Jose Maria Sison - The co-founder of CPP and NPA - in the dead end
Since 35 years the Philippines are suffering under a guerrilla-fight, which is put up by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the News People Army (NPA) with the objective to overturn the “semi-feudal” and “semi-colonial” social order of the Philippines in a revolutionary fight. The armed rebellion has caused more than 43,000 dead persons up to now. The economic damage is immense. When in 2002 the US-Government declared the CPP / NPA as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”, the NPA and its co-founder Jose Maria Sison moved suddenly more into the limelight of the international public. Now the party founder and intellectual head of the CPP lives in exile in the Netherlands but he is threatened by a possible deportation disposal of the Dutch government. In the following contribution the biography of Sison and the development of the NPA should be set out in more details.
Characteristic for the Philippine agrarian society up to the presence is the antagonism between a majority of impoverished small farmers, tenants and agricultural workers with little or without landed property and a small well educated class of big landowners, which dominates the political scene. In the Philippines almost two thirds of the population lives in rural areas. The big majority – round about seventy percent - don't have any ground of their own and a lot of them have to work as tenants or seasonal contract workers. Little farms with less than three hectares manage only a third of the agricultural area, however, they represent two thirds of the farm owners. Big farms with more than ten hectares – round about four percent of the agricultural farms – cultivate 26 percent of the utilizable areas. Land reforms in the last decades did not bring substantial changes.
In view of the very unequal ground-distribution it isn't surprising that there have been waves of regional farmer revolts again and again starting from the end of the 19th century. Particularly violent farmer revolts in South Luzon in the thirties should be mentioned. In the course of the world economic crises and failing country reforms the illegal Communist Party of the Philippines (Partido Kommunista Ng Pilipinas - PKP) is founded in 1930. Several leaders of the HUK-resistance against the Japanese occupation have been members of this early communist party. The HUK-resistance movement was an important one, but little appreciated by the Philippines post war-governments and the Americans. After the war the movement becomes particularly in Luzon under its leader Luis Tarac a reservoir of militant farmers. In 1948 the HUK counted more than 10,000 fighters against the government and was supported by millions of countrymen. There is the fear of a nationwide communist upset like in China, North Korea and Vietnam. With substantial help of the CIA President Quirino goes now on offensive by more military means and propagandistic programs and succeeds in crashing the revolt. In the midst of the fiftieth the HUK loses its political importance because of internal disputes and further arrests.
The early years of Jose Maria Sison
Jose Maria Sison was born on February 8th, 1939 as a son of a conservative big landowner family in the little town of Cabugao in northern Luzon. As teenager he is very interested in the working conditions of the farmers in his neighbourhood. His hairdresser, an old HUK-fighter, tells him more about the successes and failures of the peasants' revolts in the province.
After the visit of the High School in Manila he studies at the University of the Philippines literature and politics. He is an enthusiastic reader of the early works of the patriotic "Illustrados" (Andreas Bonifacio / Jose Rizal / Apolinario Mabini) and studies publications "of progressive anti-imperialists” like Christano Evangelista, Claro Mayo Recto, Teodore Agoncillo, Armado Hernandez or Renato Constantino, and just also the works of the classic communist writers Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. In 1959 – one year after the death of his father – he completes his studies at the University of the Philippines with “magna cum laude”. In a follow-up study he learns the Indonesian language in Jakarta. He becomes an assistant professor of the English language at the University of the Philippines. Now in theory an academic career or an entrance in the world of classic conservative politics would have been possible. His sibling followed such conservative professional patterns.
However, the 23-year-old Sison decides in 1962 to join the illegal operating "Communist Party of the Philippines” – in accordance with his motto of life to help the poor people and such deprived from their rights. In the following time he founds a radical academic youth movement (KM / Kabataang Makabayan) and the cross-party “Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism” (MAN), which is also opened for bourgeois followers and which is a precursor of the later “National Democratic Front” (NDF). Now the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos (1965 - 1986) has started. In 1967 ideological differences and personal animosities lead to the exclusion Sibson's from the Moscow-oriented PKP under their leaders Lava and Turuc. Sison on the other side accused the Lava brothers of nepotism and enrichment.
One year later – on the 26th of December 1968 and Mao’s birthday - Sison decides with few others to found the Maoist oriented “Communist Party of the Philippines” (CPP). Sison characterizes the Philippines as a "semi feudal and semi colonial country ruthlessly exploited by the American imperialists", in his book "Filipino Society and Revolution", which is published under the pseudonym Amado Guerro two years later. The Philippine people should be freed in a revolutionary fight from its oppressors by an alliance of farmers, workers and other progressive groups. Primary goals are - analogous to the Chinese model – at first the erection of numerous and dispersed rural bases over the country, than a fair land reform in the conquered areas and the following capture of the towns. The new on Maoism oriented CPP wins more and more popularity – also under the academic youth, while the political influence of the old Moscow-orientated vanishes. The old PKK will later renounce the use of weapons and is reconstituted as a legal party with only few members.
Half year later, in March 1969, Sison orders to establish the military arm of the CPP, the "News People Army" (NPA), a guerrilla movement. The former HUK-commander of Central Luzon Bernabe Buscayno, alias "Commander Dante", becomes general commander. Initially the NPA only has sixty full-time fighters and 35 simpler firearms at its disposal. Convinced that the earlier HUK failed also because of its spatial concentration on Luzon, all efforts are taken to expand fast also in other impoverished areas like northern Luzon, Bicol, Samar Island and south Mindanao. The dissatisfaction of the farmers with their economic situation is helpful for the further expansion. A good decade later – in 1983 – Philippine government officials assume that the NPA controls with its 6000 full-time fighters 2-3 percent of the villages in the country. The NPA follows the typical pattern of the guerrilla-fight. Tactical operations are mostly decentralized and the local commanders have a higher freedom of decision-making. The fighting units are relatively small (30 – 150 men) and mobile. The guerrilla-soldiers are supported by a network of rural supporters which provide food and accommodations and give warnings if government troops are approaching.
Targets of military attacks are the facilities and the personnel of security institutions (Constabulary, police, and armed forces), politicians (particularly if they stand under suspicion of corruption), judges, government informers, rebels who want to leave the NPA, rival splinter groups and suspected criminals. NPA-members can establish their own judicative when they discover for instance usurious interests or dynamite fishing. Sometimes city halls are occupied to demonstrate power. Attacks on infrastructure facilities have been rare in the past. However, in recent time there are more reports about the blowing-ups of bridges, obstructions with regard to road buildings, the destruction of telecommunication-, gas- or water supply facilities. Before the withdrawal of US-troops in 1992 the fight against the U.S. imperialism included also attacks on implementations and staff of the U.S. armed forces. Later in 2002 the American Secretary for Foreign Affairs Powell will refer on the murdering of Colonel John Rowe in 1989, when he declared in 2002 the CPP/NPA as international "terrorist" groups. Rowe was an American control officer who advised the Philippine military on guerrilla infiltration and defence techniques.
Target groups of an attack can also be “uncooperative” landowners and business people, refusing to pay the "revolutionary tax". This double tax (10 % of estimated income) is raised by means of convincing but also with pressure and is the main financing source of the NPA. Even the little sari sari shop owners or teachers can be concerned by it. Large-scale enterprises which are located in the influence area the "Nice People" (ironic-anxious short name of the NPA) can be objects of protection rackets. If protection money is paid or material support is given, NPA groups promise that they will prevent any strikes, the interruption of the transport of goods, the killing of line staff or the destruction of company property. There have been rumours that the NPA was also involved in the production and distribution of marijuana. The CPP didn't take part in the presidential election in 2004, however, gave voting recommendations for example for the former senator Raul Roco. Moreover, the NPA used the election in the dominated areas to raise a "permit to campaign" levy between 50,000 and 500000 pesos from the candidates. They declare the raised money as "donation", critics speak from "extortion” money.
Second main sources of income are supports by left sympathizers and non-government institutions from abroad collected by an "International Solidarity Network". In 1990 the chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) calculated the foreign support payments for the CPP and their side organizations to an amount of 6-9 millions US$ per annum, whereas the domestic collection of money would reach every year 7.5 - 10 millions U.S $.
The NPA often recruits their young fighters from impoverished farmer families. The parents get the promise that all will be done for the welfare and further education of their adolescents and perhaps they are also thankful for this offer. The university sector is another recruitment place particularly for leadership staff. The new members get a political and military training. The NPA-regulations allow a fighting status with 18 years. However, in recent time the Armed Forces of the Philippines reproached the NPA that about three percent of their fighters are still in the juvenile age between 14 -17 years. In 1989 / 1990 they reported the capture of at least 86 juvenile fighters. The teenagers-members are particularly used as watchman and in the courier service, for observation and the collection of the “revolutionary tax”. The NPA denies such reports, however, and refers that it follows international conventions in the field of recruitment.
Women also can become a member of the NPA, but their number is very small. Sometimes they are presented in the media as “fighting Amazons”. One candidate for “Miss Philippines” was later a NPA-member. Some members of the NPA are former Roman Catholic priests. For example Luis Jalandoni who is now speaker of the NDFP, was in first profession a priest.
The life as a NPA-fighter surely isn't easy. The conditions of life for the fighters are hard, the food supply often miserable, the medical supply insufficient and the danger to be killed or wounded ubiquitous. With view on his first years as NPA-fighter Sison declared: “Against the background of a life and death struggle such troubles like the non-availability of buying possibilities or dishes toilets are nothing ". NPA-Renegades have to expect more or less difficult sanctions and the amnesty programs of the government are not often attractive enough.
Normally the communist rebels have weapons which they have taken from the Philippine armed forces or which have been purchased illegally. A very often used weapon is the American M16 gun. There have been reports, that the Philippine navy in 1972 and 1974 picked up two ships loaded with weapons for the NPA from the People's Republic of China. From recent time, however, no reports are known, that the NPA would have got weapons from a foreign government. The Soviet block has dissolved, Red China does not want to export revolutions anymore and North Korea is too much confronted with own problems. It is clear that the NPA would like to have better weapons to push the fight against the government. But there is a lack of money to buy better weapons in abroad – and a further increase of the “revolutionary taxes” could meet the resistance of the population. Nevertheless there are reports on an improvement of the information technology of the NPA.
Sison´s imprisonment and arrival in the Netherlands
In 1972 president Marcos imposes the "Martial Law" on the Philippines to meet the increasing resistance to his regime. The CPP/NPA is again declared as illegal. Marcos rearms his military from 55,000 soldiers to 250,000 soldiers at the end of his regime. The “Martial Law” polarizes the society. In 1973 the NDF ("New Democratic front") is founded in underground under the leadership of the CPP. It is a roof alliance of twelve left-wing orientated organisations.
Sison, the theorist and tactician of the CPP/NPA, goes underground in 1976, soon after he heard about assassination attempts against him. Anti-insurrection campaigns of the armed forces lead in the next years to the capture or killing of more than a dozen CPP- and NPA leaders. The NPA- commander Dante Buscayno is taken captive in 1976. A year later Sison and his wife are also arrested. He spends the first two years under bad conditions chained at a cot and hold in isolation-custody. To maintain his mental agility, he composes poems. But only later he is permitted to write them down. He refuses trials of political collaboration with the government strictly. From 1981 his wife - still taken into custody – is allowed to visit him. In the same year the fourth child, a daughter, is born in prison. The solitary confinement is lifted in 1985.
Marco's fall in 1986 after 31 years of power took place without direct participation of the CPP/NPA. After the fall of Marcos it is one of the first government actions of president Corazon Acquino to release Sison after nine years in prison. She tries (in vain) to reach a national reconciliation by peace talks with the NPA .
After his release Sison becomes a professor for political sciences again and he gives many guest lectures at foreign universities. The crown-princess of Thailand honours him with the "South East Asia Write Award" in appreciation of his essays and poems. But the political climate intensifies again. Although there is the first time a two-month ceasefire after negotiations with the government, but the NPA refuses further talks after the Mendiola massacre, where police and armed forces shot into a peacefully proceeding farmer demonstration. The fights flare up again. The president comes under the pressure of the armed forces which demand a sharper gait against the guerrilla movement. During a Europe journey in 1988 Sison gets informed, that his passport is withdrawn from the Philippine government and that prize of 500,000 pesos is put on his head. Now Sison applies for a political asylum in the Netherlands.
Expansion of the NPA in the late Marcos era
We go back again some years. The dissatisfaction with the corrupt Marcos regime and the failure of a real land reform is favourable for the further expansion of the NPA at the end of the seventies / beginning of the eighties. The number of the CPP members with 30,000 doesn't change particularly. However, the number of the full-time-fighters increases at the end of the seventies from approx. 10,000 to 25,000 men. Further to add are the approx. 200,000 people-militia men, which do their normal work during the day and take the fight at night. The NPA gets further support by millions of NPA sympathizers. In 1986 approx. 20 per cent of the about 40,000 villages are infiltrated by the NPA, which establishes a kind of second government in these areas. The CPP/NPA is at the peak of its power now.
Following factional conflicts and processes of disintegration
With the fall from Marcos, however, the factional fights and the disintegration of the communist movement are intensifying. As of 1986 the conflict between the Sison-loyal "Reaffirmists" and the "Rejectionists" gets obvious. It will intensify and continues up to today. The "Reaffirmists" under Sison follow without revision the principles and analyses of the Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the strategy of superiority of a protracted revolutionary fight. They boycott "civil" elections and demand a strong rural basis. In a CPP guideline of 1994 earlier party decisions are confirmed again:
"The armed fight is the fundamental form of the revolutionary fight today - up to the nationwide accession of power. The legal types of the political fight are, only secondary, although they also important and imperative … It gives a revolutionary class logic to encircle the towns from the country and to collect the strengths for a longer period.
The statement from this text document has been passed by the 10th plenum of the central committee, however, like some other decisions did not found the majority of votes necessary for validity. By the way since its foundation the CPP has never organized a convention. A 39-headed itself constituting central committee, which meets seldom decrees the political guidelines. The real power has the "Politburo" which meets approximately twice a year. It is told that there is a “Politburo out" based in Utrecht/Netherlands under the chairmanship of the couple Sison and “Politburo In” in the Philippines under the chairmanship of Benito and Wilma Tiamzon. A five-headed "Executive Committee" makes the day decisions. The CPP cannot line up with the claim, to be a democratic party open for disputes and dialogues. The lack of an internal party discussion is a central reason for the many following resignations and splitting-offs.
The "Rejectionists" which split up into several main groups with different political objectives are against an establishing of the principles specified above. They reproach the orthodox CPP for its dogmatic centralism and the overemphasis of the armed fight at the expense of the municipal and legal political fight. Some of them considers Sison itself as a "rejectionist" and refer to his "luxurious life" in the exile and his strong engagement in the context of peace negotiations with the government.
The reproaches of the CPP against the "Lava revisionists, Gorbachovists, middle-class populists', social democrats and Trotskyites“ are hard. "They are no more than special agents of the principal reactionaries … The incorrigible "Left" opportunists have become blatantly counterrevolutionary Rightists and joined up with anti communist petit-bourgeois groups along the line of reformism and pacifism.
It comes to comprehensive, partly bloody purge actions within the CPP/NPA. The number of executed (former) members is estimated between hundreds and two thousands. A member suspected of the collaboration with the government may consider itself happy if it only is expelled from the party. "Traitors" with a higher publicity were among others from
the island of Mindanao: Ricardo Reyes (former CPP Secretary General), Romulo Kintanar
(NPA general commander), Benjie de Vera
the Visayas: Arturo Tabara (chairman the Visaya Commission)
Manila-Rizal: Felimon "Popoy" Lagman (chairman of the Manila Rizal CPP Committee)
Romolo Kintanar and Feliman Lagman
Romulo Kintanar followed the NPA in 1970. Fifteen years later he is assigned as general commander of the NPA. In 1991 he is captivated but already in 1992 set free on bail in the context of a peace campaign of the government. Political differences lead to his expulsion from the CPP. He follows the legal party Lakas-NUCD in 1996 and later he becomes a government adviser in different institutions (Bureau of Immigration and Deportation/National Electrification Administration) and advises the government at its peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA. But the CPP/NPA has still an outstanding bill with him and has a long memory. He dies in February 2003 in a hail of bullets of two assassins in a restaurant in Quezon City Center when he just talked with a Japanese film producer about the filming of his life. This time the NPA takes explicitly the responsibility for the execution by its speaker Gregorio Rosal. The NPA speaker justifies the execution that Kintanar has planned and executed "gangster operations" and he has carried out extortions, bank raids and dollar fakes for his personal money-making to finance his "decadent" lifestyle. Also the president Gloria Arroyo belongs to the many mourning visitors at the grave of the relatively popular politician.
The 1954 born Lagmann abandons his journalism studies when President Marcos imposes the “Martial Law” on the country. Already with young years he joins the leadership cadre of the regional NPA organization in Manila-Rizal. Contrary to the party guideline he organizes and conducts guerrilla unit groups as of 1972 in Manila. After the capture of Sison, he has a higher degree of autonomy. He organizes street protests and is involved substantially in the foundation of the left united front Laban. Later the restless party worker is withdrawn from his leading position in Manila and sent as a simple "foot soldier" to Bicol. His first wife is killed in fight with the armed forces. In the eighties a rehabilitation follows by the party. Lagman takes again a leading NPA position in Manila. With the new fight unity Alex Boncayo brigade (ABB) he starts again the town guerrilla war against government and capitalism. Technically he doesn't separate from the CPP/NPA structure, the ideological and tactical differences, however, last. With the murder of a police general in Manila the ABB starts in 1984 its bloody opening fight. Until 1993 the ABB gets ascribed more than 200 following executions of policemen and numerous attacks on offices of multinationals (among others Shell Oil Company, Citibank). Lagmann refuses in 1986 the boycott of the presidential elections by the Left. The distance to the CPP grows. Lagman belongs now to the circle of "Rejectionists." He leaves the party in 1993. As consequence there are now heavy bloody fights between the CPP and the ABB. Lagman gets arrested twice, meanwhile he loses the control over the ABB movement. The rival Nilo de la Cruz takes the command of ABB and arranged a fusion with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army (RPA). From this time on Lagman dissociates himself from the communist attacks and he concentrates his activities for labour unions and in favour of slum residents. He criticizes the later reconciliation policy of ABB with regard to the Estrada government. At last he is busy with the foundation of a new workers' party. He is killed by a bullet in February 2001 while just making a telephone call. Sison as a spokesman of the CPP and de La Cruz as representative of ABB blame each another for the murdering of Lagman.
It is assumed that between 1986 and 1993 approximately half of the CPP central committee is exchanged and that the CPP loses half of its members. The recruitment of new members gets more and more difficult under the new government and the uprising of new left groupings. In the 1987 Congress elections candidates supported by the CPP lose even in NPA strongholds. Moreover, the government troops manage to arrest the long-standing (1977-1987) party leader Rodolfo Salas, who is now – what u surprise - a businessman. Not only the support in the population fades away, the fighting morals within the NPA also decline. It is supposed that the number of the full time fighters of approx. 25,000 in 1988 reduces to 23,000 – 18,000 fighters in 1991. Particularly on the island of Mindanao, long time a NPA stronghold, the number of the rebels goes down by almost the half. In 1995 the Philippine government calculated only 6025 man with 5290 firearms on the side of the NPA.
The international collapse of the communism surely has also loosened the anchorages of the NPA in the ideology of Marxism-Maoism. There are more and more voices, declaring, that the CPP/NPA would have changed from an ideology controlled organization to a capital enterprise. They say that no more the ideology of Marx or Mao represents the main motivation of fight but the money collected by illegal taxes, extortions and kidnappings. For them the CPP/NPA is degenerated to a "network of bandits (tulisanes)" (1).
In the late nineties there is again a slight increase of the NPA fighters. Lieutenant general Rudolfo Garcia, the security officer the president Arrayo, assessed in 2004 the strength of the NPA full time fighters on 8,700 men. It operates on in about six per cent of the 42,000 districts and villages of the country and performs a side government in 500 villages.
The readmission of the NDF/CPP in 1992 and the dismissal of many political prisoners by President Fidel Ramos (1992-1998) had as consequence the splitting-off of several regional committees and the establishment of many left-wing orientated socialist or social-democratic parties. A list of left-wing parties from the year 2004 cites alone more than 25 party groupings, which can’t discussed here. The hegemony - if not to say the monopole - of the CPP in the left scene is broken at the latest in the eighties.
Sison in the Dutch exile
Since 1988 Jose Maria Sison lives now together with his wife and parts of the top management the CPP/NDFP in the Netherlands. Critics think the now six ten years' stay would have alienated him from the Philippines and his comrades in the Philippines. However, it is known that he is well informed about the politics of the day by the media and he likes to express his opinion, statements and propaganda by e-mails sent to the media. Although homesickness is touched on in some of its poems Sison would like to remain in the Netherlands as a person seeking political asylum because he fears for his life in the Philippines. At present, there a no charges against him in the Philippines, some have been dropped for political reasons (e.g. responsibility for the murder of a liberal party leader on the Plaza Miranda 1971). However it is also known that there are still indiscriminating materials in the police archives and that the family of the executed Kintarnar and the Philippine Rights Community would like to take him before court. The death penalty still exists in the Philippines; he also must fear the revenge of some military members and former comrades.
The political “Guru” of Maoism - polemical critics call him also the last "dinosaur" of Maoism – tries in vain to get a durable asylum in the Netherlands since decades. He is momentary a "person seeking political asylum in the state of suspense". The "Raad of State" (Supreme Court of Justice) of the Netherlands repeatedly confirmed that he is a political refugee, which falls under the protection of the article 3 of the European Commission on Human Rights. But the Dutch government - particularly the Department of Justice - opposed his stay in the Netherlands from the beginning. The Dutch Department of Justice considers him as an intellectual author of force and assumes that he is still the real leader of the CPP. He is "recognized” as a political refugee but not an “admitted” refugee. This fine definition has the consequence that Sison can be expelled in countries without death penalty. But there are no countries without death penalty, which would like to accept him. In principle, it would be possible for the Philippine government to abolish the death penalty or to except him. But the government wants to have – as service in return – more concessions of the NDFP in the context of peace negotiations. The NDFP sees in such offer surrender and refuses it. Sison also fears, that his airplane – going to Helsinki – could one day intercepted by the Americans and he could be taken to Guan Tamara.
The terrorism reproach
On August 9th, 2002 the CPP/NPA were set on place 34 of the list of foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) by the American government. The reasons for the decision of the American government were rather a little poor: The CPP/NPA is noted for its strict rejection of any U.S. presence in the Philippines. The American Secretary of State Powell also alluded to the murder of the American safety adviser James Rowe in Manila dating back thirteen years.
The U.S. government asked the friendly governments to isolate the terrorist organizations, to dry them out financially and to limit their international mobility. The U.S. branding as a terror organization has been criticized. The CPP/NPA would not be an "international" terror group, it would lead a civil war limited on the country. Moreover, the decision of the U.S. government would be interference in the internal affairs of the Filipinos. With a criminal terrorist organization the CPP/NPA has nothing commonly since it holds on to the human right catalogue of the Geneva protocol and promotes by the NDFP popular campaigns in favour of a land reform, an improved education system and a better health protection of the population. Moreover, the characterization as a terrorist organization would hinder the regular peace process negotiations between the government and the NDFP.
Now the umbrella-organisation NDFP indeed refuses to continue the peace talks in Norway if not the terrorist tag isn't dispelled. On the other hand the Philippine government claims, that it was against the listing and that her hands are bound. But if there would be acceptable peace proposals by the NDFP, the Philippine government would have good arguments to convince the U.S. government to strike off the CPP/NPA from the list. For the negotiators of the NDFP is this assurance too doubtful.
Few days later Sison also the person of Sison has been declared as “terrorist" by the U.S. government. Further details have not been given. Is he now a "terrorist"? The question cannot be answered here conclusively since opinion stands against opinion. The public – included the media – has not the central information that have presumably only high ranking government circles and secret services. The CPP/NPA contributes to the darkness. As an underground organisation it doesn't publish any organizational and/or functional structure. The names of the current leadership elite are largely unknown except for the names of some speakers.
From Sison´s point of view the situation is rather clear. Neither can he be made liable for the occurrences which happened at the time of its detention in Manila still nor for such at the time of his asylum in Holland. Here he would only act as a consultant for the NDFP in the context of peace negotiations. He denies any involvements in crimes of violence and claims to have no direct control over the guerrilla operations in the Philippines. For his own defence he is referring to a decision of the Dutch Raad of State in 1995 whereupon there are no "serious" reasons to assume that Sison has executed crimes of violence and there wouldn't be any "sufficient" proof that he gave instructions for acts of violence. Sison turns the tables: For him the USA are terror state of number 1, because its representatives would have killed 1.4 million Filipinos in the war between 1899 and 1914 and because they incited the dictatorship of Marcos and equipped his military with weapons.
On the other hand Philippine government circles - and here particularly the armed forces and secret services – believe that Jose Maria Sison still is the chairman the CPP and that he is giving instructions under his alias name “Liwanag" to the CPP/NPA. From "Liwanag" is known that he called his guerrilla troops to "increase and intensify" the tactical attacks to "isolate and take off" the government of president Arrayo. Both the Dutch government and the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Blas Ople declared in 2003 that he is still the chairman of the CPP. Even so did the Philippine president in the same year, when she declared that Sison and other leadership persons are fully responsible for the NPA attacks in the country. But even if this assertion should not be true, he could be described as an intellectual author of violence.
The European Councils of Ministers including the Dutch government has few days after Colin Powell’s statement likewise declared the CPP/NPA/NDFP and the person Sison as terrorists and blocked bank accounts. For Sison this tagging had the consequence that his monthly welfare aid of approx. € 200 was cut and his council housing unit of it was revoked. As he is telling, he must lend himself money now. But he gets also help from of support funds, which have been founded after his expulsion threat.
In its now 35-year fight the CPP/NPA made only little progress in the realization of its objectives. The result of the continuous guerrilla fight is desolate. At least 43,000 dead have to be lamented. The economic damage by increased armed forces expenditure and failing (foreign) capital investments at expense of the population are immense.
With regard to the given social impoverishment the further recruitment of NPA fighters up to 30,000 men may be possible. But this isn't a guarantor for the success – the luck of the Cuban fighters of the “Pigs Bay” is not repeatable. The missing arms technology and ideological support from foreign countries, the decreasing gleam of egalitarian ideologues after the collapse of the communist empire, the social policy also of "capitalist" governments and the globalization of economies give hardly room for the idea of a socialistic-communist Philippines. There isn't any "law" which inevitably leads to the classless society. Who claims this is blind dogmatist.
The CPP/NPA under its leading figure Sison would do well in participating democratic elections. With better political arguments and good propagation of them the voters should honour the political efforts of the CPP.
© Wolfgang Bethge, in 2004
(1) Anne Bersabal, City center folks of quickly shock over NPA mileage, archives of New: Tribune of online vol 2, Issue no.17, 8-9-2004