Prof. Jose Maria Sison answers questions from host Anghelo Godino
Tsikahan with Tito Jo, July 1, 2020
1. Could you elaborate more in detail to the younger generation why there are two (important) dates 6/12 and 7/4 to remember? What is the difference between the two of them?
JMS: June 12, 1898 was the date when Aguinaldo proclaimed the national independence of the Philippines and signaled the uprisings that toppled Spanish colonialism on a national scale. But there was an expression in the proclamation that depreciated its value. It described Philippine independence as being “under the protection of the mighty and noble USA”, manifesting the willingness of Aguinaldo to make the Philippines a protectorate. So many of our people prefer August 23, 1896 as the day of independence for the old democratic revolution when Andres Bonifacio declared national independence and started the armed revolution against the Spanish colonial regime.
July 4, 1946 was the date when Manuel Roxas declared national independence and inaugurated the Republic of the Philippines. But this independence was fake or grossly incomplete, preconditioned by the US-RP Treaty of General Relations which made the Philippines a semicolony of the US and the “republic” a puppet one no different from the fake independence bestowed by Japan to the Philippine during the Japanese Occupation. The treaty retained the US military bases, the property rights of US corporations and citizens and US control of Philippine trade and diplomatic relations.
The full independence of the Philippines in the new democratic revolution is still to be decided by the revolutionary party of the proletariat. It could be the date when the current armed revolution started or when the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government or best of all when the armed revolution will achieve nationwide victory with the overthrow of the counterrevolutionary state of the big compradors, landlords and bureaucrat capitalists in the cities.
By the way, the Kabataang Makabayan used to make ceremonial declarations of independence on the birthday of Andres Bonifacio from 1964 onward.
2. Why are we still celebrating on July 4 and calling it Philippine-American Friendship Day?
JMS: It is actually the counterrevolutionary semicolonial state that is celebrating July 4 as Philippine-American Friendship Day. It was worse when the same semicolonial state and puppet republic celebrated July 4 as the Philippine day of independence. The celebration of July 4 as Philippine-American Friendship Day signifies the continuing subservience of the semicolonial state to US imperialism.
3. Why don’t we celebrate the Philippine-American Friendship Day publicly?
JMS: The Filipino people and the revolutionary forces do not celebrate Philippine-American Friendship Day in the same servile spirit and fashion that the Philippine semicolonial state does. But there is no problem for Filipinos and Filipino organizations to convey greetings of solidarity to their American counterparts who value the day as their independence day.
4. Why do NDs say that the Philippines is still not free from the US?
JMS: As I have earlier pointed out, US continues to dominate the Philippines as a semicolony. It has done so since the preconditioning of the grant of national independence with the US-RP Treaty of General Relations. It has encumbered the Philippines with more treaties, agreements and arrangements that subordinate the Philippines as a semicolony or neocolony to US imperialism economically, politically, militarily and culturally.
5. They say the analysis of ND activists about the imperialist countries are already outdated. There is no imperialism any more but rather a multi-polar world, is it true? Is it also true that US is no longer a super power?
JMS: It is not true that imperialism has gone out of existence and that the US is no longer an imperialist superpower. Imperialism or monopoly capitalism exists in the US and several other industrial capitalist countries.
The use of such terms as unipolar, bipolar and multipolar world is anchored on the existence of imperialism. For instance, when there was the Cold War between the two superpowers, US imperialism and Soviet social imperialism, the world was described as bipolar by political analysts. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US was referred to as the sole super power in a unipolar world.
Since the financial crash of 2008, the term multipolar world has become more than ever frequently used, with the US manifesting a more pronounced strategic decline because of its worsening economic crisis and the heavy costs of its overseas military bases and endless wars of aggression and at the same time with China and Russia rising as new imperialist powers and forming blocs of countries independent of the US, such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Despite its accelerated strategic decline, the US is still an imperialist superpower and maintains hightech military superiority over other imperialist powers. Since 2018 US imperialism has become more wary of Chinese imperialism and accuses China of unfair economic, financial and trade practices and stealing technology from the US and becoming an economic and military rival of the US. The inter-imperialist contradictions between the US and China are sharpening. Thus, certain political analysts say that a new Cold War has arisen and that there is a return to the bipolar world.
5. Tito, Duterte had PHP 275B to supposedly provide financial assistance to the marginalized and unemployed due to COVID-19, but through out his press conferences he keeps on saying that he doesn’t have money any more. The Philippines now has 7-8T international debt, where is Duterte using all his money? How is the Philippines gonna pay for this?
JMS: Duterte has used the Covid-19 pandemic to escalate the repressive measures and human rights violations against the Filipino people, butcher people in the guerrilla fronts of the revolutionary movement, deprive the people of livelihood, medical care, food assistance and forms of relief and steal hundreds of billions of pesos or trillions from the public treasury, private company donations and loans and grants from abroad by faking receipts of purchases of medical supplies and overpricing them.
Duterte has bankrupted the Philippine economy and his own government. The bankruptcy is so deepgoing that there is no way the Philippine government can pay back the mountains of foreign debt. He cannot pay for the loans by taking more foreign loans indefinitely because the world capitalist system is now in a severe crisis far worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s. The IMF, the World Bank and the OECD have already issued estimates that the global GDP will dive by as much 4.9 per cent to 6 per cent. The impact will be worst on the underdeveloped and debt-laden countries like the Philippines.
6. There are videos circulating in the internet that the Philippines is surrounded by US and Chinese warships, is there a truth in it? How dangerous is it for the country?
JMS: It is true that the US and China are making shows of strength in the South China Sea. China has made the provocations by intensifying its activities to assert its false claims, fortify its positions and further encroach on the sovereign and maritime rights of the Southeast countries under international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Thus, the Southeast Asian governments, with the exception of the Duterte regime, have protested and the US has demonstrated support for them and asserted freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
The US and China are calculating and calibrating their moves, which are essentially demonstrations of naval and air power in the Asia-Pacific region. The US hightech military might is far superior to that China but the US will not attack China because this has enough nuclear power to destroy the US and the US wants to mobilize first the anger of the Southeast Asian countries against its imperialist rival. China is also afraid to attack the US naval fleet in the South China Sea and the Pacific because it will surely be destroyed by US military power and is in fact trying hard to counter the impact of its deteriorating relations with the US.
7. Should Duterte or the Philippines – for this matter, start siding with China instead of US to defeat US?
JMS: It is wrong and traitorous for Duterte to allow Chinese imperialism to build and militarize artificial islands in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea, take control over the rich marine and mineral resources in the West Philippine Sea and take over the Scarborough or Pagan Shoal.
The Filipino people’s struggle for full national independence is chiefly directed against US imperialism but it does not allow Chinese imperialism to violate the sovereign rights of the Filipino people. Fighting Spanish colonialism was never a license for surrendering the country to US imperialism. The revolutionary movement must be consistent in fighting imperialism, whether it is that of the US or China.
8. There is certainly going to be a war in the West Philippine Sea and Duterte is the first to blame, he is not just compromising the safety of the Filipino people but also the neighboring ASEAN countries. How will this affect the already stale relationship of Duterte with the international community? Is it too late to stop this war? What should we do to stop this?
JMS: As I have already explained, there is no certainty of war breaking out in the South China Sea between the US and China at least within the next few years. You cannot blame Duterte for a war that has not yet burst out. We can hold Duterte accountable for allowing and encouraging China to take over the West Philippine Sea in violation of Philippine sovereign rights, the UNCLOS and the 2016 judgment of the Permanent Arbitration Court in favor of the Philippines against China and also for failing to unite with the other ASEAN countries in opposing China’s illegal claim over 90 percent of the South China Sea.
You can hold Duterte accountable for being a traitor and a complete moron. He has failed to bring charges against China before the UN and appropriate courts for violating the sovereign rights of the Philippines, illegally occupying the artificial islands in the West Philippines and damaging the marine environment; and demand payment for rent and damages to the environment in the same manner as the US was required to pay for damages when its boat damaged a part of the Tubbataha Reef. The Philippines can actually sue China in the US and other countries where it has assets to pay for obligations and damages.
But the worst stupidity of Duterte is to allow China to prevent the Philippines from exploring and exploiting the oil, gas and other mineral resources in the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea. These resources are worth several tens of trillions of USD (the estimated value of the oil and gas resources is at least USD 26 trillion and that of the marine resources is at least USD 1.5 trillion) which could save the Philippines from underdevelopment and the humiliation of being the eternal beggar of foreign loans from the imperialist powers.
9. It might be hard to believe that Duterte is treading on dangerous waters because of the ongoing tension and the provocation between US and China, thus, can you explain why Duterte is doing this? Why is he putting the lives of the millions of Filipino people in danger?
JMS: Duterte is criminally responsible for allowing and encouraging China to assert its false claim of owning more than 90 per cent of the South China Sea and to take over the West Philippine Sea as its own sovereign property. Because of this, he is also responsible for aiding and abetting the Chinese acts of aggression against the Philippines and other ASEAN countries and for creating a situation in which the US comes into play as defender of the right to free navigation and supporter of the sovereign rights of the ASEAN countries against the Chinese acts of aggression.
10. How is this commotion, affecting the livelihood of the fisher folks in these areas? We’ve seen that in the past and even up to today, in the thick of the pandemic, the fisher folks are being bullied by the Chinese fishing vessels, prohibited to make a living inside our territories. In the thick of the pandemic, the fisher folks are facing demolition and reclamation. How is this new international situation going to affect them?
JMS: I agree with you that in the past and even until today, in the thick of the pandemic, the Filipino fisher folks are being rammed and bullied by the Chinese fishing vessels and prohibited to make a living inside the West Philippine Sea. The fisher folks are facing demolition and reclamation projects in the interest of the Chinese criminal triads engaged in operating casinos and in drug smuggling.
I do not mind if the US uses its naval fleet to stop China from committing acts of aggression in the West Philippine Sea and occupying the artificial islands. The US should also stop continuing to support Duterte just because he made a promise to Trump in 2017 that he would terminate the peace negotiations with the NDFP and destroy the armed revolution through sheer military force.
Duterte cannot stay a day longer in power if the US assets within the reactionary armed forces agree to withdraw military support from him. It is still a puzzle why the pro-US generals in the AFP and PNP continue to support Duterte despite China taking control over the national power grid and telecommunications and putting cell towers in military camps in contradiction with the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement which allows the US to have its own bases within the AFP military camps.
11. On July 12, 2016, Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, so what is China still doing in our sovereign waters? Why did Duterte allow the invasion of the Philippines by China? What should the PCA or the international community do?
JMS: I have already pointed out that Duterte is a traitor and complete moron for failing to uphold the 2016 judgment of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in favor of the Philippines against China. Instead, he has condoned and emboldened China to occupy, build and militarize the artificial islands and control the waters that belong to the Philippines. The Philippine can charge China for the violation of Philippine sovereign rights and demand compensation for illegal occupation and damage to the marine environment before the appropriate courts, especially in countries where China has assets that can pay for obligations and damages.
12. Any message to the youth in Europe and in the Philippines?
JMS: I call on the Anakbayan and the entire Filipino youth in Europe and in the Philippines to intensify their common efforts to fight and oust the Duterte regime of butchers and crooks. They must carry out the oust-Duterte movement with the framework of the Filipino people revolutionary struggle for national and social liberation.
Of course, Anakbayan and the Filipino youth in the Philippines have the magnitude and the most potential for intensifying all forms of revolutionary struggle not only for changing the reactionary ruling clique but also for making significant advances in the new democratic revolution against the semicolonial and semifeudal ruling system. They contribute to the advance of the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the youth and people of the world and need international solidarity and support.
Anakbayan and the Filipino youth in Europe and elsewhere abroad have the special role and duty of speaking freely and availing of the hightech means of immediate communication to support and coordinate with the Anakbayan and the Filipino youth in real time and at the same time gain the international solidarity and support of the youth of the world for the struggle of the Filipino youth and people for full national independence and democratic rights against foreign monopoly capitalism and the local exploiting classes now chiefly represented by the traitorous, tyrannical, murderous and plundering ruling clique headed by Duterte.###