(Utrecht, The Netherlands) – NDFP chief political consultant, Prof. Jose Ma. Sison, led several Utrecht-based First Quarter Storm veterans today in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm (FQS), described as an “uprising that created and nurtured people power” and whose significance continues to manifest in the advance of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines.
Professor Sison stated that as a result of the FQS, the memberships of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA), and the various mass organizations rapidly increased. Sison, who was chairman of the CPP at that time, also said that when Marcos proclaimed martial law in September 21, 1972, a large number of progressives went underground and continued the resistance against the fascist regime. He said at one point, the NPA could not absorb the number of those wanting to join the armed struggle, and had to send them back to their hometowns.
Providing an overview of that period from January to March 1970, Professor Sison recounted the development and advance of the mass movement led by the students, workers, and peasants. Sison said hundreds of thousands were mobilized as the political and economic landscape at the time was turning for the worse – increases in oil prices, prices of prime commodities, and surging inflation, the imminent threat of open fascist rule, and the US war of aggression against Vietnam.
“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 students and workers 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,” recounted Professor Sison.
Among the memorable episodes of that period was when the demonstrators commandeerd a firetruck and rammed it into the main gate of Malacanang – the Presidential Palace. Among those who were in the firetruck were the Jallores brothers – Ruben and Romulo, who were Kabataang Makabayan members and later who joined the NPA and formed the first units of the NPA in the Bicol region (they were later martyred), and Liling Briones (who is now the Duterte government’s secretary of the Department of Education) who was on top of the truck waving a red flag, recalled the FQS veterans.
The FQS raised the fighting morale of the Filipino youth and people against the US-Marcos regime and convinced them that there was no better way to fight the regime and the entire ruling system than to engage in people’s war. It was a process of political education and cultural revolution to raise the people’s revolutionary consciousness.Joma Sison
A year after the FQS, in February 1971, students, faculty members, non-academic personnel and campus residents took over the University of the Philippines and declared the “Diliman Commune”.
The “communards”set up barricades and fought to prevent Marcos’ police and military from occupying the campus. Joma said the “communards” renamed the buildings after CPP and NPA leaders, eg. The Administration building became “Kumander Dante” building, and the College of Arts and Sciences, the “Jose Ma. Sison” building, among others.
After Marcos had Benigno Aquino Jr. assassinated, Sison said, the core of the mass movement for justice, democracy and against martial rule consisted of the national democratic organizations led by veterans of the FQS. “It was as if the FQS of 1970 came to life again on a far bigger and wider scale,” Joma said.
It was the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), and the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) that were the first to link up with the Aquino family, he recalled. The broad united front led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) together with Senators Jose Diokno and Lorenzo Tanada Sr. spearheaded in drawing millions of people to join the massive protests and the uprising that culminated in EDSA in what came to be known as “people power” and forced the Marcos regime to fall.
The same policy and tactics learned by the mass movement during the FQS, Sison averred, were also applied in the ouster of the plunderous Estrada regime in January 2001.
Once more, the legacy of the FQS continues as the mass movement to defend the people’s national and democratic rights advances to confront the Duterte regime, Sison says.
“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 international solidarity,” Professor Sison concluded.
The FQS veterans and Filipino migrants who joined the commemoration in Utrecht, sang popular FQS songs and later shared a simple dinner of fish, which they said was the common meal of the FQS demonstrators during the period.###