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Bulatlat Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison
by Bobby Tuazon
Bulatlat

Dear Professor Jose Maria Sison,

Bulatlat, a weekly online publication in the Philippines, would like to interview you as a political analyst and inspirational leader of the national democratic movement in the country with regards the current political crisis. The current political situation in the country, which has undergone two people's uprisings leading to the fall of two presidents (in 15 years) and another one - in just four years - unfolding, has created both disgust and frustration among many of your compatriots. Needless to say, the present situation is also opening opportunities for debates and mass protests over what is now appearing to be the most singular question: Is it a matter of replacing a president who has lost all credibility or is it already a matter of replacing a failed system. In this regard, there are at least four major options developing assuming that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is forced to resign or is ousted by another political uprising: first, constitutional succession; second, a snap presidential election; third, military junta; and fourth, a transition or coalition government.

Our questions are:

1) There is a growing number of Filipinos who are open to the idea of a transition or coalition government that will do away with the constitutional presidential succession in case Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo resigns or is ousted from Malacaņang. The basis is not only frustration over the presidency but more so on the present political system that continues to breed corrupt presidents and elitist rule. Do you believe that the time and condition are ripe for this option that, in effect, will also be geared toward replacing the present presidential system of government and craft a new one? What makes you think this will become acceptable to the people?

JMS: THE FILIPINO PEOPLE ARE DESIROUS OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE AND ARE OPEN TO THE IDEA OF A REVOLUTIONARY COALITION TRANSITION GOVERNMENT TO DO AWAY WITH THE LINE OF PRESIDENTIAL SUCCESSION IN THE 1987 CONSTITUTION OF THE MANILA GOVERNMENT. IT IS POSSIBLE AND NECESSARY FOR A BROAD UNITED FRONT OF FORCES TO OUST GLORIA M. ARROYO AND HER COHORTS FROM POWER. THE KEY FORCES NOW AT WORK AGAINST THE ARROYO REGIME ARE THE MASS ORGANIZATIONS OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT, CERTAIN OPPOSITION PARTIES AND CERTAIN GROUPS OF MILITARY AND POLICE OFFICERS. THEY CAN FORM A PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL THAT CAN SERVE AS THE TRANSITION COALITION GOVERNMENT THAT CALLS FOR ELECTIONS OF EXECUTIVE AND LEGISLATIVE OFFICIALS AS WELL AS DELEGATES TO A CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION SIX MONTHS AFTER THE OUSTER OF THE ARROYO REGIME. THE PRESIDENTIAL FORM OF GOVERNMENT MAY BE REPLACED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY FORM. THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION SHOULD BE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FROM THE SCHEME OF ARROYO AND DE VENECIA TO CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION ACCORDING TO THEIR SELFISH INTEREST. PEOPLE WILL LIKE THE PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL AND THE PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT IF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF WORKERS, PEASANTS, WOMEN, YOUTH AND NATIONAL MINORITIES WILL BE ADEQUATELY AND PROPERLY REPRESENTED. THE ROLE OF THE PEOPLE'S ARMED REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT WILL GAIN IMPORTANCE AND STRENGTH IN CHANGING THE ENTIRE RULING SYSTEM OF BIG COMPRADORS AND LANDLORDS.

2) Related to the first question, how do you figure out this type of government considering the possibility that those who would comprise such would come from leaders representing various political shades and colors who were in the forefront in the ouster of Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo? Please clarify what should be the maximum and minimum basis for this type of alliance or government of national unity?

JMS: THE PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL SHOULD INCLUDE THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE LARGEST, MOST SIGNIFICANT AND MOST ACTIVE PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS IN THE MOVEMENT TO OUST THE ARROYO REGIME. WE CAN LET THE FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS TO DECIDE THE COMPOSITION OF THE PARLIAMENT, AFTER THE ELECTORAL RULES ARE MADE SO TRULY DEMOCRATIC AS TO ALLOW PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS OF WORKERS AND PEASANTS TO FIELD CANDIDATES SUCCESSFULLY. BUT SO LONG AS THE RULING SYSTEM OF BIG COMPRADORS AND LANDLORDS REMAINS INTACT, REACTIONARY POLITICIANS WILL STILL BE DOMINANT. THE CONTINUING SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL CRISIS WILL FAVOR THE RISE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY FORCES ANDF PEOPLE AGAINST THE REACTIONARY POLITICIANS OF THE BIG COMPRADORS AND LANDLORDS. THE OUSTER OR RESIGNATION OF ARROYO IN A FAVOR OF A PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL OR SOMETHING ELSE WILL NOT BE THE END OF THE STORY.

3) Can you possibly mention or propose some specific names who should be in this transition or coalition government? Do you foresee any slot here for the military (active or retired) particularly some patriotic or progressive elements?

JMS: IT IS PREMATURE FOR ME TO MENTION NAMES THAT SHOULD BE IN THE TRANSITION OR COALITION GOVERNMENT. IN DUE TIME, THE STRONGEST AND MOST EFFECTIVE PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS IN THE MASS MOVEMENT TO OUST THE ARROYO REGIME WILL BECOME OBVIOUS THROUGH THE LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE THAT THEY CAN AROUSE, ORGANIZE AND MOBILIZE. NEGOTIATIONS WILL OCCUR AMONG SUCH PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS IN ORDER TO APPORTION DELEGATES IN A PEOPLE'S CONSULTATIVE ASSEMBLY THAT WILL ELECT THE PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL. RETIRED MILITARY AND POLICE OFFICERS MAY REPRESENT RETIRED AND ACTIVE OFFICERS IN THE ASSEMBLY AND COUNCIL. BUT THEY SHOULD NOT BE MORE THAN TEN PERCENT IN ORDER TO UPHOLD THE PRINCIPLE OF CIVILIAN SUPREMACY. IF ARROYO INSISTS ON STAYING IN POWER BY BRUTE FORCE, AN ALLIANCE BETWEEN THE NEW PEOPLE'S ARMY AND THE PATRIOTIC SECTIONS OF THE AFP AND PNP IS POSSIBLE. SUCH AN ALLIANCE WILL HAVE TO BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN THE BROAD UNITED FRONT.

4) Any coalition, in principle, will inevitably undertake the task of drafting a new constitution, determining the form of political rule that should replace the present reactionary system and schedule an election. Do you believe that this political process can push through and in what way? What will happen to the present crop of political parties?

JMS: THERE SHOULD BE A CONSTITUTION THAT IS PATRIOTIC AND DEMOCRATIC. THE DRAFT OF THIS CAN BE PREPARED IN ADVANCE UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COUNCIL. IT SHOULD BE DELIBERATED UPON AND RATIFIED SOON AFTER THE ARROYO REGIME IS OUSTED. THERE SHOULD BE ELECTIONS THAT ARE TRULY DEMOCRATIC. PARTIES AND ORGANIZATIONS OF THE WORKING PEOPLE SHOULD BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTIONS AND THEREBY GET THEIR SHARE OF POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY. THUS, THE REACTIONARY PARTIES OF THE COMPRADOR BIG BOURGEOISIE AND THE LANDLORD CLASS SHOULD LOSE THEIR MONOPOLY OF POLITICAL POWER.

5) Related to the previous question, "coalition governments" are known to be fragile and many of them eventually collapse with one political group or party dominating. How should the Left handle this?

JMS: COALITION GOVERNMENTS MAY BE STABLE OR UNSTABLE. BUT NO MATTER HOW OFTEN IS THE CHANGE OF PARLIAMENTARY LEADERSHIP, THERE SHOULD BE AN HONEST, COMPETENT AND EFFICIENT BUREAUCRACY. IF THE CRISIS BECOMES WORSE AND CALLS FOR NOTHING LESS THAN A REVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY, THEN THE PEOPLE AND REVOLUTIONARY FORCES WILL SMASH THE ENTIRE BUREAUCRATIC AND MILITARY MACHINERY OF THE STATE AND ESTABLISH A PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COALITION GOVERNMENT.

6) What should be the role of the NDFP in the coalition?

JMS: THE NDFP CAN PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN BUILDING A PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COALITION GOVERNMENT. HOWEVER, IF THE OBJECTIVE IS TO OUST THE ARROYO REGIME, IT SUFFICES THAT THE DIFFERENT LEGAL POLITICAL FORCES, INCLUDING THE LEGAL MASS ORGANIZATIONS OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT, FORM THE BROAD UNITED FRONT TO OUST THE ARROYO REGIME AND SUBSEQUENTLY ESTABLISH A PROVISIONAL OR TRANSITIONAL KIND OF COALITION GOVERNMENT. THE NDFP WILL BE ABLE TO PLAY AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT ROLE AS A RESULT OF THE VICTORIES OF THE PEOPLE IN THE LEGAL DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT AND TN THE ARMED REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT AGAINST THE RULING SYSTEM. THE CPP, NPA AND THE NDFP ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FORCES FOR BUILDING THE PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC COALITION GOVERNMENT.

We would appreciate Prof. Sison if you can send your reply not later than mid- Saturday (Philippine time) in time for our press work.

Maraming salamat.

For Bulatlat,

Bobby Tuazon

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