By Jose Maria Sison
Founding Chairman, Communist Party of the Philippines
July 6, 2020
I wish to express sincerest condolences to the family of Comrade Juanito (Ka Juaning) Rivera and to all the comrades who have worked closely with him, loved him and are now saddened by his passing away.
This is a time of grief. But it is also the time for honoring Ka Juaning and celebrating all his achievements in serving the people, especially the proletariat and the peasant masses, as a communist, a Red commander and mass leader of vast experience.
As Chairman of the Central Committee and Military Commission of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), I had the honor of co-founding the New People’s Army with Ka Juaning on March 29, 1969 in Talimundok (Sta. Rita), Capas, Tarlac.
We were also together in the Plenum of the CPP Central Committee in May 1969 when he, together with other peasant cadres and veterans of the old Communist Party and the Hukbong Mapagpalaya ng Bayan were elevated to membership in the Central Committee of the CPP.
Being a peasant himself and having led the peasant masses as a revolutionary cadre and barrio captain, he understood very well the problems of the peasant masses in the haciendas of Tarlac and in the entire Philippines.
He excelled at arousing, organizing and mobilizing the masses in carrying out land reform and raising production, undertaking social programs and training mass activists for Party membership, mass work and service in the people’s army.
We worked together in providing politico-military training to the revolutionary activists from the national capital region and the expansion teams of the NPA for Isabela, other provinces of Central Luzon and for the Southern Tagalog and Western Visayas regions.
Thus, he made significant contributions to building the foundation and immediate expansion of the CPP, the NPA, the mass organizations and the local organs of political power. At the same time, he was always mindful of the concrete improvement of the lives of the people.
He made sure that the peasant masses built better houses and ate better as a result of their gains from land reform. He was strict at banning drinking and gambling places. And he promoted cultural activities that spread the revolutionary message among the youth and the people.
When the headquarters of the CPP shifted to the Isabela forest region, Ka Juaning came for meetings of the Political Bureau and the Central Committee and always contributed substantial reports and recommendations and participated in deliberations and decision-making.
Up to the time of my capture in 1977, I knew Ka Juaning as a dedicated, competent and effective proletarian revolutionary fighter and ever loyal servant of the people. Thus, he assumed higher responsibilities in the CPP, the NPA and revolutionary movement while I was in prison.
I am aware that after his imprisonment his health condition did not permit him to go back to the armed revolutionary movement. He went back to farming and was always proud of the lasting effects of land reform carried by the revolutionary movement. And he devoted himself to promoting agricultural cooperatives.
I was pleased when then Rep. Jose Yap (Mang Aping) informed me that he had engaged Ka Juaning as a peace consultant at the time explorations and preparations for peace negotiations were being done in the period of 1989 to 1992.
Mang Aping and I always wished that Ka Juaning could travel to The Netherlands. But his health condition did not allow him to take a long flight. From a distance, I continued to admire him for his continuing service to the peasant masses and the interviews that he gave to journalists, social researchers and peace advocates.
Ka Juaning has lived a long and rich life of service of the people, faced grave risks and dangers to his life and surmounted tremendous odds in fighting for the people’s just cause and struggle for national and social liberation against foreign and feudal domination. He is an outstanding and inspiring historical revolutionary figure, whose example is worthy of emulation by the people and the revolutionary movement.
Long live the memory of Comrade Juanito (Ka Juaning) Rivera!
Emulate his revolutionary service to the Filipino people!
Carry out the people’s democratic revolution until total victory!