Compulsory Public Service, Compulsory Social Change – Manila Bulletin



Tonyo Cruz

The greatest legacy of the storm of the first quarter of 1970 is the idea that young people have roles to play in the country beyond what is considered normal or acceptable. It broadened the democratic horizon for us.

Remembering this event and its effects on Filipino politics is important now as historical revisionism propels a restoration of Marcos and amid calls for compulsory military service for Filipinos 18 and older.

Prior to the events of January 26 to March 17, 1970, society imposed on young Filipinos a regime of focusing on studies and work, and leaving politics solely to the politicians.

Because of these events 52 years ago this week, the youth and the rest of the Filipino people rediscovered their sense of agency and realized that, to be genuine and substantial, democracy must be a drudgery not only shared by all, but led by and beneficial to the majority, mainly laborers and farmers.

Because of the historic FQS, mainstream politicians can no longer just pretend to be Democrats. The many organizations and movements born or transformed by the FQS began to hold them higher than the lowest of lows set by mainstream politicians themselves.

“Serve the people” was the refreshing call of the FQS. Do not serve government, business, church or the military. People have long been told to serve these institutions which, tragically, do not serve them in return.

For a nation starving for the direct attention of its intellectuals and educated, it was a pleasant and welcome surprise. Never did they expect to see students from the best schools in the country, as well as engineers, architects, scientists, doctors, nurses, writers, scholars and other professionals come humbly to their communities and Their houses. They started with literacy, numeracy, basic health and sanitation. Later, visitors would learn from their hosts about agriculture, forestry and local culture. Together, they built citizens’ movements there committed to social reform and social change.

Also before the FQS, every social problem was attributed only to “corruption and corruption”. FQS changemakers have carefully studied the history and social realities of the Philippines and have singled out imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism as the three fundamental evils that afflict the nation and prevent us from achieving meaningful progress. Politically aware workers, farmers and educated people produced a national and democratic program that outlined what needed to be done to free the country from the shackles of foreign powers and national enemies who know nothing but to live on the backs of the poor. .

For traditional politicians, it is pure poison for their dreams of holding power perpetually and without democratic opposition. For any budding dictator, it’s an abomination. If the poor and the middle class would ever unite in a common cause, their days of duplicity, exploitation and outright terror could be over.

It was therefore not surprising that the new dictator blamed the agents of change themselves as one of the main reasons for placing the country under martial law in 1972. A very conscious movement committed to full democratization does not can only be described as the main enemy of a dictatorship.

The “formerly young people” of 1970, and the young people of 2022 can unite around the teachings of the FQS. Militarily, what we need is to defend and preserve the sovereignty of the Philippines against an invading foreign power. Militarily, too, we must demilitarize the bureaucracy, remove all retired generals who have been appointed to various sensitive positions but have been found to be corrupt or incompetent, and replace them with the truly best and brightest. Additionally, we must hold accountable those involved in extrajudicial executions and red markings. Politically, we need a patriotic, democratic, competent and good leader, especially now that we face the prospect of a Marcos restoration. Politically, too, we must finally confront the “three fundamental evils” that have brought us to where we are today.

Compulsory military service is not a solution to any of our most pressing problems. Instead, we should promote and expand programs encouraging our many educated people to serve in the provinces. Yes, to serve the people. One such program is Doctors To The Barrios, as well as organizations’ “grassroots mainstreaming” initiatives. In this way, we unite cities and provinces, educate our young people on the concrete situation, bridge the gap between the privileged and the poor and inspire the country to achieve national democracy.




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