BY MANILA BULLETIN PANEL OF JOURNALISTS
[Read: Negotiators do not control NPA – Joma»]
A. From Isabel De Leon, MB News Editor
1. If you are given a chance to relive your live, would you choose the same path? And why?
JMS: I will continue to take the same path of fighting for the national and social liberation of the Filipino people. Since grade school, at the age of nine, I have always admired the revolutionary struggles of the Filipino people against Spanish colonialism, US imperialism and the Japanese fascist occupation. I have also always been sympathetic to the poor, exploited and oppressed people. I am committed to the continuation of the Philippine revolution of 1896 and to the attainment of full national independence, people’s democracy and socialism.
2. What is your biggest regret in life?
JMS: The biggest setback I had was being captured in 1977 and being tortured and detained until 1986. But I do not regret it. It is part of the revolutionary struggle against the US-instigated Marcos fascist dictatorship to make sacrifices, get arrested and imprisoned or even killed. I have never felt any kind of regret that makes me abandon my principles and conviction.
3. Being (from the) Left, what is Right to you?
JMS: Being Right and reactionary is to oppose the following rights and interests of the Filipino people: national sovereignty and independence, democracy, social justice, economic development through land reform and national industrialization, a patriotic and progressive culture, international solidarity with other peoples and independent foreign policy for world peace and development.
B. From Tonyo Cruz, MB Digital Supervisor
1.Then President-elect Duterte asked the NDF to submit its nominees for his Cabinet. He named Taguiwalo, Mariano and Masa to Cabinet posts, but Duterte backtracked on also assigning an NDF nominee to the DENR portfolio. Has Duterte reached out again to the NDF for potential nominees to replace Gina Lopez? Or has the NDF taken the initiative to make recommendations for the next DENR Secretary?
JMS: Duterte publicly offered four cabinet posts to the Communist Party of the Philippines: DOLE, DAR, DENR and DSWD. But I advised him that the leaders of the CPP, NDFP and NPA cannot accept job offers from the GRP while peace negotiations are still going on. I suggested to him to appoint those who have a legal status, highly qualified, competent and honest from the ranks of those who are patriotic and progressive.
The NDFP emissary Fidel Agcaoili gave to Duterte the names and resumes of the recommendees of the NDFP to four cabinet posts. Two of the recommendees, Rafael Mariano and JudyTaguiwalo would be appointed to DAR and DSWD, respectively. Silvestre Bello showed interest in DOLE and the NDFP agreed to his appointment. Duterte took the initiative of offering DENR to Gina Lopez and the NDFP agreed that she was a good choice.
As far as I know, Duterte has not asked the NDFP to give a recommendee for the DENR post vacated by Gina. And as of this moment, neither has the NDFP made a recommendation. If asked for this, the NDFP can give the name and resume.
C. From Ina Cabreza, a millennial from MB Social Media
1. With all the peace negotiations, do you think there will finally be a truce between the Communists and the government?
JMS: There may be a ceasefire or truce after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) and the amnesty and release of the political prisoners listed by the NDFP. The NDFP cannot agree to any prolonged or indefinite ceasefire before the signing of CASER and the amnesty and release of the political prisoners. The GRP will no longer be interested in the accelerated negotiation of CASER after getting first a prolonged and indefinite kind of ceasefire.
D. From Mr. Sonny Valencia
What to you would be the minimum level of socio/economic reforms the NDF will accept as a condition, sine quo non, to forge peace with the government?JMS: CASER should include agrarian reform and rural development, national industrialization and economic development, protection and wise utilization of the environment, people’s rights pertaining to political and economic sovereignty, expansion of free social services ( education, health and housing), indigenous people, and women, sources of funding for the reforms and equitable international economic and financial relations. All these are in the draft of the NDFP.
E. From News Desk
1. Why has there been an escalation of attacks by your ground forces despite ongoing peace talks? Have you any orders to restrain or advice them against launching such attacks, if only to fortify the goodwill that should be generated for the talks? Do you exercise some form of control over the ground forces?
JMS: The NDFP Negotiating Panel and its consultants do not control the NPA in the same way that the GRP Negotiating Panel does not control the AFP, PNP and the paramilitary. In the first place, it is the GRP which is carrying out an all-out war policy against the revolutionary forces and the people. It is blindly and foolishly using aerial bombs and artillery fire at the expense of the civilian population. Duterte himself has a number of times raved about pulverizing the NPA, the forests and hills. Lorenzana has already declared that he is no longer interested in peace talks.
In the second place, the GRP backed out from the March 11 backchannel agreement for a simultaneous and reciprocal exchange of unilateral ceasefire declarations before the start of the fourth round of formal talks on April 2. In the face of the barbaric attacks of the AFP, PNP and its paramilitary auxiliaries, the NPA has no choice but to fight back and engage in self-defense and counter-offensives.
The collective leading organs of the CPP, NPA nd NDFP, which are based in the Philippines, are the principal of the NDFP Negotiating Panel. They give orders and instructions to the NDFP Negotiating Panel and to the NPA in the battlefield. No one in Utrecht can give orders to the CPP, NPA and NDFP in the Philippines. Also, no one in Utrecht has ever claimed to control the revolutionary forces and people in the Philippines. And so far, the authorization and credentials of the NDFP Negotiating Panel from its principal in the Philippines stand and remains valid unless withdrawn by the principal.
It is the collective leading organs of the CPP, NPA and NDFP that decide whether to continue, accelerate, delay or exit from the peace negotiations being pursued by the NDFP Negotiating Panel, depending on the circumstances and reasons for whatever mode of action.
There is nothing the NDFP Negotiating Panel can do if the order from its principal in the Philippines is to disengage from the peace negotiations because the GRP, the peace spoilers and the ultra-reactionaries wish nothing but a prolonged and indefinite cease fire in order to effect the surrender and pacification of the revolutionary forces.
2. If you really are the voice of the masses, why are you living in luxury (in Europe) while your followers are having a great deal of difficulty (here in the Philippines) trying to uphold your idealism?
JMS: Your question carries a series of false judgmental premises. You cast aspersion on the validity and integrity of my advocacy. You presume that it has been my free choice that I am in exile as political refugee for the last 30 years. You do not take into account that my Philippine passport was canceled by Cory Aquino in 1988.
You do not mention the fact since I was put on the EU terrorist list in 2002 until now, despite my legaI victory in having my name removed from the list in 2009, I have been deprived of living allowance, housing, health insurance and pension that refugees are entitled to. My wife and I have to support ourselves on her single account as permanent resident and with assistance from relatives and friends.
It is unfair and unjust to conjure an image of me living in luxury and compare me with the revolutionaries and people living in hardship, as if I did not have a share of hardship in fighting the Marcos dictatorship in the battlefield for nine years, enduring torture and imprisonment for another nine years and now undergoing already 30 years of exile. Consider finally that with my exploiting class origin, family political background and personal qualifications, I would have lived a life as comfortable as that of my wealthy relatives, classmates and friends had I taken the easy way within the ruling system. But no regrets. With modesty aside, I daresay that they have nothing like my wealth of revolutionary experience and more than 30 volumes of essays and poems.
F. From Rocky Nazareno
I hope you don’t mind. I have these questions to wrap up the interview. Its your call if you do not want to answer any of them.
1. Spokesperson Abella said yesterday that federalism will be Duterte’s legacy to the Filipino people. How role do you see the CPP-NPA-NDF playing under the new government, how do you see it being in the mainstream of a federal form of government?
JMS: The NDFP has already offered to co-found with the GRP the Federal Republic of the Philippines. This will resolve questions about a single government, territory, revolutionary taxation and other governmental functions. The CPP and NDFP may enter a coalition government. The NPA may be integrated in a national defense system. All these matters will be negotiated and agreed upon in the forging of the Comprehensive Agreement of Political and Constitutional Reforms after CASER is signed and approved by the principals.
2. What is your message to President Duterte at this point of the peace negotiations which have been marred by encounters on the ground.
JMS: In the following sequence, CASER, the amnesty and release of all political prisoners and the Joint Interim Ceasefire Agreement (JIFCA) must be finalized, signed and approved as soon as possible by the negotiating panels and then by their principals. In the meantime, there may be a transitory agreement for the GRP to cease and desist from its all-out war policy so that the NPA and the people’s militia can also cease and desist from self-defense actions and counteroffensives.
The simultaneous and reciprocal unilateral ceasefire declarations can be a transitory measure. The GRP and NDFP negotiating panels should be directed and encouraged by their respective principals to do their negotiating work in this regard in the forthcoming fifth round of formal talks in Noorwijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, from May 29 to June 2.
Thank you so much, Sir.