Diliman Commune

The Diliman Commune. (Photo from arkibongbayan.org. All rights reserved.)

The Diliman Commune is an uprising led by students, faculty members and residents of the University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD), together with transport workers, on February 1-9, 1971, in protest of the three centavo increase in oil prices during the Marcos administration. The historic protest action was led by the UPD Student Council, the Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan (Democratic Association of the Youth, or SDK) and various fraternities, student organizations, faculty unions and community organizations.

Events

In January 1971, weekly protests (marked by barricades and rallies) were held by students in response to the rising price of fuel, which was ignored by the Philippine government during that time. On 1 February 1971, protesting transport workers joined the UPD community at the UPD campus to form a massive barricade that led to the disruption of classes and the entry of government forces in the campus. During that day, mathematics professor Inocentes Campos opened fire to the barricading students after his failed attempt to enter the campus. During the melee, 17-year-old freshman Pastor Mesina of the SDK was badly hit and died three days later. Campos' car was subsequently burned by the students.

In February 3, then UP president Salvador P. Lopez talked with the protesting students in a dialogue. According to documented accounts, Lopez attempted to pacify the students, saying, "You better be more resilient! I'm losing my job!” to which the students replied, "You're just thinking about your position… we're losing our lives!” During that day, the dean of the defunct College of Arts and Science Cesar Majul joined the Commune.

In February 4, protesting students from the Institute of Mass Communication (presently the College of Mass Communication) took over the DZUP and named it as the "Malayang Radyo ng Diliman" (Free Radio of Diliman). The radio station reported blow-by-blow updates of the Commune, as well as progressive propaganda. Also during that day, then senator Eva Kalaw visited the barricade and gave food to the students. However, some radical students reportedly badmouthed her for wearing expensive jewelry and accessories. Mesina, meanwhile, died later that day.

In February 5, the radical students took over the UP Press and published two issues of Bandilang Pula (Red Banner), a radical publication printed during the Commune. In its first issue, the radicals, through Bandilang Pula, declared the UPD Campus as the "Malayang Komunidad ng Diliman" (Democratic Diliman Commune) and named then UPD Student Council chair Ericson Baculinao as the head of the "provisional directorate" that will oversee the Commune's affairs. The buildings in the campus were also renamed after the names of Filipino national democratic leaders like Jose Maria Sison and Bernabe Buscayno.

From February 6 to 9, tension heightened as the Philippine Constabulary (predecessor of the Philippine National Police) and the UP Police barged in the campus and arrested a number of students and protesters. The Diliman Commune was neutralized by government forces in February 9.

The Diliman Commune left one student dead while four students, one employee and five security guards were wounded. P94,820 worth of facilities and equipment were reportedly damaged.

Legacy

The Diliman Commune is hailed as the first ever display of mass resistance from the UPD community and the first student action after the First Quarter Storm. The protest action, which started as a solidarity rally with the transport sector, developed into a show of defiance against the Philippine government with the students declaring an "independent commune" inside the campus at the height of the uprising. The UPD Student Council on 13 February 1971 commended Mesina, the students, faculty members and residents who joined in the Commune.

At the 35th anniversary of the Commune in 2006, a marker commemorating the Diliman Commune was built at the University Avenue in UP Diliman on the spot were Mesina fell. In November 2008, Mesina's name was enshrined at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Wall of Remembrance.

On the other hand, the government and conservative groups described the Diliman Commune as "anarchic" and that it resulted to "disorder and confusion, attended by vandalism and violence."

References

Original content from WikiPilipinas. under GNU Free Documentation License.