By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chief International Representative, NDFP
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel
We are celebrating Ka Joma’s 55 years of service to the Filipino people together with his 75th birthday. He studied the revolutionary experience of the Filipino people against colonialism and imperialism and understood the revolutionary ideas of the working class as the guide to continuing and accomplishing the Philippine revolution. He became active in the people’s movement for national liberation and democracy in the late 1950s.
He organized in 1959 the SCAUP, a patriotic and progressive organization of students in the University of the Philippines. Then in 1961, he led the mass occupation of the lower house of Congress to protest the anti-communist sessions. In most of the 1960s he devoted himself to educational and organizational work among the youth, workers and peasants. In 1964 he organized the Kabataang Makabayan, KM – Patriotic Youth, of which he was the founding Chairman. He held leading positions in the Lapiang Manggagawa (lated named Socialist Party) and in the united front formation, Movement for the Advance of Nationalism.
Together with 12 young revolutionary colleagues, he founded the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968 under the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought. A few years earlier in 1967 he led the First Great Rectification Movement by breaking off from the Old Communist Party, exposing its revisionism and opportunism. He led the formation of the New People’s Army on March 29, 1969, with only 9 automatic rifles and 26 inferior firearms against the US-backed Marcos regime. He co-founded the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in 1973.
Ka Joma’s daring, vision and trust in the masses have borne rich fruit. Despite massive attacks by the US-Marcos regime and succeeding reactionary governments, the CPP has grown to 150,000 party members throughout the country. The New People’s Army operates in more than 110 guerrilla fronts in 71 out of a total 81 provinces. Organs of democratic power, alternative people’s governments, based on revolutionary mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth, children and cultural activists, carry out land reform, health and education, and cultural programs. They organize people’s militias and self-defense units of people’s organizations which assist the people’s army.
Even under prolonged torture, isolation and imprisonment by the US-Marcos dictatorship, from November 1977 to March 1986, he continued to inspire the revolutionary masses. Posters such as “You can imprison a revolutionary, but not the Revolution.” sprouted with his image. He wrote poems and articles while in prison.
After his release from prison, during a world lecture tour in 1987, the Corazon Aquino regime cancelled his passport to pressure him to return to the Philippines. He decided to apply for political asylum in The Netherlands. Despite two decisions of the highest administrative court, the Raad van State, officially recognizing him as a political refugee, the Dutch government has refused to grant him residence.
In 1992, he played a key role in the CPP’s launching of the Second Great Rectification Movement. This was an educational movement to identify, repudiate and rectify major ideological, political and organizational errors of a group of renegades within the party leadership which had caused major losses. Again, with characteristic daring he exposed the main perpetrators, beaming the light on them while they made their attacks from the darkness. This rectification movement was embraced by the overwhelming majority of the members of the Party, the people’s army and the revolutionary masses. It has resulted in the reinvigoration of the revolutionary movement, with the recovery of lost mass base, and its further expansion and consolidation.
While abroad, Ka Joma has been participating in conferences, seminars and other activities of revolutionary parties, organizations and mass movements in order to promote and develop the solidarity of the Filipino people with the people of the world.
In 1999, he led the Initiative Committee that prepared the founding of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in 2001. He is now the Chairperson of the ILPS, which has held four International Assemblies and has more than 300 member organizations in more than 40 countries. The ILPS is now a major force in the anti-imperialist and democratic movement of the people of the world.
Upon being put on the terrorist list in 2002 by the US, the Council of the European Union and other foreign governments, Ka Joma initiated a legal battle to get his name off the EU terrorist list. With the help of outstanding lawyers, led by Jan Fermon of Belgium, and assisted by other lawyers from the Philippines, Germany, France and The Netherlands, he won the seven year legal battle. In December 2009, the Council of the EU, upon orders of the European Court of Justice, took his name off the EU terrorist list.
In 2007, he again fought a successful legal battle against trumped up charges of murder filed by the Arroyo regime in the Philippines in collusion with the US and Dutch governments. Imprisoned in isolation in The Hague for 17 days, his brilliant lawyer, Michiel Pestman of Amsterdam, ably assisted by Romeo T. Capulong of the Public Interest Law Center, won the case after a year and a half.
An indefatigable fighter, he continues to fight for his rights. A week ago, the Raad van State issued a negative decision, denying his right to residence and a passport. He and his lawyers insist that a European law of 2004 entitles him, as a recognized political refugee, to residence and a passport. He and his lawyers are considering further legal steps to assert his rights.
Despite all the harassments, he continues to be politically active. Through so many years, Ka Joma has guided the NDFP Negotiating Panel in the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. He has played a key role in the forging of such peace agreements as The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG, 1995), the Reciprocal Working Committees agreement (1995) and its supplement (1997), and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL, 1998). He has also been the moving force in the CPP and NDFP Declaration of Adherence to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I of 1996. In the twists and turns of the peace negotiations with the reactionary Philippine government, he has upheld the equal footing of the NDFP and the independence and revolutionary integrity of the people’s democratic government.
Ka Joma, as we all know, is also a writer and poet. The documents he authored, the poems and songs he wrote, the revolutionary struggle he launched, and his sense of humor, these are part of his revolutionary legacy to the Filipino people. Mabuhay si Ka Joma, his daring and vision, and his trust in and reliance on the masses. #
9 February 2014