QUESTION EVERYTHING / The problem with Jose Maria Sison

Introduction to the book “Strengthen the People’s Struggle against Imperialism and Reaction” read last February 8, 2019 at UP Diliman, Solair

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator

By Mong Palatino | Bulatlat.com | Pilipino
14 February 2019

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he has set a high standard on how to analyze the political conditions in the country. After reading his works, his comprehensive and sharp grasp of politics will be impressed upon you. As activists, we read and evaluate what many people, including what we call intellectuals and political analysts, say. Many of them can weave events intelligently, armed with diverse data, and advance interesting discourses. But the message seems lacking, it does not directly hit the totality nor emphasize what is to be done. In other words, unlike how Jose Maria Sison through his writings, breaks the dominant narrative and as importantly offers the progressive alternative.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he shows it is possible to be a theorist without being complicated. Some critics say that Jose Maria Sison’s formulations are simplistic. Perhaps simple, yes; but simplistic, no. The pull of his thinking is deep and the view he puts forward are based on theory. But his articulation of points is easily understood even by ordinary readers who are not familiar with the language of the academe. Thus, we can say that his method is effective. It is now fashionable to let go of needless things or what is called decluttering which was made trendy by one called #KonMari. But it is not #KonMari but the example of #Jose Mari which can be our guide. That in writing we should discard too much flowery words and avoid analyses that create confusion instead of clarifying the issues. We write to arouse, organize and mobilize.  #KonMari says spark joy. #JoseMari says, spark a revolution.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that his teaching is consistent since 1960s to the present. According to his critics, the writings of Jose Maria Sison are repetitive. True, the flow of his fundamental arguments does not change. But the essence of things does not change. Our situation then holds true in the present. Even some scholars just added garnishing to their writings and incorporated postmodern views but the content is just hot air. It is easy for Jose Maria Sison to do what politicians and other apologists of the system do who constantly change and waver on their understanding of events in the country; but if the books of Jose Maria Sison are the basis, he chose to focus on the truth and divulge the rottenness of the system. It is also not true that his writings are repetitive. His arguments are anchored on particular and concrete situation, on the revolving and turning of situations, on the possibility of acceleration or remolding of the people struggling. He continues to condemn the imperialism he analyzed during 1960s but is focused on the particular political objective which is different then and now. Perhaps in the past, the analysis of imperialism was in the framework of how to serve the rectification campaign; today, it is on how to further strengthen the mass movement and create resurgence.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that his voice and intervention are being sought as a counter to the attacks of Rodrigo Duterte. Aside from Duterte being his former student, his blows are thrashings and are effective antidote to the poison spread by the president and Malacanang (presidential palace). Therefore, he is able to expose the posturing and lies of the regime. He easily connects the current crisis to the widespread scandals and how these should be challenged by the movement for liberation.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is he clarified the correctness of the struggle even in times when there was no open threat of a dictatorship in the country. Duterte had no pretension that he is a dictator, pro-Marcos and a criminal. But his predecessor pretended to be democratic and respectful of human rights. Is the national democratic line of struggle still reasonable in times when there is supposedly space for progressive forces in molding democracy in the country?

In this book which contains the articles he wrote in 2014 and 2015, Jose Maria Sison referred to the continuing existence of a system that is anti-worker, anti-peasant and anti-poor. As chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Jose Maria Sison studied the relation of countries, the contradictions in a capitalist system, and the effect on the country’s politics.  That is why it is a good guide to further understand the events today in Venezuela, the pivot to Asia of the United States, the rise of China as a superpower, the peace process, a summary of the history of the country’s protracted struggle, and other manifestation of the economic crisis.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that now more than ever his works are weapons of the people against reaction and a guide to the continuing revolution in the country.

The problem with Jose Maria Sison is that he will continue to be hated by the ruling class. And this book, together with the other books being launched today, is a testimony to why to date and even at the age of 80, he continues to be a pillar and an essential voice of the revolution in the Philippines.


QUESTION EVERYTHING / Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison

Mong Palatino is a Filipino activist and former legislator

Ni Mong Palatino | Bulatlat.com

Introduksiyon sa aklat na ‘Strengthen the People’s Struggle against Imperialism and Reaction’ na binasa noong Pebrero 8, 2019, UP Diliman, Solair

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay naglatag siya ng mataas na pamantayan kung paano suriin ang pulitikal na kalagayan ng bansa. Pagkatapos mo siyang basahin, tatatak sa iyo ang kanyang kumprehensibo at matalas na gagap sa pulitika. Bilang mga aktibista, binabasa at inaalam natin ang sinasabi ng maraming tao, kabilang ang mga tinatawag nating intelektuwal at political analyst. Marami sa kanila ay may matalinong paghahabi ng mga pangyayari, armado ng samu’t saring datos, at interesante ang sinusulong na diskurso. Pero parang kulang ang mensahe, parang hindi natutumbok ang kabuuan at hindi nadidiin kung ano ang dapat gawin. Sa madaling salita, hindi sila tulad ni Jose Maria Sison na kung paano sa kanyang mga sulatin ay binabasag ang dominanteng naratibo at kasing halaga nito’y naghahain ng progresibong alternatibo.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay pinakita niya na posible ang maging teorista nang hindi kailangang maging kumplikado. Sabi ng ilang kritiko, simplistiko ang mga pormulasyon ni Jose Maria Sison. Maaaring simple, oo; pero simplistiko, hindi. Dahil malalim ang hugot ng kanyang pag-iisip at nakabatay sa teorya ang kanyang inaabanteng pananaw. Pero ang artikulasyon ng mga punto ay madaling maunawaan kahit ng mga karaniwang mamababasa na hindi pamilyar sa wika ng akademya. Kaya masasabing mabisa ang kanyang paraan. Uso ngayon ang pagbabawas ng mga bagay na hindi natin kailangan (decluttering) na pinasikat ng tinatawag na #KonMari. Pero hindi si #KonMari kundi ang ehemplo ni #JoseMari ang pwede nating gabay. Na sa pagsusulat ay winawaksi ang sobra-sobrang mabulaklaking mga salita at iniiwasan ang mga pagsusuring lumilika ng kalituhan sa halip na makapaglinaw ng mga usapin. Sumulat upang magpukaw, makapag-organisa, at magpakilos. Sabi ni #KonMari, spark joy. Ayon naman kay #JoseMari, spark a revolution.

Photo by Kodao Productions

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay consistent ang kanyang tinuturo mula dekada sisenta hanggang sa kasalukuyan. Sabi ulit ng ilang kritiko, paulit-ulit na lang ang mga sinusulat ni Jose Maria Sison. Totoo, ang daloy ng kanyang mga pundamental na argumento ay hindi nagbago. Subalit ang esensiya naman ng mga bagay-bagay ay hindi rin naman nagbago. Ang sitwasyon natin noon ay totoo pa rin para sa kasalukuyan. Kahit naman yung ilang mga iskolar ay naglagay lang ng palamuti sa kanilang mga sinusulat at nilangkapan ng mga postmodernistang tingin pero ang laman naman ay ampaw. Madaling gawin ni Jose Maria Sison ang ginagawa ng mga pulitiko at iba pang apologist ng sistema na pabagu-bago at urung-sulong ang pag-unawa sa nangyayari sa bansa; pero kung ang mga aklat ni Jose Maria Sison ang batayan, mas pinili niyang tukuyin ang katotohanan at isiwalat ang kabulukan ng sistema. At hindi rin naman totoong paulit-ulit ang kanyang mga sinusulat. Nakaangkla ang kanyang argumento sa partikular at kongkretong kalagayan, sa umiinog at pumipihit na sitwasyon, sa mga posibilidad na pwedeng pabilisin o hulmahin ng mga taong lumalaban. Ang imperyalismong kanyang sinuri noong 1960s ay patuloy niyang kinukundena ngayon subalit nakatuon sa partikular na layuning pampulitika na magkaiba noon at ngayon. Maaaring noon, ang suri sa imperyalismo ay nasa balangkas kung paano magsilbi sa kampanyang rektipikasyon; at ngayon naman ay kung paano higit na palakasin (resurgence) ang kilusang masa.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay hinahanap ang kanyang boses at interbensiyon bilang pantapat sa mga atake ni Rodrigo Duterte. Bukod sa dati niyang estudyante si Digong, humahataw ang kanyang mga banat at epektibong antidote ito sa mga lasong pinapakalat ng pangulo at ng Malakanyang. Kaya niyang hubaran ang mga pagpopostura’t kasinungalingan ng rehimen. Madali niyang nauugnay ang krisis ng kasalukuyan sa mga sumusulpot na iskandalo at kung paano dapat ito hamunin ng kilusang mapagpalaya.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay nilinaw niya ang kawastuhan ng pakikibaka kahit sa panahong walang lantarang banta ng diktadurya sa bansa. Si Duterte, walang pagpapanggap na siya ay diktador, maka-Marcos, at kriminal. Pero ang kanyang sinundan ay nagpakilalang demokratiko at kumikilala sa karapatang pantao. Makatwiran pa ba ang pambansang demokratikong linya ng pakikibaka sa panahong may espasyo diumano ang mga progresibong pwersa sa paghubog ng demokrasya sa bansa? Sa librong ito na naglalaman ng mga artikulong sinulat noong 2014 at 2015, tinukoy ni Jose Maria Sison ang patuloy na pag-iral ng isang sistemang kontra-manggagawa, kontra-magsasaka, at kontra-maralita. Bilang tagapangulo ng International League of Peoples’ Struggle, inaral ni Jose Maria Sison ang relasyon ng mga bansa, ang mga kontradiksiyon sa sistema ng kapitalismo, at ang epekto nito sa pulitika ng bansa. Kaya mainam itong gabay upang higit na maunawaan ang nangyayari ngayon sa Venezuela, ang pivot to Asia ng Estados Unidos, ang pag-angat ng Tsina bilang superpower, ang dinaanang proseso ng usapang pangkapayapaan, ang buod ng kasaysayan ng mahabang pakikibaka sa bansa, at ang iba’t ibang manipestasyon ng krisis sa ekonomiya.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison, ngayon higit kailanman, ang kanyang mga sulatin ay sandata ng mamamayan laban sa reaksyon at gabay sa pagpapatuloy ng rebolusyon sa bansa.

Ang problema kay Jose Maria Sison ay patuloy siyang kinamumuhian ng naghaharing uri. At ang librong ito, kasama ang iba pang inilulunsad sa araw na ito, ay patunay kung bakit hanggang sa kasalukuyan at kahit sa edad na 80, siya ay nananatiling isang haligi at mahalagang boses ng rebolusyon sa Pilipinas.

ON THE BOMBING OF THE CATHOLIC CATHEDRAL IN JOLO CITY

Comment by Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
January 29, 2019

First of all, I wish to express most heartfelt sympathy to those killed and wounded in the bombing of the Catholic Cathedral in Jolo City and to all their families and friends. As a matter of principle, I condemn the bombing as an act of terrorism directed against civilians and a place of worship. 

I agree with the Catholic clergy and laity and other people on holding Duterte responsible for inciting the violence against the Catholic Church. This tyrant has called on his followers to kill and rob the bishops whom he has maligned as useless and do nothing else but enrich themselves.

The local authorities and the people of Jolo have observed that the military minions of Duterte have been tightly guarding the Cathedral for a long time under conditions of martial law. They are surprised how the bombers were able to penetrate the military cordon. 

Whoever did the bombing, Duterte will seek to benefit from the terrorist act again by using it as an excuse for further prolonging martial law in Mindanao or even for proclaiming it nationwide or worst of all, for amending the Human Security Act to make it an instrument of state terrorism far worse than martial law.

In line with his violent personality, Duterte will call for more measures of state terrorism under martial law and be oblivious to the fact that martial law failed to stop the bombing. Martial law has been violative of human rights and has served to facilitate state terrorism as well as to embolden the terrorism of the US CIA-created Islamic State and other groups that physically attack civilians..###

Duterte sets the stage for bigger war in Bangsamoro

Comment by Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
January 20, 2019

The MILF seems to be satisfied with the BOL. But many people and forces in Bangsamoro are resolutely and vigorously opposed to it. They call it BOL-shit. 

Those prominently opposed include the MNLF under the leadership of Nur Misuari, several sultans and government officials from the level of governor to mayor in Sulu, Lanao and Maguindanao provinces. 

Both the governor and sultan of Sulu are openly and strongly against the BOL. The former filed before the Supreme Court the petition to freeze the plebiscite on BOL on constitutional grounds. Even Duterte did a double face or had no choice in acquiescing to the filing of the petition.

Thousands of MNLF followers in red shirts and Cotabato city officials made it a point to demonstrate at city hall to counter Duterte’s presence and campaign for BOL in the vicinity. In Maguindanao, the BIFF and other forces do not agree with MILF’s collaboration with Duterte on BOL. 

Duterte presumes wrongly that the Maranaws are in his pocket. Despite his claims to being a Maranaw, he is now hated by the Maranaws for destroying Marawi City, failing to make prompt rehabilitation and preventing the residents from returning to their homes and livelihood.

Duterte is quite heavy-handed and yet so sloppy in failing to offer satisfactory terms and secure the agreement of those strongly opposing the BOL. He is railroading the BOL through the plebiscite, under the duress and unfair condition of martial law. 

He is setting the stage for a bigger armed conflict in the Bangsamoro and adjoining areas. The MNLF enjoys the support of the OIC and is angry that previous agreements and arrangements it has made with the Manila government under OIC auspices are being swept away so arbitrarily by Duterte.

The main enemy of the Bangsamoro is still the oppressive Manila government that violates their right to self-determination. What Duterte is doing is to use the BOL to divide and rule the Bangsamoro by making the various Bangsamoro forces fight each other. 

Although Duterte comes from Mindanao, he is in cahoots with the oligarchs of “imperial Manila and Luzon” in subjugating the Bangsamoro and in controlling and plundering their human and natural resources in collaboration with imperialist powers. ###

Peace agreement is more plausible and less costly than for GRP to destroy the revolutionary forces

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
January 10, 2019

On the surface, Duterte’s threat to arm mayors and “every one” (or the public) sounds very offensive to the revolutionary movement. 

In that sense, the revolutionary movement can easily make a riposte that the arms put in the hands of so many people can be ultimately turned against the Duterte regime because of its policies and acts detrimental to the people.

But I also take note of Duterte’s qualification of his threat that he would be willing to go back to peace negotiations on his premise that the revolutionary movement could tone down its offensives against the military and police.

There is some silver lining in his threatening statement: that he is willing to engage in peace negotiations. In this regard, the NDFP is open to exploring whatever opening the GRP is willing to offer.

If peace negotiations between the GRP and the NDFP resume and reach a point where substantial agreements are made, ceasefire can be agreed upon by the two negotiating parties.

In the next three years, it is possible for the GRP and NDFP to make a peace agreement if the Duterte regime is serious and sincere about negotiating and ending its all-out war against the revolutionary forces and the people.

It is even more plausible and less costly for a peace agreement to be made by the two parties than for the GRP to seek in vain the destruction of the revolutionary forces in the next three years. ###

Reset of deadline for scheme to destroy the NPA will surely fail as people’s war will intensify

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
January 9, 2019

The Duterte regime has reset by three years the deadline for its scheme to destroy the New People’s Army. The scheme will surely fail from day to day, week to week, month to month and from year to year as the NPA will intensify tactical offensives and mass work. The same military and police of the same exploiting classes cannot accomplish in 3 years what they failed to accomplish in 50 years.

In the next three years, Duterte himself will have difficulty surviving politically. These are lameduck years for him, during which infighting among his followers will be debilitating and challenges will rise from within the ruling system as well as from the revolutionary forces. 

Duterte used up his first three years to discredit himself by engaging in treasonous and tyrannical acts, mass murder and mass intimidation, inordinate corruption, economic mismanagement and causing runaway inflation and sell out of sovereign rights in the West Philippine Sea to China.

Were Duterte regime willing to engage sincerely and seriously in peace negotiations with the NDFP to address the roots of the armed conflict and make agreements on social, economic and political reforms, a just peace could be attained in less time than three years and at far less cost in contrast to the enemy’s futile military campaigns that are costly in terms of blood and public money. 

The problem with the Duterte regime is that it thinks peace negotiations are merely for the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces and that the sincerity of the NDFP is merely the willingness to surrender to the unjust ruling system of big compradors, landlords and corrupt bureaucrats like Duterte. 

The demand that the peace negotiations be held in the Philippinines is calculated by the Duterte regime to put the NDFP negotiating panelists, consultants and resource persons under the regime’s surveillance, control, duress and manipulation, reducing the peace negotiations to the status of the fake localized peace talks.###

It is correct for NDFP to be for peace negotiations and expose Duterte’s scheme of fascist dictatorship

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
January 7, 2019

It is correct for NDFP to be ever willing to negotiate peace with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in order to stress the fact that the Duterte regime has been responsible for all-out war since 2016 and for the termination of the peace negotiations since 2017 and has no real intention to engage in these because these would block the Duterte scheme of declaring martial law nationwide, rigging the May 2019 elections if at all held and imposing a fascist dictatorship on the people through charter change to a bogus kind of federalism. 

The burden of proving that Duterte is willing to engage in peace negotiations belongs to him, not the NDFP. He is still engaged in self-contradictory statements like being willing to negotiate but dictating preconditions that render negotiations impossible. He has also to prove that he is in command of his own wits and his own subordinates like Lorenzana because they are increasingly exposing themselves as hypocrites combining a bit of peace pretense and obsession with all-out war against the people and the revolutionary forces.

In any case, the crisis of the already rotten ruling system and the treasonous, tyrannical, brutal and corrupt Duterte regime are generating the favorable conditions for the people’s war for the people’s democratic revolution. Thus, the broad masses of the people are waging all forms of resistance. So long as the Duterte regime engages in all-out war against the national and democratic rights and interests, it is just for the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces to resist in every possible and necessary way.

The previous scheme of the Duterte regime to destroy the revolutionary movement before the end of 2018 has already proven to be a complete failure. The reactionary armed forces, police and auxiliary forces have failed to destroy even a single guerrilla front anywhere in the Philippines and not even in Mindanao where martial law has been imposed. They can keep on moving their goal for destroying the revolutionary movement but the Filipino people and the revolutionary forces will keep on advancing in struggle and celebrating their victories from month to month and from year to year until the tyrannical and corrupt Duterte regime is gone.

It is foolish and self-defeating for the Duterte regime to wage an all out war and commit barbarous acts of state terrorism against the people and all democratic forces, whether these are engaged in armed struggle or not. The people’s war in the countryside is advancing while the broad united front and democratic mass movement in the urban areas are rising up to oust the Duterte regime. 

The Duterte regime needs the peace negotiations more than the NDFP does even if only as a futile tactic to confound the opposition and confuse the public. But the NDFP is highly principled and competent to stand firmly for the national and democratic rights and interests of the people in the exploration of peace negotiations, actual peace negotiations and otherwise. ###

On the failure to destroy the revolutionary movement and the possible ouster of Duterte

By Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
January 5, 2019

In the last quarter of 2017, Duterte’s highest military subordinates were claiming to be able to destroy the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) before the end of 2018. They have utterly failed.

They have moved their goal further to the middle of 2019. They will certainly fail again. It is pure hallucination for them to imagine that they can easily destroy an armed revolutionary movement that has grown in strength by fighting a 14-year fascist dictatorship and the strategic plans of military suppression by a series of pseudo-democratic regimes.

The reactionary military and police are in a more difficult situation than ever before. Their strength is actually limited and insufficient to destroy the revolutionary movement. The reactionary government is bankrupt and is offending the people for raising taxes that are wasted on military expenditures, bureaucratic corruption, overpriced infrastructure projects and foreign debt service.

Worst of all, the military and police are ineffective against the revolutionary movement because they serve the narrow interests of a tyrannical regime and the exploiting classes of big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists. Heaviest burden of the military and police is a president who publicly admits being a murderer, rapist, plunderer and who incites them to commit mass murder and human rights violations. 

A broad united front of patriotic and democratic forces is becoming stronger and is gaining support from military and police officers who are critical of the treasonous, tyrannical, brutal and corrupt character of the Duterte regime and Duterte himself and who are now readying their withdrawal of support from this regime in conjunction with the legal mass protest actions. 

The NDFP encourages and supports the broad united front and mass movement to oust Duterte from power. Definitely, it appreciates highly the expected intensification of NPA tactical offensives as contributory to the weakening, isolation and overthrow of the Duterte regime.###

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