January 25th, 2013
Contact: Jessica Antonio, Secretary General, BAYAN USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
On the 43rd Anniversary of the First Quarter Storm: The Fight for National Democracy in the Philippines Continues
Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the launching of the First Quarter Storm (FQS), the Filipino people’s uprising against the Marcos dictatorship and struggle for national liberation and democracy in the Philippines. More than ten thousand youth, students, and workers stormed the presidential palace on January 25th, 1970 to demand an end to the anti-people and anti-democratic policies put forth by the Marcos regime. The First Quarter Storm initiated the people’s struggle against violence and tyranny that continued until the Marcos dictatorship and his cronies were forced out of Malacanang Palace and eventually out of the country in 1986 by the People Power movement. People all over the world celebrate the triumph of the ousting of the corrupt Marcos regime, but we must also recognize that the battle continues for true national liberation and democracy for the Philippines and for Filipinos scattered all over the globe.
The People Fight Back!
“The First Quarter Storm of 1970 called for a national, scientific and mass culture with the framework of the people’s democratic revolution led by the working class. It was the product of a decade-long ideological and political work among the students and other youth and among the working people by the young proletarian revolutionaries,” states Jose Maria Sison, a student activist at that time and founding member of the organization Kabataang Makabayan (KM), which launched the FQS with other working people. More than fifty thousand to 100,000 joined the rallies at the presidential palace or at the US embassy chanting “Makibaka! Huwag Matakot!” Fight Don’t Be Afraid building momentum and gaining power in numbers.
The FQS was much more than the visible anti-Marcos movement; it also was a catalyst to the formation of mass organizations that expanded beyond rallies and marches and sought to promote political education among workers, peasants, students. The heightened political atmosphere encouraged people to fight back in all ways possible including joining the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and integrating with the New People’s Army (NPA) in the countrysides. They sought to create a people’s national democratic movement that went beyond ousting dictators and corrupt politicians and demanded the Philippines to be a self-sustaining country, free from imperialism. Once Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, it became illegal to protest or speak out against the government, let alone form organizations, forcing many organizations to go underground including Kabataang Makabayan and Makibaka, the militant women’s organization. Thousands of activists and common people suspected to be activists were abducted, detained, tortured and killed during Marcos’ dictatorship.
1970 to Present: Fight for National Democracy
Even after the Marcos regime was eradicated from the Philippines in 1986, and Cory Aquino presided as the new President, the prosecution of mass activists fighting for national democracy and the government violence against its own citizens continued behind closed doors. Every successive regime after Marcos continued in his footsteps by racking up human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, kidnapping and torture even without the formal declaration of martial law. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has yet to spend a night in jail for the more than 1,200 political killings during her term as president from 2001 to 2010, nor has former General Jovito “the Butcher” Palparan who orchestrated these killings. The current President Aquino has failed to prosecute any of the perpetrators, leaving the numerous victims of extrajudicial killings no rest nor justice for their loved ones.
The original demands put forth by the First Quarter Storm for national democracy, national industrialization, and comprehensive land reform have yet to be fulfilled. And the Philippines has yet to break the chains of oppression from US imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucrat capitalism. The First Quarter Storm advanced the national democratic movement by mobilizing and organizing thousands of people to fight for their human rights on all fronts, broadly reaching many sectors of society, and creating a major influence in the formation of various organizations. Since the 1970s, hundreds of organizations have blossomed creating a broad based movement of women, workers, peasants, youth and students, teachers, healthcare workers, journalists, and church folk, who have joined together in the movement for national democracy in the Philippines. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Philippines is the largest alliance of legal organizations fighting this cause.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, National Democratic Front of the Philippines, and New People’s Army are still waging Asia’s longest-running people’s war for national liberation and against US imperialism that has only grown fiercer over the years. While the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) have engaged in peace negotiations for over two decades, the GPH has undermined the talks repeatedly, by unilaterally suspending the talks, attempting to compel the revolutionary forces to capitulate, and failing to comply with terms of negotiations agreed to by both parties to date–namely the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. Although the NDF draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) was taken up for discussion in February 2011, the GPH has again stalled the talks, preventing the two parties from engaging in the meat of the negotiations. CASER outlines the socio-economic and political process that needs to take place in order for the Philippines to become a self-reliant and independent economy through national industrialization and sustainability, agrarian reform, job and industry creation, providing housing and healthcare, while upholding the rights and welfare of all Filipinos, women, children, youth and students, workers, and migrants. CASER is also a sharp critique of how the current Philippine government upholds the prevailing system, refuses to enact these basic socio-economic platforms, and avoids addressing the root issues that keep the country in grave poverty.
Raise your Fists and Resist!
BAYAN USA recognizes its long revolutionary history beginning with the Philippine Revolution of 1896 of the Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio to the First Quarter Storm movement that paved the way for future generations to participate in the Philippine national democratic movement all over the world. We call upon all Filipinos and supporters of the Filipino people to celebrate today by taking action such as:
- donating to victims of Typhoon Pablo through BALSA Mindanao by clicking this link: TULONG SA BAYAN INC The people’s organizations, like BALSA, have been rebuilding the areas in need, and every donation counts!
- Sign the Petition: Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III: Act decisively on the USS Guardian’s crash into Tubbataha Reef! – Sign the Petition! to immediately address the USS Guardian’s trespassing into Philippine waters and destroying 1,000 sq meters of the Tubbataha Reef National Park by scrapping the Visiting Forces Agreement(VFA) and holding the US Navy accountable by demanding full restoration and compensation for the damages caused.
- Learn more about the National Democratic movement in the Philippines by visiting: http://www.bayan.ph/site/
As long as the Philippine government continues to uphold its broken system and the 99% are left without the basic necessities for living, the majority of the country’s people will continue to arouse, organize, and mobilize for a better society.
BAYAN-USA is an alliance of 18 progressive Filipino organizations in the U.S. representing youth, students, women, workers, artists, and human rights advocates. As the oldest and largest overseas chapter of Bagong Alyansang Maka bayan (BAYAN-Philippines), BAYAN-USA serves as an information bureau for the national democratic movement of thePhilippines and as a center for educating, organizing, and mobilizing anti-imperialist Filipinos in the U.S. For more information, visit www.bayanusa.org