Which of the two frontrunners would be more amenable to having serious peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines? Why?
JMS: Both Aquino and Villar promise to have negotiations with the NDFP. The important question is which of them is more amenable to negotiate in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and agree with the NDFP on the social, economic and political reforms in order to address the roots of the armed conflict and make a just and lasting peace.
Villar appears to be more amenable because of the program that he has spelled out. There are people around him to advise him to accelerate the peace negotiations.
If he becomes president, Aquino would likely continue to get advice from Bobby and Erin Tanada to move on honestly with the peace negotiations.
But there are many elements in the Aquino camp who are rabid anti-communists and pseudo-progressives who will advise Aquino to pretend being for peace negotiations as a way of deceiving the people and sharpening the sword of reaction in a renewed futile attempt to destroy the revolutionary movement.
What would you tell the new president as encouragement to engage in peace negotiations? Where and how should the peace negotiations be held. What degree of progress in the peace negotiations would allow you to return for a visit or permanent stay in the Philippines?
JMS: I would remind the new president that the socio-economic and political crisis is worsening, that the people and the revolutionary forces are already in the process of raising the level of the people’s war and that it is worth trying to agree on social, economic and political reforms in order to make a just and lasting peace in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration and the subsequent agreements.
The peace negotiations should continue to be held in a foreign neutral venue, with the help of the Norwegian government as third party facilitator. It is extremely complicated, costly and risky to hold peace negotiations in the Philippines. You can imagine the large-scale mobilization of security forces on both the sides of the GRP and NDFP every time that there are talks. It would take too much time for GRP and NDFP to formally agree on the scope of their respective territories as well as the neutral or buffer zones. The NDFP side would also have to take into account the dangers of GPS surveillance and the related electronic weapons.
I would certainly go back to the Philippines to live the rest of my life if there would be a just and lasting peace as a result of the peace negotiations. But I think that as soon as a comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms can be signed by the principals of the GRP and NDFP I would consider going to the Philippines at least for a short visit.
Are the revolutionary forces helping in any way any of the electoral coalitions, parties and candidates? Is it true, as charged by the military, that the revolutionary forces are supporting any candidate so long as he or she pays for the permit to campaign or permit to win?
JMS: As chief political consultant of the NDFP in peace negotiations with the GRP, I am not in a position to know in sufficient detail about the concrete relations of the revolutionary forces with electoral coalitions, parties and candidates for presidential, legislative and local executive positions.
I presume that as a matter of principle the revolutionary forces do not endorse or support the ruling system and its electoral system in particular. However, in line with the policy of the broad united front, the revolutionary forces may have appropriate relations with their allies who are engaged in the electoral contest.
As to be expected, the military officials of the ruling system would hurl all kinds of allegations and invectives against the revolutionary forces. But I would presume that certain allies would extend various kinds of donations and support to the revolutionary forces in order to help them undertake programs, projects and activities that are of social benefit to the people.
In your view, is it all right for Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza to be in the NP senatorial slate and to be with Bongbong Marcos? What are the chances of Satur and Liza?
JMS: It is of public knowledge that Satur and Liza are on the NP senatorial slate on the basis of a bilateral alliance between Makabayan and the NP. Makabayan has considered the NP as a worthy ally because of its acceptable program, which is patriotic and progressive.
However, after the NP-Makabayan alliance was established, the NP included Bongbong Marcos as a candidate in its senatorial slate. We know from press reports that Satur and Liza protested and threatened to withdraw from the NP senatorial slate. And that they were satisfied only after Villar publicly clarified that they were not compromised as guest candidates in the senatorial slate by the inclusion of Bongbong as another guest candidate and that the program of the NP remains firm on respect for human rights and indemnification of the victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
The latest poll surveys done by SWS and Pulse Asia do not rank Satur and Liza above Nos. 26 to 29. I hope that their rating will improve in the remaining weeks.