Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison,
Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines
and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front
By: Roselle Valerio
June, 15, 2010
1. Noynoy Aquino seems to play the teflon game and ignore what you say against him. But he lets others hit you and make ad hominem attacks against you. Are you not afraid of taking on someone like Aquino who has just been elected supposedly by a large vote and has a powerful propaganda machinery that can be used against you?
JMS: Why should I be afraid of what he can do against me? I have fought presidents before, from Marcos to Arroyo. I should be more courageous and confident in opposing someone who is not known for being an achiever within his own ruling system, who has just benefited from electronic pre-programming, who is now running against himself and his promises and who is now faced with a severe financial and economic crisis, especially the public debt crisis.
I am not awed or terrified by the official proclamation of the national canvassers that Aquino won 40 per cent of the vote due to electronic pre-programming. Assuming but not granting that he got such vote, there are 60 per cent of the voters who did not vote for him. The potential for popular opposition to the new regime is high because of its reactionary position and servility to the US, because of the false promises made during the electoral campaign and because of the ever worsening crisis of the ruling system.
2. What are your main points and evidence against the automated electoral system? Why did you give credence to your informant regarding the conversation between Pinky Aquino-Abellada and Gloria M. Arroyo?
JMS: My main points against the automated electoral system are the following: First, it is foreign-controlled, with the US in control of the Dominion software and source code and the use of the shady Smartmatic corporation and third country agents. Second, such gross anomalies like the removal of safeguards, the reconfiguratuon and replacement of 76,000 memory cards in a few days before the elections paved the way for pre-programming at the highest level and pre-shading and other forms of cheating at the lower levels.
The evidence for my two main points is abundant. It comes from highly respected computer experts. Regarding the conversation between Pinky Aquino Abellada and Gloria M. Arroyo related to the pre-programming of electoral results in favor of Noynoy Aquino, I gave credence to my informant because he gave me credible information. The full extent of the information is far more than I have been allowed to reveal by the informant. I must respect his request that he should be given sufficient time to secure the safety of his family.
3. Don’t you think that Noynoy really won the elections because he was able to capitalize on the names of his late parents, he used effectively the anti-corruption line against the Arroyo regime, he had a good propaganda crew and he had a super-abundance of campaign funds from big foreign and local businessmen, like his Cojuangco relatives, the Razons, the Lopezes, Manny Pangilinan and many others in the Makati Business Club?
JMS: It is possible that Noynoy Aquino won even without the pre-programming. Estrada also attacked Arroyo but had far less campaign funds and had to overcome a previous criminal conviction for plunder. Villar had huge funding but he did not attack Arroyo and made himself vulnerable to the Villarroyo line of attack. But it was the pre-programming that gave Aquino unbelieveable leads over Estrada and Villar.
There was overkill in reducing the votes for Estrada and there was more of such in the case of Villar and his vice presidential teammate. The latter two fell abruptly within the last month of the campaign as if they had committed a heinous crime. The programmers decided to give Aquino an incredibly large lead over Estrada and Villar supposedly to discourage protests. The pre-programmers were careless to make Estrada run second to Aquino even in San Juan, Rizal.
4. Is it not your main view that Noynoy Aquino did not really win the election, if not for the pre-programming? On the presumption that he is not the legitimate president of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, should the Negotiating Panel of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (GRP) still negotiate with the GRP Panel that he appoints?
JMS: Let me clarify that I have always said that because of the pre-programming Aquino got incredibly large leads over his rivals. I never said that he won only because of the pre-programming. Estrada has expressed disbelief at the lead taken by Aquino over him. Other presidential candidates like Eddie Villanueva, Jamby Madrigal and Nick Perlas have also complained that votes were shaved off from them.
The national canvassers, who merely canvassed the certificates provided by the Comelec, have proclaimed Noynoy Aquino as president to comply with the law and maintain the stability of the reactionary government. Electoral protests are supposed to be presented later to the Electoral Tribunal if the electronic data have not been zeroed out. I presume that despite the questions regarding electoral fraud the NDFP can regard Aquino as the de facto GRP president and allow its negotiating panel to meet with the GRP panel appointed by him.
5. You are known to have said that Villar was the presidential candidate relatively better than Noynoy Aquino. Why? Did your comparison of the two mean your endorsement of the ruling system and its electoral process? Do you regret ever having said something favorable to Villar?
JMS: I referred to Villar as relatively better than Aquino because he had agreed to a bilateral alliance with Makabayan on a nationalist and progressive program and accommodated Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza as guest candidates in the Nacionalista Party senatorial slate. I do not regret having ever said something like this in favor of Villar. But certainly I regret that he did not play up the common program with Makabayan, that all of a sudden he accommodated Bongbong Marcos in the NP senatorial slate and that he refused to attack Arroyo. Any alliance carries risks. That’s why progressive forces need to maintain their independence and initiative.
When I was asked to compare Villar and Aquino, I never lost sight of the fact that they belonged to the same exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. I did not mean to endorse the ruling system and its electoral process when I said something favorable about Villar. I can compare one reactionary politician to another as better without submitting myself to the reactionary ruling system and certainly without saying that the relatively better reactionary politician has become a revolutionary or someone I am responsible for.
6. What do you think is the first big test for Aquino as the new GRP president?
JMS: He promised to send Gloria M. Arroyo to prison for her crimes of corruption and human rights violations. He benefited in a big way politically by making the promise. If he fulfils his promise soon enough, he will be commended and congratulated. But he will come out as a big liar and deceiver of the people if he does not fulfil his promise at the same speed as Arroyo caused the arrest and detention of Estrada for plunder in 2001. The broad masses of the people will be outraged as soon as new signs of the collaboration between Aquino and Arroyo emerge.
7. Do you think that Aquino will seriously pursue peace negotiations with the NDFP? Is seriousness in peace negotiations an important test for Aquino? Will Aquino release political prisoners as goodwill measure and as rendering justice to the victims and their families? What do you expect from Teresita Deles as his presidential adviser on the peace process?
JMS: Of course, seriousness in peace negotiations is an important test for Aquino. But during the electoral campaign, Noynoy Aquino made a 4-point speech on security and peace, which echoed the US Counter-Insurgency Guide and presumed peace negotiations as a dispensable tool for destroying, coopting or rendering the revolutionary forces inconsequential.
There is yet no sign that Aquino is serious in pursuing peace negotiations with the NDFP. It remains to be seen whether his regime is willing to comply with The Hague Joint Declaration and other major agreements. Teresita Deles used to be Gloria M. Arroyo’s presidential adviser on the peace process. The GRP-NDFP peace negotiations would not move forward if she would recycle the same positions and tactics used during the time of Arroyo.
Human rights organizations, religious groups, families and others expect that Aquino would release political prisoners, like his mother did in 1986 and also Ramos in 1992. The release of political prisoners will certainly help to improve the atmosphere for realizing justice for the victims of human rights violations and for resuming the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.
8. Is there any hope of land reform under the term of Aquino?
JMS: Aquino’s dislike for land reform is well known. It might be one of the reasons why he would not like the peace negotiations to resume and lead to the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms, whose main content is genuine and thoroughgoing land reform linked to national industrialization. He might have a strong preference for keeping the CARP-ER so that landlords can prevent land reform by demanding fair market value for their land or resort to the stock distribution option scheme as was the case with Hacienda Luisita.
Aquino has made it obvious that he will let his family use the time until 2014 for Hacienda Luisita, Inc. to be encumbered further by debts and other obligations to other Cojuangco corporations, to reclassify parts of the land and transfer them to other Cojuangco corporations, to lay off the farm workers and buy off the few remaining ones who are small shareholders in the Hacienda Luisita. Hell-bent on preventing land reform in Hacienda Luisita, Aquino has no motivation to carry out land reform elsewhere in the country.
9. What happens if the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations do not go forward?
JMS: The US and Aquino regime will intensify the US-directed military campaign of suppression against the people and revolutionary forces. This will be far more vicious and far more brutal than the Oplan Bantay Laya and will result in grosser and more systematic human rights violations on a wide scale. We have seen in the 2004 Hacienda Luisita massacre and the further killings in Tarlac a preview of what the incoming administration is capable of doing.
In response, as the revolutionary leading organs have already announced, the revolutionary forces and the people will conduct intensive and extensive guerrilla warfare on an ever widening and deepening mass base, and advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate in the people’s war. They see in the ever worsening crisis of the world capitalist system and the domestic ruling ever more favorable conditions for waging people’s war.
10. How bad is the financial and economic crisis for the new regime?
JMS: The public debt at the beginning of the Arroyo regime was 2.2 trillion pesos. Now, it is more than double at 4.5 trillion pesos. The Aquino regime is immediately confronted with a public debt crisis. The trade and budgetary deficits continue to rise. Domestic and foreign borrowing is becoming more and more problematic. The regime will impose a heavier tax burden on the people in a long depressed economy, with ever rising unemployment and ever rising costs of living.
Social discontent will sharpen in the forthcoming six years. There is no way out of the crisis but revolutionary resistance by the people. The imperialist countries no less are afflicted by crisis. Since 2008, large amounts of public money have been used to bail out banks and big corporations but these have been used only to make financial profits rather than to generate production and employment. Now, they are imposing austerity measures on the working people. They are pushing the people to rise up and resist.
11. Are you not bothered by Noynoy Aquino supporters making ad hominem attacks on you as a frustrated Great Leader, an armchair revolutionary and as someone whose feet are off the ground?
JMS: I laugh off such invectives because they are both flagrantly stupid and funny. I take them in stride. The worst of invectives are always being flung at me by spin doctors, paid hacks and military psy-war experts. When I die, I shall leave a legacy more cherished than that of all puppet presidents who are corrupt and brutal. For advocating national and social liberation, my writings will be studied seriously and will weigh more heavily than all the propaganda of the reactionary state and its hangers-on.
Indeed, I have long retired from marching and sharing weal and woe with a platoon of the New People’s Army as I often did from 1969 to 1977. But my forced exile does not make any puppet president or any of his subalterns more revolutionary than I am. They are the ones who are stuck on their armchairs and perform reactionary acts. I know more about the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces than the shortsighted and narrow-minded reactionaries who are focused on oppressing and exploiting the people.
12. What is your perspective?
JMS: I will continue to write prose and poems in the service of the Filipino people for as long as I can. I will continue as the chief political consultant of the NDFP Negotiating Panel so long as there are peace negotiations. I will continue as chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle. I have more than enough worthwhile activities to attend to, now and in the near future.