Arrest of Jose Ma. Sison

Jose Ma. Sison was one of the idols of my fiery youth. I would use the name Boy Ma. Guerrero in my early writings (Amado Guerrero is Sison’s most popular nom de guerre). I would ape his prose (simple, direct, with emphasis on content). I was in awe of his grasp of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and its application to local setting.

To say that his works exerted some influence in my formative years would be an understatement. However, when I became a determined activist, Sison was in jail and then went into exile in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Still, it didn’t diminish my appreciation of his contribution to the growth of the Filipino revolutionary movement at that time.

But when I read reports of Sison’s recent arrest in the Netherlands, I felt a certain degree of ambivalence. I was saddened but cautious. Indeed, much has happened to the revolutionary movement in the past decade and I am no longer tied to the viewpoint of my younger years. Outsiders looking in see things differently compared with insiders.

What struck me was the claim of Dutch government officials that Sison was arrested for charges relative to the killings of former Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) central committee members Rolly Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. That brought back memories of the CPP’s tumultuous split into the Reaffirm and Reject factions.

While the split gave an outward appearance of a debate on conflicting ideological lines, it was more than that. The 1986 Edsa People Power uprising that largely left out the revolutionary movement prodded some cadres to question the correctness of the people’s war strategy and with it Sison’s ascendancy. The split was a power struggle as well.

I know Tabara less but I heard about the exploits of Kintanar, whose roots could be traced to Cebu, when he was still in the leadership of the New People’s Army (NPA). His stint with the NPA, though, was largely forgotten because of what he did or did not do with regards to the bloody purge of suspected deep penetration agents in Mindanao.

I don’t know the magnitude of the “blood debts” of Tabara and Kintanar to the revolutionary movement but I hoped than that the split in the CPP wouldn’t turn bloody. But in a power struggle, there usually follows effort of protagonists to demonize each other. Objectivity is shut out. Eventually, high profile Reject leaders were killed.

I don’t agree with the military’s claim that Sison’s arrest would weaken the revolutionary movement. A revolution is not a one-man undertaking, it is about causes. Besides, the CPP prides in its collective style of decision making and the autonomy of its units. Still, Sison’s arrest strikes at the very core of the principles the party is preaching.

It would be interesting to find out the information that will come out as the Dutch government hears Sison’s case. What data about the CPP split, which sparked the animosity between the factions that we saw later, would be dug? This is important especially to those wanting to close that chapter of the revolutionary movement’s history.

And I would agree with the theory that with Joma’s arrest, the hawkish elements of the Arroyo administration have succeeded in scuttling the on again-off again peace talks with the National Democratic Front. This is another proof of the continuing drift of the Arroyo administration to the right. Which, for me, is a worrisome development.

-I wrote this for my Aug. 31, 2007 column in Sun.Star Cebu

4 Responses to Arrest of Jose Ma. Sison

  1. […] Joy Jopson-Kintanar is the widow Edgar Jopson, a popular student leader turned CPP cadre, who was killed by Marcos’ troops in a raid during martial law. In a tragic string of events, her second husband Rolly Kintanar, the NPA chief in the 80s, was also killed – this time in the hands of his former comrades. (Also, read sir Bong Wenceslao’s blog for more background.) […]

  2. stravinsky says:

    Who is Arturo Tabara (since you knew him personally) and what did he do that Sison, if true, would want to have him killed?

    You said, “I don’t know the magnitude of the “blood debts” of Tabara and Kintanar to the revolutionary movement….” This implies that they indeed had “blood debts” and that you are not only sure about the “magnitude.” But first what are “blood debts” that you could be killed for them?

  3. floyd says:

    Setting the murderers free

    Let me talk about Jose Maria Sison and his alleged ordering of the murder of his two former comrades (amongst others).

    That while the Dutch court cannot find any sufficient evidence on the supposed hand of the current NDF/CPP/NPA “adviser” it has also yet to put into light the developments of other countries in terms of putting to justice revolutionary movements who have maimed, tortured and murdered innocent civilians as well as former allies.

    One only has to look at the history of Africa and their successful campaign against criminals with a number of human rights abuses.

    The question should be the nature of the organization, the factual as well as coincidental evidences that supports the prosecutions claim.

    For one the nature of the CPP-NPA: it is an underground organization where its members do not use their true names, they use aliases instead. They also do not recognize the rule of law such that they have their own form of justice calling it the “peoples court” where most of their proceedings mostly left unchecked from public scrutiny therefore leaving the hapless suspect at the mercy of them “prosecutors/justices/executioners”.

    There is no power of appeal when one is found guilty and as much as other countries have banned the use of the death penalty, the CPP-NPA always address the guilty ones on its usual deadly manner–by murder.

    Given the above definition of the nature of the organization it is therefore close to impossible to determine the hand of Jose Maria Sison in the murder charges filed against him, as well as his involvement to the massive purges of the 1980’s.

    This has been a major problem ever since with the Non-Government Organization Peace Advocates for Truth, Justice and Healing (PATH), the NGO is a group of survivors, victims and members of families of the massive purges carried out in the 80’s by the CPP-NPA. This massive witch-hunt allegedly victimized at least 3,000 cadres and killed a score of 2,000 suspected infiltrators in the NPA. PATH to this day aims to search and excavate the remains of the victims and bring them back to their families.

    This problem lies henceforth in the whole bureaucracy of the CPP-NPA-NDF leadership because there are no available point person to be made accountable unless it is the whole organization and they can always cower at the defense that they are a revolutionary movement at the same time make use of human rights as a form of shield against the military.

    Jose Maria Sison and the CPP-NPA has been successful therefore in annihilating anybody under its flags of revolutionary advocacy. The organization can admit to almost anything while it cannot be prosecuted or otherwise be made accountable.

    While Jose Maria Sison may be free for now it bids darkly for the organization as its victims remains searching for justice. And as long as the CPP-NPA continues its indiscriminate killings it will eventually loose its credibility as well as its supporters.

  4. […] The Great Left Divide in PCIJ, and Rebelmind for an explanation of the schism within the […]

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