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“Spontaneous” demonstrations, editorial for March 5, 1949

PHILIPPINES FREE PRESS EDITORIAL
March 5, 1949

“SPONTANEOUS” DEMONSTRATIONS

One man, observing the demonstration last Saturday night at Plaza Miranda, Manila, by students from the different universities and colleges of Manila and members of labor organizations and venders associations, estimated at more than 20,000, wondered how decent men and women could declare themselves for a man who represented all that is iniquitous in the government. For the object of the “spontaneous” demonstration, the man in whose defense the rally was held, was none other than Jose Avelino.

Yes, Jose Avelino, the same man who had taxed the President of their country with not covering up, or at least tolerating, abuses and anomalies by party men in the government, who would led a gang of unprincipled men rob the people at will—with impunity. Yes, the same Jose Avelino, who while in office amassed riches he had yet to explain. The very same man who, while invoking the Constitution in his need, had trampled on it in the past, denying to others the right to speak which be now claimed. The one and the same person who, crying for due process of law, had allegedly secretly sought to destroy that process by dictating, or attempting to dictate, to the courts.

It was in “honor” of this man that the demonstration was held. Shocking indictment of the sense of probity of the people of the capital! But there had been such demonstrations in the past, equally impressive and just as “spontaneous.” Who has not read of demonstrations hailing the arrival of some official from abroad—demonstrations by meek and subservient government employees who must be present, or else! No doubt there were those sincerely “for” Avelino in that mob in Plaza Miranda last week for in the past Avelino had dispensed favors liberally, if not illegally. And there were those present out of curiosity. And if students hailed Avelino’s name during that rally, it should also be recalled that students in a “homecoming” at Avelino’s alma mater, the Ateneo de Manila, had booed his name.

And, of course, one remembers the demonstrations for the cruelest oppressors of the Filipino people in history, who had robbed, murdered and raped for three terrible years: the Japanese. Those demonstrations, by the reports in the papers then in circulation, were “spontaneous,” too.