AT THE ‘Blue Meets Red’ forum at the Ateneo de Davao University last June 8, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili said their chief political consultant Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s planned homecoming to the Philippines is still a ‘ticklish’ issue owing to the United States recent relisting of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and Sison as ‘terrorist’.
Kodao interviewed Prof. Sison on his thoughts about this development.
1. How do you feel that the US may spoil your homecoming?
JMS: It is disgusting that the US government has renewed its listing of the CPP, NPA and myself as terrorist. It is trying to spoil the common determination and current efforts of the incoming (Rodrigo) Duterte government and the NDFP to resume the peace negotiations in July. It is ironic that the biggest terrorist force in Philippine history and in the world today, US imperialism, is designating revolutionary forces and leaders as terrorist.
It is possible that the US will spoil my homecoming in one of several ways, including intercepting me while in transit or upon redirection of the plane carrying me or allowing me to land in Manila without interference and eventually subjecting me to “wet operations” (bloody attack) by its mercenary agents or by merely pummeling me with psywar (psychological war) to slander and discredit me or push me towards a direction against my rights and interest. I am quite used to considering all these possibilities and I also think of how to counter them.
2. How will this development affect the high level of confidence that the incoming Duterte government and the NDFP have reached for the resumption of the peace talks?
JMS: Any violent attempt to spoil my homecoming by any hostile force has the objective of spoiling the peace process and to discredit the Duterte government for failing to secure me. Thus, it is wise to continue the series of formal talks in Oslo in accordance with the existing agreements. Holding the formal talks either in the urban or rural areas in the Philippines will invite surprise attacks from the peace spoilers.
I can stay for two weeks to one month every time I visit the Philippines in order to do consultations with President Duterte and with the revolutionary forces and to promote the peace process. But it would be too risky for me to stay for more than one month or I would have to be placed under conditions of maximum security that practically make me a prisoner of whoever gives me the maximum security.
3. What are the possible remedies to this situation?
JMS: The formal talks of the negotiating panels must be carried out in Oslo in accordance with the established practice of peace negotiations and in accordance within the existing agreement between the Manila government and the NDFP. Because I have to be present as Chief Political Consultant during the formal talks in Oslo, I must enjoy the right and freedom to travel between Norway and The Netherlands where my wife and two children reside as well as the right and freedom to travel to Philippines from time to time.
4. Will you ask for guarantees from both the Dutch and Norwegian governments? How about the US?
JMS: I would like to have the Philippine passport and to have residence either in The Netherlands or Norway while the peace negotiations are going on. The Duterte government can do me a favor if it requests the Dutch government or Norwegian government for the purpose of the peace negotiations. Before I make a visit to the Philippines in July or August, I must have that residence permit and a return visum to a country in Europe priorly because the moment I step out of the European area of treaty protection I would be practically giving up the absolute protection that I enjoy as a recognized political refugee under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
I do not wish to put myself in a position of being stranded in the Philippines, becoming vulnerable to extreme risks and pressures and worst of all becoming unable to participate in the peace negotiations in Oslo. While the peace negotiations are still going on, I should have the freedom to travel to the Netherlands residence of my wife who is a member of the NDFP negotiating panel, whether I travel from Norway or from the Philippines.
The Duterte government should request the US government to stop the designation of the CPP, NPA and myself as terrorist. In the first place, it was the Arroyo government that requested the aforesaid designation. It would be a big boost to the peace process if the Duterte government demand that the US cease to slander the revolutionary forces as terrorist.
5. What benefit will your homecoming be to the peace process and the hoped-for coalition with the Duterte government?
JMS: The main benefit from my initial and further visits to the Philippines is to generate goodwill, trust and confidence in the peace process and in the hoped-for alliance and cooperation of the NDFP with the Duterte government. The many who believe in the peace process will be further convinced that it is the way to move forward. Those who have doubts, especially on the revolutionary side, will increase their confidence from the fact that I freely move in and out of the Philippines just like any Filipino, apart from the necessary but inconspicuous security precautions.
6. If you’ve heard from Mayor Duterte about this, what did he tell you?
JMS: I have not had the opportunity of telling him what I manage to say in this interview. It would be useful and helpful if President(-elect) Duterte, (incoming presidential peace adviser) Jesus Dureza and (incoming GPH negotiating panel chairperson Silvestre) Bebot Bello read in full this interview so that they can be informed of the considerations for my initial and further visits to the Philippines while peace negotiations are held in a neutral venue abroad.#
(Interview and photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)