NewsfeaturesFIRST UP DILIMAN RALLY AFTER THE WAR

FIRST UP DILIMAN RALLY AFTER THE WAR

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By Elmer A. Odoñez
manilatimes.net
18 February 2012

¨The late 50s generation would pick up Recto’s nationalistic speeches including his call for a “second Propaganda Movement.” The new breed of student leaders like Jose Maria Sison, Pete Daroy, and Luis Teodoro were not intimidated by the military surveillance and witch hunts for communists in the faculty conducted, ironically, by Rep. Leonardo Perez as chair of the House committee on anti-Filipino activities in 1961. Huge demonstrations before Congress were led by UP Marxist-oriented student leaders in alliance with the liberal-minded president of the student council, Collegian editor Reynato Puno, and fraternity/sorority heads. By then the pioneers in Diliman had gone their own ways leaving the campus in continuous ferment spawning radical ideas that would lead to the rebellious sixties, the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the Diliman Commune in 1971, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and martial law in 1972.¨


March 29, 1951. The military and police were on red alert. The date marked the 9th anniversary of the founding of the Hukbalahap (Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon) renamed after the war as Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan (HMB). Early that morning the troops of Col. Napoleon Valeriano trucked out of their camp (now UP Bliss) flying their black flags with white skull and bones heading for Central Luzon where the HMBs were waging people’s war and preparing for an offensive to take Manila. The leaders greeted each other with “See you in Malacañang” despite a severe setback with the arrest the year before of the “In politburo” including several UP alumni – Jose Lava, Angel Baking, Sammy Rodriguez, and the roundup of reported members of the Communist Party and brought to military camps for interrogation. Among those “invited” were journalists like Jose A. Lansang, executive editor of the Philippine Herald, and writers and reporters like Macario Vicencio, Rafael de Tagle and Juan Quesada. Popular bookstore owner Joaquin Po himself was detained by the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) who suspected that his bookstore was a message center of the movement. The writ of habeas corpus had been suspended. Lawyers of the Civil Liberties Union rose to defend those arrested and charged in court with “rebellion (complex with murder).”

In UP Diliman student leaders were up early to prepare for a mass action at Malacañang to protest the ouster of their president Bienvenido Gonzalez and uphold academic freedom. Leonardo Perez, former editor of the Philippine Collegian, was passing around a manifesto that minced no words attacking President Quirino who had won over Jose P. Laurel in what was called the “dirtiest election” where “the dead and the birds” voted in Cavite and Lanao. From Manila I arrived in Diliman at about 8 a.m. At the Gregory Terrace where we had our Collegian office, Perez handed me the manifesto for all heads of student groups to sign. I didn’t exactly blanch when I read it but it was apparently not the time for civility and niceties of language. I was perhaps the last student leader to sign it for I spent the whole night at the Rangel press putting out a special issue with the editorial “Road to Extinction”—inspired by Gonzalez’s statement, “It is not mere rhetorics to say that upon the success or failure of the University now depends the survival or extinction of our people, the progress or decadence of our country.”

Students assembled in front of the Oblation where buses were already waiting. Most of the faculty cooperated by dismissing their classes. Beyond the assembly area the police with long arms were on alert. A police-manned machine-gun was seen along the road leading to what’s Philcoa now. Remember the campus proper then was surrounded by swathes of talahib, its white plumes blowing in the wind. Leonie Perez and a few of us approached the police line. We told the commanding officer that our destination was Malacañang and students would not alight anywhere except the Palace grounds. The Collegian associate editor Alex Fernandez was arrested for making gratuitous remarks against the police. On hand was a DZRH radio patrol reporting the incident to their station. After an hour of negotiation the buses were allowed to go.

The thousand or so students swarmed into the Palace only to learn that the board of regents had already elected a new UP president, Engineering dean Vidal A. Tan. At the Executive House President Quirino himself presented UP Student Council president Teodoro Padilla to make the announcement. A collective groan with some students booing marked the reception of the regents’ decision.

It was widely believed that Gonzalez was forced to resign as sixth UP president for daring to go against President Quirino’s desire to award Indonesian president Sukarno with an honorary doctorate and for inviting Senator Claro M. Recto as 1951 commencement speaker. Actually the executive committee of deans made the decision. Gonzalez stood by the collective decision.

Sukarno did not receive the honorary degree until 1964 under President Macapagal. Recto as commencement speaker went on as planned as a concession to the graduating class including Leonardo Perez. The Nacionalista senator would deliver the first post-war salvo against US imperialism and RP’s subservience to American interests with his address “A Mendicant Foreign Policy.” The late 50s generation would pick up Recto’s nationalistic speeches including his call for a “second Propaganda Movement.” The new breed of student leaders like Jose Maria Sison, Pete Daroy, and Luis Teodoro were not intimidated by the military surveillance and witch hunts for communists in the faculty conducted, ironically, by Rep. Leonardo Perez as chair of the House committee on anti-Filipino activities in 1961. Huge demonstrations before Congress were led by UP Marxist-oriented student leaders in alliance with the liberal-minded president of the student council, Collegian editor Reynato Puno, and fraternity/sorority heads. By then the pioneers in Diliman had gone their own ways leaving the campus in continuous ferment spawning radical ideas that would lead to the rebellious sixties, the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the Diliman Commune in 1971, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and martial law in 1972.

March 29 continues to be observed this time by the CCP/NPA whose founders first heeded Recto’s call for a renewed nationalist movement in the 50s. Recto died under mysterious circumstances in Rome in 1960.

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