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Interview with Professor Jose Ma. Sison
About Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines

By Masaru Takagi
Manila Bureau Chief
Nippon Hoso Kyosai (NHK)
E-mail interview prior to videocam interview
October 6, 2006

Masaru Takagi (MT): In several statements, the National Democratic Front has repeatedly named President Arroyo as behind the extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. What led NDF to arrive at such conclusion? What will the Arroyo government gain or achieve to gain from these?

Professor Jose Maria Sison (JMS): The National Democratic of the Philippines (NDFP) has come to the conclusion that she is behind the extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations on the basis of the facts, including the following:

1.The extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations are committed within the framework of the US-directed war of terror, the declared all-out war policy of the Arroyo regime and Oplan Bantay Laya. They are directed by the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security. The death squads consist of handpicked elements of the military and police supervised by Military Intelligence Groups.

2.Many of the victims are first attacked as "enemies" of the state" and listed in the "order of battle" of the military. Nearly all victims receive death threats and are visited by intelligence officers before they are killed by motor cycle riding killers in most cases.

3.There are 763 victims of assassination (up to the murder of Bishop Alberto Ramento), more than 200 survivors of assassination attempts and more than 185 abductions. These crimes are committed with impunity. Only the state is capable of committing so many crimes with immunity. The highest officials of the Arroyo regime and Philippine National Police (PNP) cover up the killers by putting the blame on the New People's Army (NPA) and on the victims themselves for supposedly being communists or NPA members "under purge".

MT: Would the stalled GRP-NDF peace talks have connections with the killings and disappearances? Please enlighten us as to whether this kind of environment an indication of either an attempt of the government to force NDF to return to the negotiating table or that the government is no longer talking peace with NDF?

JMS: As early as when Oplan Bantay Laya was still being planned in 2001, we learned from palace insiders that the extrajudicial killings are meant to destroy the revolutionary movement or compel the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to capitulate in the peace negotiations.

Arroyo and her principal hatchetmen in the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security and the highest military officials openly indicate that the extrajudicial killings and other operations of Oplan Bantay Laya are meant to destroy the revolutionary movement. They believe that the all-out war policy, the catchword of anti-terrorism and the extrajudicial killings can unite the fractious military and police and serve their political survival.

According to former chairman of the GRP Negotiating Panel Silvestre Bello, the extrajudicial killings are meant to strengthen the negotiating position of the GRP. But I do not think that the Arroyo regime is thereby attempting to return to the peace negotiations. The regime is preoccupied with using the all-out war policy for the purpose of political survival and complying with the US war of terror.

MT: Given these political killings and abductions of NDF consultants and known allies, is the NDF ready to talk peace with the Arroyo government? What actions will you undertake to address the killings and disappearances? Also, President Arroyo has formed probe bodies to solve the political killings and disappearances. How do you view this effort?

JMS: I do not think that the NDFP is ready to negotiate peace with the Manila government while the extrajudicial killings are going on and no justice has been rendered to those hundreds of workers and peasants, political activists, journalists, church people, human rights activists and peace advocates who have been murdered. This question of justice is a prejudicial question in addition to the so-called terrorist listing.

The NDFP would prefer to see first the Arroyo regime to go out of power one way or another. Then the victims and the people can go after the murderers from the level of Arroyo to the death squads. In the meantime, the families, organizations and churches and the domestic and international human rights organizations can collect the evidence against the murderers as basis for future actions. Among possible future actions, after the Arroyo regime is out of power, are those that can be initiated in the Joint Monitoring Committee within the framework of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law CARHRIHL).

The probe bodies like Task Force Usig and the Melo Commission are all meant to cover up the criminal culpability of the regime, put the blame on the revolutionary movement and vilify the victims, their families and colleagues. In this connection, the Arroyo regime is far more evil that the Marcos regime in systematically killing its political opponents and blaming others for the crime. It uses bloody intrigue to justify further extrajudicial killings.

MT: As mentioned, we are focusing on the abduction of Mr. Phillip Limjoco. What do you know of his background? Why would the government have a specific interest in him? Have you received information about his condition now?

JMS: I do not have much direct personal knowledge of Mr. Philip Limjoco. But I have learned from those who know him very well that he was detained during the time of Marcos for opposing the fascist dictatorship. They praise him as a patriotic and progressive person and as an effective community organizer.

Since last year, according to his family, he has been in the "order of battle" of the military. He is one of those falsely accused of rebellion by the military and the department of justice of the regime. We do not have any information about his condition apart from the reports of Karapatan about his disappearance. His military abductors are either hiding him or they have done something worse to him.

MT: The CPP-NPA has intensified attacks against the military and the police in recent months. Do you see the fighting escalating? How are the civilians protected from being caught in the war?

JMS: The CPP-NPA has intensified attacks against the military and police because of the prior escalation of attacks by their enemy under Oplan Bantay Laya. The fighting is likely to increase and spread because in the first place the Arroyo regime is carrying out an all-out war policy. As as far as the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, it will continue to see to it that the revolutionary fighters of the New People's Army serve the people and follow its revolutionary principles and rules, the Geneva Conventions and its protocols and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for HR and IHL in order to protect the civilians and respect their rights.

MT: Until when do you see yourself seeking refuge in The Netherlands? Could this happen under the Arroyo leadership?

JMS: I will continue to stay as a recognized political refugee under the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Refugee Convention. The NDFP has asked me to stay put in The Netherlands for the purpose of peace negotiations. While the Arroyo ruling clique is still in power, the resumption of the peace negotiations is unlikely to happen. But the next administration of the GRP might still want to negotiate with the NDFP.

End of Interview.

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