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Philippines: Mark the 50th anniversary of the Diliman Commune

By staff |
January 31, 2021
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Fight Back New Service is circulating the following February 1 statement from the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Today we mark the 50th anniversary of the Diliman Commune, a 9-day uprising of the students of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. The Diliman Commune was part of the widespread strikes and protest actions against oil price increases, imperialist control of the economy and police brutality under the Marcos regime.

The student uprising was part of the continuum of the surging national democratic mass movement of students and workers from the previous decade. It broke out one year after the First Quarter Storm of 1970 which saw tens of thousands marching on the streets clamoring for an end to imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism and seeking revolutionary change.

The uprising was sparked by police repression against students who took to the streets to join workers and drivers to protest oil price increases and denounce imperialist control of the economy. From February 1 to 9, students of UP Diliman formed barricades, occupied university buildings and dormitories, took control of the local radio station and printing press, mounted mass teach-ins and built mass organizations.

They fought police and military forces and helicopters with militant protests, barricades and molotov cocktails. Marcos relented the fascist assaults and gave the university the "responsibility" to administer campus affairs, thereby earning the students and the UP community victory for academic freedom.

While pressing with the people's economic demands, university students carried out a cultural revolution within the campus. They aired revolutionary songs over radio and issued written declarations espousing national democracy. They studied revolutionary theory, promoted the leadership of the working class, and rallied the pettybourgeoisie and peasantry under the banner of the people's democratic revolution. They called on the broad masses to join and support the revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside.

The university students mounted the uprising knowing fully the limitations of their power, that social revolution cannot be attained by their actions alone. They would lift their barricades and end the commune with a clear view of the revolutionary path.

Scores upon scores who took part in the Diliman Commune and hundreds more from the surge of the national democratic student movement would march to the countryside to join the New People's Army. They served as commanders and political instructors of the people's army and take direct part in the revolutionary armed struggle. Many still linked up with the workers movement and helped build unions.

Veterans of the upsurge of the national democratic student movement in the 1960s and early 1970s were among the most resilient fighters for freedom and democracy against the US-Marcos dictatorship and would dedicate the rest of their lives to the people's democratic revolution. A number of them remains active in the revolutionary underground as well as in the legal democratic movement.

Inspired by their example, succeeding generations of students would take the national democratic path of militant struggle. Together with the workers strike movement, the student protest movement would resurge in the mid-1970s and shatter the Marcos dictatorship's reign of terror and mount sustained mass protest actions until the ouster of Marcos in 1986. Over the past three decades, student protests have surged time and again against rising costs of education, US military bases, trade liberalization, government corruption, against the return of the Marcoses, and other people's issues. The student protest movement continues to be a steady source of patriotic and democratic forces as well as revolutionary armed fighters of the people's army.

Drawing lessons from the Diliman Commune at this time is doubly significant after the Department of National Defense (DND) unilaterally abrogated the 1989 UP-DND accord which safeguarded student and academic freedoms by prohibiting the intimidating and repressive presence of the military in the UP campuses. The Duterte fascist regime is using anticommunism to pursue its evil aim of taking away the students’ hard-won freedoms and place UP and other university campuses under his tyranny. The ultimate aim is preventing students from linking up with the broad masses of workers and peasants and performing their historical role in social movements and people's revolution.

Let us mark the 50th anniversary of the Diliman Commune by reaffirming the people's national democratic cause and the struggle against the Duterte's fascist regime. The national democratic student movement must continue to arouse, organize and mobilize the student masses in order to advance their welfare and democratic rights, fight for a nationalist, scientific and mass-oriented educational system and unite with the Filipino people in their patriotic and democratic mass struggles.

The students must never tire of exposing imperialism as the principal enemy of the Filipino people--the big foreign monopoly capitalist corporations, the IMF-WB-ADB and other creditors and credit rating agencies, the US and Chinese government and their militaries. It is the imperialists, in connivance with the local reactionary classes of big bourgeois compradors and landlords who exploit Filipino cheap labor, plunder the country's minerals and natural resources, dump surplus products to the detriment of local industry and agriculture, keep the country backward and reliant on foreign capital and loans and trample on the country's sovereignty through political interference and military domination.

The national democratic student movement must continue to serve as the indefatigable voice of the Filipino people's resistance, exposing the rotten semicolonial and semifeudal system and waving the red banner of national democracy.

Let us reaffirm the Filipino people's struggle for national liberation and social justice as we also mark 500 years of colonialism and resistance. Starting April 27, the day that Datu Lapu-Lapu defeated the Magellan-led contingent of Spanish colonial forces, let us celebrate the Filipino people's five centuries of valiant struggle against foreign aggression and neocolonial subjugation.

The Filipino proletariat and people also mark this year the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, which was also one of the sources of inspiration of the Diliman Commune. The Paris Commune was the first successful working class government in history which, despite being short-lived, proved in practice the necessity for the working class to seize and wield state power in order to effect the revolutionary transformation of society and establish socialism.

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