Overview: Historic significance and continuing relevance of the first quarter storm of 1970

Delivered at the Inaugural Forum in Countdown to
the 50th Anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970
By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
September 19, 2018

Dear Fellow Activists,

I am elated, honored and grateful that the FQS Movement and the [email protected] network and coordinating committee have invited me to deliver a paper for this inaugural forum of the Forum Series on the First Quarter Storm of 1970.

I appreciate that the forum series is a major part of the line up of events and projects meant to celebrate FQS´ 50th anniversary from now until the first quarter of 2020. It is clear that these events and projects are in consonance with the historic significance and continuing relevance of the FQS of 1970 to the ongoing revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people for national liberation and democracy as well as its distinct character as a cultural revolution.

I have been asked to present an overview of the FQS of 1970, which can serve as framework for succeeding forums until 2020. I therefore propose to discuss the long chain of events that led to the occurrence of the FQS of 1970, its distinctly great historic significance and finally its far reaching consequences and continuing relevance.

I. FQS as the Culmination of Previous Events

The FQS of 1970 could arise only because it was moved by the tradition and spirit of the Philippine revolution and the urgent desire to continue the Filipino people´s struggle for national liberation and democracy and was preceded by a chain of mass actions in the 1960´s that started on March 15, 1961 when 5000 students broke into Congress and literally scuttled the anticommunist hearings being conducted to witchhunt the authors and publishers of anti-imperialist and anti-feudal articles that had appeared in official publications of the University of the Philippines.

This first significant mass action of the 1960s, which was national democratic in character, was organized by the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) in alliance with the Philippine Collegian and the Inter Fraternity and Sorority Council (IFSC), Immediately after the mass action, leaders of SCAUP proceeded to form study circles in a number of down town Manila universities. The SCAUP actively advocated the Second Propaganda Movement which was previously proposed by the anti-imperialist Clro Mayo Recto.

The next significant mass action was in 1962 when a combination of 500 workers from Lapiang Manggagawa and students from several universities broke into the grounds of the presidential palace to denounce the continuance of the Laurel-Langley Agreement, demand its abrogation and demand from the Macapagal regime for the transparency of the secret talks to extend the agreement. The presidential guards pushed the demonstrators out of the grounds using butts of rifles with fixed bayonets.

This protest action was followed by smaller mass actions on political and economic issues against US imperialism and the Macapagal regime while organizational work was relentlessly carried out to form student chapters for a prospective Kabataang Makabayan in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Southern Luzon to generate seminars and forums among students and workers and establish connections with the peasant masses in the regions of Central and Southern Luzon.

The Kabataang Makabayan was established as a comprehensive youth organization of students and young workers, peasants and professionals on November 30 1964. By 1965 it became possible to assemble 25,000 people in front of the presidential palace in an omnibus rally against US economic, political, military and cultural domination of the Philippines and against the puppetry of the Macapagal regime. The KM cooperated with the Lapiang Manggagawa, the labor federations, and the peasant association Masaka.

The general line pursued was to carry forward the struggle for national liberation and democracy against the evils of US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. The leadership of the working class and its basic alliance with the peasantry were affirmed. The youth were urged to carry out the Second Propaganda Movement and a cultural revolution along the line of struggle for national democracy.

The patriotic and progressive organizations that surged forward paid attention not only to national issues but also to international issues, especially the US war of aggression against the Vietnamese people. They opposed the sending of the Philippine Civic Action Group as an interventionist military force to Vietnam. Thus they assembled 5000 students and workers against US President Johnson when he came to Manila in October 1966 to proclaim Marcos as his right-hand man in Asia, hold a summit and garner the support of US allies in Southeast Asia.

After the violent dispersal of the said mass action by the police and military, Kabataang Makabayan launched the October 24th Movement and fielded teams to carry out mass work in urban poor communities and among the workers and peasants. Most conspicuously, it expanded rapidly among students nationwide. Thus in the years from 1966 onwards the KM succeeded in arousing, organizing and mobilizing the students against oppressive school owners and administrators, denouncing the pro-imperialist and reactionary system of education and demanding a national, scientific and mass culture.

The KM expanded nationwide rapidly through seminars and forums on nationalism that it alone organized and also through close cooperation with national student organizations and student governments. It vigorously undertook an integration with its urban poor, workers and peasants, which involved social investigation, discussion of current events and issues and cultural performances by KM teams for mass work.

It was during the period from 1966 to 1968 that KM played a key role in the establishment and operation of the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism and KM-based proletarian revolutionaries carried out the process of rectifying major errors in the old merger party of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the Socialist Party of the Philippines and calling for the reestablishment of the CPP.

KM provided the nationwide network of cadres and mass activists who were already schooled and trained along the line of the new-democratic revolution for the reestablishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968 under the theoretical guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.

The newly reestablished CPP founded the New People´s Army and launched the people´s war. Workers and student strikes spread in 1968-69. As many as 15,000 peasants came mainly from Tarlac to demand genuine land reform from Congress in November 1969. The youth and the rest of the people were outraged by the massacres of peasants in Tarlac and the excessive use of public funds for the re-election of Marcos as president. They were inspired by the reestablishment of the CPP and the founding of the NPA.

KM reconciled with Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (SDK) along the line of new democratic revolution in November 1969, The visit of US vice president Agnew to Manila on December 29, 1969 provoked a protest demonstration against US imperialism and underscored the brutal disruptive acts of the US-AID trained police and the obsequious puppetry of the Marcos regime. On January 1970, the CPP´s Ang Bayan came out with the editorial, ´Marcos is a Fascist Puppet of US imperialism´. This was a clarion call for resistance to the US-Marcos regime.

II. The Great Historic Significance of FQS

It can be said that the FQS of 1970 was the product and culmination of the mass movement of the 1960s. It was inspired by the continuing growth in strength and advance of the legal democratic forces of all patriotic and progressive classes and sectors and by the resurgence of the people´s democratic revolution and revolutionary armed struggle led by the CPP.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, the Vietnamese struggle against the US war of aggression, the revolutionary struggles of the third world peoples, the anti-war movement in the US and the youth uprisings in Paris and elsewhere had an influence on the youth movement in the Philippines.
Southeast Asia was the center of the global revolutionary storm with its eye in Vietnam and the rest of Indochina.

Nevertheless, the KM-led youth who spearheaded the series of mass actions that constituted the FQS of 1970 were well-rooted in the history and circumstances of the Philippines as having become a semicolonial and semifeudal country and as being in need of a national democratic revolution of a new type in the world era of imperialism and proletarian revolution.

The main slogans of the FQS were: Overthrow US imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, Struggle for national democracy, Fight, be fearless, People´s war is the answer to martial law. These slogans were directly carried over from the mass movement of the 1960s.

The youth that participated in the FQS of 1970 were highly conscious of pursuing the general line of people´s democratic revolution. They were determined to promote this line through study and social investigation, integration with the toiling masses of workers and peasants, cultural creativity and performances and mass actions to arouse, organize and mobilize the people.

In addition to Struggle for National Democracy, the youth had the Philippine Society and Revolution for their political education in Schools for National Democracy. The KM Cultural Bureau and teams were active in educational and cultural work among the youth. They cooperated with comradely organizations in the formation and development of educators, propagit speakers and the creative writers, visual artists and stage performers of cultural groups.

The KM´s Panday Sining, SDK´s Gintong Silahis and Samahang Kamanyang of the Philippine College of Commerce became models for mass organizations and chapters in organizing cultural groups for enlightening and enlivening mass work and mass protests. They created art and literature in the service of the people and the revolution. Previously in the latter half of the 1960s, cultural groups were formed by the KM and other organizations in connection with chapter organizing, mass integration and mass protests.

The FQS of 1970 consisted of seven mass protest actions from January 26 1970 to March 17, 1970. They were larger in size and scale than the mass actions of the 1960s. Not only were the direct participants in marches and rallies but also people along the roadside, looking out of windows and offering food and water to the columns of marchers coming from several assembly points in Metro Manila.

When the fascist forces viciously and brutally attacked the January 26 and 30 mass actions, residents and shop owners in the area readily opened their doors and gave sanctuary to the demonstrators. After the bloody suppression of the January 26 demonstration, the mass actions of students under KM leadership spread to the provinces throughout the length and breadth of the archipelago.

  1. January 26, 1970 Demonstration against the US-Marcos Regime
    at the SONA in Congress

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) led by Edgar Jopson was able to get the permit to rally in front of Congress on the occasion of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Marcos on January 26, 1970. It demanded a nonpartisan constitutional convention. The NUSP demonstrators were at least 10,000.

Kabataang Makabayan brought a contingent of mostly students and workers to the rally site, bringing the total number of demonstrators to around 50,000. KM raised the issues of US imperialism, feudalism and fascism. It accused Marcos of puppetry to US imperialism, setting up a fascist dictatorship, corruption and aggravating the inflation and economic crisis with his 1969 electoral overspending of public funds for his reelection.

When Marcos stepped out of Congress to the driveway, a group of demonstrators flung at him a paper mache crocodile to express the people´s hatred for the rapacity of the bureaucrat capitalists like Marcos and a black cardboard coffin marked Freedom and Democracy to condemn his oppressive rule. The presidential security detail and the Manila police began to attack the unarmed demonstrators with gunfire and truncheons and injuring hundreds of students. The demonstrators defended themselves and fought back for several hours with placard handles and stones while chanting Makibaka, huwag matakot!

  1. January 30, 1970 Marches to Congress and then to Malacanang

The entire nation was outraged by the brutality of the attack on the students on January 26. The students declared a one-week strike and in only four days they were able to mobilize more than 100,000, mostly students from universities and high schools, together with workers and urban poor. They marched from several assembly points and converged in front of Congress on January 30 to denounce fascism and state brutality. In the provinces, students held sympathy rallies.

After the rally in front of Congress ended, the demonstrators marched to the presidential palace. The presidential guards started the violence by throwing stones at the demonstrators, whereupon the students threw back the stones. Then, some demonstrators seized a firetruck being used to hose them down and drove it through the palace gate. The palace guards began firing bullets and tear-gas cannisters at the demonstrators who retreated in several directions in Quiapo and Sampaloc, formed themselves into groups and came back fighting with improvised weapons like stones, sticks, pillboxes and Molotov cocktails.

The Mendiola bridge became the center of the see-saw fighting. The palace guards eventually killed four young demonstrators: Ricardo Alcantara from the University of the Philippines; Fernando Catabay from Manuel L. Quezon University; Feliciano Roldan from the Far Eastern University; and Bernardo Tausa from Mapa High School. Thousands were wounded and they filled up six hospitals in Manila.

  1. February 12 Rally at Plaza Miranda

The organized forces of the national democratic movement consolidated themselves through the Movement for a Democratic Philippines. They prepared a huge rally of at least 50,000 people at Plaza Miranda on February 12. According to the plan, the people were to march from several assembly points. Consolidation was needed in order to counter disruptive propaganda and acts of the Marcos regime, the clerico- fascists and the revisionist renegades.

Marcos tried to prevent the rally by inviting some MDP leaders to the palace, pretending to plead with them that he would not be able to control the military and by offering them a list of 13 concessions. The MDP leaders in attendance agreed to call off the rally. Upon my advice the KM leaders insisted that the rally had to be carried out because otherwise the momentum of the mass movement would stop. However, all efforts would have to be made to keep the rally peaceful. Thus, the MDP and its forces proceeded to hold the rally.

The rally became a huge outdoor study session on US imperialism, feudalism and fascism and the need to struggle for national liberation and democracy. The rally organizers made it a point to enlarge mass participation and ensure that the police and military provocateurs would be kept at bay. Had the rally been called off according to the wishes of Marcos, it would have stalled and prevented the FQS from taking full shape.

  1. February 18 The People´s Congress and Assault on the US Embassy

A people´s congress of 5000 people was held at Plaza Miranda on February 18. Then the main bulk of the rallyists marched to the US embassy to carry out an assault on the embassy in order to demonstrate the people´s anger at US imperialism and hold it responsible for the oppression and exploitation of the people, especially fascist acts of the Marcos regime. They were able to break their way through the outer and inner gates of the embassy. They used rocks and pillboxes to put the embassy lobby in disarray before the police could arrive.

  1. February 26 The Second People´s Congress

The Movement for a Democratic Philippines called for a rally at Plaza Miranda on February 26. The application for a rally permit was refused. But the demonstrators went ahead with the rally and converged at Plaza Miranda and held the Second People´s Congress. When the Manila Police and the Philippine Constabulary attacked the demonstrators, they proceeded to the Sunken Gardens in order to reassemble.

After the speeches, they proceeded further on to the US embassy. They threw stones at the embassy and resisted the police. Further on, they marched to Mendiola to reenact the people´s resistance on January 30. The police retaliated by invading the Philippine College of Commerce where they beat up teachers and students and looted the offices.

  1. March 3 The People´s March

The MDP called for a People´s March on March 3. The demonstrators included students, urban poor youth and linked up with the citywide strike of jeepney drivers. They marched from several assembly points and converged to hold rallies in Plaza Moriones in Tondo, Plaza Lawton and in front of the US embassy. At the US embassy the police were aggressive and caught the Lyceum of the Philippines student Enrique Sta. Brigida whom they tortured to death. Amado V. Hernandez wrote a poem in his honor as martyr, ¨Enrique Sta. Brigida: Paghahatid sa Imortalidad¨.

  1. March 17 Second People´s March.

The MDP called for a Second People´s March on March 17. It focused on the issue of poverty. Fittingly, the march proceeded from one urban poor community to another for one whole day. A People´s Tribunal was convened at Plaza Moriones to try and sentence the people´s enemies, from the level of the US imperialists to that of puppets like Marcos and his military and police cohorts. After the Tribunal adjourned in the evening, the rallyists marched in the direction of the US embassy where a big police force was awaiting them. But the rallyists then proceeded to Mendiola to make bonfires on the streets.

III. FQS Consequences and Continuing Relevance

The FQS raised the fighting morale of the Filipino youth and people against the US-Marcos regime and its obvious scheme to declare martial law and establish a fascist dictatorship. The gunfire and truncheon blows from the police and military convinced the unarmed youth and the people that there was no better way for them to fight the regime and the entire ruling system than to engage in people´s war. Thus, the call for people´s war to answer the threat of martial law reverberated.

At the same time, the youth and the people were conscious that it was necessary to carry on the legal democratic mass movement for as long as it was possible in order to broadcast the people´s grievances and demands. It was a process of political education and cultural revolution to raise the people´s revolutionary consciousness. After the FQS, there were more vigorous efforts to arouse, organize and to mobilize the youth and the people in Metro Manila and the provinces, especially for mass actions on domestic and international issues, particularly the US war of aggression on the Vietnamese people.

In February 1971, students, faculty members, non-academic personnel and campus residents took over the University of the Philippines and declared the Diliman Commune. They renamed the buildings after the principal CPP and NPA leaders by way of defiance against the US-Marcos regime. They set up barricades and fought to prevent the police and military from occupying the campus.

Their ranks were reinforced by students, workers and activists from other schools, factories and communities in Metro Manila. The UP radio station continuously broadcast propaganda against the US-Marcos regime, including replays of Marcos’ salacious moments with Dovie Beams on audio tape. Material, financial and moral support poured in not only from Metro-Manila but also from far-flung provinces.

After the Diliman Commune, huge May 1 rallies of workers and the youth and demonstrations against the US war of aggression against Vietnam were held in Metro Manila and in provincial cities in 1971 and 1972. Not even the Plaza Miranda bombing and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus by Marcos on August 21, 1971 and the subsequent arrest of KM leaders could discourage the mass movement. The Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties was formed to defend civil liberties, demand the lifting of the writ suspension and prevent martial law.

In 1971, the major cultural groups, like Panday Sining and Gintong Silahis, originally launched by their respective mother organizations increased their autonomy and flourished even while KM and SDK chapters had their own cultural groups and performances. During and after the FQS, they were able to create excellent works of literature and art. They recited and performed the poems of Amado V. Hernandez most prominently.

Creative writers and visual artists contributed prolifically to the cultural revolution during and after the FQS. While I was underground, I had the honor of addressing messages to the visual artists who formed the Nagkakaisang Artista-Arkitekto (NPA-A) and the creative writers who formed Panulat para sa Kaunlaran ng Sambayanan (PAKSA) in 1971. The members of these organizations would produce excellent works that reflected the revolutionary tradition and current demands of the oppressed and exploited people and ensured the primacy of revolutionary literature and art in the cultural life of the nation.

The mass activists in Metro Manila and elsewhere in the country understood that they must continue to conduct the legal mass protest actions to broadcast the demands of the people and to tie down the enemy forces. But those mass activists already tagged by the military as communist suspects and listed for arrest were prepared to be absorbed by the urban underground before they could be integrated into the people´s army and in rural mass work.

Especially because martial law had already been anticipated since 1970, the mass organizations under the Party leadership started to develop underground personnel and facilities. Teams of workers and educated youth were formed to participate in politico-military training and join the people´s army and the peasants in the countryside. They either joined existing NPA units in certain regions or to start NPA units in new areas.

By the time Marcos declared the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus on August 21, 1971, the national democratic mass movement had already gained experience in building the underground, redeploying cadres and mass activists to the countryside and waging open and legal campaigns for civil liberties and human rights under the repressive conditions.

When Marcos proclaimed martial law on September 21 1972, several legal mass organizations had to go underground in order to avoid fascist attacks and imprisonment of its officers and members. A large number of them had to go underground or go to their own provinces to device their own ways of ensuring safety and continuing the struggle against the fascist regime.

As a result of the FQS, the membership of the CPP and the mass organizations rapidly increased from 1970 to 1974. On April 24, 1973, the underground organizations founded the National Democratic Front and issued its 10 point guidelines. From 1972 to 1974, the Party cadres and mass activists who had been forced underground were distributed to various regions, together with Party cadres trained in people´s war in Isabela.

It was of decisive importance in the rapid advance of the new democratic revolution that the highly educated cadres and mass activists from the ranks of youth and workers, who had participated in the FQS of 1970 and subsequent mass protests, were integrated in the people´s army and rural mass work. They became political officers and unit commanders of the people´s army. They also assumed responsibilities and tasks in mass organizing, mass education, production, health, cultural work, self-defense and other functions in the countryside.

Despite the conditions of martial law, Party cadres who were trained and tempered by the mass movement of the 1960s and the FQS of 1970 were able to launch mass actions, including lightning rallies and lightning cultural performances in city centers and during well-attended public events, camping at urban centers by victims of forced evictions by the military, student strikes in certain schools and workers strikes starting at La Tondeña in Manila on October 24, 1975 and spreading to 300 work places nationwide up to 1976. Student leaders demanded the restoration of student governments from 1976 onwards.

Underground publications against the fascist regime flourished. Cultural performances were carried out in the open. But the regime arrested the authors and performers. Most important of all, the revolutionary forces and the people involved in people´s war for national liberation and democracy gained strength and advanced. They included the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People´s Army, the National Democratic Front, mass organizations and organs of political power. The workers and educated youth from the urban areas conjoined very well with the peasant masses.

The fascist dictator Marcos became unwittingly the best recruiter of the revolutionaries by escalating the oppression and exploitation of the people. When Marcos pretended to lift martial law in 1981, new mass organizations of the workers, peasants, women, youth, teachers, artists and other professionals and human rights advocates rose aboveground in line with the struggle for national liberation and democracy mostly by those who had participated in the FQS. Such organizations rapidly grew in strength as the Marcos fascist regime became more discredited and isolated as a result of the aggravation of the socioeconomic and political crisis from 1979 onward.

In the course of the struggle against the US-supported fascist dictatorship, many of the political and cultural activists of the FQS made sacrifices, including separation from their families, illegal arrest or forced disappearance, detention, torture and death. They paid the highest price for developing and advancing the revolutionary movement. To this day and in the future, they inspire the fighting spirit and strengthening of the revolutionary movement.

When Marcos made the mistake of having Benigno Aquino assassinated on August 21, 1983, the hard core of the of the mass movement for justice, democracy and end of martial rule consisted of the national democratic organizations led by veterans of the FQS. The experience and lessons learned from the FQS were applied. It was as if the FQS of 1970 came to life again on a far bigger and wider scale.

A series of mass actions were carried out fluctuating between 50,000 to 500,000 and ultimately leading to the two million at EDSA, 100,000 around the palace and mass actions of varying sizes all over the Philippines when Marcos fell from power on February 25, 1986, was helicoptered out of the palace and planed out of Philippines by the US Air Force.

A broad united front spearheadeed by BAYAN had to be formed in order to draw millions of people to join the mass uprising and persuade the military and police to withdraw support from Marcos. In representation of the entire national democratic movement, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) were the first to link up with the aggrieved Aquino family. Thus, the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All (JAJA), then the Coalition for the Restoration of Democracy (CORD) and further on the Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy were formed.

The same policy and tactics of the broad united front once more spearheaded by BAYAN would also be applied in the ouster of Estrada from the presidency in January 2001 because of his scandalous crime of plunder. The Anakbayan and the League of Filipino Students (LFS) combined with Kilusang Mayo Uno and Kadamay as well as other organizations of the middle and right sections of the political spectrum against the ultra-Right

The broad united front involves the basic alliance of the toiling masses of workers and peasants, the progressive alliance with the urban petty bourgeoisie, the patriotic alliance with the middle bourgeoisie and temporary alliance with the less reactionary forces in order to isolate and overthrow the enemy which is the most reactionary force.

IV. Continuing Relevance of the FQS to the Present

We are once more confronted by a US puppet regime whose leader Duterte idolizes the dictator Marcos and is scheming to establish a fascist dictatorship in ways similar to those of Marcos. He has tried in vain to popularize himself as a strongman by waging a phoney war on drugs using methods of mass murder and mass intimidation at the expense of urban poor suspects and communities.

He now seeks to scapegoat both the armed revolutionary movement and the legal democratic mass movement as enemies of the state, use methods of mass murder and mass intimidation against them in order to declare a state of emergency and martial law nationwide. For this evil purpose, he has terminated the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and has designated revolutionary forces as ¨terrorist¨.

Like Marcos, Duterte uses charter change, this time for a shift from the unitary to the federal form of government as a pretext for obtaining and concentrating executive, legislative and judicial powers in his hands during a period of transition and after the establishment of the federal form of government, with the regions ruled by dynasties and warlords of his choice.

It is fine that the revolutionary forces as well as the legal democratic forces of the people have come to the conclusion since July 2017 that the Duterte regime is tyrannical, corrupt and hell-bent on establishing a fascist dictatorship after a full year of observing and testing it through the peace negotiations, whether or not it would release all political prisoners and whether Duterte could prove to be truly Left and socialist as he proclaimed himself at the start of his presidency.

Once more a broad united front, like the Movement Against Tyranny, is developing to defend the people´s national and democratic rights and bring out the people in hundreds of thousands and even millions to demand the tyrant´s ouster and persuade his own military and police to withdraw support from him. The People´s United SONA against Duterte´s SONA on July 23, 2018 is a signal event, a harbinger of bigger mass actions for the ouster or resignation of Duterte.

While the broad united front and the legal mass movement spearheaded by BAYAN and the Movement Against Tyranny are developing, the armed revolutionary movement intensifies its struggle, gains strength and guarantees to the people that in the long run the revolution can contribute not only to the isolation and ouster of the US-Duterte regime but also to the debilitation and overthrow of the entire ruling system and effect fundamental transformation for national liberation, democracy, development, social justice, cultural progress and internatonal solidarity. ###

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