Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison,
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
By D. L. Mondelo
17 April 2009
1. Our interview on the 2010 elections last week attracted a great deal of attention from the top mass media in Manila and elicited reactions from certain major political quarters. First of all, what do you think of the reaction of the presidential spokesman Gary Olivar? He said to the effect that because you had expressed support for Manny Villar you accepted the existing ruling system and that you would be amenable to a peace agreement without any revolutionary change.
JMS: The presidential spokesman should read carefully the full text of the interview in Bulatlat. I described the ruling system as one in need of basic social reforms and revolutionary change because the system is run by the oppressive and exploitative forces of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.
I referred to the 2010 elections as one dominated by the big compradors and landlords. I did not endorse the ruling system and I made clear that all the major presidential candidates, including Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar, are competing to become the chief representative of the same rotten system, which I described as semicolonial and semifeudal.
I merely compared the two top presidential contenders, Aquino and Villar, in answer to your specific question. Indeed, Villar offers the relatively better program by promising land reform and self-reliant food production, expansion of local manufacturing to generate employment, support for small and middle entrepreneurs, conservation of natural resources, ecological protection, peace negotiations, respect for human rights, indemnification of the victims of human rights violations, review of the Visiting Forces Agreement and an independent foreign policy.
2. What about the reaction of the spokesman of Noynoy Aquino, Edwin Lacierda? He said that because you support Villar he is therefore supported by the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. He went further to claim that you and therefore the CPP, NPA and the NDFP were responsible for the protest demonstration of peasants and farm workers in front of the residence of Noynoy Aquino.
JMS: The non sequiturs are plenty and amazing. The spin doctor of Noynoy Aquino is as maliciously way off the mark as the spin doctor of Gloria M. Arroyo. I am just the chief political consultant of the NDFP in peace negotiations with the reactionary Manila government. I never said that I represented the CPP, NPA and NDFP in making a comparison between Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino.
The Nonoy Aquino camp should not dismiss the series of injustices done to the peasants and farm workers of Hacienda Luisita as the handwork of communists. Noynoy Aquino should not hide behind cheap Red-baiting. The Cojuangco-Aquino family to which Noynoy Aquino belongs has long exploited the peasants and farm workers and has prevented land reform through the swindle called stock distribution option.
Worst of all, the bodyguards of Noynoy himself participated in the Hacienda Luisita massacre. Noynoy has continuously used Red baiting tactics to cover up the murderous collaboration of the Arroyo regime and his own security agency in the Hacienda Luisita massacre and the subsequent murders in Tarlac. He aggravates his dishonesty by topping his consistent violent opposition to land reform with the patently false promise of carrying it out in 2014.
3. Cory Aquino has been praised for championing land reform and specifically for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP)? Was she truly a champion of land reform? How would you compare her land reform program with that of Marcos? How important is the question of land reform?
JMS: Both Ferdinand Marcos and Cory Aquino were engaged in bogus land reform programs in their respective times. Thus, up to now, the land problem persists. Millions of tillers own no land. Land is concentrated in the hands of a few landlords and agri-corporations. Feudal and semifeudal exploitation runs rampant throughout the country.
Marcos pretended to use the police power of the state in the name of social justice to carry out the expropriation of landlord estates producing rice and corn. But of course the bogus land reform program of Marcos did not solve the land problem because the bureaucrats and landlords combined against the tenants to raise the value of rice and corn land and in the meantime the biggest landlords and agri-corporations continued to accumulate land.
The bogus land reform program called CARP was even worse than that of Marcos. Under the Aquino constitution of 1987, the social justice issue of land reform was reduced to a real estate business matter. The issue of land reform was subordinated to the malevolent principles of voluntary sale by the landlord, current market value as the meaning of just compensation and evasion of land reform through the stock distribution option and conversion or reclassification of the land as non-agricultural.
I consider land reform as decisively important. If genuine and thoroughgoing, it means the socio-economic and political liberation of tens of millions of peasants and farm workers. It is the fulfilment of the main content of the unfinished democratic revolution. It lays the ground for a just and lasting peace. When combined with national industrialization, it paves the way for a great advance in economic and social development.
4. Is it not good for the revolutionary movement that Aquino becomes president so that it has a clear target for arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses along the line of fighting for national liberation and democracy? In the previous interview, you indicated what are the policies that Aquino would pursue against the Filipino people. Will you explain further?
JMS: I presume that in the first place the revolutionary movement would like to see a president of the rotten ruling system who is amenable to holding serious negotiations and making agreements on basic social, economic and political reforms in order to address the roots of the armed conflict and pave the way for a just and lasting peace. But I also presume that if such a president does not emerge, the revolutionary movement is more justified than ever in pursuing the people’s war.
Together with his vice presidential candidate, Noynoy Aquino is known to be the candidate most favored by big foreign and local businessmen because he is most determined to pursue the same US-dictated policies of the Arroyo regime, such as neoliberal globalization and the global war of terror. In concrete terms, neoliberal globalization means allowing the foreign investors to plunder the country and prevent national industrialization and land reform. The global war of terror means allowing US military forces to violate the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines.
Noynoy Aquino is surrounded by agents of the US and the Arroyo regime who have been major partners of Arroyo in adopting and implementing policies that are detrimental to the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people and that have plunged the country into a grave crisis of high unemployment, extreme poverty, soaring prices of basic commodities, deteriorating social services, ever widening trade and budgetary deficits and ever mounting tax and debt burden.
Noynoy Aquino would be extremely helpful to the revolutionary movement if he would become president and pursue basically the same US-dictated policies of the Arroyo regime and thus become the target of the people’s opprobrium. Probably, the mass movement that fell short of overthrowing Arroyo would be further outraged and gain enough strength to overthrow the new puppet of US imperialism.
5. You say that Manny Villar has a relatively better program than that of Noynoy Aquino. At the same time, you have pointed out that it has been underplayed. Can you guarantee that if Villar would become president, he would fulfill the promises that he makes in his program? Do you incur any liability by saying now that he has a program better than that of Aquino?
JMS: No, I cannot guarantee whether Villar will fulfill his promises or not. Manny Villar has his own free will and political will. He is responsible for his own motivations and actions.
As a political observer, I can only compare what appear now on paper as the programs of Villar and Aquino. People will respond to Villar accordingly, whether he fulfills his promises or not.
6. Is it true that Aquino is honest and is not corrupt?
JMS: Noynoy Aquino is honestly a rabid and violent defender of the big comprador-landlord class interests of the Cojuangco-Aquino family. But he is certainly dishonest when he denies the extreme exploitation of the farm workers and peasants in Hacienda Luisita, the swindling done with the use of the stock distribution option and the violence committed by the military and his own security personnel.
People other than me have pointed out the corruption of Kamag-Anak Inc. in which Noynoy has been a co-beneficiary and which supports him now. While his mother was president, he got contracts from government agencies for his security agency. While he was a congressman and senator for so long, he filed only a handful of bills (none becoming a law) and collected huge sums of public money. This is a manifestation of sloth, incompetence and corruption.
7. Who is more competent and more accomplished? Villar or Aquino?
JMS: In terms of service in the reactionary government, Villar is by far more competent and accomplished. He was active and productive in legislative work and became Speaker of the House and Senate President. Noynoy was a noynoy (no accomplishment) in legislative work. Aquino was also a noynoy in business in comparison to Villar. I need not repeat the rags to riches story.
8. Whom do you think will win the presidential race?
JMS: It is difficult to say. And for the moment I will not dare say. It is still either Aquino or Villar. I have just been informed that money has been flowing heavily to the Aquino side from big foreign and local businessmen for the purpose of stepping up anti-Villar propaganda and buying those who deliver the votes at various levels. Villar does not have a monopoly on money. There is more money from the moneybags in the foreign chambers of commerce and the Makati Business Club.
9. Whoever shall be the president, shall there be peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines?
JMS: Because of the worsening socio-economic and political crisis of the ruling system, I presume that whoever shall be president of the GRP shall seek peace negotiations with the NDFP. It is the lookout of the new president who would overestimate the strength of the state and its coercive apparatuses and underestimate the crisis and the growing strength of the revolutionary movement. But as I pointed out in our interview last week, both Villar and Aquino have already expressed their willingness to negotiate with the NDFP.
10. Is the NDFP already preparing for the resumption of the peace negotiations? But why is the New People’s Army intensifying its armed offensives?
JMS: The NDFP is already preparing for the resumption of the peace negotiations. Consultations regarding this are going on among the NDFP panelists, consultants, the Philippine-based leading organs of the CPP and NDFP. The NDFP negotiating panel is in frequent touch with the Norwegian government as third party facilitator. As soon as a new president is elected, whoever he is, the NDFP is willing to receive his emissary,
The best explanations of why the NPA is intensifying tactical offensives can be found in the messages of the CPP Central Committee to the CPP rank and file last December 26, 2010 and to the NPA Red commanders and fighters last March 29, 2010. These messages are available in the website: www.philippinerevolution.net
The people’s war is going on precisely because of the escalating oppression and exploitation of the Filipino people by the US and the local exploiting classes. The revolutionary forces are thus striving to advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate.