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Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison

by Glenda Gloria,
Managing Editor, Newsbreak Magazine
March 6, 2006

Hope you're doing well, GMA notwithstanding.

JMS Answer: Indeed, I am doing well. When under attack, I become more alive. As someone inspiring said before, to be attacked by the enemy is a good thing. It confirms that I am okay.

Just a few follow-up questions to your statement on the communist-military tieup. We are doing the full story on what transpired on Feb.21-24. I'd appreciate if you could share with me your insights.

1.) My sources within the rebel military movement insist that the RAM elders held "initial talks" with the members of the CPP central committee principally on the issue of how to bring about a better political system post-GMA. Inevitably, how to go there-- ousting GMA first -- was discussed. Without delving on tactical details, would such talks be against the CPP strategy or tactics? Is the CPP completely averse to any alliance, tactical or otherwise, with what it deems to be probably "progressive" members of the Armed Forces (of course, I'd rather not call Gringo progressive) but I have no better term for the junior officers?

JMS Answer: I do not think that it is against revolutionary principles, strategy and tactics for the CPP to talk with any group of retired and/or active military officers seeking to cooperate with the broad united front and the mass movement in ousting the Arroyo regime by withdrawing military support from this regime ala EDSA 1 and 2 and without carrying out a military coup d'etat to instal a military dictator or military junta.

So much the better if such a group of retired and/or active military officers is also interested in supporting the continuation of GRP-NDFP peace negotiations by a post-Arroyo dispensation or arrangement that would seek to address the roots of the armed conflict with substantive agreements on significant social, economic and political reforms in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and that would depart from the Arroyo regime's futile policy of seeking to turn the peace negotiations into surrender negotiations by using the so-called terrorist list of the US and European Union as well as bloody repressive measures against the legal democratic forces to pressure the NDFP.

At any rate, the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations that have been going on since the 1990s point to the principled political and moral basis of the CPP for possibly talking with any group of retired and/or active military officers. On that basis, there is nothing wrong for the CPP to talk with the RAM elders, Makabayang Kawal Pilipino, YOU-YOUng, the CNS group of General Abat or the YES-ARMS of Commodore Aparri.

The Arroyo regime is now taking cheap shots at the Katipunan ng mga Anakbayan and the MKP as "sleeping with the enemy" by allegedly talking with communists. Practically, Ms Arroyo is slapping her own face for having talked with communists through the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. But so far, she has avoided claiming to have slept with communists. In fact she is trying to whip up an anti-communist hysteria within the AFP and PNP. This is one more obstacle to the resumption of the formal talks in the peace negotiations.

2.) Isn't there a contradiction in communists talking with the military rebels? Why would the CPP even entertain the thought of talking to military rebels? You belong to two opposite poles. How can you attract each other?

JMS Answer: Of course, there is a contradiction. Some people can reasonably say on certain grounds that the CPP is not supposed to talk with such groups. There are the sharp ideological differences and so-called bad blood between the CPP and such groups. But circumstances can change to necessitate or allow certain policy adjustments or political agreements not previously possible. By the way, in politics as in physics, opposite poles attract each other, whether they are still locked in combat or come to terms on some points beneficial to the people.

The rank and file of the AFP and PNPare now in ferment. There are definitely pro-Arroyo and anti-Arroyo officers who are still similarly pro-US and reactionary. But for the first time, significant groups of patriotic and progressive military officers now are critical of US imperialism and GRP puppetry and wish to have a program to address the roots of the armed conflict, thanks to the fine examples of the late Lt. Crispin Tagamolila and Capt. Rene Jarque.

The ordinary soldiers and police are recruited mainly by the AFP from the workers, peasants and other poor people. They are now discontented with the corruption of the regime and its officer loyalists and with the dismal conditions of their families and their units in the field. You must remember that the first Red Army grew out of the Czarist army in Russia. Chu Teh, chief of staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, was previously a marshal of the northern warlords. There are such other examples of reactionary military officers as Col. Jacobo Arbenz Guzman of Guatemala, Major Luis Carlos Prestes of Brazil and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who turned patriotic and progressive.

Chiang Kai-shek massacred 300,000 communists and other people in Shanghai in the 1920s. But later on when Japan invaded China in the 1930s, the Chinese communists and the Guomindang came together in a united front against the Japanese invasionary forces. The Chinese communists considered the overriding interest of the Chinese nation and people in the united front against Japanese imperialism.

Fidel V. Ramos, as commanding general of the Philippine Constabulary, was one of the notorious butchers of the Marcos fascist regime for a long while. But as soon as he turned against Marcos, the CPP welcomed him as part of EDSA 1. General Raymundo Jarque was welcome to the NDFP as soon as he turned against the ruling system. Many officers and men have resigned from the AFP either to live a productive civilian life or join the people's army.

It is possible, necessary and appropriate for the CPP to talk with the anti-Arroyo groups of military groups on the minimal basis of seeking the ouster of Arroyo through people's uprising cum withdrawal of military support, under the principle of people's sovereignty and civilian supremacy, short of a military coup d'etat; and on the maximal basis of seeking cooperation on patriotic and progressive grounds in the course of the oust-Arroyo movement and thereafter. Nevertheless, I presume that it is much easer for the CPP to talk with retired and active military officers who are patriotic and progressive and who are honestly against puppetry, corruption, electoral fraud and human rights violations.

3.) I remember though that the ABB -- Popoy and Nilo-- held talks in the 1990s with the Young Officers Union. Did this have the Party's OK? If so,why? What was the objective of those talks, what did they achieve? What were the lessons learned from that period?

JMS Answer: I am not aware of any talks authorized by the CPP, between the ABB and the Young Officers Union in the 1990s. What I remember most is that Popoy Lagman surrendered to the Ramos regime through some Philippine Navy officers in 1994. Nilo de la Cruz got caught up in the intelligence web of the ISAFP because Arturo Tabara had set him up. However, it seems that Nilo does not recognize this fact.

I believe that when the officers of the RAM and YOU were detained with suspected communists in the same compound for two years in the early 1990s, they had ample opportunity to exchange ideas and views about the basic problems of the country and possible solutions along the line of people's struggle for national freedom and democracy.

Since 1968 when I was chairman of the CPP Central Committee, the CPP has always considered underground work in the reactionary army as a major task. The initial elements engaged in the work were recruited by the CPP from a former USAFFE guerrilla unit that had cooperated with the Hukbalahap in World War II as well as from the Philippine Military Academy and the UP Vanguard corps of ROTC officers.

The Crispin Tagamolila Movement was launched in 1970 to further encourage AFP officers and men to take the side of the people and their revolution. Military personnel of whatever rank who are captured by the NPA are treated leniently in order to comply with the Geneva Conventions as well as to prove to them that they are welcome if they wish to take the side of the people.###

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