Interview with Jose Maria Sison on the implications and consequences of the May 13, elections
By Michael Beltran
MB1.: How do you see the system of elections as a whole in the country?
JMS: The system is preconditioned and predetermined by the political and economic dominance of foreign monopoly interests, big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists. They have economic and political resources to keep the conduct and outcome of elections within the confines of the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system.
You cannot expect such electoral system as the means to change the ruling system and bring about full national independence, democracy for the working people, social justice, economic development through genuine land reform and national industrialization, ascendance of a patriotic and progressive culture and independent foreign policy.
As it is, the electoral system in the Philippines can at best allow a few patriotic and progressive candidates from the intelligentsia and still fewer from the toiling masses of workers and peasants to win a few seats, to draw some advantages from the factional competition among the ruling class politicians, develop alliances against the worst reactionaries and obtain bits of reforms that may improve the conditions of national and cklass oppression and exploitation.
But such electoral system of the exploiting classes can be worse than usual when a tyrannical regime like that of Duterte seeks to monopolize the political system and rigs the electoral system and even the entire political system with the criminal control and use of public and private funds, the Comelec, the military and police in order to predetermine and preprogram the results of the elections.
MB2.: How do you think it will affect NPA guerrillas and the masses when they are constantly being tagged as terrorists by the Duterte government?
JMS: Most vulnerable to red-tagging are the unarmed patriotic and progressive individuals, groups and the masses who are subjected to mass intimidation, surveillance, harassment, injury and even extrajudicial killing by those in power and their armed agents. Red-tagging is an instrument of state terrorism, tyranny and fascist dictatorship.
Within the framework of armed counterrevolution under the national task force headed by Duterte to end the people’s revolutionary movement and preserve the evil forces of imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism, the red-tagging is vainly aimed at terrorizing the people and their patriotic and progressive forces and inducing them to speak and act against the revolutionary movement of the people.
But because the overwhelming majority of the people, who are oppressed and exploited, cannot follow the dictates and inducements of the tyrannical regime, they would rather resist in so many ways beyond the control of the regime and even better allow or encourage their best sons and daughters of fighting age to join the New People’s Army and the underground.
If we learn from recent history, red-tagging and other repressive policies and acts under the Marcos fascist dictatorship did not result in the complete pacification of the people but instead incited so many young men and women to join the NPA. Ultimately, the legal democratic mass movement was stimulated by the steady growth in strength and advance of the NPA. Red-tagging by the enemy unwittingly benefits the armed revolutionary movement.
MB3.: What can you say about the results of the latest election?
JMS: The main thing about the latest election in the Philippines is that it was rigged not only through Duterte’s control of Comelec and its computers but also through institutional coercion; and thus the results are of course rotten. The anti-people results are most manifested in the crucial senatorial race by the fake election of notorious plunderers, including the chief bribe collector of Duterte and the chief butcher in the bogus war on drugs.
The senatorial race is crucial because the vile ipurpose of Duterte is to obtain a two-thirds majority in the Senate in order to railroad charter change to a bogus kind of federalism, which actually centralizes governmental powers in the hands of a fascist dictator who handpicks his regional and provincial agents among the dynasties and warlords and allows the same fascist dictator like Marcos to benefit most from the sell-out of national sovereignty and patrimony to the imperialists.
The seven-hour information blackout allowed Duterte’s Comelec agents to monopolize information and subject it to wholesale dagdag-bawas. The votes of the pro-Duterte senatorial and party-list candidates were increased drastically and the votes of the anti-Duterte candidates were correspondinglyly decreased by application of a program before the retransmission of the corrupted information.
There is a relative “free play” in the election of Lower House candidates and local executive officials because Duterte was confident that in general pro-Duterte candidates would win because of their advantages in pork barrel, red tagging and harassment of anti-Duterte candidates by the military and police (especially in Mindanao and so-called trouble spots in Luzon and Visayas), and superabundance of public and private funds for campaigning and vote-buying.
The “free play” at the level of local candidates was intended to cover the centralized computer rigging for the benefit of pro-Duterte candidates at the level of the senatorial race and the party lists. The exceptional victories of anti-Duterte candidates are misrepresented as evidence of clean and honest elections.
MB4.: Even if you are engaged in revolutionary activity, what is your view on candidates considered opposition to the Duterte administration?
JMS: Candidates opposed to the Duterte regime are conscious or objective allies of the people’s movement for national and social liberation, in certain issues and by some measure, whether or not they have a formal alliance with the revolutionary forces. It is good enough for the Filipino people and their revolutionary movement that there are alliances at whatever level or scale among legal democratic forces or among whatever parties and groups in opposition to the Duterte regime.
By itself, the legal democratic mass movement of the toiling masses and the urban petty bourgeoisie cannot oust Duterte’s tyrannical and terrorist regime. It has to develop a broad united front with the anti-fascist sections of the upper classes and likewise with anti-fascist elements in the reactionary armed forces and police. That was how Marcos was overthrown in 1986.
There may sometimes be a few anti-Duterte reactionaries who are in fact more anticommunist than anti-Duterte and they may try to upset or constrict the broad united front because of their rabid anticomnunism. But they become inconsequential when the Duterte regime becomes ever more oppressive and exploitative and the broad masses of the people are already rising up.
MB5.: How do you think the NPA will respond given that now the Duterte admin is poised to pursue more counter-insurgency plots with the likes of Bato in the senate?
JMS: I think that the NPA has no choice but to intensify the people’s war and advance the people’s democratic revolution because the Duterte regime has in the first place terminated the peace negotiations within the framework of The Hague Joint Declaration and has been escalating its vicious attacks on the people and the revolutionary forces.
It is in the criminal interest of Duterte to escalate the armed counterrevolution in order to realize his ambition of establishing a fascist dictatorship by scrapping the 1987 constitution under the pretext of shifting to a bogus kind of federalism, as I have pointed out before. He can probably be dissuaded from his evil ambition only by powerful mass protest actions and by the advance of the NPA in field of armed revolution.
Duterte’s greed for power and plunder is the main motivation for the series of issuances such as Proclamation Nos. 360 and 374, Memorandum Order No. 32 and Executive Order No. 70 and all the repressive and murderous campaigns and operations being undertaken by the regime against the people and their revolutionary forces in order to prevent serious and sincere peace negotiations between the GRP and NDFP and to enable the traitor, tyrant, terrorist and plunderer Duterte to realize fully his fascist dictatorship.###