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Book Review of Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s Continuing Struggle for National and Social Liberation, Selected Writings, 1986 to 1991.

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by Luis Jalandoni
Utrecht, July 26, 2015

This book, the fifth of Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s Selected Writings, 1968-1991, brings us to the days of euphoria after the overthrow of the dictator Marcos in late 1986. Corazon Aquino assumed the presidency. She released all the political prisoners. Despite the objections of Enrile, General Fidel Ramos and the military establishment, she released Prof. Jose Maria Sison.

In the flurry of activities, interviews and forums to whch Joma was invited, he gave his analysis of the situation. “There has been no social revolution,” he declared in a speech at De La Salle University on April 1, 1986. He added, “There has been no radical transformation of the socioeconomic foundation. There has beeen no change in the class character of the state. The joint class dictatorship of the comprador big bourgeosie and landlord class continues. The bureaucratic and military machinery of the states remains intact.”

He recognized the democratic tendency in the Aquino cabinet. “Although certain key positions in the cabinet are held by pro-US reactionary elements, there are also nationalists and liberal democrats holding important positions in the same cabinet.

Later, he would declare that the Aquino regime only had liberal democratic embellishments and further on, only a a liberal democratic facade, as progressive cabinet members like Secretary of Labor Augusto Sanchez were replaced. Finally, Aquino would become an outright pro-US imperialist and comprador-landlord force, declaring all-out war against the CPP, NPA and NDFP and dismissing her Executive Secretary, Joker Arroyo, and replacing him with the pro-US Raul Manglapus.

Joma warned the Corazon Aquino regime early on, (April 22, 1986) “Insofar as it remains within the parameters of foreign and feudal domination, the Aquino regime is incapable of solving the economic crisis. The nonsolution of this crisis, the growing challenge of the Marcos forces, and the resistance of the Enrile-Ramos-RAM bloc to the rise of the Aquino bloc within the AFP, are likely to destabilize the Aquino regime.”

Asserting the Essential Role of ND forces in the EDSA Revolution

The reactionaries launched a campaign against the revolutionary movement, falsely claiming that the national democratic forces were isolated in the so-called EDSA revolution. Joma disproved their allegations by pointing out that the national democratic movement was an essential major force in the EDSA “revolution”. The ND movement had declared a national strike ahead of Aquino’s call for civil disobedience. The ND forces formed a significant portion at EDSA, in the vicinity of Camps Aguinaldo and Crame. They were the bulk of the organized forces at Malacanang. They were part of the seizure of government radio and TV station. Moreover, the ND forces launched an uprising in Angeles City, stopping the tanks moving to Manila to support Marcos and General Ver.

Furthermore, in the overall picture, it was the persistent struggle of the revolutionary forces against the Marcos dictatorship over all the years from 1968 to 1986 that weakened the Marcos regime.

Possibility of a Coalition Government with the Aquino regime

On May 20, 1986 in his lecture on Prospects of the Philippine Revolution, Joma stated, “However, if the Aquino government is serious about national reconciliation and lasting peace, it must be ready to transform itself soon into a coalition government which pursues the anti-imperialist and antifeudal line and includes the revolutionary forces…It is mutually advantageoous for the Aquino government and the revolutionary forces to establish a line of communication regarding national reconciliation, ceasefire and a possible coalition government as soon as possible. This line of communication is necessary if only to forestall the threat from the Marcos forces or any other threat from within the AFP in the meantime. Eventually, a coalition government can be worked out.” (pp. 140-141). He further clarified, “In a coalition government, the revolutionary forces keep their integrity, have a share of political power and retain the people’s army. If a coalition government is not possible, the revolutionary forces can as always aim for the establishment of a people’s democratic state.” (p. 141)

The Role of Progressive Liberal Democrats in the United Front

Regarding building the united front, Joma recognized the role of progressive liberal democrats like Senators Lorenzo Tanada, Jose W. Diokno and Claro M. Recto. He pointed out their significant contributions to the preparations and conduct of the new democratic revolution. They recalled the spirit of 1896 and joined the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggles. They combatted the reactionary character of the dominant church and defended civil liberties. He also stated that to be really effective their contribution must be in combination with that of the proletarian revolutionaries. (p. 123)

Enrile’s “God Save the Queen” Plot and the Murder of Olalia

As the Enrile clique plotted to depose Aquino and kill Joma and other leaders of the revolutionary movement in their “God Save the Queen” conspiracy, Partido ng Bayan Chairman and BAYAN national leader Rolando Olalia was brutally murdered. Olalia was honored by the biggest demonstration for the death of a proletarian leader. Olalia was murdered together with his driver, Leonor Alay-ay.

The Aquino government subsequently pressured the NDFP to sign a 60-day ceasefire agreement from December 8, 1986 to February 8, 1987. Joma issued a critique of these ceasefire talks, pointing out the dangers to the revolutionary movement with the exposure of its cadres and staff, giving a big gift to Aquino, while getting little in return. Joma stressed the necessity and importance of asserting the status of belligerency of the revolutionary movement.

Partido ng Bayan

Joma describes his work in the establishment of Partido ng Bayan, to which he delivered the Political Report, pointing to the historic significance of a legal party that can make important though secondary contributions to the total effort to effect a social revolution. However, it was subjected to the assassination of twenty-nine of its leaders and campaigners, grenade-throwing at its offices, arrests, raids on its offices and other forms of harassment. Most damaging was the declaration of 695 out of a total of 1,540 cities and towns as trouble spots in which the military supervised the elections.

In his article, The Continuing Struggle in the Philippines, December 26, 1987, he already states the possibility of the strategic defensive stage of people’s war to reach the strategic stalemate within three to five years. (p. 296) However, this possibility was countered by growing major errors within the revolutionary movement, which would be subject to the Second Great Rectification movement from 1992 to 1998.

Tour of Twenty-Five Countries and More Than 70 Universities

Joma’s tour of twenty-five countries and more than 70 universities from September 1986 to August 1988 gives an idea of the wide range of topics and audiences he has reached.

Aquino’s cancellation of his passport in September 1988 upon pressure of the military leads him to apply for political asylum in The Netherlands.

In 1989 Joma carries out a persistent struggle against intrigues of the CIA and Filipino reactionaries to blame him for the Plaza Miranda bombing. With Atty. Romeo Capulong’s expert legal services, he disproves their false claims.

With Imagination, You Create Something New

It is not possible to describe in a brief book review all the rich educational insights made by Prof. Jose Maria Sison in this book of 458 pages. I can only highly recommend this book to enrich ourselves with the thinking and insights of Joma.

I wish to quote a statement which I believe characterizes his thnking: “The point is not only to understand or interpret the laws of social change, but to change oppressive and exploitative conditions.” (p. 125). And to close, I wish to cite this one: “I think without the background in creative writing I would be writing very drab prose. … I think it is a requirement for revolutionary leadership to have a literary imagination. …Imagination is important. With imagination, you create something new.” (p. 15).###

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