Marcos aims to overshadow historic protest
The campaign to wipe out the bitter memories of the 14-year military rule by the US-Marcos I dictatorship have been stepped up now that their family has reclaimed state power.
Ferdinand Marcos Jr chose the National Museum in Manila City as venue for his inauguration on June 30 as the 17th president. He said that this former hall of Congress is where earlier presidents took their oath to the fake republic.
The truth is that the Marcoses intend to bury the building’s history as the venue of one of the largest rallies of Filipino students against Ferdinand Marcos Sr. It was here that the historic 1970 demonstration was held sparking the “First Quarter Storm” or FQS. In the first quarter of 1970, demonstrations erupted left and right in Manila and across the country arousing hundreds of thousands of Filipino youth to take action and shake the foundations of the ruling state.
On January 26, 1970, while Marcos Sr was delivering his fifth State of the Nation Address (the first under his second 4-year term), young people were massing up outside the building. They brought along a coffin to symbolize the death of democracy and an effigy of a crocodile representing corrupt politicians.
Among those who joined the protest were 10,000 students from exclusive colleges and universities. They linked arms with the larger contingent of Kabataang Makabayan, Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan and other activist groups. When the Marcos couple came out of the Congress hall, the coffin and crocodile effigies were tossed towards them. The police violently dispersed the protest action.
The dispersal went on for several hours which ignited a series of protests of the youth and students in Metro Manila and different cities and towns. Protests from January to March 1970 spread across the country like wildfire. (Scenes during those days are recounted in detail in Jose F. Lacaba’s book “Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage.”)
Threats to freedom of peaceful assembly
To hide memories of the FQS, current police chief Gen. Vicente Danao strictly prohibited “illegal rallyists” to come near the National Museum on the day of the inauguration. This was reinforced with threats by Gen. Eduardo Año and former martial law implementor Juan Ponce Enrile who declared that the rallyists are “communists” who are set to “embarrass” Marcos Jr on the said occasion.
In a retort, the Communist Party of the Philippines said that the Marcos family has long been an “embarrassment” and has no credibility. The Filipino people and the whole world are aware that the Marcoses and their cronies plundered billions upon billions of dollars from the country’s coffers. While they wallowed in extravagance, majority were mired in extreme poverty and hunger, and wholesale illegal arrests and detention, torture and killings of suspected subversives or whoever the state’s armed goons set their eyes on are non-stop.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers asserted that permits are not required to hold public gatherings, contrary to the PNP’s declaration. The lawyers said that the law guarantees the freedom to hold rallies and permit requirements are only to advise the local government of the time and place of the event.
“The right to protest is covered by two separate guarantees in the Bill of Rights—the freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly,” said the group. Therefore, whoever joins a peaceful rally should be free from arrest, and not charged in court, prosecuted or punished in any way.