Interview with NDFP Chief Political Consultant
Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
on the Philippine situation and prospects
By ROSELLE VALERIO
Editor, Liberation International
The cause of armed revolution in the Philippines is not simply poverty. It is the systematic imperialist and class exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people…My ambition or aspiration is for the Filipino people to achieve national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes… I am pleased that under the leadership of the working class the Filipino people are building the mass organizations and organs of democratic political power and are waging all forms of struggle to advance their revolutionary cause.
— Professor Jose Maria Sison
- Gloria M. Arroyo speaks of using her remaining years in the presidential palace to leave an unforgettable legacy. In your view, what is going to be her legacy?
Prof. Jose Maria Sison (JMS): Her legacy is one of puppetry to US imperialism, aggravated underdevelopment, corruption, bankruptcy, electoral fraud and gross and systematic human rights violations with impunity.
- Has Arroyo not achieved a relatively high economic growth rate? Has she not solved the financial crisis? Is she not laying the groundwork for the Philippines to become a first world country?
JMS: The Arroyo regime has conjured the illusion of economic growth by engaging in unbridled foreign and local borrowing and by attracting speculative portfolio investments. It has not at all solved the financial crisis but has aggravated it by increasing the debt and tax burden in a stagnant economy that is driven by overconsumption of imports, worst of which are the luxuries of the exploiting classes.
The Arroyo regime has subserviently followed the US-dictated policy of “free market” globalization, rejected national industrialization and land reform and has thus aggravated the underdevelopment of the Philippine economy.
The Philippine economy has become more dependent on raw-material exports, on low value-added reexports and the export of live human beings as cheap labor. It is always afflicted by a rising level of trade deficit and government deficit spending for debt service, the military and other counterproductive purposes.
Without national industrialization and land reform, it is impossible for the Philippines to become a “first world country”. Arroyo insults the intelligence of the people by uttering the silly lie that she is making the Philippines become a “first world” country through mega-infrastructure projects and call centers.
- The Arroyo regime is well-known for its subservience not only to the US policy of “free market” globalization but also to the Bush policy of “global war on terror”. Can we expect any change in the relations between the US and the Philippines in the next three years?
JMS: We cannot expect any change in the subservient relations of the Philippine government with the US government so long as the Arroyo regime is in power. This regime will stick to the policy of “free market” globalization even as the latest worsening of the crisis of the US and world capitalist system is coming down hard on the Philippines and the rest of East Asia.
The regime will also cling to the Bush global policy of terror because it believes that this is the way for getting military and other forms of assistance from the US. It has a penchant for betraying the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people. It is a regime of treason, corruption, bankruptcy and brutality.
- What is your response to the statement of National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales that the cause of armed revolution is not poverty but your ambition to become President of the Philippines through armed revolution?
JMS: The cause of armed revolution in the Philippines is not simply poverty. It is the systematic imperialist and class exploitation and oppression of the Filipino people. I have had no ambition of becoming President of the Philippines since I became a Marxist-Leninist in 1959. Otherwise I would have remained in the exploitative system to nurture a self-interested political career, instead of facing tremendous odds and risking my life in the revolutionary struggle.
My ambition or aspiration is for the Filipino people to achieve national liberation and democracy against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. I am pleased that under the leadership of the working class the Filipino people are building the mass organizations and organs of democratic political power and are waging all forms of struggle to advance their revolutionary cause.
- There is a systematic attempt to misrepresent and demonize you by holding you responsible for the revolutionary actions of the New People’s Army and even for the long-disproven allegation against you regarding the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing. Are your enemies merely engaged in character assassination or preparing for your physical assassination?
JMS: My political enemies are engaged in both character assassination and setting me up for physical assassination. Since a long time ago, I have been targeted for assassination a number of times. Recently, I have been receiving reports of plans to kill me by agents of the Arroyo regime. No less than the National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has announced in a cabinet meeting that a solution to the so-called insurgency is my assassination. This is in line with the extrajudicial killings being perpetrated with impunity under the Arroyo regime.
My enemies are amazing for their mendacity and stupidity in repeating the lie that the CPP and I were responsible for the Plaza Miranda bombing despite the 1994 resolution of the Manila city prosecutors dismissing the complaint against the CPP and me as something based on sheer speculation. My enemies are also amazingly mendacious and stupid in blaming me for the revolutionary actions of the NPA despite the fact that I have been out of the Philippines for more than 20 years. A number of prosecutors and judges have already dismissed these complaints because of their patent falsity and the lack of jurisdiction over me.
Since July 2007, no less than the Supreme Court has dismissed as invalid the charge of rebellion and the hundreds of folders of supposed evidence against me and 50 other individuals. The false charge and supposed evidence spanned the period from the founding of the CPP in 1968 to the filing date of the charge in 2006. The invalidated evidence can no longer be used against me in any new charge.
- Will there be stability or will there be further turmoil? Can the Arroyo regime survive until 2010? Can the amnesty proposal of Speaker Jose de Venecia reverse the trend of instability and turmoil?
JMS: From year to year up to 2010, there will be increasing instability and turmoil in the Philippines. The social and economic crisis will worsen. So will the political crisis. There will be a sharpening of the contradictions among the reactionary political forces. The opposition can take advantage of the self-defeating policies and actions of the regime and the rising wave of popular discontent. It will try to prove its mettle by criticizing and condemning the regime.
Arroyo is already a lameduck because the years of her rule are dwindling and because her crimes are putting her in a corner. She might still be toppled by impeachment or otherwise as a consequence of the mass movement or splits within the ruling coalition and reactionary armed forces. She will face the strongest challenges probably sometime next year.
The Arroyo regime will struggle hard to survive and avoid being overthrown before 2010. It will also make sure that the successor of Arroyo will protect her and her cohorts from being tried and punished for their crimes in office. Even if Arroyo survives the challenges, the instability and turmoil will weaken the ruling system and will provide the fertile conditions for the growth of the revolutionary forces.
What Speaker Jose de Venecia has proposed as amnesty for the revolutionaries, the military rebels, the Moro freedom fighters and others is so blatantly fake and cannot reverse the trend of instability and turmoil. His proposal requires the amnesty beneficiaries to admit guilt and undergo a process of registration and humiliation. De Venecia is engaged in a psywar campaign to disarm and mislead the opposition to the Arroyo regime. His proposal is also probably intended to prepare for a proclamation by Arroyo – with the concurrence of Congress – absolving herself and her cohorts of their crimes against the Filipino people.
- Arroyo has given orders to the military to destroy the revolutionary movement led by the CPP, the Moro liberation movements and the Abu Sayyaf in the next three years. Can the military succeed?
JMS: According to CPP publications, the reactionary armed forces, police and paramilitary forces failed under Oplan Bantay Laya to destroy a single guerrilla front of the New People’s Army from 2002 to 2006. They are expected to fare worse under Bantay Laya II. Since 2004, the NPA has seized the initiative in launching tactical offensives to defeat the blind-and-deaf strategic offensive of its enemy.
It appears that the Arroyo regime is no longer interested in pursuing peace negotiations and in keeping the ceasefire agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and in maintaining the 1996 accord with the Moro National Liberation Front. There is a reliable report that the US and Philippine governments are of the common view that they have gathered enough intelligence to try destroying both liberation forces.
But in fact both the US and Philippine military forces have demonstrated their limitations and weaknesses by failing to destroy the small bandit group Abu Sayyaf from 2002 to the present. They have thus become the laughing stock of the world.
According to former President Ramos, the military forces of the reactionary state are already fatigued and frustrated by the prolongation and futility of Oplan Bantay Laya since 2002. The military officers and enlisted personnel are already disgruntled and demoralized by the Arroyo regime. They are now further being overstained and spread thinly by having to fight the NPA and the armies of the MILF and MNLF all at the same time.
- Will the human rights situation in the Philippines worsen in the remaining years of the Arroyo regime? What is the consequence of there being the anti-terrorism law, the so-called Human Security Act of 2007? What is the consequence particularly to you as one in the terrorist blacklist of the US and other foreign governments?
JMS: The human rights situation will certainly worsen, especially if the Supreme Court does not declare the anti-terrorism law as unconstitutional. But whether this law remains or not, the Arroyo regime will apply even more brutally the policies, laws and campaigns that have made possible the forced displacement of more than one million people from 2001 to the present and the more than one thousand victims of documented extrajudicial killings, abductions, torture and other human rights violations inflicted on legal progressive activists.
I have won a resounding victory in my case with the July 11, 2007 judgment of the European Court of First Instance against the decision of the Council of the European Union blacklisting me as a “terrorist” and freezing my financial assets. The court annulled the decision for violating my right to defense, for failing to provide a statement of reasons and for infringing on my right to judicial protection. But I still need to complete my legal victory by filing a new application to the court against the June 28, 2007 decision of the Council of the European Union retaining me in the blacklist.
The Arroyo regime is poised to proscribe me as a “terrorist”, unless the petitions against the so-called anti-terrorism law are successful. Meanwhile, it has become starkly clear to the world that the US and other foreign governments have overstepped and violated Philippine national sovereignty and jurisdiction by construing as acts of terrorism those acts of rebellion under the Hernandez doctrine of political offense in Philippine jurisprudence. The longer these foreign governments blacklist me in an indefinite series of decisions, without reference to any particular act of terrorism, the truth shall become clearer than ever that I have been subjected to persecution.
- Will there be a resumption of the formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations? If not, why?
JMS: It is extremely doubtful whether the formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations will ever be resumed during the remaining years of the Arroyo regime. Arroyo has already announced that she is out to destroy the CPP, NPA and NDFP within the next three years. She talks more like a ruffian than even her chief butcher, AFP chief of staff Esperon, who makes the more modest lie that the reactionary armed forces can seek to reduce the NPA to an inconsequential level in 2010.
All along Arroyo and her cohorts have made clear that they are not interested in resuming the formal talks in peace negotiations and addressing the root causes of the civil war in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration. They are interested merely in the capitulation and pacification of the revolutionary forces under the pretext of a prolonged ceasefire. The NDFP has rebuffed the Arroyo regime for preconditioning the talks with prolonged ceasefire. Now, the regime is claiming to approach the revolutionary forces at the local level in order to secure localized ceasefires and split them from the central leadership of the revolutionary movement.
- Do you think that the revolutionary movement is capable of delivering powerful blows on the Arroyo regime in the battlefield? How?
JMS: More important than my opinion are the battle reports published by the Philippine Revolution Web Central (www.philippinerevolution.net) which show that the NPA is capable of delivering powerful blows on the Arroyo regime in the battlefield. The NPA is taking the initiative in conducting ambushes, raids and arrest operations against its armed opponents. It is thus increasing its armed strength by seizing arms from its enemy.
The reports also show that the NPA is carrying out punitive operations against the most notorious human rights violators, plunderers and other criminal offenders. The people have strongly demanded such punitive operations because they are sick and tired of impunity. They have also proposed that beneficiaries of high crimes must also be punished for complicity and must not be allowed to perpetuate political dynasties.
The CPP has announced that the NPA is ready to carry out certain actions against imperialist and big-comprador mining enterprises, logging companies, agribusiness and real estate speculators for engaging in landgrabbing and harming the people and the environment. The worst of these anti-people entities are the immediate target of dismantling operations by the NPA in order to satisfy the demands of the people, frustrate the policy of the Arroyo regime to auction off the natural resources in exchange for unbridled foreign borrowing and to force the military and police to take purely defensive guard duties and become stationary targets of NPA offensives.
- What are the prospects of the revolutionary movement up to 2010?
JMS: Since the fall of Marcos, Arroyo has been the best recruiter of the NPA. So long as she is in power, she aggravates the socio-economic and political crisis of the ruling system and drives the people to rise up in armed revolution. The CPP, the NPA, NDFP, the revolutionary mass organizations and the organs of political power are all expected to grow in strength from year to year because of the Arroyo regime’s anti-national and anti-democratic policies and actions.
- What is your message to the Filipino people?
JMS: Only you, the Filipino people, can liberate yourselves by waging various forms of revolutionary struggle and doing away with the system of exploitation and oppression maintained by foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. Consequently, you can build a new Philippines that is truly and completely independent, democratic, socially just, prosperous and peaceful.
The Arroyo regime is merely a brief passing phase in the downward course of the moribund semi-colonial and semifeudal system. The Filipino people and the revolutionary movement shall prevail through the national democratic revolution led by the working class.