Full Text of Interview with Jose Maria Sison, NDFP Chief Political Consultant by Alan Robles
(Source of quotations from Sison by Robles in his article in South China Morning Post, titled “:Explained: the Philippines’ communist rebellion is Asia’s long -running insurgency”, 16 September 2019.)
1. How strong are the communists right now?.)
JMS: The membership of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) is about 100,000. It is nationwide in scale and is deeply rooted among the toiling masses of workers and peasants as well as people from various social sectors.
The CPP leads the New People’s Army (NPA) which has thousands of Red fighters and operates in 120 guerrilla fronts in 74 out 81 Philippine provinces. It has fomed mass organizations of various classes and sectors, whose members run in the millions. It performs the leading role in the thousands local organs of political power which constitute the people’s democratic government.
The Duterte regime taunts the CPP and revolutionary movement for not being to capture the presidential palace in Manila. But the CPP has been outstandingly successful in building the people’s democratic government in the countryside. And the people and territory it governs continue to expand. The revolutionary government is advancing in waves in the direction of supplanting the reactionary government of big compradors and landlords from the localities up to the national level.
At certain levels of the reactionary government in certain areas, there are officials who cannot function without cooperating with the revolutionary movement. That was the case of Duterte having had to cooperate with the revolutionary movements while he was Davao City mayor.
2. Can they be crushed? How? How soon? Why not?
JMS: The CPP and the revolutionary movement it leads cannot be crushed because in the first place they work and fight to realize the people’s demands for national and social liberation against foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. They are pursuing the general line of people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. Socialism is not yet in the current agenda but is the bright future foreseen.
By pursuing the strategic line of protracted people’s war, the NPA under CPP leadership avails of the countryside and the peasant majority of the nation as the wide base and area for maneuver against a militarily superior enemy. In response to the enemy’s strategic offensive, the NPA takes the strategic defensive but launches tactical offensives in order to capture and accumulate arms over a long period of time.
The NPA operates nationwide and is deeply rooted among the peasants and indigenous peoples. The military machine of the regime can never have enough troops and equipment to destroy the NPA all at once. It can focus only on a few areas where it undertakes uneven and porous operations of encirclement. The NPA has proven that it can gain more arms from its operations of counter-encirclement and by initiating tactical offensives in other areas where the enemy forces are weak.
The CPP is clandestine to the enemy and is protected by the people’s army and by revolutionary mass organizations. Just to kill one communist, the Duterte regime has to kill at least 1000 noncommunist people. This is obvious from the wild red-tagging being made by the military and police. One more important thing: the CPP is very capable of defending itself with the people’s army and mass support.
3. Why have all previous attempts failed?
JMS: All previous attempts to destroy the CPP and the revolutionary movement have failed because the CPP always strengthens itself ideologically, politically and organizationally. It adheres to the theory of Marxim-Leninism-Maoism as the guide to action, the general line of people’s democratic revolution through protracted people’s war and the organizational principle of democratic centralism.
The theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism provide the fundamental revolutionary principles and the historical lessons that inspire the CPP cadres and members to wage the revolution under the leadership of the working class within the context of the Philippines and the world. By understanding Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, the CPP cadres and members are prepared to wage revolutionary struggle for any length of time in the epochal struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
The CPP has analyzed the history and current circumstances of the Filipino people. It has analysed the semicolonial and semifeudal character of Philippine society and has identified the basic problems of the Filipino people, such as imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism. These are the targets of the Philippine revolution. And the CPP has built its proletarian class leadership, the people’s army and the national united front as the weapons by which to defeatthe reactionary state.
All previous attempts to destroy the CPP and revolutionary movement by military means have been frustrated because of the general line of people’s democratic revolution and the integration of revolutionary armed struggle, agrarian revolution and mass-base building in the implemenation of the strategic line of protracted people’s war.
4. Why has communist movement lasted this long?
JMS: The CPP and the revolutionary movement have lasted for so long because they uphold their revolutionary principles, ceaselessly strive to strengthen themselves ideologically, politically and organizationally and fight for the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people, especially the toiling masses.
The Marcos fascist dictatorship and the subsequent pseudo-democratic regimes have been detested by the people as instrments of US domination and of the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords. Such regimes can be distinguished from each other only in terms of extent and intensity of oppression and exploitation.
Each regime has tried to destroy the CPP and revolutionary movement through strategic campaign plans made by US advisors and pro-US military officers in the AFP. By violating human rights and using brute force, every regime has unwittingly driven an increasing number of people to join the armed revolution. It has been practically the chief recruiter of the CPP and NPA.
Whenever it sends military forces to seek out the NPA and attack the poeople in the countryside, it practically acts as the transport and supply officer of the NPA. The NPA lays the ambushes and command-detonated mines to get the arms and other supplies from the intruding military forces. More than 95 per cent of the arms of the NPA have been captured from the reactionary military and police. The rest have been either donated or bought.
5. What is the key to destroying the communist movement?
JMS: The CPP can be destroyed only if it violates its correct revolutionary principles, policies and general line, commits grave errors and fails to rectify them. Sheer military force or even higher technology from the other side cannot defeat the CPP’s revolutionary struggle for the national and social liberation of the Filipino people. Under the leadership of the CPP, the New People’s Army can defeat enemy forces piece by piece and seize weapons cumulatively. That is what has been happening in the last more than 50 years.
The CPP remains ideologically strong by constantly undertaking its three levels of theoretical and political education: basic, intermediate and advanced. It requires the correct application of principles in understanding and solving problems through concrete analysis of concrete conditions. It consistenly opposes idealism and subjectivism and criticizes and rectifies errors along this line in the course of study as well as in the course of work.
The CPP remains politically strong because it adheres firmly to the general line of people’s democratic line and oppposes any “Left” or Right opportunist deviation or error. Periodically and promptly, all CPP organs and units assess and evaluate their work to correct errors and shortcomings, improve work and advance. Major errors that run for a long period of time and do serious damage to the revolutionary movement are subjected to a rectification movement of ideological andpolitical education for as long as necessary.
The CPP remains organizationally strong because it follows the principle of democratic centralism. This is centralized leadership on the basis of democratic discussions and decision-making by consensus or vote. Once a decision has been taken, it is followed by everyone as a matter of discipline. But the decision can be reviewed if it proves to be wrong or not supported by certain facts. There is both discipline and freedom within the CPP.
6. What’s so different between the government and military’s latest strategy and the strategies of the past 50 years?
JMS: The latest strategy under Executive Order 70 and Oplan Kapanatagan is no different from previous strategic campaigns. The so-called whole nation approach is a recycling of previous strategic campaigns designed by US advisors and their pro-US military assets in the AFP. It serves the interests of the US and the local exploiting classes of big compradors and landlords.
The differences are not in substance but merely in style. The commander-in-chief Duterte is an unabashed ruffian who publicly calls on his armed minions to go on rampages of mass murder and to rape women. He aims for the militarization of the entire government and society. As a result, the military officers expose their incompetence and corruption by taking over or meddling in civilian departments and agencies of the government.
Military and police officers are preoccupied with enriching themselves by dipping into the resources of various non-military agencies of government, faking surrenders and encounters to get cash rewards and promotions, releasing criminals from prison by taking bribes and using checkpoints and patrols for the purpose of extortion and mulcting. Thus, the number of military officers and men for combat duties is greatly reduced. They would rather enrich themselves than take more risks in the battlefield.
Even if more of them were deployed for combat against the NPA, they are rendered blind and deaf because of the people’s ardent support for the NPA. The joint or separate AFP and PNP military operations are often successfully thwarted through ambushes, command-detonated mines, sniping and other tactics of the NPA. Many of the Duterte regime’s military and police avoid combat by pretending to undertake “civic action”, “peace and development operations”“community support” programs and such other fancy missions.
7. Aren’t there good elements in the armed forces? What can they do amidst the less than noble military officers?
JMS: Even in the reactionary armed forces, there are good elements, who take seriously the need for patriotism, democracy, integrity and honest service. These good elements have emerged in major historical events. They rose up in 1986 to withdraw support from Marcos in 1986 and from Estrada in 2001.
Right now, there are predominantly junior officers who are increasingly criticizing corruption and human rights violations by officers above them. They are most vocal among themselves in asserting their patriotism and condemning Duterte’s sell-out to Chinaof the West Philippine Sea and its rich mineral and marine resources.
They are most revolted by Duterte’s violation of national security by allowing China to take over and control the telecom system in the Philippines and to allow the Chinese cell towers to be based in AFP military camps and to be guarded by military personnel, instead of private security guards. They consider Duterte a traitor and a dumbo for mixing up in AFP military camps the Chinese cell towers and the US facilties under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.
Duterte faces the prospect of being ousted by a military withdrawal of support from him as consequence of his treasonous acts and the intolerable rot he has abetted within the AFP. As in 1986 and 2001, the military withdrawal of support can occur in conjunction with the intensification of people’s war, gigantic protest mass actions in the streets, rebukes by the Catholic and other churches and denunciations by political and business leaders offended by Duterte’s brutality, corruption and maladministration.###