politics.
Evaluation of the January 26 and January 30-31 Demonstrations
The demonstrations of January 26 and January 30-31 came close on the heels of the student and worker demonstrations against the visit of U.S. Vice-President Agnew last December 29. They signify the new awakening of the Filipino people against U.S. imperialism and the local reactionary puppets.
They are a bugle call for more militant mass actions in the city for this year as well as the current decade. These demonstrations have served to raise the consciousness of the masses of the Filipino people against the reactionary state which serves U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The broad masses of the people have increasingly understood the need for revolutionary armed struggle against the armed counter-revolution and for overthrowing the present reactionary state.
The demonstrations have served as a rich source of activists for the national democratic revolution and, therefore, of prospective members and fighters of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. The revolutionary mass actions in the city are bound to develop in coordination with the surging agrarian revolution in the countryside.
Under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Philippines, ideological, political and organizational preparations are continuously being made for intensified revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside and bigger mass actions in the city against U.S. imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The entire reactionary system in the Philippines is rotting daily and the objective conditions for waging armed struggle are getting better daily.
Internationally, U.S. imperialism and Soviet social-imperialism are plunging speedily into insoluble political and economic crises while the invincible forces of socialism and national liberation are surging in ever-victorious waves. The revolutionary situation has never been so excellent! The students and progressive intellectuals who participated in the demonstrations of January 26 and January 30-31 have proven their revolutionary courage and militance.
By constantly studying and implementing Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought in a living way and by integrating themselves firmly with the masses of workers and peasants, learning from as well as teaching them, they will certainly not fall back but march forward along the road of the struggle for national democracy.
From the book: First Quarter Storm of 1970 Silangan Publishers Manila 1970
THE JANUARY 26 CONFRONTATION:
A HIGHLY PERSONAL ACCOUNT
Jose F. Lacaba
IT WAS FIVE MINUTES PAST FIVE in the afternoon, by the clock on the Maharnilad tower, when I arrived at Congress. The President was already delivering his State of the Nation message: loudspeakers on both sides of the legislative building relayed the familiar voice and the equally familiar rhetoric to anyone in the streets who cared to listen. In front of the building, massed from end to end of Burgos Drive, spilling over to the parking lot and the grassy sidewalk that forms an embankment above the Muni golf course, were the demonstrators. Few of them cared to listen to the President. They had brought with them microphones and loudspeakers of their own and they lent their ears to people they could see, standing before them, on the raised ground that leads to the steps of the legislative building, around the flagpole, beneath a flag that was at half-mast. There were, according to conservative estimates, at least 20,000 of them, perhaps even 50,000. Beyond the fringes of this huge convocation stood the uniformed policemen, their long rattan sticks swinging like clocks’ pendulums at their sides; with them were the members of the riot squad, wearing crash helmets and carrying wicker shields.
I came on foot from the Luneta, which was as far as my taxi could go, and made straight for the Congress driveway. A cop at the foot of the driveway took one look at my hair and waved me away, pointing to the demonstrators beyond a row of white hurdles. When I pointed to the special press badge pinned to the breast pocket of my leather jacket, he eyed me suspiciously, but finally let me through the cordon sanitaire. The guard at the door of Congress was no less suspicious, on guard against intruders and infiltrators, and along the corridors it seemed that every man in uniform tightened his grip on his carbine as I passed by, and strained his eyes to read the fine print on my press badge.
The doors of the session hall were locked, presumably to prevent late entrances from disturbing the assembly listening to the President’s message. A clutch of photographers who had arrived late milled outside the session hall, talking with some men in barong Tagalog, pleading and demanding to be let in. The men in barong Tagalog shook their heads, smiled ruefully, and shrugged; they had their orders. I decided to go out and have a look at the demonstration.
Among the demonstrators it was possible to feel at ease. None of them carried guns, they didn’t stand on ceremony, and there was no need for the aura of privilege that a press badge automatically confers on its wearer. I took off the badge, pocketed it, and reflected on the pleasurable sensation that comes from being inconspicuous. It seemed awkward, absurd, to strut around with a label on a lapel proclaiming one’s identity, a feeling doubtless shared by cops who were even then surreptitiously removing their name plates. Also, I was curious. No joiner of demonstrations in my antisocial student days, I now wanted to know how it felt like to be in one, not as journalistic observer but as participant, and I wanted to find out what treatment I could expect from authority in this guise.
I found out soon enough, and the knowledge hurt.
At about half past five, the demo that had been going on for more than four hours was only beginning to warm up. The colegialas in their well-pressed uniforms were wandering off toward the Luneta, munching on pinipig crunches and dying of boredom. Priests and seminarians lingered at one edge of the crowd, probably discussing the epistemology of dissent. Behind the traffic island in the middle of Burgos Drive, in the negligible shade of the pine trees, ice cream and popsicle carts vied for attention with small tables each laden with paper and envelopes, an improvised cardboard mailbox and a sign that urged: Write Your Congressman. In this outer circle of the demo, things were relatively quiet; but in the inner circle, nearer Congress, right below the mikes, the militants were restless, clamorous, chanting their slogans, carrying the streamers that bore the names of their organizations, waving placards (made out of those controversial Japanese-made calendars the administration gave away during the campaign) that pictured the President as Hitler, the First Couple as Bonnie and Clyde.
There were two mikes, taped together; and this may sound frivolous, but I think the mikes were the immediate cause of the trouble that ensued. They were in the hands of Edgar Jopson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, the group that had organized the rally and secured the permit for it. The NUSP dubbed its demonstration “the January 26 Movement”; its chief objective was to demand “a nonpartisan Constitutional Convention in 1971.” Demonstrations, however, are never restricted to members of the organization to which a permit has been issued. They are, according to standard practice, open to all sympathizers who care to join; and to the January 26 Movement the veterans of countless demos sent their representatives. Swelling the numbers of the dissenters were youth organizations like the Kabataang Makabayan, the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan, the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino, the Kilusan ng Kabataang Makati; labor groups like the National Association of Trade Unions; peasant associations like the Malayang Samahang Magsasaka.
Now, at about half past five, Jopson, who was in polo barong and sported a red armband with the inscription “J26M,” announced that the next speaker would be Gary Olivar of the SDK and of the University of the Philippines student council. Scads of demonstration leaders stood with Jopson on that raised ground with the Congress flagpole, but Olivar was at this point not to be seen among them. The mikes passed instead to Roger Arienda, the radio commentator and publisher of Bomba. Arienda may sound impressive to his radio listeners, but in person he acts like a parody of a high-school freshman delivering Mark Anthony’s funeral oration. His bombast, complete with expansive gestures, drew laughter and Bronx cheers from the militants up front, who now started chanting: “We want Gary! We want Gary!”
Arienda retreated, the chant grew louder, and someone with glasses who looked like a priest took the mikes and in a fruity, flute-thin voice pleaded for sobriety and silence. “We are all in this together,” he fluted. “We are with you. There is no need for shouting. Let us respect each other.” Or words to that effect. By this time, Olivar was visible, standing next to Jopson. It was about a quarter to six.
When Jopson got the mikes back, however, he did not pass them on to Olivar. Once more he announced: “Ang susunod na magsasalita ay si Gary Olivar.” Olivar stretched out his hand, waiting for the mikes, and the crowd resumed its chant; but Jopson after some hesitation now said: “Aawitin natin ang Bayang Magiliw.” Those seated, squatting, or sprawled on the road rose as one man. Jopson sang the first verse of the national anthem, then paused, as if to let the crowd go on from there: instead he went right on singing into the mikes, drowning out the voices of everybody else, pausing every now and then for breath or to change his pitch.
Olivar stood there with a funny expression on his face, his mouth assuming a shape that was not quite a smile, not quite a scowl. Other demonstration leaders started remonstrating with Jopson, gesturing toward the mikes, but he pointedly ignored them. He repeated his instructions to NUSP members, then started acting busy and looking preoccupied, all the while clutching the mikes to his breast. Manifestoes that had earlier been passed from hand to hand now started flying, in crumpled balls or as paper planes, toward the demonstration leaders’ perch. It was at this point that one of the militants grabbed the mikes from Jopson.
Certainly there can be no justification for the action of the militants. The NUSP leaders had every right to pack up and leave, since their permit gave them only up to six o’clock to demonstrate and they had declared their demonstration formally closed; and since it was their organization that had paid for the use of the microphones and loudspeakers, they had every right to keep these instruments ot themselves. Yet, by refusing to at least lend their mikes to the radicals, the NUSP leaders gave the impression of being too finicky; they acted like an old maid aunt determined not to surrender her Edwardian finery to a hippie niece, knowing that it would be used for more audacious purposes than she had ever intended for it. The radicals would surely demand more than a nonpartisan Constitutional Convention; they would speak of more fundamental, doubtless violent, changes; and it was precisely the prospect of violence that the NUSP feared. The quarrel over the mikes revealed the class distinctions in the demonstration: on the one hand the exclusive-school kids of the NUSP, bred in comfort, decent, respectful, and timorous; and on the other hand the public-school firebrands of groups like the KM and the SDK, familiar with privation, rowdy, irreverent, troublesome. Naturally, the nice dissenters wanted to dissociate themselves from anything that smelled disreputable, and besides the mikes belonged to them.
Now the mikes had passed to a young man, a labor union leader I had seen before, at another demonstration, whose name I do not know.
It had happened so fast Jopson was caught by surprise; the next thing he knew the mikes were no longer in his possession. This young labor union leader was a terrific speaker. He was obviously some kind of hero to the militants, for they cheered him on as he attacked the “counter-revolutionaries who want to end this demonstration,” going on from there to attack fascists and imperialists in general. By the time he was through, his audience had a new, a more insistent chant: “Rebolusyon! Rebolusyon! Rebolusyon!”
Passions were high, exacerbated by the quarrel over the mikes; and the President had the back luck of coming out of Congress at this particular instant.
WHERE THE DEMONSTRATION LEADERS STOOD, emblems of the enemy were prominently displayed: a cardboard coffin representing the death of democracy at the hands of the goonstabulary in the last elections; a cardboard crocodile, painted green, symbolizing congressmen greedy for allowances; a paper effigy of Ferdinand Marcos. When the President stepped out of Congress, the effigy was set on fire and, according to report, the coffin was pushed toward him, the crocodile hurled at him. From my position down on the street, I saw only the burning of the effigy—a singularly undramatic incident, since it took the effigy so long to catch fire. I could not even see the President and could only deduce the fact of his coming out of Congress from the commotion at the doors, the sudden radiance created by dozens of flashbulbs bursting simultaneously, and the rise in the streets of the cry: “MARcos PUPpet! MARcos PUPpet! MARcos PUPpet!”
Things got so confused at this point that I cannot honestly say which came first: the pebbles flying or the cops charging. I remember only the cops rushing down the steps of Congress, pushing aside the demonstration leaders, and jumping down to the streets, straight into the mass of demonstrators. The cops flailed away, the demonstrators scattered. The cops gave chase to anything that moved, clubbed anyone who resisted, and hauled off those they caught up with. The demonstrators who got as far as the sidewalk that led to the Muni golf links started to pick up pebbles and rocks with which they pelted the police. Very soon, placards had turned into missiles, and the sound of broken glass punctuated the yelling: soft-drink bottles were flying, too. The effigy was down on the ground, still burning.
The first scuffle was brief. By the time it was over, the President and the First Lady must have made good their escape. The cops retreated into Congress with hostages. The demonstrators re-occupied the area they had vacated in their panic. The majority of NUSP members must have been safe in their buses by then, on their way home, but the militants were still in possession of the mikes.
The militants were also in possession of the field. Probably not more than 2,000 remained on Burgos Drive—some of them just hanging around, looking on; many of them raging mad, refusing to be cowed. A small group defiantly sang the Tagalog version of the “Internationale,” no longer bothering now to hide their allegiances. Their slogan was “fight and fear not,” and they made a powerful incantation out of it: “Ma-ki-BAKA! Huwag maTAKOT!” They marched with arms linked together and faced the cops without flinching, baiting them, taunting them.
“Pulis, pulis, titi matulis!”
“Pulis, mukhang kuwarta!”
“Me mga panangga pa, o, akala mo lalaban sa giyera!”
“Takbo kayo nang takbo, baka lumiit ang tiyan n’yo!”
“Baka mangreyp pa kayo, lima-lima na’ng asawa n’yo!”
“Mano-mano lang, o!”
NOTHING MORE CLEARLY REVEALED THE DEPTHS to which the reputation of the supposed enforcers of the law has sunk than this open mocking of the cops. Annual selections of ten outstanding policemen notwithstanding, the cops are generally believed to be corrupt, venal, brutal, vicious, and zealous in their duties only when the alleged lawbreaker is neither rich nor powerful. Those who deplore the loss of respect for the law forget that respect needs to be earned, and anyone is likely to lose respect for the law who has felt the wrath of lawmen or come face to face with their greed.
The students who now hurled insults at the cops around Congress differed from the rest of their countrymen only in that they did not bother to hide their contempt or express it in bitter whispers. In at least two recent demonstrations—one at the US Embassy on the arrival of Agnew, the other at Malacanang to denounce police brutality and the rise of fascism—students had suffered at the hands of the cops, and now the students were in a rage, they were spoiling for trouble, they were in no mood for dinner-party chatter or elocution contents.
In the parliament of the streets, debate takes the form of confrontation.
While the braver radicals flung jeers at the cops in a deliberate attempt to precipitate a riotous confrontation, the rest of the demonstrators gathered in front of the Congress flagpole, listening to various speakers, though more often outshouting them. Senator Emmanuel Pelaez had come out of Congress, dapper in a dark-blue suit, and the mikes were handed over to him. Despite the mikes, his voice could hardly be heard above the din of the demonstrators. Because Pelaez spoke in English, they shouted: “Tagalog! Tagalog!” They had also made up a new chant: “Pakawalan ang hinuli! Pakawalan ang hinuli! Pakawalan ang hinuli!” Not after several minutes of furious waving from student leaders gesturing for quiet did the noise of the throng subside.
Pelaez made an appeal for peace that received an equal amount of cheers and jeers. Then he made the mistake of calling MPD Chief Gerardo Tamayo to his side. The very sight of a uniformed policeman is enough to drive demonstrators into a frenzy; his mere presence is provocation enough. The reaction to Tamayo was unequivocal, unanimous. The moment he appeared, fancy swagger stick in hand, an orgy of boos and catcalls began, sticks and stones and crumpled sheets started to fly again, and Pelaez had to let the police chief beat a hasty retreat.
With Tamayo out of sight, a little quiet descended on the crowd once more. Speeches again, and more speeches. The lull, a period of watchful waiting for the demonstrators, lasted for some time. And then, from the north, from the Maharnilad side of Congress, came the cry: “Eto na naman ang mga pulis!”
Thunder of feet, tumult of images and sounds. White smooth round crash helmets advancing like a fleet of flying saucers in the growing darkness. The tread of marching feet, the rat-tat-tat of fearful feet on the run, the shuffle of hesitant feet unable to decide whether to stand fast or flee. From loudspeakers, an angry voice: “Mga pulis! Pakiusap lang! Tahimik na kami rito! Huwag na kayong makialam!” And everywhere, a confusion of shouts: Walang tatakbo! Walang uurong! Balik! Balik! Walang mambabato! Tigil ang batuhan! Link arms, link arms! Ma-ki-BAKA! Huwag maTAKOT!
The khaki contingent broke into a run. The demonstrators fled in all directions, each man for himself. Some merely stepped aside, hugging the Congress walls, clustering around trees. The cops at this time went only after those who ran, bypassing all who stood still. Three cops cornered one demonstrator against a traffic sign and clubbed him until the signpost gave way and fell with a crash. One cop caught up with a demonstrator and grabbed him by the collar, but the demonstrator wriggled free of his shirt and made a new dash for freedom in his undershirt. One cop lost his quarry near the golf course and found himself surrounded by other demonstrators; they didn’t touch him—“Nag-iisa ‘yan, pabayaan n’yo”—but they taunted him mercilessly. This was a Metrocom cop, not an unarmed trainee, and finding himself surrounded by laughing sneering faces, he drew his .45 in anger, his eyes flashing, his teeth bared. He kept his gun pointed to the ground, however, and the laughter and sneers continued until he backed off slowly, trying to maintain whatever remaining dignity he could muster.
The demonstrators who had fled regrouped, on the Luneta side of Congress, and with holler and whoop they charged. The cops slowly retreated before this surging mass, then ran, ran for their lives, pursued by rage, rocks, and burning placard handles. Now it was the students giving chase, exhilarated by the unexpected turnabout. The momentum of their charge, however, took them only up to the center of Burgos Drive; either there was a failure of nerve or their intention was merely to regain ground they had lost, without really charging into the very ranks of the police.
Once again, the lines of battle were as before: the students in the center, the cops at the northern end of Burgos Drive.
In the next two hours, the pattern of battle would be set. The cops would charge, the demonstrators would retreat; the demonstrators would regroup and come forward again, the cops would back off to their former position. At certain times, however, the lines of battle would shift, with the cops holding all of the area right in front of Congress and the students facing them across the street, with three areas of retreat—north toward Maharnilad, south toward the Luneta, and west toward the golf course and Intramuros. There were about seven waves of attack and retreat by both sides, each attack preceded by a tense noisy lull, during which there would be sporadic stoning, by both cops and demonstrators.
Sometime during the lull in the clashes, two fire trucks appeared in the north. They inched their way forward, flanked by the cops, and when they were near the center of Burgos Drive they trained their hoses on the scattered bonfires the students had made with their placards and manifestoes. Students who held their ground, getting wet in the weak stream, yelled: “Mahal ang tubig! Isauli n’yo na ‘yan sa Nawasa!” Other demonstrators, emboldened by the lack of force of the jets of water, came forward with rocks to hurl at the fire trucks. The trucks hurriedly backed away from the barrage and soon made themselves scarce.
At one student attack, the demonstrators managed to occupy the northern portion the cops had held throughout the battle. When the cops started moving forward, from the Congress driveway where they had taken shelter, the demonstrators backed away one by one, until only three brave and foolhardy souls remained, standing fast, holding aloft, by its three poles, a streamer that carried the name of the Kabataang Makabayan. There they stood, those three, no one behind them and the cops coming toward them slowly, menacingly. Without a warning, some cops dashed forward, about ten of them, and in full view of the horrified crowd flailed away at the three who held their ground, unable to resist. The two kids holding the side poles either managed to flee or were hauled off to the legislative building to join everybody else who had the misfortune of being caught. The boy in the center crumpled to the ground and stayed there cringing, bundled up like a foetus, his legs to his chest and his arms over his head. The cops made a small tight circle around him, and then all that could be seen were the rattan sticks moving up and down and from side to side in seeming rhythm. When they were through, the cops walked away nonchalantly, leaving the boy on the ground. One cop, before leaving, gave one last aimless swing of his stick as a parting shot, hitting his target in the knees.
The cops really had it in for the Kabataang Makabayan. The fallen standard was picked up by six or seven KM boys and carried to the center of Burgos Drive, where it stood beside another streamer, held up by members of the Kilusan ng Kabataang Makati, bearing the words: “Ibagsak ang imperyalismo at piyudalismo!” When the cops made another attack and everybody in the center of Burgos Drive scattered, the KM boys again held their ground. The cops gave them so severe a beating one of the wooden poles broke in half.
I had taken shelter beneath the Kilusan ng Kabataang Makati streamer during the attack; we were left untouched. The KM boys had to abandon their streamer. One of them, limping, joined us, and when the cops had gone he asked me, probably thinking I was another KM member, to help him pick up the streamer. I thought it was the least I could do for the poor bastards, so I took hold of the broken pole and helped the KM boy carry the streamer a little closer to the Congress walls. There I stood, thinking of the awkwardness of my position, being neither demonstrator nor KM member, until a few other guys began to gather around us. I handed the broken pole to someone who nodded when I asked him if he belonged to the KM.
About this time, or sometime afterwards, Pelaez was down on the street, surrounded by aides and students all talking at the same time, complaining to him about missing nameplates and arrested comrades. He was probably still down there when the cops advanced once again. Panic spread, and I found myself running, too. In previous attacks I had merely stepped aside and watched; but I had already seen what had happened to the KM boys who refused to flee, and I had seen policemen, walking back to their lines after a futile chase, club or haul off anyone standing by who just happened to be in their way, or who seemed to have a look of gloating and triumph on their faces; and I realized it was no longer safe to remain motionless. I had completely forgotten the press badge in my pocket.
Meanwhile, it seemed that certain distinguished personages trapped inside the legislative building had grown restless and wanted to get on to their mansions or their favorite night clubs or some parties in their honor, but cars were parked up front. At any rate, some cars started moving up the driveway to pick up passengers. The sight of those long sleek limousines infuriated the demonstrators all the more; the sight of those beautiful air-conditioned limousines was like a haughty voice saying, “Let them eat cake.” Cries of “Kotse! Kotse!” were followed by “Batuhin! Batuhin!” Down the driveway came the cars, and whizz went the rocks. Some cars even had the effrontery of driving down Burgos Drive straight into the lines of the demonstrators, as though meaning to disperse them. All the cars got stoned.
One apple-green Mercedes-Benz, belonging to Senator Jose Roy, screeched to a stop when the rocks thudded on its roofs and sides. The driver got out and started picking up rocks himself, throwing them at the students. A few cops had to brave the rain of stones that ensued to save the poor driver who had only tried to defend his master’s car. The demonstrators then surged forward with sticks and stones and beat the hell out of the car, stopping only when it was a total wreck. “Sunugin!” rose the cry, but by then the cops were coming in force.
The demonstrators had hired a jeepney in which rode some of their leaders. It had two loudspeakers on its roof, was surrounded by students, and inched its way forward and backward throughout the melee. The cops, seemingly maddened by the destruction of a senator’s Model 1970 Mercedes-Benz, swooped down on the jeepney with their rattan sticks, striking out at the students who surrounded it until they fled, then venting their rage some more on those inside the jeepney who could not get out to run. The shrill screams of women inside the jeepney rent the air. The driver, bloody all over, managed to stagger out; the cops quickly grabbed him.
When the cops were through beating up the jeepney’s passengers, they backed away. Some stayed behind, trying to drag out those who were still inside the jeepney, from which came endless shrieks, sobs, curses, wails, and the sound of weeping. It was impossible to remain detached and uninvolved now, to be a spectator forever. When the screams for help became unendurable, I started to walk toward the jeepney, and was only four or five steps away when, from the other side of the jeepney, crash helmet, khaki uniform, and rattan stick came charging at me. The cop’s hands gripped his stick at both ends. “O, isa ka pa, lalapit-lapit ka pa!” he cried as he swung at me. I stepped back, feeling the wind from the swing of his stick ruffle the front of my shirt. In stepping back I lost my balance. Before I realized what had happened, I was down on my back and the cop was lunging at me, still holding his stick at both ends. I caught the middle of the stick with my hands and, well, under the circumstances, I don’t think I can be blamed for losing my cool. “Putangnamo,” I shouted at him, “tutulong ako do’n, e!”
I jumped to my feet, dusted myself off angrily, and glared at my would-be tormentor. If my eyes had the gift of a triple whammy, he would be dust and ashes now. We stared at each other for a few seconds, but when I dropped my glance down to his breast, to see no nameplate there, he turned his back and slowly walked away. I had no intention of doing a Norman Mailer and getting arrested, so I let him go. By this time, the jeepney’s passengers had decided, screaming and swearing and sobbing all the while, to abandon their vehicle with its load of mimeographed manifestoes and various literature, and to look for a safer place from which to deliver their exhortations to their fellow demonstrators.
On two other occasions, I found myself running with the demonstrators. Once I jumped down with them to the golf course and got as far as the fence of the mini-golf range. Behind us, the cops were firing into the air. When it was the students’ turn to charge, I found my way back to the street. Another time, running along the sidewalk down rows of pine trees toward the Luneta, I saw a girl a few meters away from me stumble and fall. I stopped running, with the intention of helping her up, when whack! I felt the sting of a blow just below my belt and above my ass. When I turned around the cop was gone; he was swinging wildly as he ran and I just happened to be in the way of his rattan. The girl, too, was nowhere to be seen; there was no longer anyone to play Good Samaritan to.
As I stood there, rubbing that part of me where I was hit, I heard more screaming and curses from the golf course. A boy and two girls, who had decided to sit out the attack on a mound, had been set upon by the cops. People inside the mini-golf enclosure were yelling at the cops, shaking their golf clubs in helpless fury. “Tena, tulungan natin!” cried one demonstrator; but the cops had retreated by the time we got to the trio on the mound. The two girls were cursing through their tears; the boy was calm, consoling them in his fashion. “This is just part of the class struggle,” he said, and one girl sobbed, “I know, I know. Pero putangna nila, me araw din sila!”
IT WAS NOW EIGHT O’CLOCK. The battle of Burgos Drive was over, Burgos Drive was open to traffic once more. I decided it was time to go to the Philippine General Hospital for a change of scene. Crossing the street, on my way to Taft Avenue, I saw for the first time, on the Luneta side of the traffic island, a row of horses behind a squad of uniformed men.
At the PGH, confusion reigned. More than thirty demonstrators with bloody heads and broken wrists had been or were being treated along with three or four policemen hit by rocks. Other students kept coming, looking for companions, bringing news from the field. The battle was not over yet, they said, it had merely shifted ground. The cops were chasing demonstrators right up to Intramuros, all the way to Plaza Lawton; were even boarding jeepneys and buses to haul down demonstrators on their way home. There was a rumor that two or three students had been killed—did anyone know anything about it? (It proved to be a false alarm.) Even NUSP members were at the PGH. Some of them had called up Executive Secretary Ernesto Maceda, and he came in a long black car, mapungay eyes, slicked-down hair, newly pressed barong Tagalog, and all, accompanied by a photographer and scads of technical assistants or security men.
The next day came the post-mortems, the breast-beating, the press releases, the alibis.
“We maintain,” said MPD Deputy Chief James Barbers, “that the police acted swiftly at a particular time when the life of the President of the Republic—and that of the First Lady—was being endangered by the vicious and unscrupulous elements among the student demonstrators. One can just imagine what would have resulted had something happened to the First Lady!” Barbers did not bother to explain why the rampage continued after the President being protected had gone.
Manila Mayor Antonio J. Villegas commended Tamayo and his men for their “exemplary behavior and courage” and reportedly gave them a day off. Then he announced that Manila policemen would henceforth stay away from demonstration sites. “I’m doing this to protect Manila policemen from unfair criticism and to avoid friction between the MPD and student groups.”
“The night of January 26,” said UP president S.P. Lopez, “must be regarded as a night of grave portent for the future of the nation. It has brought us face to face with the fundamental question: Is it still possible to transform our society by peaceful means so that the many who are poor, oppressed, sick, and ignorant may be released from their misery, by the actual operation of law and government, rather than by waiting in vain for the empty promise of ‘social justice’ in our Constitution?”
The faculty of the University of the Philippines issued a declaration denouncing “the use of brutal force by state authorities against the student demonstrators” and supporting “unqualifiedly the students’ exercise of democratic rights in their struggle for revolutionary change.” The declaration went on to say: “It is with the gravest concern that the faculty views the January 26 event as part of an emerging pattern of repression of the democratic rights of the people. This pattern is evident in the formation of paramilitary units such as the Home Defense Forces, the politicalization of the Armed Forces, the existence of private armies, foreign interference in internal security, and the use of specially trained police for purposes of suppression.”
From the Lyceum faculty came another strongly worded statement: “Above the sadism and inhumanity of the action of the police, we fear that the brutal treatment of the idealistic students has done irreparable harm to our society. For it is true that the skirmish was won by the policemen and the riot soldiers. But if we view the battle in the correct perspective of the struggle for the hearts and minds of our youth, we cannot help but realize that the senseless, brutal, and uncalled-for acts of the police have forever alienated many of our young people from our society. The police will have to realize that in winning the battles, they are losing the war for our society.”
While he deplored the “abusive language” he read in some of the demonstrators’ placards, Senator Gil J. Puyat said, “I regret the use of unnecessary force by the police when they could have used a less harmful method.” IF the police had “kept their cool,” said Senator Benigno Aquino, there would have been no violence—“it takes two to fight.” Senator Salvador Laurel said he had witnessed “with my own eyes the reported brutalities perpetrated by a number of [police officers] upon unarmed students, some of them helpless women.” Senator Eva Kalaw warned: “The students set the emotional powderkeg that may become the signal for wave upon wave of unrest in the streets, in the factories, on the campuses, in our farms.”
“Students,” said President Ferdinand Marcos, “have a legitimate right to manifest their grievances in public and we shall support their just demands, but we do not consider violence a legitimate instrument of democratic dissent, and we expect the students to cooperate with government in making sure that their demonstrations are not marred by violence.”
Some of the students began talking of arming themselves the next time with molotov cocktails and pillboxes, of using dos-por-dos as placard handles, of wearing crash helmets. Everyone agreed that the January 26 confrontation was the longest and most violent in the history of the Philippine student movement.
And then came January 30.
From the book DAYS OF DISQUIET, NIGHTS OF RAGE, by Jose F. Lacaba
(New edition: Anvil Publishing, Manila, 2003. First edition: Salinlahi Publishing House, Manila 1982. Second printing: Asphodel Books, Manila, 1986.)
First published in the Philippine Free Press, February 7, 1970
Maharnilad is what the Manila City Hall was called back then. Congress, not far from Maharnilad, was a single building that housed both the Senate and the House of Representatives; it now houses the National Museum.
Left to Right: The Student Activists
First published in The Sunday Times Magazine, February 22, 1970, p. 34-38
KABATAANG Makabayan is a name that has become synonymous to militant youth activism in Philippine setting. And no history of youth activism in the country can be written without making accreditation to the contribution of the KM in the national democratic movement. This is so because the KM has consistently stood for national-democratic ideals and militantly pursued them through democratic mass actions.
Kabataang Makabayan’s founding in November 30th 1964 was “inspired and guided by the patriotism of the Filipino youth who first formulated the terms of our nationhood in the Propaganda Movement and organized the Philippine Revolution of 1896 in order to express and realize in full the national and social aspirations of the Filipino people oppressed by foreign and feudal tyranny.”
Since its founding, the KM has staged demonstrations, seminars and teach-ins aimed at clarifying to the people the present state of Philippine society—which it calls semi-feudal and semi-colonial. The KM believes that the Filipino people are suffering and the country is backward because there is a monopoly of political and economic power concentrated in the hands of the big landlords, comprador class and big bourgeoisie and on top of them is a foreign power—US imperialism. The KM aims to break this monopoly of power by allying with workers, peasants, progressive intellectuals, professionals and the nationalist bourgeoisie in an effort to arouse and mobilize the masses towards the attainment of national freedom and democracy.
This outlook, more than anything else, explains the persistent anti-American imperialist and anti-landlord tone in the programme, pronouncements and protest mass actions of the KM. This explains why it is for the scrapping of the parity, the abrogation of the Laurel-Langley, bases treaty, military assistance treaty, mutual defense treaty—in short, the elimination of RP-US “special relations.”
The KM stand on these and other important national issues have always been pursued by its members with a militance no other youth organization has equalled. That is why the military has long ago started a hate-KM campaign that has been equally militant, although oftentimes ridiculous and silly. Whenever violence erupts in a demonstration participated in by the KM, the military authorities are quick in pinpointing the KM as the instigator of violence. Several times has it also been singled out by witch-hunters and downright reactionary officials as “communist-inspired,’ etc., in an effort to isolate the KM from the people and totally discredit it as a national democratic youth organization.
But these efforts, according to KM leaders, have fallen flat in the face of these accusers because the KM instead of being isolated had increased its members and mass following. Official listing of membership has reached the 12,000 mark the bulk of which come from the rural areas and factories. Mass following is estimated at 30,000 the bulk of which also come from the rural areas and factories. The KM maintains chapters in schools, offices, factories and city and rural community areas.
Unlike other youth organizations, the KM does not entertain the possibility of a non-partisan constitutional convention within the present status of the Philippine society. Although the convention may be made a forum in discussion of important political issues like the RP-US “special relations” the KM believes that the Constitutional Convention will be nothing better than a farce that will witness another squabble for power and horse trading among the exploiting classes, sectarian groups and US imperialism.
According to Monico Atienza, KM General Secretary, “We do not believe that a non-partisan constitutional convention could be done in our society since the powers, political and economic, are controlled by partisan interests. We have the landlords, the bureaucrat capitalist, and the big bourgeoisie. A truly democratic constitution, we believe, can be implemented only based on the initiative of the masses. It will be the masses themselves transforming the basic power relations in the society and then formulating a constitution based on new and progressive power relations. A Constitution does not precede a society. It comes after a society has been formed. That is why it is futile to hope for the Constitutional Convention as an opportunity to change our society.”
On the question of violence, the KM maintains the position that the people have the right to defend themselves against the undemocratic attacks of the state. Atienza said: “The KM is a militant participant in demonstrations, in fact some of its members were fighting it out with the forces of the state on the simple reason that if you are attacked in the exercise of your democratic rights, you have to defend yourself. It was correct for the demonstrators to defend themselves in front of an adversary.”
It is clearly indicated from the position of the KM on the abovementioned issues that the KM recognizes the “rise of fascism” as the pressing issue of the day. KM believes that a systematic method of suppressing the people’s democratic rights and civil liberties is on the rise and that state power— its military might—is increasingly being used for this purpose.
Such suppression, however, only serves to temper its activists. And this, in their view, only illustrates their point that the ruling class will never willingly surrender its privileged position.#
By Mila Astorga-Garcia
THAT the present temper of student activism in the Philippines can be traced, somehow or other, to the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) could hardly be considered an exaggeration.
In the UP, long considered to be the seat of student activism, the SCAUP is recognized as the oldest and one of the major progressive student organizations.
The SCAUP, which today is a national democratic organization, has maintained a record of militance within the University even as it went through various stages of development.
Luzvimindo David, President of the SCAUP, says, “Since membership of the organization is limited within the UP, the only thing the members could do is to propagate ideas of national democracy within the UP”. That may well be the case, but the history of the SCAUP actually provides a background to student activism even outside the UP.
In 1961, the SCAUP was founded in the wake of and in reaction to the CUFA witch-hunt of the late 50’s, as well as to counter the sectarian stranglehold on the UP. It discussed and propagate liberal ideas on campus at a time (as the “old-times” in the university relate) when dissent was conducted in whispers. It was then a “non-partisan and non-sectarian” organization.
The SCAUP Inquest was published in 1962 as a forum for liberal ideas. At about this time, the SCAUP started discussing the nationalist ideas of Recto in symposia, lectures, teach-ins and seminars.
Largely as a result of the Vietnam war, the SCAUP in 1965-1968, started to assume an internationalist outlook, shunning the narrow, chauvinistic concept of nationalism. During this period, it participated actively in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and protests against the iniquitous “special relations” between the Philippines and the United States.
1969, the year of student activism that saw Manila’s schools shaken by student strikes, also saw the transformation of the SCAUP from a “non-sectarian and non-partisan” nationalist organization into a partisan national democratic organization “partisan to the interest of the Filipino masses.” This is clearly seen and is declared in the Activist, the official publication of the SCAUP. The Activist is “guided by the ideology of national democracy.” It “takes the progressive revolutionary stand in any issue” and “refuses to engage in the empty rhetorics of frightened liberal intellectuals” (The Activist, March, 1969)
Having taken a definite stand for national democracy, the SCAUP now emphasizes the integration of the students with the workers and peasants. Towards this end, SCAUP President Luzvimindo David informs us, SCAUP members participate in workers’ strikes and constantly study the conditions of the workers and peasants. This springs from their view of student power. “It is imperative,” states the editorial of the Activist (March, 1969), “that the student movement realizes the necessity of allying itself with the social classes whose interest is to liberate themselves from the exploitation and oppression imposed by the social order.”
“At best, students can only serve as catalysts in a society ripe for a revolutionary change…Let us cast away the illusion that student power is capable of changing society and instead prepare for protracted struggle against the unjust social order…Student power, no matter how nationalistic or militant, can only rock the status quo in the university level.”
Taking a comprehensive view of Philippine society which it describes as semi-feudal and semi-colonial, the SCAUP has committed itself to working for the abolition of the iniquitous relationship between the Philippines and the US and the abolition of the feudal system in the Philippines.
Speaking of land reform, Luzvimindo David says, “The organization will not settle for the present kind of land reform…(It) is advocating a land reform without the numerous loopholes of the present code.”
Asked on the organization’s stand on the coming Constitutional Convention, he comments, “We do not believe that the Constitutional Convention will change the basic character of Philippine society. But we find a purpose for this convention — it serves as a jumping board for discussions regarding the problems of the Filipino.”
SCAUP has contributed many of its members to the nationalist movement even outside UP. Through the year, the ideas that it espoused and disseminated have gained increasing acceptance among the sectors of Philippine society interested in bringing about progressive change. At present, the SCAUP may well be on its way to becoming a national organization or at least a precursor of a Student Cultural Association on a national level. Student activists in various schools (Araneta U., Feati U., Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Divine Word U. in Tacloban among others) established Student Cultural Associations of their own, patterned after the SCAUP. If plans materialize, they will unite to form the Student Cultural Association of the Philippines, says SCAUP Pres. L. David.
We thank the University of the Philippines Library and its very helpful staff for the clear scans of the daily newspapers of January-March, 1970. Maraming salamat!