Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant

By Roselle Valerio
Liberation International
11 August  2010

1. On the basis of Aquino’s policy pronouncements, appointments and other actions since his oath-taking as president, how do you characterize his regime and how do you compare it with the Arroyo regime?

JMS: The Aquino regime is the latest of regimes servile to US imperialism and representative chiefly of the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. It follows such US-directed policies as neoliberal globalization and the so-called global war on terror which is used to justify state terrorism and US military intervention in the Philippines.

The Aquino regime is fundamentally a continuation of the Arroyo regime. It is another running dog of US imperialism with a different collar. It tries to make itself look different from the Arroyo regime through sheer propaganda. From day to day, it does some publicity stunts and gimmicks to deflect attention from the big basic problems of the people, which are the main causes of poverty and corruption.

2. Would Aquino be able to fulfill his promise of sending Gloria M. Arroyo to prison for human rights violations and for plunder? Will it eliminate corruption and thus eliminate poverty. His main slogan has been: kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap (if no corrupt, no poor). What will happen if he does not fulfill his promises?

JMS: Aquino is already making it evident that he has no intention of sending Arroyo to prison for human rights violations and for plunder. The Truth Commission is a device for getting Gloria M. Arroyo and her cohorts off the hook. The executive order creating the commission protects Arroyo from being held liable for plunder and human rights violations. The commission is also impotent and redundant even when it comes to the investigation of
graft and corruption cases. The commission head Hilario Davide is a shared valet of the Aquino and Arroyo families.

One who promises to eliminate poverty solely by eliminating corruption is obviously a big liar from the very outset. The Aquino regime cannot eliminate poverty and corruption without confronting foreign and feudal exploitation and carrying out national industrialization and land reform. Poverty and corruption will persist so long as the evils of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism afflict the country. In the backroom of the Aquino regime, the big comprador-landlord Cojuangco-Aquino family is plotting to keep Hacienda Luisita and amass wealth in other corrupt ways like privatizing Pagcor.

Going by the example of Arroyo sending Estrada to prison in three months’ time in 2001, the people expect Aquino to send her to prison before the end of September. If he fails, the people will take him to task for making false promises and lying. He will be hounded, discredited and isolated by the nonfulfillment of these promises that he has made and of course by the new wave of corruption that is sure to arise from the new set of thieving bureaucats handpicked by the big foreign and local businessmen, the Kamag-anak, Inc . and the Classmates, Inc.

3. Has Aquino taken any decisive steps to stop human rights violations and improve the human rights situation in the Philippines? Is he heeding the Alston report and recommendations? Do you expect him to do so sometime later?

JMS: Aquino has not taken any decisive steps to stop human rights violations. He has never spoken strongly and definitively against the gross and systematic violations of human rights committed by the previous regime. He has ignored the Alston report and recommendations. So far Aquino has not released the Morong 43 and other political prisoners. He condones the continuing use of false charges of common crimes against the panelists, consultants and staffers of the NDFP negotiating panel.

Despite the severe economic crisis and the bankruptcy of the reactionary government, Aquino has boasted that he would give everything that the military forces demand. He has openly insinuated that he wishes to double the strength of the military because the population has doubled since the time of Marcos. He has openly urged the military to give priority to counterinsurgency and escalate military campaigns.

The military forces of the reactionary government continue to commit human rights violations and carry out Oplan Bantay Laya. Aquino and his defense secretary Gazmin have demanded ceasefire, surrender and disarming of the New People’s Army (NPA) as precondition to peace negotiations. The AFP chief of staff has boasted that the military would decimate the New People’s Army in the next three years.

4. What is the purpose of Aquino and the military officials in preconditioning the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations with a general ceasefire? Is it to prevent peace negotiations or pressure the NDFP towards capitulation and the laying aside of the people’s demands for reforms? Is Aquino really interested in peace negotiations as a way of addressing the roots of the armed conflict and agreeing on reforms as the basis for a just and lasting peace?

JMS: Aquino and the military officials appear to be grossly ignorant or deliberately contemptuous of The Hague Joint Declaration which prohibits any side of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations from preconditioning the formal talks with ceasefire, surrender or anything else that negates the character and purpose of peace negotiations. In fact, Aquino seeks to violate The Hague Joint Declaration by making a demand for a general ceasefire as precondition.

He is expressing the old reactionary position of treating the peace negotiations as a mere tool of deception in the so-called counterinsurgency. Obviously, he regards the peace negotiations as a way of immediately pacifying the revolutionary forces and laying aside the need for negotiating and forging agreements as the basis for a just and lasting peace. He follows the US Counterinsurgency Guide which considers peace negotiations as dispensable f in defeating the armed revolutionary movement.

Aquino and the presidential adviser Teresita Deles follow the US line that peace negotiations are a disposable embellishment on the use of all-out military force to dismantle and disarm the revolutionary forces. The so-called military solution is combined with pretenses at good governance, delivery of services, economic rehabilitation and development and security reforms. The Aquino regime is banking so much on US military and financial assistance. It is salivating for the grant of USD 434 M from the Millennium Challenge Corp. in exchange for further US military intervention and super-exploitation by US corporations and banks.

Now, the regime appears to find no urgent necessity to engage the NDFP in peace negotiations. But we should not be surprised if it is willing to resume formal talks for one reason or another. It does not give up the use of the peace negotiations in trying to deceive the people or to trick the revolutionary forces. At the same, the current worsening economic crisis, the widespread social discontent, mass protests and the intensifying revolutionary armed struggle are stimuli for Aquino to approach the negotiating table.

5. Under the rotten ruling system of big compradors and landlords and the ever worsening crisis, how far can the Aquino regime make pretenses at good governance, delivery of social services, economic rehabilitation and development and security reforms? Does the regime have enough resources to satisfy the economic and social demands of the people and at the same time to increase the personnel and equipment of the military, police and paramilitary forces?

JMS: The Aquino regime cannot go very far in its pretenses at good governance. Aquino himself has become the most corrupt official by virtue of his accepting campaign funds from the imperialists and from his fellow big comprador-landlords and thus being bound to serve their interests. He has appointed to lucrative positions certain officials close to big business and notorious for being corrupt in previous regimes. The Cojuangco-Aquino family is now using the power and influence of the president for the corrupt purpose of preventing land reform and clawing on to Hacienda Luisita.

The persistence of the ruling system and its worsening crisis render impossible any adequate delivery of social services to the people and any economic rehabilitation and development for the country. The budgetary and trade deficits will grow. Local and foreign borrowing will become ever more burdensome. Collecting additional taxes will become ever more difficult in a depressed economy. How can Aquino impress anyone about tax collection when he is silent about the unpaid tax obligations and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses, Eduardo Cojuangco, Lucio Tan and other big shots.

The Aquino regime can only fan the flames of the armed revolution by using public funds and foreign grants to enlarge its military forces in terms of personnel and equipment and escalate campaigns of military suppression. Within the span of the next three years, Aquino wishes to destroy or debilitate the revolutionary forces through propaganda stunts and brute military force. He can only fan the flames of people’s war by exacerbating the socio-economic crisis with rising military expenditures.

6. How can the revolutionary forces and the people overcome the plan of the Aquino regime to destroy or debilitate them? Are they ready to fight tit for tat, deliver their own blows on the regime and the entire ruling system and advance to a new and higher stage of the people’s war?

JMS: I shall answer your question as a political scientist. The revolutionary forces draw the participation and support of the broad masses of the people, especially the workers, peasants and lower middle class, because the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system is rotten, increasingly exploitative and oppressive and ceaselessly afflicted with socio-economic and political crisis. As the crisis of the ruling system and the world capitalist system worsens, the reactionary classes will have more difficulties because of increasingly violent factional contradictions and because of the further rise of the revolutionary movement.

The revolutionary forces have adopted the general line of people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war. This line has served the revolutionary forces and the people very well since the re-establishment of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1968. They grew from small to big and from weak to strong. They were able to overcome the 14-year long Marcos fascist dictatorship and build the New People’s Army nationwide. Since the fall of Marcos, they have been able to overcome all kinds of violence and deception under such operational plans as Lambat Bitag I, II and III and Bantay Laya I and II, conducted by the post-Marcos regimes. They have a wealth of experience and the will to win.

According to the publications of the CPP Central Committee, the armed revolutionary movement has a plan of advancing the people’s war from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate in the next five years. The CPP has laid out the political requirements for such an advance. These involve the further strengthening of the CPP, NPA, the NDFP, the mass organizations and the organs of political power. The Party has also made clear the strategy and tactics tto wage intensive and extensive guerrilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base, develop on favorable terrain highly mobile strike forces that can operate on inter-front, inter-provincial and regional scales and aim to build some 179 guerrilla fronts within the next five years.

7. Among the political requirements for advancing the people’s war, what do you think is the most important one? Please answer according to your rich stock of knowledge and revolutionary experience since the 1960s.

JMS: In my opinion, the most important political requirement is the development of the mass movement by arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses of workers, peasants and urban petty bourgeois who comprise the basic forces of the people’s democratic revolution. After all, the revolution is a mass undertaking, from the process of overthrowing the rotten system to that of building a new Philippines that is truly independent and democratic, socially just, progressive and peaceful.

Success in the mass movement is best measured by solid mass organizing, concretely by a count of how many people become members of the various mass organizations, as a result of conscious and militant leadership, mass agitation and propaganda, members recruiting others and mass campaigns. The simplest and most effective method of expanding the mass organizations is to encourage all members to perform their basic duty of recruiting new members from among their friends, colleagues and relatives who are willing to accept the organization’s constitution and program.

The mass organizations are based in the urban areas as well as in the rural areas, inside and outside of the guerrilla fronts. They can grow by relying on and trusting the masses. The imposition of unreasonable standards and sectarian biases and then the failure to further develop the limited number of members are factors that stunt the growth of mass organizations. The large numbers of members in the basic mass organizations serve as the main source of candidate members for the CPP and as its main basis for expansion.

8. Can you say more about building the CPP? What are the requirements involved? What factors cause the expansion or contraction of the Party organization?

JMS: I can talk in general terms. The ever worsening crisis of the ruling system generates the conditions favorable to the building of patriotic and progressive mass organizations as well as to the building of the Party. The building of the Party entails ideological, political and organizational building. Ideological building involves education in applying Marxism-Leninism-Maoism on the history and current circumstances of the Philippines. Political building involves developing the mass movement along the line of people’s democratic revolution. Organizational building involves upholding the principle of democratic centralism.

May I focus on the question of expansion or contraction of the Party organization. Let me start by saying that it is the basic duty of all Party members to recruit as candidate-members those who accept the Constitution and Program of the Party. Within the period of candidature of six months for workers and peasants; and one year for the urban petty bourgeois, the Party unit concerned has the duty to see to it that the candidate-member is raised to being a full member by taking the basic level of Party education and carrying out the assigned tasks.

The Party organization expands quite rapidly if this standard is followed. If not, the growth of the Party organization is stunted. Among the causes of the contraction of the Party organization are the failure to constantly urge Party members to carry out their basic duty of recruiting candidate-members in accordance with the Party Constitution, conceit manifested by applying unreasonable standards that deviate from the constitution, over-suspiciousness and inability to recognize the honesty of prospective and current candidate-members and sheer negligence of the duty to recruit candidate-members or to help them become full members.

9. From your study of its published documents, can you explain how feasible it is for the CPP to establish 179 guerrilla fronts, develop relatively stable areas and reach the stage of strategic stalemate? Can you explain the strategy and tactics being pursued by the CPP?

JMS: Indeed, I have studied the CPP documents. The CPP has set itself five years to carry out its plan to establish 179 guerrilla fronts, develop relatively stable base areas and reach the stage of strategic stalemate. At present, such revolutionary forces as the Party, the people’s army, the mass organizations and organs of political power are well-based among the toiling masses and are spread out nationwide. According to the CPP, these forces will expand and consolidate themselves from year to year.

The NPA is the main revolutionary force for advancing the people’s war. It pursues the strategic line of encircling the cities from the countryside in order to accumulate armed strength. It chooses the best possible physical and social terrain for basing itself and from there advance wave upon wave. It aims to raise its strength and offensive capabilities and to improve coordination among its units on the scale of several guerrilla fronts, provinces and regions.

It launches only those tactical offensives it can win and avoids battles that it is not sure of winning. Its main purpose is to wipe out enemy units, accumulate weapons and form more combat units. It seeks to punish the human rights violators, the plunderers and the worst anti-social elements. It is determined to dismantle anti-people, anti-national and antidemocratic enterprises (especially those engaged in landgrabbing, mining, logging for export and the like) in order to combat the worst forms of exploitation, make more land available for free distribution to the landless tillers and protect and conserve natural resources for national industrialization.

10. What is the relationship of the NPA to the mass movement in the guerrilla fronts, the organs of political power, the people’s militia and self-defense units? How is this relationship affected by the drive to reach the strategic stalemate?

JMS: Let me continue restating what I read from CPP publications. Under the leadership of the CPP, the NPA does mass work in the guerrilla fronts. It does propaganda work to arouse the masses. It guides and encourages the masses to organize themselves in various forms of voluntary association. It urges them to undertake mass campaigns for the benefit of the people, such as those related to public education, land reform and production, health, defense, cultural affairs, settlement of disputes and so on.

The NPA guarantees the development of the barrio organizing committees into barrio revolutionary committees as local organs of democratic power. It gives basic training to the people’s militia as the police force and the self-defense units of the various mass organizations. It is of key importance to develop Party members from the ranks of advanced mass activists and form the Party branch as the leading force of the local mass organizations, the organs of democratic power, the militia and the self-defense units.

When the local revolutionary forces led by the Party branch exist, the NPA units can be confident of having a guerrilla base for opening new areas as well as for launching tactical offensives. In the drive to reach the strategic stalemate, the direct mass base for people’s war needs to expand and consolidate, become relatively stable and support the mobile strike forces of the NPA in undertaking tactical offensives for definite periods of time. The NPA can concentrate on tactical offensives because the local revolutionary forces can take charge of their own affairs in the localities.

11. How would you compare the longevity of the Aquino regime and that of the armed revolutionary movement?

JMS: The Aquino regime is just a passing pro-imperialist big comprador-landlord regime. It has made too many promises that are false and cannot be fulfilled. It is running against itself. It will soon be utterly discredited and isolated. Aquino has cashed in on the mystique of his parents. He is wantonly spending it. The revolutionary mass movement of the people will become stronger by fighting the regime and will outlast it. It will continue to exist and grow for as long as there is a need to fight for national and social liberation and to build a people’s democratic system. ###