By AIRA MARIE SIGUENZA
MANILA – “Some fifteen or so minutes before Joma took his last breath, he was still talking about ensuring the revolution would win victory and advancing to socialism.”
This is an excerpt of the short note that Julie de Lima, the interim chairperson of the peace panel of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and wife of the late Jose Maria Sison, wrote as she shared her husband’s last message for the 54th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) on Dec. 26.
Sison, the founding chairperson of the CPP, and also among those who co-founded the New People’s Army (NPA), passed away on Dec. 16 after a two-week confinement in a hospital in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where he had been in exile since 1987.
In his final statement, Sison highlighted four topics particularly: (1) complete sabotage of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations; (2) why the people’s democratic revolution is invincible; (3) the armed counterrevolution will continue to fail; and, (4) perspective of the people’s democratic revolution.
“With his last thoughts he remained optimistic about the Filipino people whom he served with utmost determination,” said De Lima.
Duterte, never an ally of the left
In his message, Sison debunked repeated claims that the Left was mum on the human rights record of former President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that “the worst came when Duterte became president.”
He added that Duterte “completely sabotaged” the peace talks between the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying that the former president only pretended to be eager to conduct the negotiations but instead carried out an “all-out war policy against the revolutionary movement” through his anti-insurgency programs.
Instead of addressing the roots of the armed conflict, Sison said Duterte “hyped the localized peace talks,” and increased the military budget. This year alone, the Armed Forces of the Philippines was allotted P213.78 billion ($3.87 billion), while the PNP had P190.69 billion ($3.45 billion).
“Duterte and AFP officers became obsessed with increasing the military budget to accommodate their insatiable appetite for corruption and the operations to red-tag, intimidate people and abduct, detain, torture and murder their political opponents,” said Sison.
Former President Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace talks and later signed the Executive Order No. 70, a whole-of-nation approach to supposedly “address the root causes of insurgencies, internal disturbances and tensions, and other armed conflicts and threats,” that led to the forming of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which got a P17 billion ($0.31 billion) budget this year.
Since then, human rights groups have called out how “the NTF-ELCAC has systematically engendered human rights violations and even war crimes in counterinsurgency operations.”
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that this has been used to “wage a war targeting human rights defenders, journalists, critics, and anyone who stands in the way of Duterte’s de facto martial law.”
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The controversial Anti-Terror Law (ATL) was immediately signed into law last July 2020, amending the Human Security Act of 2007.
Under the new administration, Sison said Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio are continuing the legacy of their predecessor.
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“In the meantime, the Filipino people have to suffer the rising level of oppression and exploitation due to the worsening chronic crisis of the ruling system and the anti-national and anti-democratic policies of the Marcos-Duterte tandem. Day after day, they have to suffer, defy and fight not only the bloody human rights violations but also the fake news in the psywar campaign of those in power that the Filipino people and their revolutionary forces have given up the revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy,” said Sison.
But the late CPP founder said that the counterinsurgency program is likely to fail as the Filipino people continue to gain strength in advancing their fight.
‘The people’s democratic revolution is invincible’
Sison said that the current situation in the Philippines will remain a fertile ground to advance people’s fight.
“So long as the aforesaid three evil forces (foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism) dominate and afflict the Filipino nation, the ground remains fertile for the growth and advance of the people’s democratic revolution,” said Sison.
Sison said that the government’s own pronouncements admitted that the NPA has grown in strength during Duterte’s administration.
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“On the whole in its entire history, the CPP has been excellent and successful in building the nationwide strength of the revolutionary forces by being able to lead and coordinate them in various forms of struggle and, in the field of revolutionary armed struggle, using an existing guerrilla front to beget other guerilla fronts in the same region and provide experienced CPP cadres and NPA commanders and fighters to other regions,” said Sison. (JJE, RVO)