The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) is delighted and honored to express our warmest greetings to Prof. Jose Ma. Sison on the occasion of his 75th birthday as well as his 55th anniversary as a patriot and revolutionary.
Unknown to many, Ka Joma could have been a member of the Bar himself if only he followed his father’s wishes to become a lawyer, marry into a rich family, and enter politics. With his intellect and eloquence, he could have made a top-calibre attorney whose skills can make other lawyers look like first year law students in the courtroom, or a politician with tremendous powers, like a Philippine president. His incomparable thoroughness, adroit language skills and comprehensive outlook, not to mention his admirable discipline at work, qualified him to be the best people’s lawyer we never had.
But Ka Joma was made for far greater and nobler things. What he could have contributed to the legal profession or the reactionary government, he dedicated to the revolutionary struggle of the Filipino people and the world.
In various capacities, among them, professor, poet and cadre, Ka Joma paved the foundations for the recommencement of the Philippine Revolution. Ka Joma has served as foremost theoretician and moral leader of the revolutionary movement whose political wisdom leaves not only eternal guidance to Filipino revolutionaries and nationalists, but a profound impact on the broad masses for generations.
As chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), he was practically the principal architect of and solution-finder in — the bilateral agreements forged between the NDFP and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) in the peace negotiations.
In advancing the struggle for national democracy and social liberation, Ka Joma’s sharp analysis of Philippine history and current events has evoked a full spectrum of myths and opinions about him ranging from notoriety to reverence, from fear to respect. The Philippine government and other states such as the US and members of the European Union tried many times in vain to vilify and make a criminal out of Ka Joma on false charges of common crimes and terrorism.
Through these legal persecutions, Ka Joma walked the tortuous road to justice with his lawyers, led by the late Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairman and chairman emeritus. Theirs was a comradeship built on common aspirations for democracy and liberation as well as shared ideals of a just and lasting peace and respect for human rights.
His lawyers saw in Ka Joma a brave client deserving of a brave lawyer, as the latter withstood incessant attacks and grave injustices against his person, even as he somehow derived pleasure in outwitting the enemy in its own game and rules. For a revolutionary like him, he was rather keenly interested in the legal niceties and nuances, verbose even, perhaps suggesting that the guerrilla is also like a lawyer.
Partly because of his juridical battles and partly because of the legal requisites in the negotiations and bilateral agreements in the peace talks, but also because he was regularly in the midst and company of people’s lawyers here and abroad, Ka Joma kept abreast of pertinent and useful juridical principles, concepts and jurisprudence. He could cite relevant cases like a learned jurist and drop juridical phrases and terms with aplomb. And he shared his invaluable insights on how juridical struggles must be grounded onsocial and political realities, always reminding his lawyers of their role in society and in delivering justice for the people.
Under his circumstances as a political refugee in exile where he sometimes yearn for mangoes, it is easy for one to get weary and fade silently into retirement. But not Ka Joma: by choosing to remain relevant and ever-present, he has demonstrated time and again his boundless revolutionary zeal.
These days, 75 years is a long life’s feat, some would say. But to have lived this life in the service of the Filipino people in their revolutionary struggle is the real coup. Such patriotism inspires us people’s lawyers to persevere in our commitment to uphold human rights and defend the cause of the poor, exploited and the oppressed.
And all these, and many more, are what makes Joma the people’s hero. The real people’s lawyer – in his own right – for all seasons.
We salute you, Atty. Joma!
Mabuhay ka, Panyero!