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Part 3: Interview with Jose Maria Sison on the people’s war in the Philippines

Interview by Mick Kelly |
October 12, 2017
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Jose Maria Sison with Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly
Jose Maria Sison, the founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines with Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly.

Fight Back! interviewed Jose Maria Sison, the founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), August 19, in Utrecht, the Netherlands. This is the third and final portion of the interview. See also part 1 and part 2.

The interview was conducted by Fight Back! editor Mick Kelly, who is also responsible for the international work of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO).

Fight Back!: What do you have to say about the role of the U.S. in the Philippines?

Jose Maria Sison: The U.S. has been alerted. The U.S. has certain laws. You don’t give aid to governments that violate human rights. Congress people were threatening to reduce aid - as a matter of fact, Duterte’s been complaining about not getting the supplies that he wants, appropriate to, you know, supposedly fighting terrorists and so on.

Obama was under advice by congressional leaders and other people to advise Duterte not to kill too many [laughs], because the extra-judicial killings were already being done by the thousands, from month to month.

It’s another question whether the U.S. is real defender of human rights [chuckles]. There is something hypocritical about U.S. imperialism. The U.S. is responsible for massive human rights violations, massive destruction of lives and property, infrastructure - social infrastructure - in so many countries. The U.S. can be described as the ‘number one’ violator of human rights - responsible for the death of millions, 10, 20 million since the end of World War II.

And then course, in the offensives made by the U.S. since the 1990s, it wasted the lives of American soldiers and trillions of dollars to carry out those offensives.

However, the U.S. uses the human rights issue in order to justify its domination over countries, to exercise control. It’s not so much of the love of human rights, but it is for the love of controlling [laughs] the puppets.

Even if Duterte says he wishes to maintain an independent foreign policy, the system he has inherited from his predecessors very much is a system that belongs to the U.S. and he has used personnel loyal to the U.S. Lorenzana [Major General Lorenzana, AFP (Ret.), Secretary of National Defense] is a longtime resident of Washington. He has long been connected to JUSMAG [Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group], the military advisor group that decides what kind of weapons to sell to the Philippine armed forces. And of course, the national security advisor, as well as the chief of staff, they are products of American forces, American forces training and also products of inter-operability training exercises in the yearly Balikatan exercises.

So, the U.S. is in control. Duterte may be dramatic, he’s as if trying to break off from the U.S. control, but, when the Marawi events came, you see how he was so grateful to the U.S. and he was so ready to accept the deliveries of the U.S. At two ends, Duterte has been manipulated. He has been manipulated by his close-in security advisors, and at another end is the IS creation - the Islamic State creation of the CIA, and the Moussad [laughs].

The CPP editorial, the CPP statement, described Duterte as having exposed himself as a tool of aggression, because he’s the one who looks insane, and who has admitted using fentanyl, no? Sending him to the skies, having him seated on cloud nine.

Duterte echoes the U.S. propaganda that Kim Jong Un is crazy. I thought that he knew well the geopolitics in which the U.S. operates. He doesn’t know that the DPRK could be it hit like Iraq of Saddam or Libya of Khaddaffi, if it does not have its nuclear weapons for self-defense.

So that’s Duterte. I have already mentioned the reasons that Duterte cannot be trusted to comply with what the people demand in terms of social, economic, political and constitutional reforms, to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace.

It’s difficult to say whether the negotiations will be able to proceed under Duterte, because Duterte himself cannot guarantee his political survival. He can be thrown out by pro-U.S. elements in the military, or, a broad united front by democratic forces could overthrow him.

For instance, these extra-judicial killings, with impunity, they are becoming sort of a bomb exploding in the face of Duterte, whereas before, it seemed like it was the main factor for gaining his popularity. He was presenting himself as a strongman, using the mean face, and then he was going to do the quick fix. But, he as not solved the problem. Because in the first place, he’s just killing poor drug users and addicts. The highest level he went up to was killing three mayors.

But what about the governors and generals? What about his son, who’s now reputed to be the lord of the drug lords? The son now is accused of using ports, the ports of Davao and Manilla and possibly other ports, in smuggling drugs. So how can he stop the drug problem, if his own son, and if he himself cannot be aware or is aware in cahoots with the son?

Fight Back!: What do you have to say to our readers, to the American people, the people of the U.S.?

Sison: The Filipino people are trying hard to continue and advance the revolution. The people take pride in being able to develop the revolutionary forces, despite what may be called even a strategic retreat of the anti-imperialist and socialist cause since 1991.

The Filipino people are doing everything possible. The Filipino people become aware of their duty to wage the revolution no matter how long it takes. It took us 300 years to liberate ourselves from Spanish colonialism, and for a while we were a standout, before the U.S. imperialists intervened. We were the first to liberate ourselves from a Western colonial power, and that’s a big prize. As we sort of performed the role of being this torch-bearer in our part of the world, at least in Southeast Asia, that’s an inspiring thing to think of.

So, we are doing our best to be able to contribute to the resurgence of the world proletarian revolution and the broad anti-imperialist struggle. In turn, as we have the spirit of helping the proletariat and the people of the world to advance the revolution, possibly in all countries and continents. We expect that their struggles contribute to our own strengthening. So, there’s interaction between the proletariat and people in various countries, be these countries that are the advanced industrialist capitalist countries, and be they underdeveloped countries - which are still in the majority.

The time will come that more direct exchanges, more direct forms of cooperation will be possible and the stronger ones will help the weaker ones, in terms of moral and material support. The most important thing this is that we help each other by true solidarity, by fighting a common enemy.

We have always thought of the American people as having contributed a decisive help to the victory of the Vietnamese people, who were the first to score definite big victory against U.S. imperialism, I think, in history. The U.S. was defeated, and then of course, the rest of Indochina would follow, but the key point is this is one country where the U.S. [pauses]. You know, in the Korean War, the U.S. set a kind of stalemate, ending in the armistice agreement. But of course, in another sense, the U.S. was effectively frustrated in trying to dominate the north, or the DPRK. [returns to Vietnam topic] So a whole country driving away U.S. imperialism, the Vietnamese people achieved that.

And the American people contributed to that victory, because, inside the U.S., they demonstrated the unjustness of the war of aggression. The people showed the costliness and futility of all those bombs being thrown at the Vietnamese people. And so, the U.S. was compelled to retreat, to withdraw from Vietnam - mainly through the struggle of the Vietnamese people, but, you must also take into account what the American people did, in order to discourage the U.S. from going further in the war.

But anyway, they could not really go further in any justifiable way. Even in the boardrooms of the monopoly bourgeoise, the U.S. comforted itself, ‘Well, it’s better to act like good businessmen. We just don’t throw our metals and chemicals at Vietnam, we better sell our weapons to the oil-producing countries.’ That’s how they shifted, they justified the withdrawal from Vietnam.

But we have always regarded the support of the American people to the Vietnamese struggle as a model for us, and we take advantage of the fact that there has been this colonial and neo-colonial relationship, and there are quite a number of Filipinos - as early as the early 70s - they acknowledged we were 4 million Filipinos - you certainly have that figure if you also count in the Filipino-Americans, the second generation that has no more plans of going back to the Philippines. So, we have billions. The Vietnamese had less.

The Filipinos in the U.S., being able to cooperate with their solidarity friends of various nationalities within the U.S., we can do better in fighting against a common enemy right in the belly of the beast.