Inteview with Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant
By Andres Antonio
1. According to Presidenial Spokesman Panelo, Duterte cannot be ousted. Is Panelo right in saying that the possible ouster of Duterte is illusory?
JMS: The possibility of Duterte’s ouster is still running and is not illusory. The objective conditions are present for the ouster of the Duterte regime. This regime is notorious in the Philippines and abroad for being tyrannical, treasonous, mass murdering, corrupt and swindling. Duterte is liable for impeachment if not for the rigging the previous elections through electronic dagdag-bawas and thereby gaining a majority in both houses of Congress.
But there is a high probability for certain factors to combine or converge in order to oust him like when Marcos and Estrada were ousted in 1986 and 2001, respectively. The factors include the intensification of people’s war, gigantic protest mass actions in the streets, the support of the Catholic and other churches, denunciations by the political and business leaders offended by Duterte and withdrawal of suppport from him by a significant bloc of AFP rank and file.
2. Looking back, what was the concrete contribution of the revolutionary movement to the downfall of Marcos in 1986? At this stage, can the revolutionary movement do again what it did to Marcos in order to cause the downfall of Duterte now?
JMS: The revolutionary movement contributed the longest and greatest efforts to discredit, weaken, isolate and overthrow Marcos. The efforts included the growth in strength and advance of the people’s war and the inspiration that this gave to the broad masses of the people and to the eventual upsurge of gigantic mass protest actions. These persuaded the US to consider Marcos a liability more than an asset, junked him and signalled to the AFP to withdraw support from Marcos.
It is obvious from the continuing people’s war that the revolutionary movement is trying its best to fight the Duterte regime. It is doing its part to seek the ouster of Duterte. But other factors have to be taken into account. The legal democratic mass movement, the churches already offended by Duterte and the opposition groups need to cooperate and do their best to arouse and mobilize the masses for mass protests like the following: community-based noise barrages and meetings and marches from various assembly points to converge on a focal area. All these are achievable by the people in the exercise of their democratic right to speak and assemble.
The Duterte regime and its pro-US military officials have so far been trying to please the US with their repeated promises to destroy the revolutionary movement once and for all time. But the US also notices that the regime itself is a provocation and challenge to the people to join or support the armed revolution. And the US is becoming resentful over Duterte’s sell-out of the West Philippine Sea and its marine and mineral resources to China and his involvement in China’s takeover of the telecommunications system in the Philippines.
Many of the junior officers of the AFP are already grumbling against Duterte’s sell-out of the West Philippine Sea and the surrender of the telecommunications system to China. They are insulted that the Chinese cell towers will be built in military camps and use the troops as security guards instead of hiring private security agencies. The patriotic officers within the AFP consider Duterte traitorous and stupid for using AFP camps to accommodate both Chinese cell towers and US military facilities (under EDCA).
3. Considering the violent acts being widely committed by the state against those opposed to Duterte and the all-out war in the countryside, is it possible for the revolutionary movement to revive and deploy “sparrow units” in order to strike back in the cities against those in power?
JMS: I have already read from publications of the CPP and NPA that they are reviving armed city partisan units and at the same time preparing commando teams that are based in the countryside but can be sent to the cities on missions to punish officials who are notorious for corruption, human rights violations and connivance with crime syndicates as well as to sabotage or destroy key military and police detachments and installations. They are reportedly studying closely the previous urban warfare conducted by Filipino and Vietnamese revolutionaries. They are anticipating worse repression and even fascist dictatorship which will outlaw legal organizations and social activism.
Right now, because of the widespread red-tagging, threats to life and liberty and actual killing of social activists, the Duterte regime is already compelling a considerable number of activists to go underground and join the people’s war in the countryside. After politico-military training, many of these activists are expected to become good fighters in armed city partisan units and commando teams. It can be calculated that what you might call “sparrow” warfare in the urban areas can strategically force the military and police to take guard duties or go on the defensive in the cities and have less armed personnel for combat in the countryside.
Duterte has been failing in his scheme to destroy the revolutionary movement because he is preserving and aggravating the basic problems of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism that drive the people to join and support the new democratic revolution led by the CPP. The CPP and NPA have been pursuing the strategic line of protracted people’s war of encircing the cities from the countryside. In more than 50 years, this strategic line has enabled the creation of strong Party branches, more than 110 guerrilla fronts, revolutionary mass organizations and the people’s democratic government from the barangay level upwards.
Under E.O. 70, Duterte is failing in his military strategy and tactics. Most of his military and police officers preoccupy themselves most of the time with psywar activities, violating human rights, meddling with civilian agencies of the reactionary government, pocketing public funds and extorting from people, faking surrenders and encounters and deploying too many checkpoints and token patrols. Thus, they reduce the number of officers and men for combat. Furthermore, even if he increases the number of combat units, they are ineffective because they are rendered deaf and blind by the people’s support for the revolutionary movement. ###