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Deja Vu: Destabilization Part 5


January is full of very memorable YESTERDAYS. January 26 and 30 are the 41st anniversaries of the opening battles of the First Quarter Storm of 1970. January 26, 1970 was a Monday and the Opening Day of the newly elected Congress.

Under the then in effect 1935 Constitution, the 24 senators had six year terms. All other national and local officials had four year terms. National elections had just been held in November 1969. The Nacionalista Party candidates, reelectionists President Ferdinand Marcos and Vice President Fernando Lopez had defeated the LP candidates, Sergio Osmena and Genaro Magsaysay with a big margin.

Eight out of the twenty four senators were elected every two years. The roughly one hundred Congressmen were elected by district at the same time. Two years before and after the National elections, in 1967 and 1971, Local elections were held. These were each led by another set of eight senators together with provincial, city and municipal officials. Baranggay elections were not synchronized with either the National or Local elections. We no longer remember what the terms of the Baranggay, formerly Barrio officials, were at that time.

The first Constitutional Convention was going to be convened. About two hundred delegates were going to be elected by the one hundred congressional districts but the number of delegates per district would be proportional to the district’s population. What are now known as Civil Society, NGO’s and/or Cause Oriented, were then known as reformers. It so happened that at that time the Jesuits, reformist politicians like Senator Raul S Manglapus and Nene Pimentel, as well as the Moderate Youth and Student Leaders like Edgar Jopson, Bert Gonzales and yours truly, Linggoy Alcuaz had focused on the Concon as the more practical path to power and reforms. Their political parties and electoral attempts had consistently been defeated in 1957, 1959 and 1965. Thus, they were pushing for the nonpartisan election of the delegates to the 1971 Concon. The National Union of Students of the Philippines with Edgar Jopson as its President, had organized a massive rally for the opening day of the new Congress with that as the agenda.

When the left, known as the Kabataang Makabayan and the group of Rodger Arienda joined the rally, the stage was set for the opening salvo of the 1970 First Quarter Storm. After delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA), Ferdinand with his wife, Imelda were leaving the Old Congress building on Padre Burgos. As they were boarding their limousine, Arienda’s group threw a papier mache crocodile at the couple and a riot ensued. Several rallyists were killed. More were wounded. Many were arrested and jailed.

An indignation rally was planned for Friday, January 30, 1970. Within the week the Protest Movement split into Moderate and Radical camps. The Moderates led by Jopson and the UP Student Council President Manny Ortega, tended to agree to the government imposed limitations on rallies. The Radicals, now coalesced under the Movement for a Democratic Philippines and led by Jerry Barican and Nelson Navarro, refused to be bound by any government limitations. The most obvious limitation was the ban on rallies after dark.

On January 30, 1970, the Moderates ended their rally early and their leaders were in a dialogue with President Marcos in Malacanang while the Radicals maintained their rally at Mendiola way into the night. They assaulted the Mendiola gate of the Palace with a captured firetruck. Again riots ensued and again rallyists were killed, wounded, arrested and jailed.

January 13 was the 40th anniversary of the Diliman Siege and the best and most extensive Metro Manila wide transport strike. On that day in 1971, Moderates and Radicals had their respective morning and afternoon rallies. In the afternoon the Moderate leaders retreated to the Ateneo de Manila Padre Faura campus. The Radicals marched to Plaza Miranda and gathered around the makeshift stage, the roof of the R. Hidalgo/Northbound Quezon Boulevard entrance of the Lacson Underpass.

This time, the police disrupted the rally with several explosions and a charge with submachinegun fire. Just before this happened, Moderate leader Linggoy Alcuaz (KASAPI) and Radical leaders Sixto Carlos (SDK) and Christine Ebro were accosted, chased and fired upon by two PC Metrocom MPIS unmarked Toyota cars from Juan Luna Street, the Paco Cemetery and Padre Faura Street all the way to the Ateneo Business and Law School. They were led by Col. Rolando Abadilla’s predecessor, Capt. Octavio Alvarez.

January 22 was the 24th anniversary of the Mendiola Massacre. Leftist farmers of the KMP marched to Mendiola. They were blocked at the Chino Roces Bridge by police, PC Capcom troops and Marines. The PC Capcom/INP MPF Commanding General was Ramon Montano. The Mendiola Ground Commander was Col Nazareno. The WPD contingent was led by Col Dulla Torres. Government forces fired at and killed and wounded many rallyists.

A few days later, the Left organized an indignation rally. To avoid another bloody encounter, the usual anti riot troops and police did not block or face the march rally as it advanced from the Mendiola bridge to J> P> Laurel St. Instead, Cory Administration officials, men and women alike formed a thin line from sidewalk to sidewalk of Mendiola. They and the leftist farmers and supporters met peacefully, The situation cooled down and did not escalate.

January 20 was the 10th anniversary of the EDSA 2 march to Malacanang, the departure of President Erap from the Palace and the oathtaking by GMA at the EDSA Shrine.

The whole month of January is the 25th anniversary of many events leading up to EDSA I and II.

Sometime this January is the 24th anniversary of the 3rd coup attempt against President Cory Aquino. The 1st was the July 4, 1986 (a Sunday) Loyalist (including proclaimed Vice President Arturo Tolentino) takeover of the Manila Hotel and the Luneta. The 2nd was the November 1986 “God Save the Queen” aborted coup attempt during President Cory’s trip to Japan. The 3rd was the takeover by Col Canlas of the GMA 7 compound along EDSA near Timog Ave.

Aside from anniversaries and memories of things that happened yesterday, the past month also brings back a feeling of de javu. Things are also happening that used to happen in the past. Several very shocking crimes with hard to understand motives remind us of quantitative and qualitative upsurges in crime before past coup attempts, plots and psywars. Under the coup wracked Cory Administration, an upsurge in bank robberies preceded a coup attempt. That was part of fund raising. Brazen acts of violence were part of psywar. And finally, intensified but unexplainable blackouts were designed to affect the entire population. The perpetrators seemed to be challenging the government directly by embarrassing the police and military forces.

In late December, a dancer of the Baywalk beauties was found murdered in Central Luzon. Two weeks ago two separate carjackings ended up with three murdered and burned victims abandoned in three different provinces, Tarlac, Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. One vehicle was even burned a few days later in Bataan. The body of its owner or agent which was found in Pampanga was even mutilated.

Then last week a horde of motorcycle riding holdupers sprayed a money changer’s armored SUV with automatic gunfire at the corner of United Nations Avenue and M. H. del Pilar St. This is in downtown Ermita right beside the Luneta.

My instincts tell me that some people are rocking the boat, rocking P Noy!

By Linggoy Alcuaz

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