Book launch and reviewTwo Book Reviews: Continuing the Struggle for National...

Two Book Reviews: Continuing the Struggle for National and Social Liberation


1.  Book Review of Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s Continuing the Struggle for National and Social LiberationSelected Writings, 1986 to 1991.
by Luis Jalandoni

Utrecht, July 26, 2015

This book, the fifth of Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s Selected Writings, 1968-1991, brings us to the days of euphoria after the overthrow of the dictator Marcos in late 1986. Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency. She released all the political prisoners. Despite the objections of Enrile, General Fidel Ramos and the military establishment, she released Prof. Jose Maria Sison.

In the flurry of activities, interviews and forums to which Joma was invited, he gave his analysis of the situation. “There has been no social revolution,” he declared in a speech at De La Salle University on April 1, 1986. He added, “There has been no radical transformation of the socioeconomic foundation. There has been no change in the class character of the state. The joint class dictatorship of the comprador big bourgeoisie and landlord class continues. The bureaucratic and military machinery of the states remains intact.”

LJ photo 1 for book review

He recognized the democratic tendency in the Aquino cabinet. “Although certain key positions in the cabinet are held by pro-US reactionary elements, there are also nationalists and liberal democrats holding important positions in the same cabinet.

Later, he would declare that the Aquino regime only had liberal democratic embellishments and further on, only a a liberal democratic facade, as progressive cabinet members like Secretary of Labor Augusto Sanchez were replaced. Finally, Aquino would become an outright pro-US imperialist and comprador-landlord force, declaring all-out war against the CPP, NPA and NDFP and dismissing her Executive Secretary, Joker Arroyo, and replacing him with the pro-US Raul Manglapus.

Joma warned the Corazon Aquino regime early on, (April 22, 1986) “Insofar as it remains within the parameters of foreign and feudal domination, the Aquino regime is incapable of solving the economic crisis. The nonsolution of this crisis, the growing challenge of the Marcos forces, and the resistance of the Enrile-Ramos-RAM bloc to the rise of the Aquino bloc within the AFP, are likely to destabilize the Aquino regime.”

Asserting the Essential Role of ND forces in the EDSA Revolution

The reactionaries launched a campaign against the revolutionary movement, falsely claiming that the national democratic forces were isolated in the so-called EDSA revolution. Joma disproved their allegations by pointing out that the national democratic movement was an essential major force in the EDSA “revolution”. The ND movement had declared a national strike ahead of Aquino’s call for civil disobedience. The ND forces formed a significant portion at EDSA, in the vicinity of Camps Aguinaldo and Crame. They were the bulk of the organized forces at Malacanang. They were part of the seizure of government radio and TV station. Moreover, the ND forces launched an uprising in Angeles City, stopping the tanks moving to Manila to support Marcos and General Ver.

Furthermore, in the overall picture, it was the persistent struggle of the revolutionary forces against the Marcos dictatorship over all the years from 1968 to 1986 that weakened the Marcos regime.

Possibility of a Coalition Government with the Aquino regime

On May 20, 1986 in his lecture on Prospects of the Philippine Revolution, Joma stated, “However, if the Aquino government is serious about national reconciliation and lasting peace, it must be ready to transform itself soon into a coalition government which pursues the anti-imperialist and antifeudal line and includes the revolutionary forces…It is mutually advantageous for the Aquino government and the revolutionary forces to establish a line of communication regarding national reconciliation, ceasefire and a possible coalition government as soon as possible. This line of communication is necessary if only to forestall the threat from the Marcos forces or any other threat from within the AFP in the meantime. Eventually, a coalition government can be worked out.” (pp. 140-141). He further clarified, “In a coalition government, the revolutionary forces keep their integrity, have a share of political power and retain the people’s army. If a coalition government is not possible, the revolutionary forces can as always aim for the establishment of a people’s democratic state.” (p. 141)

The Role of Progressive Liberal Democrats in the United Front

Regarding building the united front, Joma recognized the role of progressive liberal democrats like Senators Lorenzo Tanada, Jose W. Diokno and Claro M. Recto. He pointed out their significant contributions to the preparations and conduct of the new democratic revolution. They recalled the spirit of 1896 and joined the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggles. They combated the reactionary character of the dominant church and defended civil liberties. He also stated that to be really effective their contribution must be in combination with that of the proletarian revolutionaries. (p. 123)

Enrile’s “God Save the Queen” Plot and the Murder of Olalia

As the Enrile clique plotted to depose Aquino and kill Joma and other leaders of the revolutionary movement in their “God Save the Queen” conspiracy, Partido ng Bayan Chairman and BAYAN national leader Rolando Olalia was brutally murdered. Olalia was honored by the biggest demonstration for the death of a proletarian leader. Olalia was murdered together with his driver, Leonor Alay-ay.

The Aquino government subsequently pressured the NDFP to sign a 60-day ceasefire agreement from December 8, 1986 to February 8, 1987. Joma issued a critique of these ceasefire talks, pointing out the dangers to the revolutionary movement with the exposure of its cadres and staff, giving a big gift to Aquino, while getting little in return. Joma stressed the necessity and importance of asserting the status of belligerency of the revolutionary movement.

Partido ng Bayan

Joma describes his work in the establishment of Partido ng Bayan, to which he delivered the Political Report, pointing to the historic significance of a legal party that can make important though secondary contributions to the total effort to effect a social revolution. However, it was subjected to the assassination of twenty-nine of its leaders and campaigners, grenade-throwing at its offices, arrests, raids on its offices and other forms of harassment. Most damaging was the declaration of 695 out of a total of 1,540 cities and towns as trouble spots in which the military supervised the elections.

In his article, The Continuing Struggle in the Philippines, December 26, 1987, he already states the possibility of the strategic defensive stage of people’s war to reach the strategic stalemate within three to five years. (p. 296) However, this possibility was countered by growing errors within the revolutionary movement, which would be subject to the Second Great Rectification movement from 1992 to 1998.

Tour of 25 Countries and More Than 70 Universities

Joma’s tour of twenty-five countries and more than 70 universities from September 1986 to August 1988 gives an idea of the wide range of topics and audiences he has reached.

Aquino’s cancellation of his passport in September 1988 upon pressure of the military leads him to apply for political asylum in The Netherlands.

In 1989 Joma carries out a persistent struggle against intrigues of the CIA and Filipino reactionaries to blame him for the Plaza Miranda bombing. With Atty. Romeo Capulong’s expert legal services, he disproves their false claims.

With Imagination, You Create Something New

It is not possible to describe in a brief book review all the rich educational insights made by Prof. Jose Marian Sison in this book of 458 pages. I can only highly recommend this book to enrich ourselves with the thinking and insights of Joma.

I wish to quote a statement which I believe characterizes his thinking: “The point is not only to understand or interpret the laws of social change, but to change oppressive and exploitative conditions.” (p. 125). And to close, I wish to cite this one: “I think without the background in creative writing I would be writing very drab prose. … I think it is a requirement for revolutionary leadership to have a literary imagination. …Imagination is important. With imagination, you create something new.” (p. 15).###


2.  Of Timely Significance and Relevance: Book Review

of Continuing the Struggle for National and Social Liberation

by Ilena Saturay

 July 26, 2015


The book, Continuing the Struggle for National and Social Liberation, is a compilation of selected writings of professor Jose Maria Sison between 1986 to 1991. That period was no doubt a momentous period for the Philippines as the Filipino people had just overthrown the 20-year running Marcos fascist dictatorship. People were debating on how to go forward, hoping that the fruit of their resistance would not be stolen and turned to another political turmoil.

Ilena photo 1 for book review

The US imperialists and the local exploiting classes were quick to spread their propaganda that democracy was already restored in the country, desperate to contain the people’s anger in a superficial anti-authoritarian regime change. Meanwhile, the movement for national democracy was convinced and ever ready to continue the struggle. It was indeed a time of heated political debate.

There is therefore no doubt that in such a period, the analyses that the author offered were of crucial significance. These were a critical contribution in shaping, guiding and advancing the people’s movement for national and social liberation.

Professor Sison’s writings offered a comprehensive analysis of the Philippine society. He was able to let the readers see the then current events through a telescope and a microscope. His writings tackled not just the Marcos dictatorship and the succeeding Aquino regime, but also the historical roots of the country’s political, economical and social system that brought about the dictatorship. By applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to the concrete conditions of the Philippines, he was able to present an accurate analysis of the Philippine society and also the necessary measures to deliver genuine change.

He was able to put forward a thorough class analysis of society and defined the role of each class in waging revolution. He was also able to clarify points on various issues, from US military bases to the question of ceasefire. He placed the Filipino people’s movement from the international point of view and provided insights on socialist movements in different countries.

His writings proved that revolution did and should not end with the People Power that brought down the Marcos dictatorship.

These selected writings were from 24 to 29 years ago. One might wonder what significance it would have now to launch a compilation of writings from almost three decades ago.

Reading through the pages will prove that not only is the launching of the book significant, but it is in fact very, very timely. Today, three decades after, the same rotten semi-colonial and semi-feudal system, that author comprehensively discussed in the book, still persists.

I just came back from the Philippines and reading the book was like reading a narrative of what I had seen there. Peasants and farm workers still make up the majority of the Filipino people, who are faced with feudal relations and backward production. The government is composed of bureaucrat capitalists serving the interest of the imperialists. The current president itself is one of the biggest landlords in the country, the son of Corazon Aquino who took the presidency after Marcos was overthrown.

In fact , when you read the news, you will be confronted with issues like indigenous people from Mindanao who are displaced because of intensive militarization in their lands. Activists are still systematically harassed, abducted and murdered. After the Marcos dictatorship, the Corazon Aquino regime prided herself with freeing political prisoners. But today, political prisoners are still present in large numbers. So who says the fascist state is history?

As the author repeatedly wrote,, the “people power” that overthrew the Marcos dictatorship was not a social revolution. One might call it an uprising or a political upheaval. Faces and style change but the same rotten base that it was built on is still in place. However, that necessary social revolution we are all hoping for is ongoing. More and more people are resisting. The struggle is not yet finished, and herein lies the importance of this book.

This means this book should not serve merely as an addition to our bookshelves of history books. We should not read it solely to gain knowledge, or to win debates, but most importantly, to put it into practice. The title of the book is very appropriate – Continuing the Struggle for National and Social Liberation. The keyword is continuing, and every person who will read this book should take a part in it. We should read it in order to continue the struggle.

It is a reminder that we should never get used to this oppressive system. Books such as this are not merely a collection of words and sentences. These did not fall from the sky but came from the concrete experiences and struggles of the people. It is our duty to continue the struggle. We owe it to all the masses making history, all our comrades who offered their lives. And most of all, we owe it to the next generation.

We should never lose hope. Remember that the New People’s Army had only 35 firearms before and was only concentrated in Central Luzon and then Northern Luzon. Now it is spread throughout the country, building mass bases, carrying out agrarian revolution and armed struggle. The Communist Party has gained political power in different provinces and is continuously growing.

As the writer wrote, “There is no end in sight to the ever worsening economic and political crisis of the semicolonial and semifeudal system, except a revolutionary upheaval.”

For our international friends, it means building and advancing the struggle in their respective countries. There is a lot of lessons and inspiration to be drawn out of the Philippine revolutionary experience. We share the same struggle. It is necessary for us to create unity and solidarity to defeat our common enemy and build a common world without exploitation and oppression.

This is what makes us different from other readers and this is what what makes this book different from other books. What Karl Marx said rings true. ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

It is our duty to not allow this book to be merely an interpretation of the world, but to be a weapon to change it.

So indeed this book launching is very timely. Why? Because a new book is waiting to be written and all of us are the writers of it. A new world is being created. We have to make sure that every action, every moment of our lives, is a contribution to a better one and not for the preservation of the rotten one we have today.###

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