Marking the 40th anniversary of the First Quarter Storm


January 26, 2010


Bonus (Rewind) Tracks

A rally vs the US Bases at Clark led by 26-year old KM leader Jose Maria Sison, 1965






Photos are from the following links:

■  Bal Pinguel Facebook

■  First Quarter Storm Facebook

■  The First Quarter Storm Library

■  Photos of marker unveiling courtesy of FQS Movement








Statement in Celebration of its 40th Anniversary

January 25, 2010


By Prof. Jose Maria Sison

Founding Chairman, Kabataang Makabayan

Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines



We are happy to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the First Quarter Storm of 1970.  This was the series of protest mass actions, which began on January 25, 1970 and continued up to March of 1970.  It is chronicled by Jose F. Lacaba's Days of Disquiet and Nights of Rage and commented upon by Amado Guerrero's First Quarter Storm of 1970.


At the beginning, ten thousand students, urban poor youth, workers and peasants massed in front of Congress in order to express themselves against the anti-national and anti-democratic policies of the Marcos regime and against the excessive spending of public money to reelect Marcos as president.


Their peaceful demonstration was brutally  attacked by the police with truncheon and gunfire upon the signal of Marcos himself after delivering his “state of the nation address”.  The demonstrators fought back for several hours with bare fists, wooden handles of placards and stones.


Undaunted by state brutality, the Kabataang Makabayan (Patriotic Youth) and other organizations of the youth and working people formed the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP). They conducted build up rallies in communities, schools and factories and then launched people's marches from different points of Metro Manila in order to converge on the focal points of reactionary power. 


Tens of thousands of people joined and converged on the presidential palace on January 30, 1970. Some of the demonstrators seized a firetruck and rammed it through the gates of the palace and others made bonfires with their torches. Marcos became even more angered and openly threatened the declaration of martial in order to discourage further mass protests.  But the proletarian revolutionaries and revolutionary core of the MDP stood fast on continuing the protest actions.


From week to week, the level of propaganda and agitation, organizational work and mass mobilization rose.  Fifty thousand to 100,000 joined each of the marches and rallies, while other people lined the streets to cheer the marchers and give them food and water.  The columns of marchers converged on plazas near the presidential palace or the US embassy.


The First Quarter Storm of 1970 caught the attention of the people on a national and international scale. It inspired the youth and working people in the provincial capitals and cities to rise up and carry out protest actions against US imperialism and the local reactionaries and demand national liberation and democracy.


The First Quarter Storm of 1970 was the highest point of the legal democratic mass movement for national liberation and democracy before the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 and the declaration of martial law in 1972.  It put forward the patriotic and progressive demands of the people against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes. 


It resounded with the fighting slogans, Makibaka, Huwag Matakot!  Digmang bayan ang sagot sa martial law! (Fight, Don’t Be Afraid! People’s war is the answer to martial law!) It raised the fighting spirit of the broad masses of the people against the US-directed Marcos regime and against the repeated threats of the regime to declare martial law.  It pushed the organized forces of the national democratic movement to accelerate their political and organizational work among the people.


The First Quarter Storm of 1970 was an unprecedented peak in the advance of the cultural revolution of the new democratic type, which 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.


It further generated and reinvigorated a new wave of study and mass work among the youth along the line of new democratic revolution.  Schools for national democracy were organized and conducted at all offices of Kabataang Makabayan, on campuses, in the vicinity of factories, in communities and in all types of public places.  Cultural works were created and presented to the youth and people in order to raise higher the level of their revolutionary consciousness and militance.


The First Quarter Storm of 1970 resulted in the political education of great numbers of people and their recruitment into the Kabataang Makabayan and other types of mass organizations.  On the basis of the rapidly growing mass movement, hundreds and then thousands of mass activists were educated and recruited to become members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).


Consequent to the First Quarter Storm of 1970, the Kabataang Makabayan became a stronger engine for developing mass activists among the students and intelligentsia and among the young workers and peasants on a nationwide scale, for building revolutionary trade unions and for sending the educated youth and workers to the countryside for service in the New People's Army and in the rural communities.


The First Quarter Storm of 1970 was the key to the accelerated growth of legal mass organizations and such revolutionary forces as the CPP, NPA and the main components of what would become the National Democratic Front.  When the Marcos regime imposed martial law and fascist dictatorship on the country, the revolutionary forces and people were more determined than ever to wage protracted people's war along the national democratic line.


We should never forget the First Quarter Storm of 1970 as a major node in the development of the new democratic revolution in the Philippines.  The achievements of the Philippine revolution since 1970 would not have been possible without this storm.  We owe to it the emergence and development of so many cadres and mass activists and the growth of the revolutionary forces on a nationwide scale.


We must celebrate the great significance and continuing relevance of this historic event. We must renew our resolve to carry forward the Filipino people's democratic revolution against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.


We must undertake certain activities to raise the level of revolutionary consciousness and fighting capabilities in the next three months and further on.


We must step up the study movement and cultural work along the line of the new democratic revolution. We must enlighten and arouse the people by using all means of information, education and artistic expression.  We must recruit more people into the patriotic and progressive mass organizations, especially those of the workers, peasants, women and youth.  We must mobilize a far greater number of people to engage in various forms of struggle  against the US-Arroyo regime and  the  entire semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.


We face today the worst crisis of the world capitalist system since the 1930s because of the US-instigated policies  of “neoliberal” globalization and imperialist aggression and terrorism.  The broad masses of the people suffer conditions of exploitation and oppression far worse than four decades ago. These intolerable conditions drive the people and the revolutionary forces to fight more resolutely and militantly for their national and democratic rights and interests. ###





From the blog of Pete Lacaba


Written Jan. 26, 2009




Today, January 26, is the 39th anniversary of what has come to be known as the First Quarter Storm of 1970 (FQS), so I thought of posting the following Norman Mailerish piece of reportage I wrote for the Philippines Free Press, then under the editorship of Teodoro M. Locsin Sr. I was 24 years old when I wrote this. It was the best of times for a young writer, and I was fortunate to be working for a magazine that was receptive to the style of reporting then known as the New Journalism, now also known as literary journalism and creative nonfiction. I was doubly fortunate, as the magazine's youngest staffwriter, to be in the company of a staff of de facto mentors that included literary giants Nick Joaquin (a.k.a. Quijano de Manila), Kerima Polotan, Wilfrido D. Nolledo, and Gregorio C. Brillantes.


IT WAS FIVE MINUTES PAST FIVE in the afternoon, by the clock on the Maharnilad tower, when I arrived at Congress. The President was already delivering his State of the Nation message: loudspeakers on both sides of the legislative building relayed the familiar voice and the equally familiar rhetoric to anyone in the streets who cared to listen. In front of the building, massed from end to end of Burgos Drive, spilling over to the parking lot and the grassy sidewalk that forms an embankment above the Muni golf course, were the demonstrators. Few of them cared to listen to the President. They had brought with them microphones and loudspeakers of their own and they lent their ears to people they could see, standing before them, on the raised ground that leads to the steps of the legislative building, around the flagpole, beneath a flag that was at half-mast. There were, according to conservative estimates, at least 20,000 of them, perhaps even 50,000. Beyond the fringes of this huge convocation stood the uniformed policemen, their long rattan sticks swinging like clocks’ pendulums at their sides; with them were the members of the riot squad, wearing crash helmets and carrying wicker shields.

I came on foot from the Luneta, which was as far as my taxi could go, and made straight for the Congress driveway. A cop at the foot of the driveway took one look at my hair and waved me away, pointing to the demonstrators beyond a row of white hurdles. When I pointed to the special press badge pinned to the breast pocket of my leather jacket, he eyed me suspiciously, but finally let me through the cordon sanitaire. The guard at the door of Congress was no less suspicious, on guard against intruders and infiltrators, and along the corridors it seemed that every man in uniform tightened his grip on his carbine as I passed by, and strained his eyes to read the fine print on my press badge.

The doors of the session hall were locked, presumably to prevent late entrances from disturbing the assembly listening to the President’s message. A clutch of photographers who had arrived late milled outside the session hall, talking with some men in barong Tagalog, pleading and demanding to be let in. The men in barong Tagalog shook their heads, smiled ruefully, and shrugged; they had their orders. I decided to go out and have a look at the demonstration.

Among the demonstrators it was possible to feel at ease. None of them carried guns, they didn’t stand on ceremony, and there was no need for the aura of privilege that a press badge automatically confers on its wearer. I took off the badge, pocketed it, and reflected on the pleasurable sensation that comes from being inconspicuous. It seemed awkward, absurd, to strut around with a label on a lapel proclaiming one’s identity, a feeling doubtless shared by cops who were even then surreptitiously removing their name plates. Also, I was curious. No joiner of demonstrations in my antisocial student days, I now wanted to know how it felt like to be in one, not as journalistic observer but as participant, and I wanted to find out what treatment I could expect from authority in this guise.

I found out soon enough, and the knowledge hurt.

At about half past five, the demo that had been going on for more than four hours was only beginning to warm up. The colegialas in their well-pressed uniforms were wandering off toward the Luneta, munching on pinipig crunches and dying of boredom. Priests and seminarians lingered at one edge of the crowd, probably discussing the epistemology of dissent. Behind the traffic island in the middle of Burgos Drive, in the negligible shade of the pine trees, ice cream and popsicle carts vied for attention with small tables each laden with paper and envelopes, an improvised cardboard mailbox and a sign that urged: Write Your Congressman. In this outer circle of the demo, things were relatively quiet; but in the inner circle, nearer Congress, right below the mikes, the militants were restless, clamorous, chanting their slogans, carrying the streamers that bore the names of their organizations, waving placards (made out of those controversial Japanese-made calendars the administration gave away during the campaign) that pictured the President as Hitler, the First Couple as Bonnie and Clyde.

There were two mikes, taped together; and this may sound frivolous, but I think the mikes were the immediate cause of the trouble that ensued. They were in the hands of Edgar Jopson of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, the group that had organized the rally and secured the permit for it. The NUSP dubbed its demonstration “the January 26 Movement”; its chief objective was to demand “a nonpartisan Constitutional Convention in 1971.” Demonstrations, however, are never restricted to members of the organization to which a permit has been issued. They are, according to standard practice, open to all sympathizers who care to join; and to the January 26 Movement the veterans of countless demos sent their representatives. Swelling the numbers of the dissenters were youth organizations like the Kabataang Makabayan, the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan, the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino, the Kilusan ng Kabataang Makati; labor groups like the National Association of Trade Unions; peasant associations like the Malayang Samahang Magsasaka.

Now, at about half past five, Jopson, who was in polo barong and sported a red armband with the inscription “J26M,” announced that the next speaker would be Gary Olivar of the SDK and of the University of the Philippines student council. Scads of demonstration leaders stood with Jopson on that raised ground with the Congress flagpole, but Olivar was at this point not to be seen among them. The mikes passed instead to Roger Arienda, the radio commentator and publisher of Bomba. Arienda may sound impressive to his radio listeners, but in person he acts like a parody of a high-school freshman delivering Mark Anthony’s funeral oration. His bombast, complete with expansive gestures, drew laughter and Bronx cheers from the militants up front, who now started chanting: “We want Gary! We want Gary!”

Arienda retreated, the chant grew louder, and someone with glasses who looked like a priest took the mikes and in a fruity, flute-thin voice pleaded for sobriety and silence. “We are all in this together,” he fluted. “We are with you. There is no need for shouting. Let us respect each other.” Or words to that effect. By this time, Olivar was visible, standing next to Jopson. It was about a quarter to six.

When Jopson got the mikes back, however, he did not pass them on to Olivar. Once more he announced: “Ang susunod na magsasalita ay si Gary Olivar.” Olivar stretched out his hand, waiting for the mikes, and the crowd resumed its chant; but Jopson after some hesitation now said: “Aawitin natin ang Bayang Magiliw.” Those seated, squatting, or sprawled on the road rose as one man. Jopson sang the first verse of the national anthem, then paused, as if to let the crowd go on from there: instead he went right on singing into the mikes, drowning out the voices of everybody else, pausing every now and then for breath or to change his pitch.

Olivar stood there with a funny expression on his face, his mouth assuming a shape that was not quite a smile, not quite a scowl. Other demonstration leaders started remonstrating with Jopson, gesturing toward the mikes, but he pointedly ignored them. He repeated his instructions to NUSP members, then started acting busy and looking preoccupied, all the while clutching the mikes to his breast. Manifestoes that had earlier been passed from hand to hand now started flying, in crumpled balls or as paper planes, toward the demonstration leaders’ perch. It was at this point that one of the militants grabbed the mikes from Jopson.

Certainly there can be no justification for the action of the militants. The NUSP leaders had every right to pack up and leave, since their permit gave them only up to six o’clock to demonstrate and they had declared their demonstration formally closed; and since it was their organization that had paid for the use of the microphones and loudspeakers, they had every right to keep these instruments ot themselves. Yet, by refusing to at least lend their mikes to the radicals, the NUSP leaders gave the impression of being too finicky; they acted like an old maid aunt determined not to surrender her Edwardian finery to a hippie niece, knowing that it would be used for more audacious purposes than she had ever intended for it. The radicals would surely demand more than a nonpartisan Constitutional Convention; they would speak of more fundamental, doubtless violent, changes; and it was precisely the prospect of violence that the NUSP feared. The quarrel over the mikes revealed the class distinctions in the demonstration: on the one hand the exclusive-school kids of the NUSP, bred in comfort, decent, respectful, and timorous; and on the other hand the public-school firebrands of groups like the KM and the SDK, familiar with privation, rowdy, irreverent, troublesome. Naturally, the nice dissenters wanted to dissociate themselves from anything that smelled disreputable, and besides the mikes belonged to them.

Now the mikes had passed to a young man, a labor union leader I had seen before, at another demonstration, whose name I do not know.

It had happened so fast Jopson was caught by surprise; the next thing he knew the mikes were no longer in his possession. This young labor union leader was a terrific speaker. He was obviously some kind of hero to the militants, for they cheered him on as he attacked the “counter-revolutionaries who want to end this demonstration,” going on from there to attack fascists and imperialists in general. By the time he was through, his audience had a new, a more insistent chant: “Rebolusyon! Rebolusyon! Rebolusyon!”

Passions were high, exacerbated by the quarrel over the mikes; and the President had the back luck of coming out of Congress at this particular instant.

WHERE THE DEMONSTRATION LEADERS STOOD, emblems of the enemy were prominently displayed: a cardboard coffin representing the death of democracy at the hands of the goonstabulary in the last elections; a cardboard crocodile, painted green, symbolizing congressmen greedy for allowances; a paper effigy of Ferdinand Marcos. When the President stepped out of Congress, the effigy was set on fire and, according to report, the coffin was pushed toward him, the crocodile hurled at him. From my position down on the street, I saw only the burning of the effigy—a singularly undramatic incident, since it took the effigy so long to catch fire. I could not even see the President and could only deduce the fact of his coming out of Congress from the commotion at the doors, the sudden radiance created by dozens of flashbulbs bursting simultaneously, and the rise in the streets of the cry: “MARcos PUPpet! MARcos PUPpet! MARcos PUPpet!”

Things got so confused at this point that I cannot honestly say which came first: the pebbles flying or the cops charging. I remember only the cops rushing down the steps of Congress, pushing aside the demonstration leaders, and jumping down to the streets, straight into the mass of demonstrators. The cops flailed away, the demonstrators scattered. The cops gave chase to anything that moved, clubbed anyone who resisted, and hauled off those they caught up with. The demonstrators who got as far as the sidewalk that led to the Muni golf links started to pick up pebbles and rocks with which they pelted the police. Very soon, placards had turned into missiles, and the sound of broken glass punctuated the yelling: soft-drink bottles were flying, too. The effigy was down on the ground, still burning.

The first scuffle was brief. By the time it was over, the President and the First Lady must have made good their escape. The cops retreated into Congress with hostages. The demonstrators re-occupied the area they had vacated in their panic. The majority of NUSP members must have been safe in their buses by then, on their way home, but the militants were still in possession of the mikes.

The militants were also in possession of the field. Probably not more than 2,000 remained on Burgos Drive—some of them just hanging around, looking on; many of them raging mad, refusing to be cowed. A small group defiantly sang the Tagalog version of the “Internationale,” no longer bothering now to hide their allegiances. Their slogan was “fight and fear not,” and they made a powerful incantation out of it: “Ma-ki-BAKA! Huwag maTAKOT!” They marched with arms linked together and faced the cops without flinching, baiting them, taunting them.

“Pulis, pulis, titi matulis!”

“Pulis, mukhang kuwarta!”

“Me mga panangga pa, o, akala mo lalaban sa giyera!”

“Takbo kayo nang takbo, baka lumiit ang tiyan n’yo!”

“Baka mangreyp pa kayo, lima-lima na’ng asawa n’yo!”

“Mano-mano lang, o!”

NOTHING MORE CLEARLY REVEALED THE DEPTHS to which the reputation of the supposed enforcers of the law has sunk than this open mocking of the cops. Annual selections of ten outstanding policemen notwithstanding, the cops are generally believed to be corrupt, venal, brutal, vicious, and zealous in their duties only when the alleged lawbreaker is neither rich nor powerful. Those who deplore the loss of respect for the law forget that respect needs to be earned, and anyone is likely to lose respect for the law who has felt the wrath of lawmen or come face to face with their greed.

The students who now hurled insults at the cops around Congress differed from the rest of their countrymen only in that they did not bother to hide their contempt or express it in bitter whispers. In at least two recent demonstrations—one at the US Embassy on the arrival of Agnew, the other at Malacanang to denounce police brutality and the rise of fascism—students had suffered at the hands of the cops, and now the students were in a rage, they were spoiling for trouble, they were in no mood for dinner-party chatter or elocution contents.

In the parliament of the streets, debate takes the form of confrontation.

While the braver radicals flung jeers at the cops in a deliberate attempt to precipitate a riotous confrontation, the rest of the demonstrators gathered in front of the Congress flagpole, listening to various speakers, though more often outshouting them. Senator Emmanuel Pelaez had come out of Congress, dapper in a dark-blue suit, and the mikes were handed over to him. Despite the mikes, his voice could hardly be heard above the din of the demonstrators. Because Pelaez spoke in English, they shouted: “Tagalog! Tagalog!” They had also made up a new chant: “Pakawalan ang hinuli! Pakawalan ang hinuli! Pakawalan ang hinuli!” Not after several minutes of furious waving from student leaders gesturing for quiet did the noise of the throng subside.

Pelaez made an appeal for peace that received an equal amount of cheers and jeers. Then he made the mistake of calling MPD Chief Gerardo Tamayo to his side. The very sight of a uniformed policeman is enough to drive demonstrators into a frenzy; his mere presence is provocation enough. The reaction to Tamayo was unequivocal, unanimous. The moment he appeared, fancy swagger stick in hand, an orgy of boos and catcalls began, sticks and stones and crumpled sheets started to fly again, and Pelaez had to let the police chief beat a hasty retreat.

With Tamayo out of sight, a little quiet descended on the crowd once more. Speeches again, and more speeches. The lull, a period of watchful waiting for the demonstrators, lasted for some time. And then, from the north, from the Maharnilad side of Congress, came the cry: “Eto na naman ang mga pulis!”

Thunder of feet, tumult of images and sounds. White smooth round crash helmets advancing like a fleet of flying saucers in the growing darkness. The tread of marching feet, the rat-tat-tat of fearful feet on the run, the shuffle of hesitant feet unable to decide whether to stand fast or flee. From loudspeakers, an angry voice: “Mga pulis! Pakiusap lang! Tahimik na kami rito! Huwag na kayong makialam!” And everywhere, a confusion of shouts: Walang tatakbo! Walang uurong! Balik! Balik! Walang mambabato! Tigil ang batuhan! Link arms, link arms! Ma-ki-BAKA! Huwag maTAKOT!

The khaki contingent broke into a run. The demonstrators fled in all directions, each man for himself. Some merely stepped aside, hugging the Congress walls, clustering around trees. The cops at this time went only after those who ran, bypassing all who stood still. Three cops cornered one demonstrator against a traffic sign and clubbed him until the signpost gave way and fell with a crash. One cop caught up with a demonstrator and grabbed him by the collar, but the demonstrator wriggled free of his shirt and made a new dash for freedom in his undershirt. One cop lost his quarry near the golf course and found himself surrounded by other demonstrators; they didn’t touch him—“Nag-iisa 'yan, pabayaan n'yo”—but they taunted him mercilessly. This was a Metrocom cop, not an unarmed trainee, and finding himself surrounded by laughing sneering faces, he drew his .45 in anger, his eyes flashing, his teeth bared. He kept his gun pointed to the ground, however, and the laughter and sneers continued until he backed off slowly, trying to maintain whatever remaining dignity he could muster.

The demonstrators who had fled regrouped, on the Luneta side of Congress, and with holler and whoop they charged. The cops slowly retreated before this surging mass, then ran, ran for their lives, pursued by rage, rocks, and burning placard handles. Now it was the students giving chase, exhilarated by the unexpected turnabout. The momentum of their charge, however, took them only up to the center of Burgos Drive; either there was a failure of nerve or their intention was merely to regain ground they had lost, without really charging into the very ranks of the police.

Once again, the lines of battle were as before: the students in the center, the cops at the northern end of Burgos Drive.

In the next two hours, the pattern of battle would be set. The cops would charge, the demonstrators would retreat; the demonstrators would regroup and come forward again, the cops would back off to their former position. At certain times, however, the lines of battle would shift, with the cops holding all of the area right in front of Congress and the students facing them across the street, with three areas of retreat—north toward Maharnilad, south toward the Luneta, and west toward the golf course and Intramuros. There were about seven waves of attack and retreat by both sides, each attack preceded by a tense noisy lull, during which there would be sporadic stoning, by both cops and demonstrators.

Sometime during the lull in the clashes, two fire trucks appeared in the north. They inched their way forward, flanked by the cops, and when they were near the center of Burgos Drive they trained their hoses on the scattered bonfires the students had made with their placards and manifestoes. Students who held their ground, getting wet in the weak stream, yelled: “Mahal ang tubig! Isauli n'yo na 'yan sa Nawasa!” Other demonstrators, emboldened by the lack of force of the jets of water, came forward with rocks to hurl at the fire trucks. The trucks hurriedly backed away from the barrage and soon made themselves scarce.

At one student attack, the demonstrators managed to occupy the northern portion the cops had held throughout the battle. When the cops started moving forward, from the Congress driveway where they had taken shelter, the demonstrators backed away one by one, until only three brave and foolhardy souls remained, standing fast, holding aloft, by its three poles, a streamer that carried the name of the Kabataang Makabayan. There they stood, those three, no one behind them and the cops coming toward them slowly, menacingly. Without a warning, some cops dashed forward, about ten of them, and in full view of the horrified crowd flailed away at the three who held their ground, unable to resist. The two kids holding the side poles either managed to flee or were hauled off to the legislative building to join everybody else who had the misfortune of being caught. The boy in the center crumpled to the ground and stayed there cringing, bundled up like a foetus, his legs to his chest and his arms over his head. The cops made a small tight circle around him, and then all that could be seen were the rattan sticks moving up and down and from side to side in seeming rhythm. When they were through, the cops walked away nonchalantly, leaving the boy on the ground. One cop, before leaving, gave one last aimless swing of his stick as a parting shot, hitting his target in the knees.

The cops really had it in for the Kabataang Makabayan. The fallen standard was picked up by six or seven KM boys and carried to the center of Burgos Drive, where it stood beside another streamer, held up by members of the Kilusan ng Kabataang Makati, bearing the words: “Ibagsak ang imperyalismo at piyudalismo!” When the cops made another attack and everybody in the center of Burgos Drive scattered, the KM boys again held their ground. The cops gave them so severe a beating one of the wooden poles broke in half.

I had taken shelter beneath the Kilusan ng Kabataang Makati streamer during the attack; we were left untouched. The KM boys had to abandon their streamer. One of them, limping, joined us, and when the cops had gone he asked me, probably thinking I was another KM member, to help him pick up the streamer. I thought it was the least I could do for the poor bastards, so I took hold of the broken pole and helped the KM boy carry the streamer a little closer to the Congress walls. There I stood, thinking of the awkwardness of my position, being neither demonstrator nor KM member, until a few other guys began to gather around us. I handed the broken pole to someone who nodded when I asked him if he belonged to the KM.

About this time, or sometime afterwards, Pelaez was down on the street, surrounded by aides and students all talking at the same time, complaining to him about missing nameplates and arrested comrades. He was probably still down there when the cops advanced once again. Panic spread, and I found myself running, too. In previous attacks I had merely stepped aside and watched; but I had already seen what had happened to the KM boys who refused to flee, and I had seen policemen, walking back to their lines after a futile chase, club or haul off anyone standing by who just happened to be in their way, or who seemed to have a look of gloating and triumph on their faces; and I realized it was no longer safe to remain motionless. I had completely forgotten the press badge in my pocket.

Meanwhile, it seemed that certain distinguished personages trapped inside the legislative building had grown restless and wanted to get on to their mansions or their favorite night clubs or some parties in their honor, but cars were parked up front. At any rate, some cars started moving up the driveway to pick up passengers. The sight of those long sleek limousines infuriated the demonstrators all the more; the sight of those beautiful air-conditioned limousines was like a haughty voice saying, “Let them eat cake.” Cries of “Kotse! Kotse!” were followed by “Batuhin! Batuhin!” Down the driveway came the cars, and whizz went the rocks. Some cars even had the effrontery of driving down Burgos Drive straight into the lines of the demonstrators, as though meaning to disperse them. All the cars got stoned.

One apple-green Mercedes-Benz, belonging to Senator Jose Roy, screeched to a stop when the rocks thudded on its roofs and sides. The driver got out and started picking up rocks himself, throwing them at the students. A few cops had to brave the rain of stones that ensued to save the poor driver who had only tried to defend his master’s car. The demonstrators then surged forward with sticks and stones and beat the hell out of the car, stopping only when it was a total wreck. “Sunugin!” rose the cry, but by then the cops were coming in force.

The demonstrators had hired a jeepney in which rode some of their leaders. It had two loudspeakers on its roof, was surrounded by students, and inched its way forward and backward throughout the melee. The cops, seemingly maddened by the destruction of a senator’s Model 1970 Mercedes-Benz, swooped down on the jeepney with their rattan sticks, striking out at the students who surrounded it until they fled, then venting their rage some more on those inside the jeepney who could not get out to run. The shrill screams of women inside the jeepney rent the air. The driver, bloody all over, managed to stagger out; the cops quickly grabbed him.

When the cops were through beating up the jeepney’s passengers, they backed away. Some stayed behind, trying to drag out those who were still inside the jeepney, from which came endless shrieks, sobs, curses, wails, and the sound of weeping. It was impossible to remain detached and uninvolved now, to be a spectator forever. When the screams for help became unendurable, I started to walk toward the jeepney, and was only four or five steps away when, from the other side of the jeepney, crash helmet, khaki uniform, and rattan stick came charging at me. The cop’s hands gripped his stick at both ends. “O, isa ka pa, lalapit-lapit ka pa!” he cried as he swung at me. I stepped back, feeling the wind from the swing of his stick ruffle the front of my shirt. In stepping back I lost my balance. Before I realized what had happened, I was down on my back and the cop was lunging at me, still holding his stick at both ends. I caught the middle of the stick with my hands and, well, under the circumstances, I don’t think I can be blamed for losing my cool. “Putangnamo,” I shouted at him, “tutulong ako do’n, e!”

I jumped to my feet, dusted myself off angrily, and glared at my would-be tormentor. If my eyes had the gift of a triple whammy, he would be dust and ashes now. We stared at each other for a few seconds, but when I dropped my glance down to his breast, to see no nameplate there, he turned his back and slowly walked away. I had no intention of doing a Norman Mailer and getting arrested, so I let him go. By this time, the jeepney’s passengers had decided, screaming and swearing and sobbing all the while, to abandon their vehicle with its load of mimeographed manifestoes and various literature, and to look for a safer place from which to deliver their exhortations to their fellow demonstrators.

On two other occasions, I found myself running with the demonstrators. Once I jumped down with them to the golf course and got as far as the fence of the mini-golf range. Behind us, the cops were firing into the air. When it was the students’ turn to charge, I found my way back to the street. Another time, running along the sidewalk down rows of pine trees toward the Luneta, I saw a girl a few meters away from me stumble and fall. I stopped running, with the intention of helping her up, when whack! I felt the sting of a blow just below my belt and above my ass. When I turned around the cop was gone; he was swinging wildly as he ran and I just happened to be in the way of his rattan. The girl, too, was nowhere to be seen; there was no longer anyone to play Good Samaritan to.

As I stood there, rubbing that part of me where I was hit, I heard more screaming and curses from the golf course. A boy and two girls, who had decided to sit out the attack on a mound, had been set upon by the cops. People inside the mini-golf enclosure were yelling at the cops, shaking their golf clubs in helpless fury. “Tena, tulungan natin!” cried one demonstrator; but the cops had retreated by the time we got to the trio on the mound. The two girls were cursing through their tears; the boy was calm, consoling them in his fashion. “This is just part of the class struggle,” he said, and one girl sobbed, “I know, I know. Pero putangna nila, me araw din sila!”

IT WAS NOW EIGHT O’CLOCK. The battle of Burgos Drive was over, Burgos Drive was open to traffic once more. I decided it was time to go to the Philippine General Hospital for a change of scene. Crossing the street, on my way to Taft Avenue, I saw for the first time, on the Luneta side of the traffic island, a row of horses behind a squad of uniformed men.

At the PGH, confusion reigned. More than thirty demonstrators with bloody heads and broken wrists had been or were being treated along with three or four policemen hit by rocks. Other students kept coming, looking for companions, bringing news from the field. The battle was not over yet, they said, it had merely shifted ground. The cops were chasing demonstrators right up to Intramuros, all the way to Plaza Lawton; were even boarding jeepneys and buses to haul down demonstrators on their way home. There was a rumor that two or three students had been killed—did anyone know anything about it? (It proved to be a false alarm.) Even NUSP members were at the PGH. Some of them had called up Executive Secretary Ernesto Maceda, and he came in a long black car, mapungay eyes, slicked-down hair, newly pressed barong Tagalog, and all, accompanied by a photographer and scads of technical assistants or security men.

The next day came the post-mortems, the breast-beating, the press releases, the alibis.

“We maintain,” said MPD Deputy Chief James Barbers, “that the police acted swiftly at a particular time when the life of the President of the Republic—and that of the First Lady—was being endangered by the vicious and unscrupulous elements among the student demonstrators. One can just imagine what would have resulted had something happened to the First Lady!” Barbers did not bother to explain why the rampage continued after the President being protected had gone.

Manila Mayor Antonio J. Villegas commended Tamayo and his men for their “exemplary behavior and courage” and reportedly gave them a day off. Then he announced that Manila policemen would henceforth stay away from demonstration sites. “I’m doing this to protect Manila policemen from unfair criticism and to avoid friction between the MPD and student groups.”

“The night of January 26,” said UP president S.P. Lopez, “must be regarded as a night of grave portent for the future of the nation. It has brought us face to face with the fundamental question: Is it still possible to transform our society by peaceful means so that the many who are poor, oppressed, sick, and ignorant may be released from their misery, by the actual operation of law and government, rather than by waiting in vain for the empty promise of ‘social justice’ in our Constitution?”

The faculty of the University of the Philippines issued a declaration denouncing “the use of brutal force by state authorities against the student demonstrators” and supporting “unqualifiedly the students’ exercise of democratic rights in their struggle for revolutionary change.” The declaration went on to say: “It is with the gravest concern that the faculty views the January 26 event as part of an emerging pattern of repression of the democratic rights of the people. This pattern is evident in the formation of paramilitary units such as the Home Defense Forces, the politicalization of the Armed Forces, the existence of private armies, foreign interference in internal security, and the use of specially trained police for purposes of suppression.”

From the Lyceum faculty came another strongly worded statement: “Above the sadism and inhumanity of the action of the police, we fear that the brutal treatment of the idealistic students has done irreparable harm to our society. For it is true that the skirmish was won by the policemen and the riot soldiers. But if we view the battle in the correct perspective of the struggle for the hearts and minds of our youth, we cannot help but realize that the senseless, brutal, and uncalled-for acts of the police have forever alienated many of our young people from our society. The police will have to realize that in winning the battles, they are losing the war for our society.”

While he deplored the “abusive language” he read in some of the demonstrators’ placards, Senator Gil J. Puyat said, “I regret the use of unnecessary force by the police when they could have used a less harmful method.” IF the police had “kept their cool,” said Senator Benigno Aquino, there would have been no violence—“it takes two to fight.” Senator Salvador Laurel said he had witnessed “with my own eyes the reported brutalities perpetrated by a number of [police officers] upon unarmed students, some of them helpless women.” Senator Eva Kalaw warned: “The students set the emotional powderkeg that may become the signal for wave upon wave of unrest in the streets, in the factories, on the campuses, in our farms.”

“Students,” said President Ferdinand Marcos, “have a legitimate right to manifest their grievances in public and we shall support their just demands, but we do not consider violence a legitimate instrument of democratic dissent, and we expect the students to cooperate with government in making sure that their demonstrations are not marred by violence.”

Some of the students began talking of arming themselves the next time with molotov cocktails and pillboxes, of using dos-por-dos as placard handles, of wearing crash helmets. Everyone agreed that the January 26 confrontation was the longest and most violent in the history of the Philippine student movement.

And then came January 30.
From the book DAYS OF DISQUIET, NIGHTS OF RAGE, by Jose F. Lacaba
(New edition: Anvil Publishing, Manila, 2003. First edition: Salinlahi Publishing House, Manila 1982. Second printing: Asphodel Books, Manila, 1986.)

First published in the Philippine Free Press, 1970 February 7

Historical notes:

Maharnilad is what the Manila City Hall was called back then. Congress, not far from Maharnilad, was a single building that housed both the Senate and the House of Representatives; it now houses the National Museum.

Edgar Jopson, better known as Edjop, derided by radicals as a reformist during the First Quarter Storm, ended up in the martial-law period as a leading member of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines; he was killed in Mindanao in 1982.



The Four Martyrs of the Battle of Mendiola


Four young lives. Two of those killed were participating in a demonstration for the first time in their lives. Two were merely caught in the crowds. The four were shot. (Graphic editorial, Feb. 11, 1970)  ▼

▼ Fernando Catabay  ▼
▼  Dick Alcantara   ▼
▼  Felicisimo Singh Roldan  ▼

Roldan with mother. From Graphic


▼  Juan Tausa  ▼

Parents of Juan Tausa/ From Graphix

Ttausa funeral with friends and relatives



The Senate Report on January 26 Demonstration


on March 12, 1970, the Senate Special Committee of the Seventh Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, published  a report, Investigation of the January 26 and 30 Rallies and the Root Causes of Mass Demonstrations. “This is a Report on the investigation of the events immediately prior to and attendant to the mass student/youth/labor/peasant demonstrations of 26th and 30th January, 1970 conducted by the Joint Committee of both Houses of Congress. The Committee was formed pursuant to House concurrent resolution No. 2 entitled Concurrent Resolution creating a Joint Committeee on Both Houses of Congress to investigate Mass Demonstrations, passed by the House on January 28, 1970 and by the Senate with amendments, on February 3, 1970.” The Senate Panel  was composed of Lorenzo M. Tañada, chairman; Jose W. Diokno, Lorenzo Sumulong, Ambrosio Padilla, Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Teves, Helena Z. Benitez, members; Jose J. Roy, Arturo M. Tolentino, Gerardo Roxas, ex-officio members.


On April 16, 1970, the House of Representatives published a separate document in book form, Final Report on the Root Causes of Mass Demonstrations. The House Panel was composed of Aguedo F. Agbayani, chairman; Fernando R. Veloso, vice-chairman; Eduardo R. Gullas, Jose D. Aspiras, Artemio A. Loyola, Emilio R. Espinosa, and John H. Osmeña, members.

A copy of Senate report used here is available at the Filipiniana section of the UP Main Library in Diliman, Quezon City, while a copy of House Panel’s book is available at the Archives of the House of Representatives.


The two reports, although based on the joint Senate and House hearings, differ in style and presentation. We are publishing excerpts from the Senate report as it gives a coherent overview of what transpired during the two mass actions. We have deleted references to different “annexes” and “exhibits” for easier reading. –TFQSL Administrator

Statement of Facts


The permit to hold a rally “in front of the Philippine Congress Building” at the opening of Congress on January 26, 1970 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. (midnight) was obtained by the National Union of Student of the Philippines (NUSP). This rally was just one of the 20 other rallies held in other cities all over the country by the NUSP on the occasion of the opening of Congress with the principal objective of pressing for a so-called non-partisan Constitutional Convention in 1971. Another permit to hold a rally “in the vicinity of Congress” was granted to Ang Magigiting and Bomba News Magazine for the same day from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. the National Students’ League through its acting President Miss Portia Ilagan also obtained a permit to hold a demonstration in front of Malacañang from January 24 to 28.


The NUSP is a nationwide organization of 72 official student governments from both state and private institutions of learning. The majority of member institutions are private, composed of both sectarian and non-sectarian schools in more or less equal number. While individual students in a school or university whose student council is affiliated with the NUSP is not necessarily a member of the NUSP, the organization claims to represent a total of around half a million students, on the theory that the member student councils represent the respective student bodies by whom they were elected. It holds an annual Congress usually in December, to which each student council sends an average of five delegates. At this congress the President and an Executive Board of 30 members are elected. The governing body of the organization in between annual congresses is the Executive Board acting through its President. The President elected at the annual congress held last December was Mr. Edgar Jopson. The decision to hold nationwide rallies principally for a non-partisan Constitutional Convention was also made at this congress held on 26 to 31 December, 1969.

Shortly before the 26th of January, the NUSP issued a manifesto entitled “Isang Panawagan Para Sa Kombensiyon Konstitusyonal Na Walang Pakialam Ang Mga Partido Pulitiko.” The signatories of this manifesto, besides the NUSP, were: Students United Crusade for Constitutional Reforms (SUCOR), Young Christian Socialists of the Philippines (YCSP), National Youth Constitutional Convention Movement, National Students’ League (NSL, composed exclusively of state schools), Katilingban Hiligaynon, the Children’s Museum and Library, Inc., and the National Union of High School Students . These organizations along with NUSP took part in the January 26 rally. Inasmuch as the NUSP had also publicly invited all other organizations sympathetic to its demands, many other organizations also participated in the rally. Among them, the Kabataang Makabayan, the Malayang Pagkakaisa ng Kabataang Pilipino, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Masaka, Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan (SDK), Samahan ng Kabataang Makati, the National Association of Trade Unions (NATU) and Christian Social Movement (CSM). The Ang Magigiting and Bomba News Magazine members also took part as they held a permit of their own to hold rally “in the vicinity” of Congress.


A few days before the rally, on 19th of January, 1970, a conference was held among the law enforcement agencies, principally the Manila Police Department and the Metrocom (PC) in Malacañang, to coordinate security measures to be adopted for the opening of Congress on January 26. At this conference, Operations Plan “PAYAPA” was discussed and adopted. The plan called for use of units of the MPD, Metrocom Central Sector (Metro CS), Metrocom Reaction Strike Force (Metro RSF), Presidential Security Agents (PSA), Metrocom Intelligence Sub Task Force and Metrocom Sub Task Force Reserve (STF Reserve), with other attached elements of the Metrocom held in reserve. All these units were placed under the overall supervision of Colonel C. Jazmin of the Metrocom as Task Force Commander. Completing the plan “PAYAPA”, the MPD drew up Operations Plan “BAGONG BUHAY” to govern its own units, which it organized into four main groups: (1) a Crowd Control Group (2) an Anti-Riot Group (3) a Traffic Control Group and (4) a Rescue Group. Overall command of the MPD units was placed on Major Alfredo Yson (Sub-Task Force Commander). On page 2 (h)(5) of Operations Plan “PAYAPA”, under “Coordinating instructions”, there appears the instruction, “Firepower will be resorted to only when troops are fired upon or when the lives of the President and his family are in immediate danger” (an instruction which though issued in connection with the January 26th rally should have been as applicable to the January 30 rally but which was not followed in the latter demonstration). Operation Plan “BAGONG BUHAY” on the other hand contains the instruction “illegal and unnecessary use of force or violence against the demonstrators shall be avoided, only those resisting arrest or as would be necessary to quell riot or disturbance”. The Crowd Control and Traffic Control groups were to be provided with crash helmets and truncheons. All regular policemen but not police trainees (“rookies”) were to bear firearms as standard equipment. The Metrocom soldiers were to carry wicker shields, truncheons and crash helmets.


The rallyists began to converge at Congress as early as 10:00 a.m. the NUSP assembled at 14 points in Manila and from these points proceeded to the rally site at approximately 2:30 p.m. The rally was to start officially at 3:30 p.m. The MPD stationed a total of 381 officers and men of which the majority were “rookies” who had undergone special 25-hour courses in riot control. The police were deployed at five main points: (1) Lobby of Congress: 16 men under LT. J. Balderian; (2) Congress driveway, north (exit) end (area B): 74 men (62 “rookies”) under Major A. Paralejas; (3) Congress driveway, south (entrance) end (area C): 67 men (30 “rookies”) under Major F. Lazaro; (4) Parking area in front of Congress (area D): 65 police trainees under Capt. F. Jueco and Kt. S. Dabu; (5) Area around flagpole front of Congress (area F): 10 regular policemen under Lt. J. Esguerra; another contingent of 7 regular policemen under Lt. S. Eusebio was also stationed at the south stairway in front of Congress alongside the entrance portion of the driveway.


Other units were held in reserve at the Agrifina Circle under Major M. Matawaran and at Police District no. 8 headquarters under Sgt. M. Rodriguez. The Metrocom soldiers, two platoons of 60 or 70 troopers, were stationed at the northern City Hall side of the demonstration site, near Major Paralejas’ contingent.

Shortly after noon, the NUSP President Edgar Jopson asked Major Yson to a conference with NUSP leaders to discuss the security or peace and order aspects of the rally. At this conference Jopson assured the MPD that the rally would be orderly and the police apparently agreed to stay away from the demonstration unless called upon. The NUSP would have its own “security forces”, students of three colleges, who would be wearing red shirts.


At about 3:30 p.m. the crowd at the demonstration site had grown to between 20,000 and 50,000. The demonstration officially began at this time with speeches from various leaders. There was a complaint about another public address system in the Legislative Building drowning out the rallyists’ speeches. This other system had been on since morning and allegedly was a cause of irritation to the demonstrators but it apparently was never permanently turned off.


Now present at the rally were other organizations like the Samahang Demokratiko na Kabataan (SDK), the Malayang Pagkakaisa Ng Kabataang Pilipino (MPKP), the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, and the Kabataang Makabayan (KM. So too, the “Ang Magigiting” led by Roger Arrienda (of “Bomba” Magazine), who brought with them a mock cardboard coffin and stationed themselves near the flagpole where the speakers were addressing the crowd. Some U.P. students on the other hand brought a mock crocodile of papier mache. At about this time (4:30 p.m.) too, a group of demonstrators in diamond formation edged themselves towards the center right in front of the flagpole.


The speakers, among them Luis Taruc, were now being booed amid cries of  “We want Dante”, “We want Dante”. The situation at this point had become somewhat tense but remained peaceful. At about 4:45 p.m. the President arrived and entered the Congress building greeted by a general booing from nearby demonstrators. Shortly thereafter, the President’s State of the Nation address was heard over the second public address system (which was on again) and the demonstrators again complained that their speeches were being drowned out. According to the police, the second loudspeaker system was then disconnected .

Ten minutes before 6:00 p.m., allegedly because of the high school student demonstrators who had to return home before dark, but probably also because of the growing tension, Jopson proclaimed the rally at an end. The National Anthem was sung and promptly thereafter, Jopson was “whisked away” by friends.


Unfortunately it was only minutes after this that the President came out of the Congress building. There was therefore not enough time for many of the rallyists to disperse when the President appeared at the doorway of the building. At this point, it is difficult to establish the exact sequence of events but gleaning from the various testimonies not all of which are in exact accord, and television films taken on the spot, it seems that as the President was walking to his car surrounded by security men, the cardboard coffin was passed from hand to hand by the demonstrators towards the Presidential car, then tossed in the direction of the President whose way towards the car was being cleared by security men jostling the people milling around. The coffin was tossed back toward the crowd by the security men and tossed again in the direction of the President. The same thing was done to the mock crocodile. Simultaneous with this or seconds thereafter, placards and sticks were tossed in the same direction amid a general outcry of verbal abuse, but according to Cesar Landicho, the Manila Times reporter who witnessed this phase of the demonstration, the placards and sticks fell short where the President was and landed only in the flagpole area. Up to this point most probably no stones were yet being thrown although there is testimony to the contrary. The President and Mrs. Marcos were literally pushed into the Presidential car by security agents and they were also “whisked away” from the scene.

After the President had left, the hurling of sticks and placards and now stones continued. The verbal testimony at this point is also conflicting. The police and Metrocom claim that they simply maintained their ground and only tried to arrest those who had actually thrown objects at them. But photographs, the television films from ABS and CBN network which were shown during the hearings, and the testimony of eyewitnesses who claimed that the agents of the law did more than arrest the obvious culprits, show that they rushed the crowd and beat them mercilessly and indiscriminately. Thus Mr. C. Landicho, the Manila Times reporter, replying to the question, “What happened in front of the Legislative building as the President was about to board his car?”, stated, “What I saw was the throwing of placards, stones towards the flagpole… I went down. I was on the driveway. So I went down. I saw the Metrocom troopers charging demonstrators and I think I saw them – I don’t know why our photographers were not able to get some pictures of the action… there were some students injured. I even helped some of them. Whenever a student is arrested I told the Metrocom, do not punish him he is already under your custody…”


So also, the testimony of Father Edmundo Garcia “… I saw the President coming down together with the First Lady… All of a sudden I saw sticks and wooden frames from the placards raining in the air. I went for cover at the side and then I saw the policemen rush to the students with their truncheons…”


Mervyn Encanto, Secretary–General of the NUSP and himself a victim of the beating, declared “… at around six o’clock some people shouted that the President is coming out. Then, the demonstrators started shouting ‘Marcos-Puppet’, etc. and then “Buwaya” and those things. After a few minutes I felt that people were scampering. I looked around, policemen were going after the students. Policemen were running after the students and students were throwing sticks to the policemen”.

Sammy Camero, photographer of the Philippines Herald, also declared that when he arrived at the front of Congress at 6:30 p.m., the riot was already going on. All this testimony is as much as corroborated by Senator Emmanuel Pelaez himself whom Father Edmundo Garcia directed to appeal to help stop the commotion as he “was stepping out” of the hall of Congress, shortly after the President had ended his address. In a moving speech delivered on the floor of the Senate the day after the tragedy, the senator related, “I went down the steps of this building and crossed to the other side of the ramp, in front of the building. Then I saw five policemen bodily lifting a frail youth of about 18 years old, whose name I later learned to be Romeo Acosta. And as they had him up here on this side of the ramp, there were five policemen who were poised to rain their night sticks on him. By instinct, I embraced the youth to protect him. And when Chief Tamayo came, I asked him to calm down his men.” Senators Antonino and Laurel also took the floor to relate what they saw during the rally.


Senator Antonino said: “Mr. President, I would like to make a few comments. I do not have a prepared speech, but the scene last night touched me as a mother, not as a legislator. While I was going down the stairs, I was approached by about five of seven boys from the different universities and they said, as if they were begging on their knees, “Senator Antonino, help us. We are going to be killed. We are going to be finished. What kind of government is this? Can you not help us? Such pleading shuddered me. Although I was dressed up in my Filipina Dress and with my high-heeled shoes, I had to go with them. They were pointing at a boy who was lying prostrate at the door of our Congress, with back of his head badly beaten and his blood oozing from it. I examined the wound and it was a bad cut right of his head. Immediately with the help of my sister I’ve pick up the boy and took him by the side of the wall. I tried to look for ammonia but there was none, so I took my fan and fanned him, and called for my driver but he was not around. So, we carried the boy downstairs, the four of us–including my two assistants in the office–but the policemen never offered to help us. I said, “What are you doing? Why don’t you call an ambulance or commandeer a car and bring this boy to the hospital?” But they did not even answer. Thus, we went down, some men were down the stairs, and a car was parked. I said, “Commandeer that car, and take this boy to the hospital.” Then, when the boy was off to the hospital, I stood at the portals of this building and made my observations. Many policemen were just standing, but most of them, were running after the students and hitting them with sticks! I saw one boy lying on the street, and they still kept on beating him. Many of the boys ran to the second floor of this building, and one of them told me, “Senator, don’t go out, you may be harmed.” They said, “Get inside.” I wanted to see the boy get off to the hospital. So, I stood for a few minutes waiting for my car to come. With such a sight, I thought of my own four boys who are their contemporaries in college. They are not idiots, they are not imbeciles, they are not criminals or sadists. Those students only asked to be heard, and wanted to have a non-political convention that will amend the constitution. They had noble intentions!

When I got home, my children told me, “Mommy have you seen the television?” I said, “No.” They said, “You should have seen girls who were inside the jeep being dragged out by the policemen and were beaten up. We even drive sheep peacefully to their grazing lands, but our boys and girls last night were mobbed by some sadistic-minded police officers. But last night was a picture of what kind of law we have under such a situation. What will happen to our country when there will be war, when during this time of peace, people without arms are treated that way? There may be a cause when people fight with arms. They may be more glorified. But what is the glory of fighting people who are unarmed?”


Mr. President, I do not know the name of that boy, but I think that boy will be mentally disabled–the way I look at him–and God forbid!”


Senator Laurel on his part said: “Without wishing to prejudge the policemen nor exculpate the students, I must invite attention to the fact that the riot police made unnecessary use of force. Helpless women fell prey to their truncheons. I saw with my own eyes four students who were standing fast, holding the streamers of their organization and, without any provocation on their part, being attacked and beaten up by the police.

The overzealousness of the riot police was not exactly spontaneous. I noticed that most of them did not have their nameplates on.”


The police on the other hand insist that they stuck to a policy of “containment” from the outbreak of disturbance at about 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and that was only at eight that the order of dispersal was issued. The Chief of Police, Gerardo S. Tamayo, claimed that when the objects began to be thrown from the ranks of the demonstrators he ordered his men “to tighten close ranks”, then when the objects kept raining down, “to catch those throwing stones” but that by 8:00 p.m. when “no more fire trucks were coming and we were afraid that the riot was going to escalate into more serious proportions and would probably entail more damages and injuries and even fatalities… Then we decided that it is time that we give the order “to disperse”.


Between six and eight o’clock however, besides the testimony of the witness cited above, many incidents are sufficiently established to have occurred which tend to negate the claim that the police were all this time merely “containing” the crowd and arresting only those actually throwing stones or other objects. Among these, mention may be made of the following:


1. There is to begin the case mentioned by Senator Pelaez , of the 18-year old youth whom five policemen were poised to beat with their sticks but whom he embraced to protect. This happened just as Senator went out of Congress in answer to Father Garca’s appeal or around 6:30 p.m.

2. Mervyn Encanto interceded with the police to stop beating the demonstrators at around 6:45 p.m. but was himself beaten up shortly before 7:00 p.m., suffering a severe cut in the rear skull, contusions on the left forehead, back, abdomen and buttocks.

3. Four young men bearing a streamer of the Kabataang Makabayan were attacked by about 200 policemen (probably exaggerated) and the “four of them were really on the ground before they (the police) left them”, at about 6:45 p.m.

4. At about 7:00 p.m. that evening, the police fell upon a jeepney hired by the U.P. Student Council bearing a public address system. The jeep was then filled mostly with girls, among them, the witness Patricia Felipe. The police rained blows upon the occupants of the jeep indiscriminately although the latter were so packed inside they were in no position to defend themselves much less retaliate. The occurrence of this incident is overwhelmingly established by evidence testimonial and pictorial. But for an eyewitness and victim’s account of it, we refer to the testimony of Patricia Felipe, mainly to be found on this transcript. The police claimed the jeepney was loaded with stones but they could present no proof of this. Other witnesses who saw the jeepney declared they had not seen stones. The police also claimed that the girls were covering the boys to protect them against the police–as if this was excuse enough to beat up the girls themselves which they did. But the fact is that the situation was the other way around, the boys were on the outside trying to protect the girls. This is borne out by Miss Felipe’s testimony as well as Castor Santiago’s (Manila Times photographer), and Prudencio Villavicencio, a 38-year old student of the Arellano University, among others, but especially by the photographs of the event.

The record of the Philippines General Hospital to which most of the victims of that evening’s demonstration were sent for treatment moreover shows that many if not the majority of cases were admitted between six and eight or shortly after eight o’clock.

Between six and eight, Senator Pelaez tried several times to persuade the police, through Chief Tamayo, to desist from the attacks on the students but to no avail. Moreover, demonstrators in turn were equally relentless and would not stop their attacks whether in defense or pure rage against the police. So the battle went on for two and a half hours, and more or less ended at about 8:30 p.m.

By then, scores had been wounded, many seriously. The Philippine General Hospital alone recorded 41 victims. Many more wounded must have gone home to nurse their wounds privately. The police place their casualties at 72 injures and those of the demonstrators at 300. Property damaged included two cars one belonged to Senator Roy, a fire truck, two police jeeps and other vehicles, the iron fence around the flagpole fronting Congress and several crash helmets according to police.

What was not known on that unhappy night of the 26th was that tragic as it in itself was, it was to be only the prelude to a far more sorrowful tragedy four days later.

Findings and Observations

1. The Committee is inclined to hold that both the NUSP and the NSL cannot be held responsible for the outbreak of violence at the January 26  rally. The rally was up to its official termination shortly before 6:00 p.m. peaceful and orderly. And it was terminated by the NUSP president almost abruptly because he must have sensed the mounting tension among many rallyists which easily could erupt into violence.

2. The more “militant” participants in that rally, do appear to have contributed to the tension which ultimately led to the outbreak of violence. There appears to have been an attempt on their part to project themselves somewhat vigorously on to the scene late that afternoon, when in a diamond formation they replaced the NUSP-NSL members (mostly girl students) from the center portion of the crowd in front of the flagpole. Included in this were militant groups like the Kabataan Makabayan, the Samahan Ng Kabataan Makati, the Malayang Pagkakaisa Ng Kabatang Pilipino, the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. But the Committee is not prepared to find that these groups perpetrated the first acts of violence which set off the disturbance.

3. The trouble actually started–in point of time–minutes or even seconds after the appearance of President Marcos at the portals of Congress after his State of the Nation address. The mock coffin and the mock alligator were passed from hand to hand towards the President. This in itself was not an unlawful act–it being merely a graphic if melodramatic form of expressing an opinion. The fact that both coffin and alligator painted with a dollar sign on its body were tossed back to where they had come from, and that this happened two times, apparently angered the demonstrators which then hurled its placards, including their wooden frames, towards where the President was. But this action may not again have been aggressive in intent, since it must have been obvious to the hurlers that their placards, thrown from such a distance, would not reach or hit the President. Most of them in fact landed on fellow demonstrators standing in front of the throwers. The action was more likely another, but more violent, form of reacting to the throwing back of the coffin and the alligator.

4. But the action was escalated. Bottles, stones and heavier objects began to be hurled as well. However, by this time, the weight of the evidence is that President Marcos had already gone. Who actually began throwing these more lethal objects may never be known. The two possibilities are that they were demonstrators who had lost control of themselves (and this would not have excused or excluded them) or infiltrators planted to discredit the demonstrators’ cause and alienate public sympathy. The Committee is unable to make a definite finding on this point.

5. Whatever the source of the stone and bottle throwing, the fact is well-established that the agents of the law and especially the Manila Police, over-reacted in response to the new situation. An efficient police which wanted to abort, not escalate, an impending riot by a limited number of people (not all the demonstrators were “militant”) would have tried to brave out the storm of sticks and stones, suffered a few injuries to the body (they all wore helmets and many had shields) and waited for the hurlers either to tire or run out of things to throw. (There was no evidence whatever to show that the demonstrators had brought with them a supply of stones. On the contrary Major Paralejas and Lazaro and Capt. Jueco who saw the demonstrators as they came into the area of the rally testified that they did not see the demonstrators carrying stones or weapons except their placards. The President was gone and most of the other dignitaries had either left or were safely inside the Congress building. There was no compelling reason why the stone throwing had to be immediately stopped by, as shall soon be pointed out, such drastic methods as were in fact employed.

6.  By trying to stop it and using brutal methods in the attempt to stop it, the police succeeded only in enraging the demonstrators further, infuriating even those who had until then been peaceful, and so in effect spreading, magnifying and escalating the disturbance.

7.  That they employed brutal methods to “quell” the disturbance is impossible to doubt or deny. The case of the jeepney–full of boys and girls referred to in the statement of facts, is one eloquent piece of incontrovertible piece of evidence. In this particular case several Manila Policemen were involved but one was positively identified (Lt. Estanislao de Leon). The case of the four youths bearing the streamers of the Kabataan Makabayan is likewise indubitably established by the testimony of several witnesses, photographs and television films shown during the hearing. Senator Laurel was in fact still another witness to this incident and in a speech delivered on the floor of the Senate the following day, he declared, “I saw with my own eyes four students who were standing fast, holding the streamers of their organization and, without any provocation on their part, being attacked and beaten up by the police.” Another exhibit is a photograph of another instance of brutality, showing a fallen and obviously helpless demonstrator surrounded by policemen being still beaten by at least one policemen, and probably by the others as well. The policemen shown in the act of swinging his club has been identified as police trainee Enrique David. Unfortunately in spite of efforts of the Committee it could not get any witness to identify the fallen demonstrator. The other policemen appearing in another photograph surrounding the fallen demonstrator have been identified as Trainees Melchor Victoria, Ronaldo Vidal and Luis Natividad.

The case of the 18-year old youth ganged up upon by five policemen, witnessed by Senator Pealez, has already been referred to in the Statement of Facts. So has the case of Mervyn Encanto. Senator Magnolia Antonio was also witness to acts of brutality. Speaking in the Senate the day immediately following the rally, she said, “I stood at the portals of this building and made my observations. Many policemen were just standing, but most of them, were running after the students and hitting them with sticks! I saw one boy lying on the street, and they still kept on beating him.”

8. The law enforcers erred in three important respects when they went on this rampage:

First, they started beating demonstrators indiscriminately i.e., without regard to innocence or guilt or even to sex. This was patently unjust to the innocent and reprehensible conduct towards the gentler sex on the part of men supposed to represent “Manila’ Finest”. But more than that it had the double effect of (1) compelling many of the innocent to fight back either in self-defense or defense of their companions and therefore spreading the disturbance and (2) nullifying whatever deterrent effect the beating might have had because the guilty who saw the innocent being flayed saw no reason to stop their acts of lawlessness–they would be beaten up anyway whether they continued fighting or not.



Second, the methods employed were unquestionably brutal, in no way proportioned to the gravity of the offense committed. The demonstrators were not just being beaten to make them disperse, they were being beaten to hurt them–in obvious rage and vindictiveness. The demonstrators were no longer armed with even stones or sticks when they were being beaten. Some of the demonstrators were heard to plead, “Ayaw ko na”; “Ayaw ko na”; “Suko na ako”; “Suko na kami”. But still the truncheons fell. “Anger”, observes the penologist Sir Walter Moberly (The Ethics of Punishment, p. 67) “will never be a legitimate motive for action, whether it is simply private resentment, or whether it assumes the more special guise of a disinterested moral indignation. Punishment should be inflicted, if at all, not to satisfy a natural impulse but on a reasoned plan, in cold and not in hot blood”. Hot blood alone can fully explain the police action on the night of January 26.


But the most important point, is third, that the police and the Metrocom on that night were punishing, whereas their job is not to mete out punishment–that is the function of the courts – but to enforce the law, to prevent its violation. All they had to do to carry out this mandate was to arrest the offenders and disperse the crowd without flogging them mercilessly and indiscriminately.


To show that they failed in this the Committee has only to quote from the report of Mr. Cresencio Vasquez (whom the MPD, no less, presented as their witness) which appeared in the January 27 issue of the Manila Daily Bulletin:

“The scene was one of savage spectacle as policemen from the anti-riot squads of Manila and Quezon City swung their truncheons almost at everyone who was on the side of the demonstrators.


“They flew into a blind rage, clubbing almost everyone on their path after being hit by flying objects hurled by the demonstrators.”(Underscoring supplied).


This fact is also borne out by the nature of the injuries sustained by the demonstrator-victims who were brought to hospitals for treatment. The list of such victims submitted by the Philippine General Hospital, where most of the injured were treated, clearly shows the preponderance of head and upper body injuries, (contusions, lacerations, bone fractures, hematomas) over injuries to the legs and lower body where the blows should have been directed if the object had merely been to “quell”. Of a total of 36 diagnosed cases of demonstrator victims, 25 were recorded as involving head wounds, four injuries exclusively to the arms, six exclusively to the torso and one exclusively to the legs. The injuries to the arms moreover may well have been inflicted while those arms were attempting to cover the head.


Would a private citizen in the same circumstances not have been right or justified to act as the law enforcers did in this instance–meet force with superior force? Perhaps. But the police are not private citizens. They must understand their role. Their job is to maintain the  peace, to restore order, not to defend their personal rights (except where life or limb are in danger) or assuage their ruffled feelings or offended sense of official authority or dignity.


The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders created by the U.S. President in 1967 had occasion to remark in its final report, that “discipline of the control force is a crucial factor. Officers at the scene of a ghetto disorder are likely to suffer vilification, and to be the targets for rocks or bottles. Nevertheless, police discipline must be sufficiently strong so that an individual officer is not provoked into unilateral action. He must develop sufficient confidence in himself and his fellow officers to avoid panic or the indiscriminate – and inflammatory – use of force that has sometimes occurred in the heat of disorders. Discipline of this sort depends on the leadership of seasoned commanders and the presence in the field of sufficient supervisory officers to make major decisions.” (Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, 1968, pp. 174-175) The Report quotes a training bulletin issued by the Chicago Police Department which may be instructive at this point:

Preventing civil disorders is always easier than suppressing them. The police officer, by disciplining his emotions, recognizing the rights of all citizens and conducting himself in the manner his office demands, can do much to prevent a tension situation from erupting into a serious disturbance.” (p. 173)


“The basic rule, when applying force”, the FBI riot-control manual also quoted in the Report states, “is to use only the minimum force necessary to effectively control the situation. Unwarranted application of force will incite the mob to further violence, as well as kindle seeds of resentment for police that, in turn, could cause a riot to recur. Ill-advised or excessive application of force will not only result in charges of police brutality but also may prolong the disturbance.” (p. 176)


No apter words than those last two sentences can be used to describe what in fact happened on January 26 and its recurrence four days later on January 30.


10. To defend their action, the Manila Police Department invokes the case of U.S. vs. Mojica (42 Phil. 784) wherein the court held that “a police officer, in the performance of his duty, must stand his ground and cannot like a private individual, take refuge in fight; his duty requires him to overcome his opponent. The force which he may exert therefore differs somewhat from that which may ordinarily be offered in self-defense x x x x x a police officer is not required to afford a person attacking him the opportunity for a fair and equal struggle.”


The case does not apply. First of all, we have seen that the police did much more than just “overcome” the opponent on the 26th. The opponent was in numerous cases already pleading “Suko na ako, Ayaw ko na”, but the blows still came.


Moreover, the Court in that case was ruling on the duties of a police officer in respect of a criminal individual, not of an unruly or potentially unruly mass of thousands of people. This is a fundamental point and may in part explain the dismal failure of the MPD and other agents of law enforcement on the 26th. One does not treat a mass of people the way one treats an individual caught committing an offense. The references above to the Report of the U.S. National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders ought to be enough to underscore the radical difference between the two situations–in the one, the law enforcer is on more or less even terms with his opponent and it is his duty to overcome him (although the force employed to overcome the treat or danger posed); in the other he is dealing with a mass and must use the psychology of the mass to avoid the eruption of a riot or if one has erupted, to quell it, and the least wise thing he could do is to try to overcome the opponent not only because that is impossible but because in most cases of this sort, to try to do so is likely only to explode the problem further. The methods required to meet the challenge of a single or a few criminals are apt to be the opposite of those necessary to meet that coming from a restive mass of people. Especially is this so, when we consider that in every concourse of people assembled to protest bitter national issues there are bound to be a few who will want a riot and will perpetrate acts advisedly to spark it off. One of the more obvious ways of doing this is by taunting the police. That is why the U.S. Advisory Commission stresses that “officers at the scene… are likely to suffer vilification, and to be the targets for rocks or bottles. Nevertheless, police discipline must be sufficiently strong so that an individual officer is not provoked into unilateral action”.


11. The police insist that they stuck to a policy of containment until 8:00 p.m. that evening and that only after eight did they resort to “dispersal”. This is difficult to believe because most of the flogging happened well before eight, almost as soon in fact as the President had left a little after six. But whatever the policy, it was wrong for reasons already above-stated. The Committee cannot accept that even a policy of dispersal would allow the police to club people indiscriminately including those who had stopped resisting and lay helpless on the ground.

12. Was the brutal flogging part of instructions given the law enforcers or was it merely due to the sadism of individual officers of the law? The Committee believes it was a combination of both. The proven instances of brutal treatment of the demonstrators were far too many to be isolated cases of individual perverseness. The television films that are now part of the record of this case bring this out vividly and forcefully. There was a pattern. Another disturbing fact is that far too many of the law enforcers bore no nameplates or had them covered, and the further fact that their superiors apparently tolerated this omission despite a long standing agreement between student demonstrators and the Mayor of Manila that the police officers assigned to demonstrations would always carry nameplates prominently. There are many photographs showing policemen without or with hidden nameplates. This too constituted a source or irritation to the students and contributed to the tension. The very fact that nameplates were removed or covered could be taken as an indication of an intent to do wrong.


13. The onus of responsibility for what happened therefore seems to lie more heavily on the authorities themselves rather than on the individual policemen. The impression is unavoidable that most of the policemen felt they were acting under instructions, or enjoyed the implicit approval of their superiors when they went on that rampage. Several senators tried to persuade the Chief of Police himself to stop his men but Chief Tamayo did not seem to feel that his men were doing anything wrong. Not only that, even in the course of this investigation there was an obvious unwillingness on the part of the police to identify fellow policemen photographed in patent acts of brutality.


14. Another critical factor that contributed to the outbreak of trouble may also have been the fact that the law enforcement agencies were conditioned to expect trouble. This is evident from a cursory reading of Operations Plans “PAYAPA” (a misnomer) and “BAGONG BUHAY” in which the demonstrators were designated matter-of-factly as “enemy forces” while the law enforcement agencies were described as “friendly forces” as though war was expected when in fact only a demonstration was about to take place. A demonstration is not a war. It is essentially a peaceful form of protest. People about to wage a war against the civil authority do not publicly announce the fact and they do not proceed to the meeting place, a majority if not all of them unarmed.


The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation describes a demonstration (in its riot control manual) in the following manner:


“A peaceful or lawful demonstration should not be looked upon with disapproval by a police agency, rather, it should be considered as a safety valve possibly serving to prevent riot. The police agency should not countenance violations of law. However, a police agency does not have the right to deny the demonstrator his constitutional rights.” (cited in the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (1968), p. 171). #



Bonus (Rewind) Tracks

5 years before the First Quarter Storm of 1970:

A rally vs the US Bases at Clark led by 26-year old KM leader Jose Maria Sison, 1965