Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison,
U.P. Alumnus & Founding Chairman of Kabataang Makabayan
and the Communist Party of the Philippines
By John Toledo
May I know your experiences during martial law. This is in connection with the commemoration of martial law on September 21.
1.) What are your experiences before and during the Martial Law? What are the harsh aspects of this grim period?
JMS: I was active in the legal mass movement since 1961. I went underground together with other comrades in late 1968 in order to reestablish the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1969 and to found the New People´s Army on March 29, 1969. As early as 1969, we observed the propensity of Marcos to use brute force against the mass movement in both rural and urban areas.
After the proclamation of martial law in 1972, the Marcos regime imposed a fascist dictatorship on the people and went full blast in committing human rights violations. The harshest of these were the illegal arrests and detention, forced disappearances, tortures, extrajudicial killings, massacres, bombardments of rural communities, forced eviction and illegal seizure of land and other properties. Millions of people were directly victimized while the entire nation was being intimidated.
2.) How did you form the student movements during Martial Law? What are these movements and are they still existing today?
JMS: Despite being outlawed, Kabataang Makabayan continued to secretly recruit and organize the students against the Marcos fascist dictatorship. The KM chapters in schools all over the country operated under the cover of permitted or unsuspected student organizations. They distributed leaflets against the dictatorship and engaged in lightning protest actions on the campus and outside.
As early as 1974 they started to generate a movement for the restoration of the student governments and student publications which had been banned. These were allowed under severe restrictions in 1976. Open protest actions of students spread in 1976 and even more so from 1978 onwards. They took advantage of the fascist regime pretending to normalize and democratize, especially during the elections.
The student youth became more assertive in the early 1980s and especially after the assassination of Aquino in 1983. The Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND) and League of Filipino Students (LFS) were formed. Student organizations like the CEGP, NUSP, SCMP and the like became more militant. Except YND, these aforesaid student organizations continue to exist. In the case of KM, it has continued in the underground and has become the Communist Youth League.
3.) What happened to you after the Martial Law proclamation?
JMS: I was part of the CPP, NPA and the NDF in waging the revolutionary armed struggle against the Marcos regime. I was captured on November 10, 1977. I was tortured and put in solitary confinement for most of the time that I was under military detention. I was released on March 5, 1986 after the fall of Marcos. I went back to the University of the Philippines to teach and then I went abroad to do a university lecture tour in Asia-Pacific and Europe. My passport was cancelled in 1988 by the first Aquino regime and I had to apply for political asylum in The Netherlands in order to defeat the scheme of the military to rearrest me.
4.) Are the student movements still existing today? How is it significant in the current world order?
JMS: The student movements are alive and kicking in the Philippines and in the world. They are among the most progressive and militant in opposing the anti-people policies and actions of US imperialism and the local reactionary puppet governments, as in the Philippines.
They are very significant, especially in the underdeveloped and impoverished countries. They express the demands of the students as well as those of the entire people for national independence, democracy, development, social justice and world peace.
5.) After 40 years, how do you see the people’s reception to Martial Law?
JMS: The Filipino people continue to hate martial law and the fascist dictatorship as a monstrosity against their national and democratic rights and interests.
6.) Who is Joma Sison and the student movement after 40 years of Martial Law?
JMS: I remain a teacher and writer, always trying to uphold, defend and promote the national and democratic rights of the Filipino people. The patriotic and student movement continues to fight for
national and social liberation against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords to which Noynoy Aquino belongs and which he represents like Marcos did in the past.
7.) What is the feeling of being in exile? of being far away from the people?
JMS: Sometimes, I feel that I can do more if I were in the Philippines.But most of the time, I feel well connected to the Philippines because of the constant flow of visitors and because the internet allows me to get news from the Philippines ahead of most Filipinos who are in the Philippines.
8.) 40 years after Martial Law, how would you describe your struggle?
JMS: The struggle continues to grow in strength. It has created the people´s democratic government in the countryside. It is led by the revolutionary party of the proletariat, the people´s army and the mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth and other people. All these revolutionary forces are growing in strength.
9.) When are you coming back? Or are you still coming back despite the harsh conditions GPH has set on you?
JMS: I still have to stay abroad to perform my duties for the peace negotiations and to do international solidarity work. I have plenty of work to do as chairperson of the International League of People´s Struggle.
10.) Is there still hope for the proletarians of the Philippines?
JMS: The proletarians of the Philippines continue to be harshly exploited and oppressed. Thus, they must fight for their rights and welfare. There is hope for them because of their struggle.