Full Interview with Prof. Jose Maria Sison
NDFP Chief Political Consultant
By Voltaire Tupaz
22 June 2013
VT: Good morning, Ka Joma. This is Voltaire Tupaz, a journalist from Rappler.com – a social news network in PH. May I ask you a few questions? Rappler recently interviewed head government negotiator Alexander Padilla. He said you want peace but not the CPP leadership in PH. Your comment, please?
JMS: The CPP, NPA and the NDFP are desirous of a just peace and want the peace negotiations to progress in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration as framework agreement and with all subsequent agreements.
They take the position that in principle the peace negotiations are still going on in the absence of any side giving a formal notice of termination to the other side. However, it is the GPH side that has announced repeatedly to the press since April that is has terminated the peace negotiations with the NDFP.
The CPP leadership has recently reiterated its trust in and support for the NDFP Negotiating Panel in which Luis Jalandoni is the Chairperson and to which I am the Chief Political Consultant. It is presumptuous for anyone in the GPH to determine the relationship of the CPP leadership in the Philippines with the NDFP Negotiating Panel.
VT: Padilla also thinks that the peace process would never end, “that it was a process actually intended not for peace but to continue the war [and for them] to get concessions.” At least on social media, people tend to share the same sentiment. How do you address this perception coming from a generation which is not familiar with the complexity of the peace talks?
JMS: It is in fact the GPH that does not want the peace negotiations to continue. The NDFP cannot compel the GPH to go back to the negotiating panel. If the GPH merely wants war under its US-designed Oplan Bayanihan, the revolutionary forces and people have no choice but to defend themselves and defeat their enemy.
VT: Perhaps the strongest reactions we gathered were related to the use of landmines – recent incidents that killed cops and soldiers. In the same way that the Party abandoned the use of Bobby traps because it was counterproductive, do you feel that it’s time to assess whether the NPA should continue using command detonated landmines? There had been reports of civilian casualties, or at the very least, they expose noncombatants to harm (i.e., if detonated along highways, roads)
JMS: The use of command-detonated land mines by the NPA does not violate the Ottawa Treaty and its protocol. In this regard, the NDFP is well advised by an International Legal Advisory Team composed of prominent lawyers who are experts in international law. You complain against command-detonated land mines. But you do not complain against aerial bombs and artillery fire which are monopolized by the AFP and indiscriminately kill people.
VT: The conflict is also a battle for hearts and minds. The story of the mother of one of the landmine casualties is circulating as a human interest narrative: Evelyn Pinated, mother of the slain SAF vehicle driver PO2 Elmark Rodney Pinated said the “devils” took her son away, and she wants them crushed. “The (NPA) must stop these senseless killings. They are killing those who are serving our people,” Elmark had married his girlfriend Grace only last October 8. She last talked to him over the celphone on May 20, her birthday, when he greeted her. What’s your message to the grieving women?
JMS: My message to any real or possible complainant against the NPA is to present the complaint to the NDFP section of the Joint Monitoring Committee (Junder the Comprehensive Agreement of Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) or to approach directly the people’s democratic government, particularly the people’s prosecutors and the people’s courts.
The officers and men of the AFP, PNP and paramilitary forces commit so many crimes against the people according to so many victims and families, the NDFP section of the JMC and domestic and international human rights organizations. You should also confront the GPH about these crimes committed by its armed personnel.
VT: So does it really mean the end of the peace talks under the Aquino government? What will it take for you to talk to them again for the sake of peace?
JMS: The absence of a formal notice of termination from the GPH to the NDFP can mean either one of two things: GPH arrogance and contempt for the JASIG or GPH allowing itself space to resume formal talks according to its own later judgment. The NDFP will be receptive to any signal or approach of the GPH or Aquino regime for resuming the formal talks. The NDFP expects from the GPH nothing more than compliance with existing agreements and the desire to move forward with the negotiations.
VT: Padilla said “there is a constant fear on my part that the next echelon of leaders might not even be receptive to discussion or negotiations. Kung tatawagin ko—utak pulbura.” What do you feel about his pessimism?
JMS: The GPH or the Aquino regime has only itself to blame if it offers no other possibility than the continuance and intensification of the civil war. It should see that the way is still available for peace negotiations.
VT: The special report is scheduled to be published today, Sunday. BTW, one of our interviewees, Judge Sol Santos Jr of the Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines suggested a possible confidence-building step to resuming talks: a moratorium or a calibrated reduction on the NPA use of command-detonated landmines might be reciprocated by something just as significant (say a moratorium or calibrated reduction on the AFP use of artillery fire and/or air strikes) on the GPH side (i.e., agreement on at least a relatively “small matter” of weapons use). Q: 1) Is this even feasible? ; 2) Would CPP/NPA/NDF be open to study/explore the proposal?
JMS: The NDFP has long proposed to the GRP since 2005 to have an agreement of truce and alliance on the basis of a general declaration of common intent to realize full independence, democracy, and economic development through national industrialization and land reform. Such agreement can be made while the peace negotiations continue to take up the remaining three items in the substantive agenda.
If there is such an agreement, the armed conflict ceases and there is no more need for land mines, aerial bombs and artillery fire or any other kind of weapon. While there is still armed conflict, the NPA needs land mines to deter the AFP and PNP from easily encroaching on the territory of the people’s democratic government. Land mines are a poor man’s weapon. Aerial bombing and artillery fire are weapons of those who oppress the people.
Soliman Santos himself has written a number of times that command-detonated land mines are not prohibited by the Ottawa Treaty on land mines. CARHRIHL does not prohibit the same. And the people’s democratic government (PDG) and its revolutionary forces are not bound by GPH laws.###