By Eric S. Caruncho
Sunday Inquirer Magazine
29 September 2002
1. Can you update us on your status in the Netherlands? According to recent reports, the Dutch government announced that it will be revoking your social welfare subsidy. What do you intend to do about it?
JMS Reply: I am a political refugee recognized repeatedly by the Raad van State (Council of State, highest administrative court in the Netherlands) in 1992 and 1995 and even by the Dutch justice ministry in 1997.
But I am not admitted as a political refugee. The Dutch government has had to make this foolish distinction between recognition and admission in order to follow the dictates of the US government to refuse me admission. This position of the Dutch government is in violation of the Refugee Convention.
I am some kind of a “tolerated alien” in The Netherlands. At the same time, Article 3 and the entirety of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms prohibit the Dutch government from expelling or deporting me to the Philippines. I am protected from being subjected to the death penalty, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.
The Dutch government has already undertaken a series of actions against me, effective since 15 August 2002, in obedience to the directives of US President Bush, the US State Department and the US Treasury Department.
The actions taken against me include criminalization as a “terrorist” without due process, defamation and life-threatening incitement of public hatred against me, deprivation of the basic necessities of life and violation of the basic human right to life.
The Dutch finance authorities have frozen my joint postal bank account with my wife. The money that goes in and out of this account comes from the Dutch welfare agencies. And the Dutch welfare agencies themselves have taken away the subsistence allowance for food, clothing and other personal necessities, housing, health insurance and insurance against third party liability.
These acts of the Dutch authorities are malicious and cruel because all the things that have been taken away are at the level of basic subsistence and have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism.
My Dutch lawyers have started to take legal action. They have sent a letter, dated 25 September 2002, to the Dutch authorities demanding explanation within 48 hours for their inhuman and illegal actions. We will be going to court if the Dutch authorities fail to answer or persist with their inhuman and illegal actions against me.
These actions of the Dutch authorities are so malicious and cruel as these seek to deprive me of the food, shelter and medical care that jail wardens cannot withhold even from the worst convicted criminals.
The way I am being treated provides good lessons on the inhuman nature and callous acts of modern imperialism. Thus, it is important to undertake a campaign of mass education to mobilize mass support in addition to taking legal actions. You can monitor developments in my legal cases, in my situation and the international campaign to support me by looking at the website: www.defendsison.be
2. Now that your funds have been frozen, how do you survive in the Netherlands? How is your family coping? What is life like for you there — daily routines, work, what you do in leisure time? What do you tell your children about your work?
JMS Reply: My wife Julie and I have to borrow money to pay our bills and current needs for food and other basic things. We have been prevented from working and exercising our professions and made to receive measly amounts of social welfare benefits for fourteen years. We have no savings and no pension.
But we have plenty of friends in the Filipino community and among the people of Dutch and other nationalities. Our plight has aroused sympathy among millions of Filipinos in the motherland and among the people in so many countries. We continue to receive from them expressions of support and material assistance for our basic needs and for our legal defense fund.
We have told them not to bother so much about our basic subsistence needs because we can borrow money and receive help from some relatives and friends. Belgian comrades and friends have offered to take care of my basic subsistence. However, the biggest financial problem that we face is paying for the expenses for my legal defense. My lawyers charge little for their services even as they are among the best in their profession. But there are unavoidable expenses aside from legal services.
There will be court cases in defense of my civil rights against the “terrorist” listing, various injustices and withdrawal of benefits at the Dutch national level. The biggest case at this level would probably involve a US request for my preventive detention and extradition.
At the European level, we will pursue the issue of human rights violations before the European Court of Human Rights. We will also probably make a legal fight against the “terrorist” listing at the European Court in Luxembourg.
In many countries, campaign committees have been established to support me. They have also engaged in fundraising for my legal defense. The principal campaign committee is the Utrecht-based Initiative Committee to Defend Filipino Progressives in Europe, with email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The principal legal defense fund is entrusted to a foundation established by two well-known Dutch religious leaders, Old Catholic Archbishop Joris Vercammen of Utrecht and Dominee Hans Visser of Rotterdam.
At the moment, Julie attends to the payment of the bills that have been due since last month. Otherwise we would be charged with fraud for non-payment of previous food deliveries, water and electricity, medical and dental services on top of current deprivations.
In my case, I attend to meetings and written communications with lawyers in various fields and with mass supporters, including religious leaders, parliamentarians, trade unionists, women activists, youth leaders and so on. I go around to rally solidarity and support from organizations lined up by the committee that defends me.
By their own choice, my children are in the background. They understand the commitment and activities of their parents. They are supportive and helpful even as they have their own routines and preoccupations.
3. The 30th anniversary of martial law was recently observed in the Philippines. But the vast majority of Filipinos barely remember Marcos, having been born after 1972, let alone the formative events that led to the establishment of the CPP. Are the basic principles of national democracy still relevant to today’s youth? If so, how do you communicate this to them?
JMS Reply: The facts of history are always there, ready for recall by the collective consciousness of the people. But unfortunately, the dominant systems of information and education play up what serves the interests of the US imperialists and the local exploiting classes and play down or even try to obliterate what serves the broad masses of the people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants.
However, the situation is not hopeless for the people. The crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system is daily worsening, inflicting intolerable suffering on the people and generating revolutionary resistance. The Filipino people should be proud that they are now at the forefront of world revolution, carrying out the new democratic revolution, with a socialist perspective, through people’s war.
The basic principles of national liberation and democracy are valid, relevant and urgently necessary in the struggle against foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. Who would like these three evils to hold sway and inflict pain and misery on the people?
The Filipino people kept on fighting Spanish colonialism for more than three centuries until complete victory could be won. I think the Filipino people will prevail over US imperialism within the current century.
The way to fight such a powerful force and win final victory is to persevere in all forms of work and struggle along the line of the new democratic revolution. The well-founded political and organizational growth of the revolutionary forces will ultimately be able to take the fullest advantage of the crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling system.
The people will become more and more conscious of their revolutionary history and their current tasks as the revolution advances. After the victory of the new democratic revolution, there will be a new system of information and education that will honor the revolutionary martyrs and heroes and the working people and will criticize and condemn the oppressors and exploiters.
4. With China having taken the capitalist road, Maoism has become the province of obscure revolutionary movements in Peru and Nepal. Do you hold that Mao’s theories are still relevant to the Philippines today? Please elaborate.
JMS Reply: Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is certainly relevant to the Philippines today in several respects: in understanding the colonial and feudal past as well as the semicolonial and semifeudal present and in carrying out the new democratic revolution. With Maoism, we can look forward to socialist revolution and construction up to the point of carrying out the theory of continuing revolution under proletarian dictatorship.
Mao has the distinct greatness of showing the way to combat revisionism in socialist society, prevent the restoration of capitalism and consolidate socialism. The line of Mao has been defeated by the line of Deng, like the Paris Commune of 1871 was defeated. But later developments have further validated Mao’s theory and practice of continuing revolution. Next time around, the proletarian revolutionaries will be able to frustrate and defeat the revisionists and to build socialism until the threshold of communism is reached.
The struggle between capitalism and socialism is epochal. It will be settled finally in probably one or two more centuries on a global scale. The advances of the revolutionary proletariat since 1848 (the year when the Communist Manifesto was published) have not been made on an easy road. The socialist cause has gone through ups and downs and through twists and turns.
Philistines are contented with the existing exploitative system and would rather be on the side of what is big and established. But revolutionaries have a different kind of motivation. They fight for a higher level of social development and for greater freedom. And they are willing to grow from small to big and from weak to strong. In the process, they risk their lives. They are not self-indulgent seekers of cozy place in the exploitative and oppressive system.
The extent of armed revolutionary movements led by Maoist parties is small but not too small or obscure at the moment. Of all revolutionary forces, they have the highest potential for becoming the largest and most successful because they address the central question of political power, which is the overthrow of the exploiting classes and the seizure of political power by the exploited classes.
The Maoist parties currently leading people’s wars are in the Philippines, India, Nepal, Turkey and Peru. Others are seriously preparing people’s war in Brazil and Indonesia. The US is now worried by the growth of Maoist-led revolutionary movements because these are not vulnerable to high-tech weaponry and these provide the examples of people’s war to the oppressed peoples and nations.
5. The country has experienced two upheavals without you. Some are saying that you are being marginalized by being in Europe. What are your views on this?
JMS Reply: I made my humble contributions to the process of overthrowing Marcos by fighting his regime through revolutionary armed struggle since 1969, by openly defying and denouncing his fascist regime even while I was in prison and sending out suggestions to the revolutionary forces and legal democratic forces. My writings reflect my contributions.
Regarding the overthrow of Estrada, I suggest that you read my statements and articles from l998 to 2001 to measure somehow the modest contribution I made. These are collected and available at the website: www.inps-sison.freewebspace.com. The frequent clashes I had with Rambotete are too recent for many people to forget.
I do not measure greatness by the high office one can get in the current rotten ruling system. For me becoming a senator, a governor or a cabinet member in any of the regimes, from Marcos to the present, is no big deal. I have had so many relatives who have easily gotten such positions. I am not impressed even with the position of puppet president or anyone getting that position by serving the imperialists, the big compradors and landlords.
The overthrow of Marcos and then that of Estrada were impressive upheavals. But certainly they did not constitute revolutions. The first was merely an anti-authoritarian uprising. The second was merely an anti-corruption uprising. Both did not overthrow the rotten ruling system of big compradors and landlords.
I do not envy those who think that by rejoining the system an alternative to social revolution is found. I would rather be away from the feeding trough of the swine. Instead, I might apply for a clerical job in the people’s democratic government in the countryside. There is far more honor in that position than being president of the puppet government of the big compradors and landlords.
6. The peace talks with GRP keep dragging on with no resolution in sight. What kind of outcome are you hoping for in the talks? What terms would be acceptable to you?
The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations have indeed dragged on, as you say. They have dragged on because the GRP has obstructed them with too many declarations of collapse, indefinite suspensions and indefinite recess during the last ten years. These have eaten up far more time than actual negotiations.
As far as I know, the NDFP is ready for any eventuality. It can go for the resumption of the peace negotiations in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration or it can go for the termination of these negotiations. It will not yield to any demand for its capitulation by the GRP. It will not be cowed by any squeeze play applied on the NDFP negotiating panel and on its chief political consultant by the US and Dutch governments.
The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations should resume soon, in accordance with the The Hague Joint Declaration as the framework agreement, accelerate negotiations on social and economic reforms and promote the joint and separate implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
After the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms, the political and constitutional reforms can be negotiated. Finally, the end of the armed conflict and disposition of forces can be negotiated. What we all desire is a just and lasting peace, real all-round development and national unity against the foreign and domestic oppressors and exploiters of the Filipino people.
7. How would you like to be remembered? What do you think is your place in history?
I wish to be remembered as a teacher and writer for the revolutionary cause of national liberation and democracy. I will rest in the shade of those who will build socialism in the Philippines. I am sure that the youth of today and further generations will score achievements surpassing those of my generation.
My place in history will recede as the greater achievements of later generations come to the fore. Nevertheless, I hope to be better remembered than all the crooks and brutes that have become presidents of the current neocolonial republic. Andres Bonifacio is still well remembered for having launched the old democratic revolution through armed struggle. #