By Enrico Piovesana
Via Meravigli, 12
20123 Milano, Italia
20 August 2007
Enrico Piovesana (EP): Prof. Sison, could you please tell us briefly about
your personal and political history, from your childhood up to becoming an
Professor Jose Maria Sison (JMS): I am not a terrorist. I stand for
principles and actions that are for the benefit of the people fighting for
national liberation, democracy and socialism. I am a Filipino patriot and a
proletarian internationalist, not an "international terrorist" by any
suggestion. Communists are not terrorists. European governments are wrong
for following the Bush line that communists, progressive mass leaders,
national liberation movements and anti-imperialist governments are
terrorists. The imperialist powers are engaged in fascisation on a global
By my writings and political acts, I am well-known for opposing policies and
actions that harm or work against the interests of the people. I stand up
for the rights and interests of the people and support their revolutionary
struggles. I have strongly opposed micro-terrorists like Al Qaida and Abu
Sayyaf and macro-terrorists like the US and other imperialist powers that
kill large numbers of people through the daily violence of exploitation,
state terrorism and wars of aggression.
You can get the biographical information about me from the book, At Home in
the World: Portrait of a Filipino Revolutionary. At any rate, here are a few
facts. I was born on February 8, 1939 in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. I
took my grade school in this town and high school in Manila. I took my
bachelor and masteral courses at the University of the Philippines and I
taught English literature and political science subjects in two
universities. I was active in the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal mass
movement. I became the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party of the Philippines from 1968 to 1977. I was arrested, tortured and
detained by the Marcos fascist dictatorship from 1977 to 1986.
I was released from military detention after the fall of Marcos in 1986 and
rejoined the faculty of the University of the Philippines. I went on a
university lecture tour in the Asia-Pacific region and then in Europe from
late 1986 onwards. When my Philippine passport was cancelled in 1988, I
applied for political asylum in The Netherlands. I am now the chief
political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
(NDFP) in peace negotiations with the reactionary Government of the Republic
of the Philippines (GRP). Ironically, it is in connection with the GRP-NDFP
peace negotiations that the CPP, New People's Army NPA) and I have been
blacklisted as "terrorists" by the US and other foreign governments upon the
lobbying of the GRP in order to pressure the NDFP towards capitulation.
EP: How would you describe the nature of NPA struggle: history, strength,
spread, activities, social support, mid-term and long-term goals?
JMS: The Communist Party of the Philippines describes the New People's Army
as the main weapon for protracted people's war and seizure of political
power along the line of the new democratic revolution under the leadership
of the working class in the concrete conditions of the Philippines. The NPA
was established on March 29, 1969, a few months after the reestablishment of
the CPP in 1968. It has carried out fighting, political, productive and
cultural tasks for more than 38 years. It is deeply and widely based among
the people, mainly the peasantry.
It has more than 120 guerrilla fronts. It operates in 70 of the 81 provinces
of the Philippines, 800 out of 1500 Philippine municipalities and in more
than 10,000 out of the 42,000 Philippine villages. It has been instrumental
in the establishment and development of mass organizations and organs of
political power. It has generated and supported social programs and mass
campaigns for the benefit of the people in mass education, land reform,
production, health, defense, cultural activities and settlement of disputes.
The goals announced by the NPA are to seize political power in order to
complete the new democratic revolution and establish a people's republic and
then to become the main component of state power and defender of the people
in socialist revolution and construction in the Philippines.
EP: What's your reply to those who say that nowadays a Maoist guerrilla
fighting for a socialist state is anachronistic?
JMS: The NPA cannot be anachronistic by fighting for national liberation and
democracy against US imperialism and the local exploiting classes of big
compradors and landlords. It is the new democratic force that is striving to
defeat such anachronistic monsters as imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat
capitalism which exploit and oppress the broad masses of the people.
By the time that the NPA succeeds in defeating these anachronistic monsters,
then the people shall have accumulated the strength necessary for building
socialism under conditions of an imperialism much weakened by accelerated
crisis under such policies as "free market" globalization and global war of
terror spearheaded by US monopoly capitalism. The world capitalist system
has a growing tendency to implode because of the increased number of
competing imperialist powers and the growing resistance of the people of the
EP: The CPP program states that the future socialist State will have special
relations with the People's Republic of China. Many people say that NPA is
even armed by China. Why do you still consider China a revolutionary state,
even if it has become a completely capitalist country?
JMS: At the time that the CPP program was formulated in 1968, the People's
Republic of China was still a socialist state and was practically the center
of the world proletarian revolution through the Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution. But since then, especially after 1976, CPP documents and
publications have been criticizing the revisionists and capitalist
restorationists that have prevailed over the Marxist-Leninists in China. As
you say, China has become capitalist and is no longer a revolutionary state.
I refer you to CPP documents and publications criticizing and condemning
"free market" globalization in sharp contrast to China's conformity to this
policy pushed by the US and other imperialist powers.
EP: Could you explain what the 'Oplan Bantay Laya' is and its effects on
civilians and political activists?
JMS: Oplan Bantay Laya is a "national internal security plan" patterned
after Oplan Phoenix of the US in Vietnam during the late 1960s. It seeks to
destroy the political infrastructure and the guerrilla fronts of the armed
revolutionary movement. It is instigated by the US in the context of its
policy of global war of terror. The US has described the Philippines as the
second front of such global war. It has introduced thousands of US military
troops in the Philippines and increased military supplies to its Filipino
puppets to push them on a counterrevolutionar
y rampage in the name of
Oplan Bantay Laya has brought about the extrajudicial killing, forced
disappearance and torture of more than a thousand progressive legal
activists, including leaders of progressive mass organizations, journalists,
lawyers, religious leaders and other activists who advocate human rights,
social justice and just peace. It has also brought about the brutal
displacement of more than one million people mainly in the countryside, in
addition to a previous level of two million internal refugees. The forced
displacement of the people is calculated to divest them of their land and to
deliver this to foreign mining, agribusiness and recreation companies.
Oplan Bantay Laya aims to destroy the armed revolution and legal opposition
and to intimidate the people. But it has failed to destroy a single
guerrilla front of the NPA. It has only served to fuel the flames of the
armed revolution. The gross and systematic violations of the human rights of
the progressive legal activists have outraged the Filipino people and the
people of the world. The progressive legal mass movement has risen up to a
new level against the escalating acts of violence against the people by the
US and the local reactionaries. Even international human rights
organizations and human rights agencies of the UN have pointed to the
criminal responsibility of the Filipino puppet rulers headed by Arroyo.
EP: The situation will get worse from now on with the new anti-terror law:
the Human Security Act enforced on July 15?
JMS: Indeed, the human rights situation will get worse with the
anti-terror- law, which is deceptively called Human Security Act of 2007. The
definitions of "terrorism" and "conspiracy to commit terrorism" are vague
and overly broad. It becomes very easy for the Arroyo regime to take
punitive actions against any individual,, any organization and any party in
the opposition. The punitive actions include limitless surveillance,
warrantless arrests, indefinite detention without bail, proscription as
"terrorists" and seizure of properties and financial assets.
EP: Do you think that under Arroyo's leadership, Philippines is going
backward to the Marcos dictatorship era?
JMS: In many respects and to a great extent, the Arroyo regime is already
very much on the fascist road of the Marcos dictatorship. Especially with
the HSA of 2007, the Arroyo regime has gotten a license for martial rule
without having to declare martial law and comply with requirements set by
the anti-fascist provisions of the 1987 constitution
EP: What is the role of US military in supporting Philippines troops? Only
training and logistical support or something more?
JMS: The role of the US military in supporting Philippine troops is not
limited to weapons training and logistical support. It is to indoctrinate
the puppet officers and troops and enhance their subservience, mercenary
character and puppetry to US political and military plans in East Asia and
the world at large, It is to gain intelligence from the puppet forces
against the Filipino people as well as to provide intelligence to the puppet
forces in order to condition their thinking and operations. It is to lay
anew and develop the infrastructure for direct US military presence and
operations in the Philippines and for US military intervention and
aggression in Southeast Asia, East Asia and farther afield.
EP: Official figures put at 40 thousand the death toll of the 'People War'.
Do you confirm this number? Is it true that the conflict is now in an
JMS: It is wrong for anyone to ascribe the death toll of 40,000 or whatever
number to the people's war .. We must make clear that this number refers to
the people killed by the military, police and paramilitary forces of the
reactionary government in the course of anti-NPA campaigns of suppression as
early as during the time of the Marcos fascist dictatorship. Since after the
fall of the Marcos regime, the number would have significantly increased to
60,000 with the count of victims in the brutal campaigns of anti-communist
military suppression under the regimes of Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo.
Being the army of the people, the NPA strictly directs its fire against the
military, police and paramilitary forces of the oppressive regime. There is
an estimate that since 1969 the NPA has killed more than 30,000 enemy troops
and wounded many more and the reactionary military and police have killed
around 10,000 Red fighters and more than 50,000 civilians. These figures
exclude the casualties in the fighting between the reactionary armed forces
and the Moro liberation forces.
EP: What about the peace negotiations started in Brussels in 1995?
JMS: The peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the
Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines
(GRP) have made some progress in the form of agreements within the framework
of The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992. The most significant of the
agreements is the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and
International Humanitarian Law, which is the first item in the substantive
agenda of the peace negotiations.
But under various pretexts, the GRP has blocked the further advance of the
peace negotiations by repeated attempts to require the NDFP to capitulate
and by repeated declarations of prolonged recesses, suspension of talks and
even the termination of the negotiations. The peace negotiations become
paralyzed every time the GRP demands the surrender of the revolutionary
forces and stops the negotiations as a process for addressing the roots of
the armed conflict and agreeing on social, economic and political reforms
for the benefit of the people.
EP: What do you think about the other Philippine armed conflict: the one
between goverment and Moro Islamic Liberation Front? And what is your
opinion about the Abu Sayyaf Group?
JMS: The Moro people have the right to national self-determination,
democracy, development and peaceful enjoyment of their ancestral domain.
They have the right to secede from an oppressive state and to demand
regional autonomy in a nonoppressive state. The Moro Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) is waging a just revolutionary armed struggle along the line of
upholding, protecting and promoting the national and democratic rights and
interests of the Moro people.
The Abu Sayyaf is different . It was originally organized by the CIA and
Philippine military intelligence in 1991 in order to make trouble on the
flanks of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). But when the MNLF
capitulated to the GRP in 1996, the Abu Sayyaf appeared to run out of
control of the CIA and Philippine reactionary military. Now, it is being
used by the US as pretext for the continuing presence of US military forces
in Mindanao and the entire Philippines.