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Left to Right: The Student Activists

February 19, 2010

First published in The Sunday Times Magazine, February 22, 1970, p. 34-38

By Mila Astorga-Garcia

KABATAANG Makabayan is a name that has become synonymous to militant youth activism in Philippine setting. And no history of youth activism in the country can be written without making accreditation to the contribution of the KM in the national democratic movement. This is so because the KM has consistently stood for national-democratic ideals and militantly pursued them through democratic mass actions.

Kabataang Makabayan’s founding in November 30th 1964 was “inspired and guided by the patriotism of the Filipino youth who first formulated the terms of our nationhood in the Propaganda Movement and organized the Philippine Revolution of 1896 in order to express and realize in full the national and social aspirations of the Filipino people oppressed by foreign and feudal tyranny.”

Since its founding, the KM has staged demonstrations, seminars and teach-ins aimed at clarifying to the people the present state of Philippine society—which it calls semi-feudal and semi-colonial. The KM believes that the Filipino people are suffering and the country is backward because there is a monopoly of political and economic power concentrated in the hands of the big landlords, comprador class and big bourgeoisie and on top of them is a foreign power—US imperialism. The KM aims to break this monopoly of power by allying with workers, peasants, progressive intellectuals, professionals and the nationalist bourgeoisie in an effort to arouse and mobilize the masses towards the attainment of national freedom and democracy.

This outlook, more than anything else, explains the persistent anti-American imperialist and anti-landlord tone in the programme, pronouncements and protest mass actions of the KM. This explains why it is for the scrapping of the parity, the abrogation of the Laurel-Langley, bases treaty, military assistance treaty, mutual defense treaty—in short, the elimination of RP-US “special relations.”

The KM stand on these and other important national issues have always been pursued by its members with a militance no other youth organization has equalled. That is why the military has long ago started a hate-KM campaign that has been equally militant, although oftentimes ridiculous and silly. Whenever violence erupts in a demonstration participated in by the KM, the military authorities are quick in pinpointing the KM as the instigator of violence. Several times has it also been singled out by witch-hunters and downright reactionary officials as “communist-inspired,’ etc., in an effort to isolate the KM from the people and totally discredit it as a national democratic youth organization.

But these efforts, according to KM leaders, have fallen flat in the face of these accusers because the KM instead of being isolated had increased its members and mass following. Official listing of membership has reached the 12,000 mark the bulk of which come from the rural areas and factories. Mass following is estimated at 30,000 the bulk of which also come from the rural areas and factories. The KM maintains chapters in schools, offices, factories and city and rural community areas.

Unlike other youth organizations, the KM does not entertain the possibility of a non-partisan constitutional convention within the present status of the Philippine society. Although the convention may be made a forum in discussion of important political issues like the RP-US “special relations” the KM believes that the Constitutional Convention will be nothing better than a farce that will witness another squabble for power and horse trading among the exploiting classes, sectarian groups and US imperialism.

According to Monico Atienza, KM General Secretary, “We do not believe that a non-partisan constitutional convention could be done in our society since the powers, political and economic, are controlled by partisan interests. We have the landlords, the bureaucrat capitalist, and the big bourgeoisie. A truly democratic constitution, we believe, can be implemented only based on the initiative of the masses. It will be the masses themselves transforming the basic power relations in the society and then formulating a constitution based on new and progressive power relations. A Constitution does not precede a society. It comes after a society has been formed. That is why it is futile to hope for the Constitutional Convention as an opportunity to change our society.”

On the question of violence, the KM maintains the position that the people have the right to defend themselves against the undemocratic attacks of the state. Atienza said: “The KM is a militant participant in demonstrations, in fact some of its members were fighting it out with the forces of the state on the simple reason that if you are attacked in the exercise of your democratic rights, you have to defend yourself. It was correct for the demonstrators to defend themselves in front of an adversary.”

It is clearly indicated from the position of the KM on the abovementioned issues that the KM recognizes the “rise of fascism” as the pressing issue of the day. KM believes that a systematic method of suppressing the people’s democratic rights and civil liberties is on the rise and that state power— its military might—is increasingly being used for this purpose.

Such suppression, however, only serves to temper its activists. And this, in their view, only illustrates their point that the ruling class will never willingly surrender its privileged position.#

***

By Mila Astorga-Garcia

THAT the present temper of student activism in the Philippines can be traced, somehow or other, to the Student Cultural Association of the University of the Philippines (SCAUP) could hardly be considered an exaggeration.

In the UP, long considered to be the seat of student activism, the SCAUP is recognized as the oldest and one of the major progressive student organizations.

The SCAUP, which today is a national democratic organization, has maintained a record of militance within the University even as it went through various stages of development.

Luzvimindo David, President of the SCAUP, says, “Since membership of the organization is limited within the UP, the only thing the members could do is to propagate ideas of national democracy within the UP”. That may well be the case, but the history of the SCAUP actually provides a background to student activism even outside the UP.

In 1961, the SCAUP was founded in the wake of and in reaction to the CUFA witch-hunt of the late 50’s, as well as to counter the sectarian stranglehold on the UP. It discussed and propagate liberal ideas on campus at a time (as the “old-times” in the university relate) when dissent was conducted in whispers. It was then a “non-partisan and non-sectarian” organization.

The SCAUP Inquest was published in 1962 as a forum for liberal ideas. At about this time, the SCAUP started discussing the nationalist ideas of Recto in symposia, lectures, teach-ins and seminars.

Largely as a result of the Vietnam war, the SCAUP in 1965-1968, started to assume an internationalist outlook, shunning the narrow, chauvinistic concept of nationalism. During this period, it participated actively in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and protests against the iniquitous “special relations” between the Philippines and the United States.

1969, the year of student activism that saw Manila’s schools shaken by student strikes, also saw the transformation of the SCAUP from a “non-sectarian and non-partisan” nationalist organization into a partisan national democratic organization “partisan to the interest of the Filipino masses.” This is clearly seen and is declared in the Activist, the official publication of the SCAUP. The Activist is “guided by the ideology of national democracy.” It “takes the progressive revolutionary stand in any issue” and “refuses to engage in the empty rhetorics of frightened liberal intellectuals” (The Activist, March, 1969)

Having taken a definite stand for national democracy, the SCAUP now emphasizes the integration of the students with the workers and peasants. Towards this end, SCAUP President Luzvimindo David informs us, SCAUP members participate in workers’ strikes and constantly study the conditions of the workers and peasants. This springs from their view of student power. “It is imperative,” states the editorial of the Activist (March, 1969), “that the student movement realizes the necessity of allying itself with the social classes whose interest is to liberate themselves from the exploitation and oppression imposed by the social order.”

“At best, students can only serve as catalysts in a society ripe for a revolutionary change…Let us cast away the illusion that student power is capable of changing society and instead prepare for protracted struggle against the unjust social order…Student power, no matter how nationalistic or militant, can only rock the status quo in the university level.”

Taking a comprehensive view of Philippine society which it describes as semi-feudal and semi-colonial, the SCAUP has committed itself to working for the abolition of the iniquitous relationship between the Philippines and the US and the abolition of the feudal system in the Philippines.

Speaking of land reform, Luzvimindo David says, “The organization will not settle for the present kind of land reform…(It) is advocating a land reform without the numerous loopholes of the present code.”

Asked on the organization’s stand on the coming Constitutional Convention, he comments, “We do not believe that the Constitutional Convention will change the basic character of Philippine society. But we find a purpose for this convention — it serves as a jumping board for discussions regarding the problems of the Filipino.”

SCAUP has contributed many of its members to the nationalist movement even outside UP. Through the year, the ideas that it espoused and disseminated have gained increasing acceptance among the sectors of Philippine society interested in bringing about progressive change. At present, the SCAUP may well be on its way to becoming a national organization or at least a precursor of a Student Cultural Association on a national level. Student activists in various schools (Araneta U., Feati U., Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, and Divine Word U. in Tacloban among others) established Student Cultural Associations of their own, patterned after the SCAUP. If plans materialize, they will unite to form the Student Cultural Association of the Philippines, says SCAUP Pres. L. David.#

***

By Nancy T. Lu

THE Movement for Democratic Philippines was born out of a decision to sustain the move to democratize the system in the country shortly after the last national election. At that time there was a nationwide protest against election frauds and terrorism. The UP Student Council boycotted classes to dramatize the issue.

Nationalist democratic in orientation, the MDP group was formally organized November 20, 1969. Different schools, reform movements, and school organizations were invited to join the MDP whose aims include basic land reform, nationalist industrialization, and militant protection of the seven liberties of the people. The MDP leaders tried to forge a united front of all the progressive organizations in the society— the students, the youth, the peasants, and the workers. The organization is run “not so much as a hierarchy with authority, but by consensus.” The MDP sponsored major rallies including the one in front of the US embassy against Agnew as well as the one in front of Congress and Malacañang last January 30.

“A constitution is a mere scrap of paper,” Nelson Navarro, spokesman of the Movement for Democratic Philippines, said. “It is a passive document. It is just a manifestation of ideals. As such it is susceptible to the dynamics of the political system of the Philippines. We have a constitution that is not meaningful because we have a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society with a hypocritically vociferous republican facade. The Constitutional Convention can not bring about any meaningful change unless we develop the power relations within the society itself, that is, the relationship between the exploiting class and the exploited class,” he observed.

On fascism Navarro says: “Fascism has always been in our country ever since the puppets of American imperialism started this republican farce that we now call Philippine democratic government. Marcos has aggravated it by the use of special forces. Marcos is trying to create an armed forces of his own within the armed forces itself.” #

***

By Nancy T. Lu

“I BELIEVE that the Constitutional Convention will just be manipulated by the administration in such a way that it would not really effect substantial changes in our society,” commented Reuben Seguritan, spokesman of Student Power Assembly of the Philippines (SPAP).

At the height of student demonstrations in February, 1969, some members of the UP Student Council called on the student leaders all over the country. Together they organized the First National Conference on Student Power for National Democracy.

Aware of the ascendancy of student power in the Philippines, the student leaders became very enthusiastic about forming a national organization that would more or less coordinate or consolidate the different activist organizations in the schools. On March 9, 1969, they formally ratified the general declaration which they called the Diliman Declaration. Since then they have adopted the campus as the initial battlefront. They also went beyond the campus by demonstrating against the fundamental issues concerning the ills afflicting the nation. They participated actively in the Boycott-the-Election movement. They also took interest in other major issues.

“The land reform policy of the Marcos administration suffers from many inequities,” lamented Seguritan. ‘There is, for instance, the non-inclusion of sugar lands within the provision of the act. Then there is the problem of finance and this only illustrates the insincerity of the Marcos administration as far as the alleviation of the plight of the masses is concerned.”

On violence Seguritan says: “The fascistic tactics and methods which have been adopted by the Marcos administration are meant to counteract the growing mass movements. President Marcos sees in the growing consciousness of the people a threat to his authority and power. Because violence has been inflicted upon the people, the students themselves will have to defend themselves through violent means, too.”#

***

By Millet G. Martinez

SAMAHAN ng Demokratikong Kabataan is another national-democratic organization whose following comes from young students, farmers, workers, intellectuals and professionals. From a handful of progressive-minded students and instructors of the University of the Philippines who founded the SDK, it has spread to other schools and in the rural areas, notably University of the East, Lyceum of the Philippines and the provinces of Rizal and Nueva Ecija.

SDK was formed as an offshoot of an internal conflict in the leadership of Kabataang Makabayan. It is said that those who formed the first batch of SDK leaders were disgruntled KM elements who were expelled for anti-KM activities. These elements conducted a systematic campaign to discredit the KM leadership to such extent that the KM leaders were constrained to expell them from the organization.

The founding of SDK in 1968 was followed by a rash of activities and recruitment motivated by a desire to put up a militant youth organization with the calibre of the KM. The UP campus was witness to this. Almost all protest actions in the UP during that time saw the SDK participation. It put out manifestoes on the UP Administration, Dow Chemicals, Vietnam demonstrations, Los Baños unrest and the February UP strike of students, faculty and non-academic workers. In all of these, SDK seemed to be bent on driving the KM from the national democratic movement.

But SDK was not entirely free from internal bickerings among its leaders. At least two major conflicts came to be known and which almost developed into a split among the rank and file members. One was when some SDK personalities bolted the organization as an expression of their dissatisfaction with the way the leadership was running the organization. One of them remarked that a certain leader developed an arrogance to the extent of considering himself a leader with the stature of Mao Tse-tung. The other conflict resulted in the repudiation of two ranking leaders by the mass membership for their arrogance, wrong style of work and for some ideological inconsistencies. Ironically, these two repudiated leaders were the most vehement in denouncing the KM leaders for wrong methods of leadership.

After going through these tests, SDK has emerged with broader organizational experience and clearer political line. With a new breed of leaders who so far have proven their mettle in the recent rash of protest mass actions, it expects to develop into a nation-wide militant national-democratic youth organization. From its active participation is mass action and from its pronouncements, it is not unlikely that the coming years will see its further growth into a major national youth organization.

SDK spokesman Gary Olivar, a UP student leader, in an interview gave the position of his organization on certain national issues.

According to Olivar, the present land reform program is a “mere palliative designed to appease the peasants’ revolutionary clamor for land.” With all the defects that go with it, notable of which is the financing problem of the farmers, the land reform program does not guarantee a better livelihood for the farmers. What is needed is genuine land reform that answers the basic demands of the farm people. This, the present state can hardly implement.”

Genuine land reform, according to Olivar, must go hand in hand with “nationalist industrialization which excludes the US imperialists, and the local big bourgeoisie.”

On the constitutional convention, the SDK believes that “The convention will focus the attention of the people on political issues. Remedial measures to achieve reforms within the present state will be presented to the people, in the same manner that civil liberties can be strengthened through a cautious and conscientious formulation of a constitution by progressive delegates.

“However, the Marcos political machine might use the convention to strengthen itself. We should expect that the exploiting classes, especially the Church oligarchs, will interfere to make the convention a convenient instrument to further entrench themselves in the government machinery and in the Establishment. Changes in laws don’t change society. It’s the society that needs change and not our laws.”#

***

By Millet G. Martinez

BRPF

AS ITS international symbol denotes, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation (BRPF) is concerned with the quest for peace. But its struggle for peace is quite different from the pacifist approach of passive resistance.

The BRPF Philippine Council is a nationalist organization dedicated to a struggle against monopolistic capitalism, imperialism and feudalism. Founded in May 1965, it is part of the international BRPF established in 1963 under the leadership of Lord Russell. However, the BRPF Philippine Council exists as an autonomous body, free to formulate its program of action without consultation with its London office.

Composed of about 600 professionals, students, peasant leaders and barrio school teachers, the BRPF’s main function is to help mass organizations in their educational program, for the purpose of evating the political and social awareness of the people, particularly the oppressed masses. It is presently headed by Professor Hernando Abaya of the University of the Philippines.

“The BRPF is anti-war and at the same time a socialist organization in the sense that it is opposed to monopolistic capitalism,” Francisco Nemenzo Jr., past BRPF chairman, explains. The BRPF vehemently denounces US aggression in Vietnam as a grave threat to world peace. It has consistently voiced out its protest against the Laurel-Langley and the American bases agreement.

“The Laurel-Langley agreement has rendered so much damage, so that even if it is abrogated, its evil consequences still remain. We should also cancel off the consequences of this agreement. American controlled-industries should be taken over by our people,” Nemenzo declares.

“And we should be vigilant and watch out for substitute agreements meant to perpetuate the same American interests,” he further asserts.

“The BRPF views the Marcos administration as a neo-colonial government just like the previous ones. It also denounces the clear trend towards fascism, as evidenced by the state’s increasing militarization and suppression of the nationalist movements,” Juan Tapales, Jr. BRPF general secretary declares.

As regards the Constitutional Convention, the BRPF officers explain, “You cannot change the nature of society by changing its Constitution. It will continue to reflect the same alignment of the powerful elite in Congress.”

“The slogan of having a ‘non-partisan convention’, even if attractive to those disgusted with the present political system, is utterly misleading. Even if you disqualify Nacionalista and Liberal party men, the convention would still be partisan because the composition will come from the oligarchy and the Filipino executives of American corporations. What we want is a national democratic government with a wide participation of the masses.”

Nemenzo explains that the concept of “student power” is misleading and divisive. Instead, he advocates a “People’s Power,” composed of the mass action of students together with peasants and laborers. “Students alone cannot effectively bring change unless they unite with workers in their joint struggle for real democracy,” he says.

The BRPF has specially been active in agitating for the release of the political prisoners. So far, about 28 prisoners have been released, and the BRPF continues to help release more. The BRPF is also actively involved in supporting labor strikes, as those staged by Pantranco, SSS, New Frontier workers, to whom they gave assistance recently.

Liling Magtolis, head of the BRPF Cultural Bureau, explains that the BRPF also composes songs which reveal the plight of oppressed workers. She states that these songs have been presented before labor strikers.

MPKP

An allied but entirely different organization is the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino (MPKP), composed of some 1,000 members, 80% of which are peasants and workers.

Ruben Torres, MPKP president, explains that the MPKP is a movement for national democracy, with special emphasis on helping peasants. “The land reform program is not the genuine code which peasants are asking for. It has plenty of loopholes which lead to more oppressing conditions for the peasants.”

MPKP general secretary Romeo Dizon asserts, “The Marcos administration is not sincere in implementing reform. It is part of the deteriorating system approaching bankruptcy. Marcos is however, only an agent— a conscious agent—in this feudalistic, fascistic and neo-colonial system.”

“It is time for the Filipino people to realize that the liberation of the working class is primarily the task of workers themselves. So long as it is under the sway of the capitalist class and so long as it serves as a puppet of American imperialism, the government is in no position to look after the interests of labor,” explains Ana Maria Nemenzo, MPKP vice-president for organization. #

***

By Recah Trinidad

TWO VOICES, the mellow and the fiery, speak for the NUSP, the single biggest student union in the country.

Voices of the young, they come from disenchanted throats.

Ateneo’s Edgardo Jopson, the twenty-one-year-old chieftain of the National Union of Student of the Philippines speaks the union’s mellow voice.

“For our part, we have chosen to take the peaceful revolution through the constitutional convention next year,” Jopson said.

But Jopson’s tone, his thinking that social change can be achieved by taking the tamer, safer path, does not carry the whole NUSP rank.

De La Salle’s Santiago ‘Chito’ Sta. Romana, a progressive and, influential figure within the student union, voices NUSP’s fiery sentiment. The mop-haired student leader can go as far as accusing the Marcos Administration of having strong fascist tendencies.

“Fascism is the suppression of democratic rights. The use of force to suppress our rallies, particularly the one held in front of Congress January 26, is a clear display of fascism,” Sta. Romana said.

Actually, if NUSP were to live its true blood, it won’t be speaking in its chieftain’s soft voice alone. For one thing, NUSP was born out of dissension 13 years ago. The largest union of students in the country was founded by student leaders who seceded from the now-defunct Student Council’s Association of the Philippines (SCAP).

An NUSP official record listed many factors that led to the secession: “The SCAP recognized proxy voting, thus leadership was controlled by professional student leaders. These leaders promised votes to politicians, subjecting the SCAP to political pressures and silencing student opinion upon the dictates of the politicians.”

But is NUSP, which ultimately blossomed into an influential force with its 72 member-schools and some 400,000 student following, itself free from political pressure?

“We can’t be subjected to political pressures because we have never asked money from politicians for operational expenses,” Jopson said: “Last night, however, President Marcos offered money for the victims. I objected.

“Last night” was the riot-shattered evening of January 30 during which four students were slain and more than a hundred injured in a night-long battle between students and government forces inside and along the Malacañang Palace.

For his “subtle” role in the January 30th rally, during which Jopson had a dialogue with the embattled Chief Executive in the palace, the NUSP head had been dubbed a collaborator, a traitor by other student leaders. Jopson disproved the accusations.

“I’ve been unrelenting in my criticism of the Marcos regime. In fact, I condemned him for exploiting the mock elections and also for using the youth congress in Marikina, Rizal as a political fulcrum,” he said.

From his dialogue with the President, Jopson went where he had parked his car and found it badly smashed in front of the palace. He escaped being hurt in the riot by leaving the scene through the Pasig with other student leaders.

Explaining his moderate role during the rally, Jopson said he signalled an official end to the NUSP demonstration at 2 p.m. But other NUSP members and other students from other groups, refused to disperse; instead took part and endured the one-sided battle against the burly-but-frantic government troops.

Progressive Chito Sta. Romana might as well speak the fiery, militant voice of the students who faced the government troops that black January night.

“The violence that we saw was a response, rather than an initiative. If it were premeditated, I don’t think President Marcos would be alive by now,” Sta. Romana said. “If it were well-organized, the students wouldn’t be carrying sticks and stones alone.”

The rebellious De La Salle Student Council head believes there is a growing feeling among the members of the studentry that they should take adequate preparations, that they should be more determined “because with the downfall of the Liberals the students have assumed a fiscalizing role.”

“Maybe like what he did with the Liberals, Marcos will try to win the students. This I fear is the next danger,” Sta. Romana warned.

But why all these anti-Marcos sentiments?

“Because he is the Head of State, of a captive state, not a representative state. It is a state captive of a powerful elite,” Sta. Romana explained.

And so, who instead of FM?

“It seems that you don’t have much choice. You must object a guy and put up with that guy at the same time,” Sta. Romana said.

So, it would seem, the clamor was not really just for a Marcos ouster.

“Even if you put another guy, he will still be captive of the powerful elite,” Sta. Romana said. “And taking for granted that you take away Marcos, then you get the Vice-President. Well, the very name symbolizes,” he hinted.

As clearly evident , the restive studentry knows more what it doesn’t like than what it wants. It speaks in negative terms.

But as Sta. Romana would later explain, what they really want to work for is a change in the country’s social structure. While the NUSP wants to help in the political re-structuring of society, Sta. Romana said, it is hampered by its membership which is not by individuals. The NUSP is composed of a majority of student councils in the Philippines.

“The student council leadership changes every year and that prevents us from having a fixed program,” Sta. Romana lamented.

In the meantime, how do they intend to change the social structure of the country?

“The people themselves will have to play a vital role in restructuring society. The role will come in terms of representations in the forthcoming constitutional convention.” Thus the clamor for a non-partisan constitutional convention.

Sta. Romana and Jopson, the two leading figures within the current NUSP set-up, speak in conflicting voices. But it’s almost a phenomenon that the much-feared rift within the biggest union of students in the Philippines has never developed.

“We are moving as a group, despite our minor differences,” Jopson said. “The technique,” Sta. Romana explained, “lies in working on issues that would unite us more.”

The students are more united today than before, “Then you would never find NUSP, NSL or KM members in the same rally, the feeling of antagonism was high,” Sta. Romana observed. “But now the ranks are closer.”

But will the deaths and injuries suffered by the student side during the one-sided battle of Malacañang finally soften the fiery, restive studentry?

“This is just the start. The names of our fallen comrades will be our battlecry.”#

***

By Nancy T. Lu

“WE there the first to demonstrate for a non-partisan constitutional convention,” pointed out Benjamin G. Maynigo, secretary-general of the Young Christian Socialists Movement (CSM).

“We have a vision,” explained the twenty-two-year-old student leader. “We want a truly and fully human society — free from human misery, based on the respect for human dignity, built on justice and dedicated to progress — where every man may develop and fulfill himself according to his ability and in the service of his fellowmen,” he went on.

Organized in September 1967, the CMS is deeply involved in uprooting the various ills entrenched in the society.

“What is wrong in our society is the unbalanced social structure,” noted Maynigo of San Beda College. “We are for change in the society. For the reason we are against conservatism. We are against conservative people including certain members of the clergy because with conservative people in the coming constitutional convention, for instance, we may be brought back to the very same system we are trying to change,” he continued.

Maynigo defined the target enemies of his nationalist group to include present oligarchs, government officials, and imperialists. To make sure the sincere, hardworking, and committed legislators speak the people’s will the CSM has organized the “Project Vigilante.” The young “vigilantes” are assigned to keep an eye on the congressmen and senators when they are supposed to be working. Their presence is conspicuous because the CSM does not want the members of Congress to make a mockery or farce out of the whole project.

“With regard to our findings we intend to make a report to the nation every week,” revealed Maynigo, a second year law student. “We also intend to send copies of the reports to the civic organizations of the respective constituencies of the solons just so the people will know what their congressmen are doing,” he continued.

The CSM boasts of a nationwide membership which is 200,000 strong. This includes some 20,000 YCSP members coming from almost all schools. The CSM projects are funded by contributions from CSM members mainly. With communitarian socialism or “bayanihan” as their ideology, the CSM members seek to introduce change in the social order.

“The recent student riots should serve as a warning to the powers that be that it is time they do their duty,” Maynigo sounded out a common sentiment. At this point he is in favor of more student demonstrations because a dialogue with the president will not bring about fruitful results.

The CSM in the wake of reports of police brutality in the meantime condemned the rise of fascism. As Maynigo put it, “The fascistic tendencies are evident in the Batanes case, Corregidor, Lapiang Malaya, the last elections.”

Maynigo likes to think that the position of CSM in the ideological spectrum is left of center although many are inclined to classify CSM on the right wing. The word “Christian identifies the group with the church. And yet the church has been subjected to CSM attack because of the church’s conservatism.

“With regard to leftist groups like the Kabataang Makabayan, separately we are doing well together,” he noted. “They provide the threat and warning while we go on the move. Our differences lie in the means of bringing about change and in the ideology. As you can see Jose Ma. Sison condemned the CSM rally last year because they see in us an enemy. We are trying to suspend the revolution they are advocating,” Maynigo opined.#

***

By Bibsy M. Carballo

EVEN as a brewing rift within its ranks initiated by the UP group threatens to split the National Students League, the organization together with the National Union of Students of the Philippines, has been catapulted into the forefront of student activism as a proponent of non-violence in its demands for change.

Organized in 1963, the NSL is composed of 23 state colleges and universities and government-owned institutions. It seeks to look after the welfare of students in the institutions but a primary objective is the seeking of change through revolutionary but peaceful means.

Before the January 26 and 30 debacles, the NSL led a four-day sit-down rally in front of Malacañang which resulted in the acceptance of 90 per cent of its demands, which proves, acting president Portia Ilagan says, “that peaceful means are more effective than violence.” Deploring the violence of January 30, the 18-year-old sophomore BSEE major at the Philippine Normal College observed that “if your methods are peaceful you can think of so many ways to gain acceptance while if you are violent there is only one road open.”

“Aside from being destructive you lose public sympathy,” she observes but is quick to qualify that if all peaceful means have been exhausted they are willing to utilize violent methods to achieve their aims.

Primary in the agenda of the NSL is the assurance of a non-partisan constitutional convention which is to be achieved through politicizing the students and the people by means of seminars and teach-ins to which leaders are sent.

“We have already begun our meetings and soon simultaneous lectures will be conducted in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” Portia says.

To charges from the UP group that she has been holding her position illegally since a UP councilor, Jelly Nacino, was purported to have been elected as president of the organization, Portia explains that in elections held last December in which she said the majority of member schools were represented, Ernesto Ocampo of PCC was elected president and she, Portia, vice president. With Ocampo away on a study grant, Portia took over in an acting capacity.

While it is unfortunate that splits in the organization tend to distract the students from the pertinent issues of the day, it also remains a challenge to them and to student unity. For student power is very strong, says Portia, “although we differ in the means that we use.” The NSL also advocates dialogue with labor organizations, the peasants, and the workers so as to present a unified front.

On the issue of fascism, she says, there is indeed a rise of fascism, but those groups denouncing fascism do not seem to be aware that they too are in some way using fascism.

On the Marcos administration — “Let us give him a chance. This time he appears to be sincere.”

On land reform — “it is not adequate but only the constitutional convention can change that.”

On the two party system — “It would be better if we could have no political parties and everyone has an equal chance of running for public office.”

On the American bases agreement and the Laurel-Langley agreement — “The Philippines should be left to stand on its own but we have to do this through a gradual programming.”

Meanwhile, the NSL campaign for the non-partisan constitutional convention gained more advocates as 65 members of Congress gave their written assurances that they will not run as delegates. “This is our only hope for change now,” Portia says. #

***

By Millet G. Martinez

“STUDENTS and workers are discontented over state affairs. The January 26 and 30 incidents reflect not a Communist stand to take over Malacañang as Marcos says, but a belief that change is necessary — that is, changes in our political, social and economic set-up,” thus spoke Fernando T. Barican, chairman of the UP Student Council.

“The bravery of students in waging their militant struggle cannot be questioned. But the butchery and savagery of the police cannot also be denied. Fascism has become evident with the abuse of state troops for the purpose of suppressing dissent,” Barican continued.

The 20-year-old political science senior stated, “The Marcos administration has completely lost credibility with the students. His statements and his acts don’t jibe.”

In a manifesto on “The Real State of the Nation,” passed last January 26, the UP Student Council denounced Marcos’ “farcical misrepresentations and patent falsehoods.” It said that “while Mr. Marcos II loudly proclaims a program of ‘austerity’ and ‘self-discipline,’ prices continue to escalate, wages are pegged to a sub-survival level, while the country’s affluent minority of American imperialists, feudal landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists persist in their ruthless exploitation of the masses.”

When asked about the possibility of implementing change through the Constitutional Convention, Barican explained, “Under the present oppressive set-up, it is difficult to have change through this convention. We must first change the neo-colonial structure of our society. And any change in the Constitution must reflect the will of the people.”

However, in the same manifesto, it is stated “while the more visionary students noisily hold aloft the 1971 Constitutional Convention as our last hope for progress, we maintain that any such hope will be crushed by the money and power of American imperialists and their traitorous Filipino allies.

“Because of these considerations, while we may support certain candidates on a principled case-to-case basis, particularly those who have supported nationalist student activism, we must gird ourselves for the final battle against imperialism and feudalism,” the manifesto warned.

The UP Student Council believes that change can be effected only through the joint militancy of the students together with workers. “Students are not an elite with special rights in our society; they are not a ‘fifth estate’ so to speak,” asserts Barrican. “They have, and should, support workers in the struggle for meaningful change.”

The UP Student Council has actively given support to laborers, specially to the Pantranco, San Miguel, and Northern Motors strikers, to cite the more recent examples.

Barican explained that the UP Student Council denounces the exploitative and harassing acts committed by alien capitalists in the country, in the same way that it is against oppressive American imperialism. This is evident in the council manifestos issued recently in support of workers.

As regards the land reform issue, Barican agrees that land reform is essential to agrarian change and improving the lot of peasants in this country. “But there are no significant changes taking place through land reform. Much of it is mere publicity.”

The UP leader said “The forces of change lie in the students together with the peasants.

“This small elite which occupies the seats of Congress cannot be depended upon to bring justice to the masses of Filipino people they themselves have so long exploited, let alone allow them to dissent,” Barican continued.

“It is under President Marcos and now that fascism is reaching its full maturity, as the intent of past international agreements with imperialists are being enforced with expertise. Thus, no justice for the oppressed can be expected from the government and its network of economic, cultural and political apologists,” the UP Council chairman explained. #

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