By Loui Galicia
ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau
03 August 2009

Joma Sison and President Aquino, May 31, 1986 (photo provided by Joma Sison)

Jose Maria “Joma” Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, and his wife Juliet joined the rest of the world in mourning the death of former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino on Saturday.

Sison said he and Cory maintained a special relationship that dates way before her presidency. He said he and Cory’s husband, Beningno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr., worked together for a common goal to fight the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

And in the political struggles of Joma and Ninoy, their wives Juliet and Cory became tightly knitted by their love for their husbands, joining and working vigorously in the campaign against Marcos.

“First time nung makilala ko si Cory nung 1967. Dumalaw ako kay Ninoy Aquino. Siya [Cory] ang nagsilbi nung kape kaya natatawa ako noong sinasabi na siya ang nagsisilbi dun sa ibang bisita,” Sison in an interview with Balitang Europe.

“Yan ang pang-charming ni Ninoy eh. Talagang very friendly si Cory, yung kanyang ugali,” he added.

Sison has Cory to thank for his release from almost nine years of imprisonment under Marcos.

“Nung ma-release ako, dun sa penthouse ng Cojuangco building ako na-release at dun kami nagtagpo sa presidente, kay Cory. Kung maalala ko, released ako on recognizance to Doña Aurora Aquino,” noted Sison.

He said that his relationship with Cory was exceptional that it did not end even after an official act to cancel his passport.

“Pati na dun sa cancellation ng passport ko siyempre in public pupunahin ko ‘yon na ginawa ni Cory. Pero di nawawala yung pagkakaibigan namin kasi nagpaabot eh,” related Sison.

According to Sison, it was Cory who fought for almost two years the urgings of the military to cancel his passport.

It was also Cory, according to him, who warned him that it was safer for him to remain outside the Philippines.

“Mabuti daw na nandito ako dahil ang mga militar ang nagtutulak na kanselahin ang passport ko so ganun, hindi nawawala yung aming mabuting relasyon kahit na gumawa siya ng official act na kanselahin ang aking passport,” he said.

Sison said that for his part, the revolutionary movement helped in putting Cory in power and getting rid of Marcos.

A witty and gracious Cory

Juliet has nothing but good memories of Cory. She explained that as wives of husbands driven by a common goal, she and Cory were always together in political events.

Jose Maria Sison and wife Juliet recall relationship with former president Corazon Aquino (Loui Galicia, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau)

“Maraming pag-oorganiza na ginawa namin nun upang kalabanin si Marcos so andun siya sa mga organisasyon na binubuo para labanan si Marcos. Yung Aquino Justice For All, yun namang kilusan na ‘yon di naman para lang kay Aquino kundi para sa lahat ng nabiktima o nabibiktima ng martial law,” she added.

“Kaya nagkakasama kami nun sa mga pagsisikap na ‘yon. Ang mga meeting na ‘yon kasama namin sila Guingona, yang si Cory, si Doña Aurora, sila Salonga at yung mga personalidad na lumalaban kay Marcos na padami nang padami,” she noted.

Juliet said her first impression of Cory was that she was a woman of very few words. But when Aquino became president, Juliet was surprised to see a very witty Cory.

“Si Cory masigasig yan dun sa paglaban kay Marcos. Pumupunta siya sa meetings at demonstrations pero hindi siya masalita,” she continued.

“Medyo tahimik siya at medyo reserved kaya nagulat ako na nung presidente na siya, aba biba din pala siya at natutong mas maging ano yan, relaxed sa public although graciosa siya na tao.”

Communication lines open

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front Negotiating Panel (NDFP) in Utrecht also expressed its solidarity with the family, relatives and friends of Cory in their time of mourning and grief.

NDFP Chair Luis Jalandoni said that Cory’s greatest contribution was her ratifying the Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions which is very significant for the human rights standards and policies.

“Napakalahaga dahil ito ay respected throughout the world as (an) important document and convention regarding the upholding of human rights at nandyan din sa constitution ng 1987 for which Cory Aquino to a great extent yung pag-uphold ng human rights pati na yung mahalagang bagay… yung pagrestrict ng martial law,” Jalandoni told Balitang Europe.

He also said that Cory as president was very different from others in that she kept all communication lines open.

“Cory would make use of different means kahit personal na pagpaabot kay Joma na ‘wag ka munang bumalik dito. Meaning she was concerned for his safety or she would use other channels and say she would like to have peace talks,” said Jalandoni. “She was creative in a very personal way also to maintain communication.”

For NDFP Consultant Fidel Agcaoili, Cory was responsible for initiating the peace talks between the Philippine government and the NDFP in 1986.

“Siya ang nag-facilitate. Of course nagkaron ng ceasefire agreement. It led to a ceasefire agreement and then it led to maraming NDF na lumitaw at lumabas,” said Agcaoili.

Jalandoni added that Cory’s outstanding feat was the release of hundreds of political prisoners, which included Sison.

“All those hundreds of political prisoners is a good example of fulfilling her commitment and her magnanimity with regards to political prisoners and those in need and for the families of these political prisoners,” he said.

“Something we don’t see in the present administration,” commented Jalandoni.

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