Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant
By KENJI MATSUURA
Daily Manila Shimbun
This is the Daily Manila Shimbun, Japanese newspaper. My name is Kenji Matsuura, Japanese reporter. I would like to ask you about the NPA and THPAL-Sumitomo in Surigao del Norte.
I went to Claver Surigao del Norte from October 4 to 6 and I saw the destroyed environment and low-wage workers in that place. The wages of mining workers I interviewed were about P250 a day. The residents told me that they could not send their children to school because of poverty.
But I still have further questions. I wish to know more. Would you answer the following questions?
Answer: Yes. I will answer your questions as much as I can on the basis of the knowledge that I have as the chief political consultant of the NDF in peace negotiations with the Manila-based reactionary government (GPH).
Why was THPAL-Sumitomo attacked by the NPA? Of course I have already read the NDF-Northeast Mindanao statement of October 4. But I wish to know more.
Answer: I think that the October 4 statement of NDF is quite adequate and authoritative in giving the reasons for the NPA punitive action against THPAL-Sumitomo. This huge
Tag-anito High-Pressure Acid Leaching Plant (THPAL), owned chiefly by the Sumitomo Mining Corporation, collaborates with the Nickel Asia Corporation which digs up and destroys extensive areas. The rapid extraction and exportation of mineral ores constitute imperialist plunder and deprive the Philippines of future industrial development.
The THPAL is extremely harmful to the health and livelihood of the indigenous people and more people further downstream. It destroys the environment, agriculture and other means of livelihood. It uses massive quantities of sulfuric acid, which is highly toxic to the people and the environment. It also uses a coal-fired plant that spews out tons upon tons of highly toxic fumes into the atmosphere. It processes millions of tons of low-grade nickel ore from different mines in four provinces of Caraga, while the high grade nickel ore is immediately exported.
The indiscriminate mining operations are aggravating the deforestation of Mindanao and resulting in massive soil erosion, river siltation and poisoning of the fields. They contribute greatly to the flash floods that are currently devastating large areas of Mindanao, including the death and disappearance of so many people, the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people and the destruction of homes, social infrastructure, agriculture and other means of livelihood.
The mining operations employ only a few local people who are contracted in a series of short-term employment and receive extremely low wages. They extract huge amounts of mineral ore worth many billions of dollars and yet pay only a few million pesos to the reactionary government. The main beneficiaries are the imperialist countries and monopoly firms, the big compradors and the corrupt bureaucrats. After the plunder of the environment, the people are left in more widespread and deeper misery and are deprived of a future in industrial development.
Is the attack on the THPAL-Sumitomo unrelated to revolutionary taxation?
Answer: The highest levels of leadership in the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines have publicly made clear that logging and mining for export are totally banned and that they are therefore beyond the scope of taxation by the people’s revolutionary government. Thus, NPA offensives are being carried out to dismantle or destroy the mining operations of imperialist and big comprador firms, especially those most destructive to the environment. You can confirm my observation from the most recent public declarations of the CPP and NDFP.
Does NPA receive revolutionary tax in general?
Answer: Since the beginning of the revolutionary movement, the NPA has been the tax enforcement agency of the people’s revolutionary government. The tax collected by the NPA and other tax collection agents is for the purpose of financing mainly the economic and social programs of the revolutionary movement (including production, land reform, health care, education and cultural activities) and secondarily for administration and defense.
Why do residents or the local people join NPA?
Answer: The residents or local people join the NPA because they regard it as their own army, defending them against the reactionary government and its military and police forces and against the foreign and domestic exploiters, organizing and mobilizing the people to defend their own rights and interests and assisting them in every possible way. The best sons and daughters of the people join the NPA because they consider it as the main weapon of the people for carrying out the new democratic revolution through protracted people’s war.
How do NPA recruit residents for the revolutionary mass movement and for the NPA in particular?
Answer: First, the NPA does social investigation in order to apply the general line of people’s democratic revolution on the concrete local conditions of the people. Second, it conducts grievance meetings for the people to express themselves against the oppressors and exploiters. Third, it builds the local organs of political power and the mass organizations of peasants, workers, youth, women, children and cultural activists. Fourth, it recruits the best sons and daughters of the people for the full-time units of the NPA as well trains as its reserve and auxiliary forces the people’s militia and the self-defense units of the mass organizations.
What do NPA do usually everyday?
Answer: The NPA engages in the politico-military training of its own full-time units, the people’s militia and the self-defense units. It engages in mass work, especially building the local organs of political power and the mass organizations of various types. It undertakes production for its own needs and for the needs of others. It carries out health work, educational and cultural activities for the people. It discovers and creates the conditions for launching tactical offensives against its enemy in order to get more arms and build more NPA units.
How many NPA members are in the Philippines now?
Answer: The revolutionary leadership and the NPA national operational command do not issue figures about the number of Red fighters. But many people try to extrapolate figures from the publicly known number of guerrilla fronts, which is 120, by multiplying this with 50 to 120 Red fighters, depending on the estimated level of development of the guerrilla front.
Thus, guesstimates have ranged from a minimum of 6000 to a maximum of 14,400.
Certainly, the reactionary armed forces and police are wrong in claiming that they have chopped down the NPA from 25,000 in 1986 to only 4,000 in 2011. In fact, the automatic rifle strength of the NPA was only 6,100 in 1986. But of course, in the past and at present, the strength of the full-time NPA units has been augmented by tens of thousands in the people’s miliitia and hundreds of thousands in the self-defense units of the mass organizations.
How many NPA members are in Surigao del Norte now?
Answer: I do not know the exact number. They keep on increasing. Everytime the military and police forces of their enemy unleash campaigns of military suppression, with such signboards as “peace and development operations” under Oplan Bayanihan, the NPA commands and units of Surigao del Norte and the whole Caraga region seize the initiative by flexibly using guerrilla tactics and launch their own tactical offensives to annihilate the enemy and increase their weapons.
Are NPA members in Surigao del Norte a lot, compared to other provinces?
Answer: Based on their well-known tactical offensives and victories, I estimate that the NPA Red commanders and fighters in Surigao del Norte are relatively big in number and are a major part of the NPA on a nationwide scale. The scale of operations against the three big mining companies last October indicates the strength of the NPA in the province. But of course the armed strength of the NPA is also augmented by the people’s militia, self-defense units and the people in general.