By TONYO CRUZ
The University of the Philippines is set to declare September 21 a Day of Remembrance, in honor of the many people’s scholars who made the supreme sacrifice in the struggle against dictatorship.
UP President Danilo Concepcion is set to formally announce it next week, in a 180-degree turn from his speaking at and participating in the Kabataang Barangay reunion held in the premises of the university. Concepcion has apologized for it. Moreover, he has vowed to take measures to assure the UP community and the nation that he and the university are in no way a part of either historical revisionism that prettifies the ugly, and of the moves towards a new dictatorship under the current dispensation.
Declaring September 21 as a Day of Remembrance is one of those measures. For this, we should be grateful to Concepcion and to UP, and the many who militantly condemned the KB event and who sought to hold Concepcion accountable.
Apart from the declaration of a Day of Remembrance, the University Council of UP Diliman has called on the faculty, students and other constituents to join the United People’s Action Against Dictatorship set for September 21, at the Luneta.
Rival student formations have also come together to sign a statement, agreeing to unite for the cause of defeating a new dictatorship.
September 21 should forever be etched in our minds as a day of infamy. On this date in 1972, a self-proclaimed savior stole the powers of government, padlocked Congress, closed down the press, arrested its perceived foes, and unveiled a dictatorship to hide its plunder, incompetence, treason, and favoritism. The adverse effects continue to be felt to this day, when a new savior seeks a new tyranny.
We should remember September 21 not only because it depths of greed and contempt for us all that a president may bring himself to. More importantly, we should remember the many nameless and faceless people who slowly but surely rose up to resist and challenge the dictator.
For instance, we should honor the La Tondena workers who broke the dictatorship’s “manufactured” peace and quiet in a daring and successful strike — the first-ever under the watch of the tyrant. We should honor the student boycotts that led to the restoration of student councils, newspapers, and organizations in colleges and universities nationwide, and the campaign against tuition fee increases that led to the formation of the League of Filipino Students. We should honor the overseas patriots who spread the word about our people’s struggle against tyranny among those who were willing to listen, and who helped support the fight here at home.
We only have a few monuments to our tens of thousands of the best and brightest freedom-fighters. The most expansive is a laudable private initiative called Bantayog ng mga Bayani.
Official monuments tend to highlight only the icons while they gloss over the nameless and the faceless — the masses of our people whose actions made history possible. Perhaps in the cold, cynical calculation of those who set up those monuments, the Philippines cannot afford to lionize its own people and the heroes that come from their ranks because it would mean stealing the limelight from the elite few who have been canonized by the system as safe saints of struggle.
Little did they know that their few saints of struggle are not omnipotent. In the scheme of things under our corrupt system, other poser saints and anti-saints can rise up or get resurrected, no thanks to the elite’s predilection to political accommodation and from their culture of impunity. And so today, we see these other poser saints and anti-saints in power or seeking to restore themselves in power.
President Duterte has not been able to hide his fear of the upcoming United People’s Action against Dictatorship on September 21 at the Luneta. In a transparent display of insecurity, he has accused the political opposition and the communists of conspiring to oust him from power.
Duterte has done this exact same thing last year, remember. Faced with the prospect of seeing tens of thousands of people demonstrating against him, Duterte through his defense secretary warned against “impending violence” and other gossip. They even tried to boot out the Movement Against Tyranny from holding the rally at Luneta.
The difference now is that Duterte is politically weaker compared to last year. His supermajority in Congress in now under the control of a “co-president,” after his partymate was shamefully removed a few hours before Duterte was to deliver his SONA. He presides over the highest inflation rates in the last nine years, and is rightly viewed by the public as the author of high prices and new and higher taxes. His trust ratings have gone down. Even after he presided over the killings of 20,000 Filipinos, Duterte has failed to stop and arrest the biggest drug syndicates. Many elements in the AFP and PNP are said to be suspicious of his relations with China and his surrender of the national territory. Duterte has also failed to deceive the CPP-NPA-NDF into surrendering and capitulating to his regime. The Bangsamoro people are furious over the sellout of the land in the islamic city of Marawi in favor of the oligarchs and their foreign partners.
Would the people be more scared this 2018, and be dissuaded by Duterte’s insecure and tired bombasts?
Be part of the answer to this question on September 21. Come out with your friends and family. Make your own placards and let them say what you want to say about the state of the nation. Bring out photos of our heroes and martyrs. We have a president to teach about the dead-end of tyranny and dictatorship.
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