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Jose Maria Sison:  Icon of the People’s Struggle

Pilgrims for Peace Statement
20 December 2022

Sharing deep sorrow for dreams not yet fulfilled, Pilgrims for Peace mourns the passing of a principled and resolute icon of the Filipino people’s struggle for a just and lasting peace.

Chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines Jose Maria Sison was like refined gold. He exhibited sharp acumen for social change as well as extraordinary character marked by goodness, kindness and unrelenting focus as a leader serving the people and the revolutionary movement in the Philippines.

Maligned and persecuted under the US-led war of terror, Ka Joma was not a terrorist. With his passing, we assert once more that neither Ka Joma, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, nor the National Democratic Front of the Philippines can nor should be derogated as terrorist. The long-seeded revolutionary struggle of the Philippines, finds its roots in the colonial vestiges of the feudal bondage of the rural peasants and the backward economy and stunted development of entrenched Imperialist machinations. Ka Joma proved his mettle as an ideological beacon, incomparable strategist and tactician, and reliable backbone of the oppressed and exploited masses in their cry for national and social liberation.

Let it be known: Ka Joma was also a most committed advocate for building a just and lasting peace in the Philippines. With verve and persistence, Ka Joma sounded the clarion call for principled negotiations with any government of the reactionary state that was willing to address the roots of the armed conflict in the Philippines. His unwavering commitment to pursue a way to just and lasting peace under The Hague Joint Declaration was matched by his fervor for the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement for Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the crafting of the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER). Ka Joma demonstrated that his belief in the need for revolution was matched by an unflinching commitment to pursue peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

As peace advocates, we join in the people’s salute to an ingenious, innovative and unfailing trailblazer. His infectious belief in freedom and social change gave rise to daring struggle and concrete gains for the poorest and most marginalized of the Philippines. Ka Joma inspired a social movement and guided the political maturation of thousands toward their aspiration for national democracy from a socialist perspective. As the founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the contributions of Jose Maria Sison has been indelibly written into the fabric of his motherland.

Now, we and all peace and justice loving Filipinos must continue the journey toward building a just and enduring peace for the Filipino people. #

Most Revd. Rhee M. Timbang, Obispo Maximo, Iglesia Filipina Independiente

Bp. Dindo Ranojo, Ecumenical Bishops Forum

Rev. Irma Balaba, Promotion of Church People’s Response

Fr. Ritchie Masegman, Episcopal Church of the Philippines

Rev. Frank Hernando, Executive Secretary, UCCP

Rev. Homar Distajo, Executive Secretary, UCCP

Dss. Norma Dollaga, Kasimbayan

Kej Andres, Student Christian Movement-Philippines

Mike Pante, PhD, ACT for Peace

Atty. Ephraim B Cortez, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers

Joanna Concepcion, Chair, Migrante International

Arman Hernando, Chair, Migrante Philippines

Gert Libang, Chair, Gabriela

Amirah Lidasan, Moro-Christian People’s Alliance

Feny Cosico, AGHAM

Elmer Labog, Chair, Kilusang Mayo Uno

Rafael Mariano, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas

Cathy Estavillo, Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women

Dr. Carol Araullo, BAYAN

Tinay Palabay, Karapatan


Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP)
October 21, 2022

Ecumenical youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) joined the mobilization in Manila by peasants from numerous regions as they demand genuine land reform, food security, agricultural aid, and end of militarization in the countryside from President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. who is also serving as the Agriculture Secretary.

“Busy in partying, the president busies himself in lavishness and decadence while inflation soars to 6.9 percent. Coupled with lack of genuine land reform and continued policies favoring importation, farmers continue to carry the heavy cross of government incompetence,” Andres said.

Peasants continue to protest against many agricultural policies that hamper agricultural production of the countryside and welfare of farmers. They protest against neoliberal policies that put agriculture that value profit-oriented and export-oriented ventures more than national food self-sufficiency. One of the most recent acts on agriculture, the Rice Liberalization Act, has been continuously denounced because it favors importation of rice rather than improvement of the local rice industry, much to the detriment of local rice farmers. Moreover, peasants have also denounced bogus land reform programs—from Presidential Decree 27 of former President Marcos, Sr. to CARP by former President Aquino—that have only pushed more farmers into landlessness.

In addition, SCMP is one with peasants in denouncing continued militarization in the countryside. During the first 100 days of the Marcos, Jr. administration, SCMP was able to list at least 81 counts of human rights violations from various sources (List: Many of these human rights violations include abuses by the Armed Forces in the Philippines in the countryside. An example would be the killing of Kyllene Casao, a nine-year old from Batangas, done by members of the AFP 59th Infantry Battalion. In Himamaylan City, about 18,000 residents fled the hinterland because of rampant militarization.

“Instead of pursuing peace talks for socio-economic reforms that will answer the roots of armed conflict, Marcos, Jr., like his predecessor Duterte, is a dangerous pest in the countryside because of continued human rights violations against peasants,” denounced Andres. “With these abuses, we reiterate our call against Mandatory ROTC because we expect no discipline from the AFP who are the top human rights violators against peasants and other peace-loving Filipinos,” he added.

In the end, Andres said, “we urge all Filipinos to be with the plight of the toiling Filipino farmers towards genuine land reform and food self-sufficiency. Until there is no genuine land distribution, until there is scant aid to agriculture, and until state forces continue to terrorize the countryside, our countrymen, especially many Filipino peasant youth will continue to experience hunger and to demand radical change in an inutile Marcos-Duterte administration.”


Kej Andres,

SCMP National Spokesperson



On Manila RTC ruling junking proscription case

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
September 22, 2022

Terrorist-labeling will not end the armed conflict. The key take-away in the Manila RTC decision to junk the terrorist-labeling vs the CPP and NPA is that those taking up arms based on a political cause are not terrorists and that armed conflict is rooted in social ills.

To quote the decision: “Rebellion is rooted in a discontent of the existing order which is perceived to be unjust and inequitable to the majority, and favourable to the wealthy, ruling few.”

“However, the CPP can only gain adherents for as long as the government remains insensitive to, and incompetent in addressing, the social realities of poverty and material inequality which bring with them the oppression of the marginalized.”

The ruling calls on the government to address the roots of the armed conflict in order to end the insurgency.

“The government can, while uncompromising in its fight against Communism, regard the CPP’s act of taking the cudgels of the marginalized – as an impetus to better address these sectors’ concerns,” it said.

The ruling likewise reminds government of upholding human rights in the course of fighting the insurgency. “Efforts on the part of the present government to counter insurgency should include respect for the right to dissent, to due process and to the rule of law.”

We have said it before, labeling revolutionaries and those engaged in peace negotiations as “terrorists” is wrong, counter-productive and undermines any possibility of a political settlement in the armed conflict.

Contrary to military propaganda that peace talks achieve nothing, the GRP and the NDFP were already close to making a breakthrough in 2017 with agreements on socio-economic reforms that included land reform, rural development and national industrialization. This would then pave the way for an interim peace agreement. This opportunity was squandered by the past administration when it terminated the talks and made terrorist-labeling and all-out war its main policy.

The Philippine government should abandon the policy of terrorist-labeling and apply the framework of International Humanitarian Law to the armed conflict in the Philippines. The Philippine government should pursue a policy of peace negotiations that addresses the social basis of the conflict in order to achieve a just and lasting peace. ###

On Fabricated Charges Filed Against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines
Press Statement

20 September 2022

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines thanks ACT Teachers, Gabriela, and Kabataan Partylists for their resolution calling the House of Representatives through Human Rights Committee to condemn the charges against Sr. Emma Cupin, Sr. Susan Djolde, Sr. Ma. Fatima Somogod, Sr. Mary Jane Caspillo, and 12 others under “financing terrorism” legislation (Section 8 of RA 101268).

We continue to appeal to the public, to civil society organizations, and to the legislature to help us expose the continuing fabricated charges filed against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. No one should misconstrue the humble and quiet pursuit of our ministries as any indication that we accept the foul and malicious accusations hurled at us by militarists and warmongers. We flatly reject such lies and smear tactics. Those who seek to besmirch our ministry, by saying it supported or financed ‘terrorism’, should be held to account; their lies will only further the suffering and poverty in marginalized communities.

Furthermore, we urge the Congress to weigh and measure how the applications of counter-terrorism legislation are likely to continue to impede the work of various humanitarian and development organizations as well as the Church missions and ministries. In light of the 53 years of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines’ work with some of the most under-served and marginalized communities of the Philippines, we have faith that Congress will recognize that these blatantly false attacks against us could easily also be foisted upon others as well.

As missionaries, we are unapologetic and unwavering in our commitment to work in poor areas, even when these areas are visited by militarization and armed conflict. We are peace builders, who seek to be participants in addressing the root causes of armed conflict and social unrest in the Philippines. Bringing services and accompanying grassroots leaders are effective methods for resolving community issues and sparking change and development that benefit the communities where we serve. Our efforts to journey with peasants, farmworkers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples help build democracy; we do not finance ‘terrorism’.

If left unchecked, the egregious charges against the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines will likely be levied against other civil society organizations. It seems that all that is presently required to persecute and attack any group working in rural areas is a fabricated testimony from supposed “rebel surrenderees.” The ramifications are terrifying for those falsely implicated by these forced and false testimonies. There is little space to disprove allegations, especially as the supposed witnesses are nowhere to be found and appear to be under the custody of the military. Even more, in the collective absence or caution of Church and CSO programs, rural poor communities will likely suffer under increasing human rights violations as well as from the loss of basic services and programs such as health, education, and relief and rehabilitation after calamities.

We pray that the Philippine Congress will recognize the predicament of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and respond accordingly to safeguard us and other humanitarian programs from false attacks and persecution under RA101268. As Rural Missionaries, we wish to continue our service with farmers, farm workers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples. We only seek to please God by doing our part in building a more peaceful, just, democratic, and prosperous Philippines.


Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Leadership Team

Sr. Rebecca Pacete

0956 330 9580, FB Page: @RMPNational

NCCP Supports call of Sen. Legarda to resume GRP-NDFP peace negotiations

National Council of Churches in the Philippines
August 31, 2022

Quezon City: The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), welcomed the call made yesterday of Senate President Pro Tempore, Loren Legarda, to resume the peace negotiations between the the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Bishop Reuel Norman Marigza, NCCP General Secretary stated, “Sen. Legarda’s call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and her statement that believing an ideology which may be different then the majority does not make one a subversive, is a breath of fresh air amid the toxic atmosphere brought about by speeches and public discourses that sow hate and war”.

“The NCCP has always championed principled dialogue over the negotiating table to resolve the 50-year-old armed conflict in the country and fully support Sen. Legarda’s call for the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and to review the Anti-Terrorism Law”, Bishop Marigza said.

“We also fully appreciate her remark about former President Fidel V. Ramos and his contributions to the peace process in the country. Even though Pres. Ramos was a soldier, it was during his term when The Hague Joint Declaration for the GRP-NDFP peace process was signed and became the basis and the agenda for the formal peace talks”, Bishop Marigza added.

Bishop Marigza also stated, “former President Ramos was a devoted member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and was known to be the first and only Protestant elected President of our country. We are very proud of his legacy on peace building and his role in restoring democracy in our country”.

Sen. Legarda raised the call after Senator Francis Tolentino, in his privilege speech, floated the idea of requiring government officials to declare in their Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN) who among their family members are members of or affiliated with “terrorist organizations.”

“The NCCP considers the proposal of Sen. Tolentino as dangerous and unjust since it requires public officials to adjudge their relatives as ‘subversive’ or ‘terrorist’ without due process on the basis of mere guilt by association,” Bishop Marigza concluded.

Peace, a continuing aspiration of Filipinos – Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace Statement

From Arkibong Bayan repost from Panay News
August 1, 2022

THE Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace, the largest network of peace groups in the country, is alarmed with the government announcement that there will be no peace negotiations.

Roughly a week before the State of the Nation Address of President Marcos, his peace adviser, Secretary Carlito Galvez, announced a recommendation from the National Task-Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, that there will be no national level peace talks. Instead, there will be localized peace talks.

CAJP stands by our position that the peace negotiations at the national level should resume. This is because the roots of the armed conflict in the country, which includes poverty, landlessness, foreign domination of our economy, inaccessibility to services and inequitable distribution of resources, demand a comprehensive and systemic response.

In this time of deepening economic crisis, where prices of basic commodities and services continue to rise, it is counter-productive to engage in a very costly all-out-war or a program like the failed localized peace talks of the past administration, that have resulted in fake and forced surrenders, harassment and other rights violations. No local New People’s Army command has actually engaged in said local talks. Instead, civilians are coerced and misrepresented as armed combatants. There have been many reports of fake surrenders, including alleged corruption related to these.

In a recent survey, “promoting peace” emerged as number eight in the top ten most urgent issues that Filipinos want the Marcos administration to prioritize. This shows that Filipinos value peace. Peace is a continuing aspiration of our people. For the CAJP, peace is not merely the silencing of guns but the reign of freedom, genuine democracy and social justice. It must be manifest through land to the tiller, decent jobs and fair wages, food on the table, housing, education, health and other social services. Peace with justice means people living in their communities without fear or threat to their lives and livelihood. Without these, the violence of the past and its manifestations in the present will continue, and escalate.

We reiterate that such a vision for a just and enduring peace requires a comprehensive and national approach. President Marcos has banked on the call for unity but there can be no unity in the country if there is unpeace. It is in this context that the Citizens’ Alliance for Just Peace calls on the government to resume the peace negotiations which address the roots of the armed conflict. Much has been achieved in the negotiations, including meaningful work on the highly anticipated Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms. The parties should stay the course and advance the negotiations as well as implement signed agreements, like the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.

We echo the call of church leaders in the recent summit of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform to “respect the work and agreements that have been entered into by past leaderships” and for “a stop to the practices of red-tagging, filing of trumped-up cases against dissenters, and extrajudicial killings; and the release of all political prisoners.

“An attack on free speech” Blocking of sites illegal, arbitrary

BAYAN – Bagong Alyansang Makabayan
June 22, 2022

The NSC and NTC orders to block websites including independent media and progressive groups such as Bayan are a blatant attack on free speech. The orders show how arbitrary the use of terrorist-labelling and red-tagging have become. The orders to block certain websites are devoid of any due process and rely merely on guilt by association. No specific offense or evidence was ever cited to justify the blocking of Bulatlat et al except for the Anti-Terrorism Council resolutions that do not pertain to Bulatlat et al. This again highlights the dangers of the anti-Terror Law.

The sloppiness of the work is made evident when in the NTC order to telcos, the subject heading used was “for blocking- illegal cockfighting websites”.

We urge telcos to reject these illegal and baseless orders from the NTC and NSC. Our lawyers are preparing to question these issuances before the proper courts.

The last-minute orders come less than a month before the end of Duterte’s term. The regime is desperately trying to silence all opposition to its reign of tyranny. In doing so, it further exposes itself as a throwback to the Martial Law regime of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

We call on the media, free speech advocates, and opponents of the “terror law” to stand together and push back against this latest attack. The next National Security Adviser is also urged to revoke these illegal orders and to cease attacks on free speech and freedom of association. ###

National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights

June 12, 2017

No to Terrorism!
Lift Martial Law!
Stop Aerial Bombings of Communities!
Stop Extrajudicial Killings!
Defend Human Rights!
Pursue the Peace Talks!

On June 12, Independence Day, we, concerned Filipinos from various faiths, sectors and political affiliations, will come together in a day of prayer and action to renew the call for peace and respect for human rights amidst the rising tide of terrorism, martial rule and impunity that threatens to rip the nation apart.

We extend our solidarity to the victims of the Marawi siege. We condemn the deliberate acts of terror by the ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups. We call on all people to come to the aid of thousands of internally displaced persons in Lanao del Sur and nearby areas.

Likewise, we gather to show our opposition to martial law in Mindanao and possibly other parts of the country. We call for an end to the aerial bombardment of Marawi and other conflict areas.

As the Marcos dictatorship showed, martial law is not the answer to the complex problems of Mindanao. A regime that trades Filipinos’ human rights for vague, ever moving law and order goals can only add fuel to armed rebellions and set back efforts to address the roots of the conflict. Martial law will further embolden law enforcers and state-sponsored vigilante and para-military groups to commit even more extrajudicial killings and curtail civil and political rights.

In the last year, atrocities have mounted nationwide. Filipinos are right to protest the murders of thousands in the drug war, as well as the extrajudicial killing of suspected rebels, ordinary farmers, indigenous peoples and Moro people in the counterinsurgency war. It is the poor that bear the brunt of these wars. It is the poor that are killed. It is their rights that are violated. It is their communities that are subject to aerial bombings and abuses during military and police operations.

As the poor suffer, the drug lords, the landgrabbers, big mining corporations, and their protectors in government, continue to get away with their crimes.

We likewise unite against the dangers of reimposing the death penalty and lowering of the age of criminal responsibility. Given the weaknesses and failures of our justice system, such measures will most likely further victimize the poor, weak and powerless.

Drug abuse, criminality, social unrest and rebellion are but symptoms of deep-seated, historical problems that cannot be solved by wars against the poor or the imposition of martial law. We need to address the roots of the problems – massive poverty, social injustice, corruption, and failure to assert national sovereignty and genuine independence.

In this light, we also call for the continuation of the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Only by mutually addressing the roots of the armed conflicts can all parties hope to forge a just and lasting peace for our people.

We shall continue to pursue various paths to peace based on justice and the full respect for human rights. It is our hope and prayer that President Duterte and all government officials can still listen and change.

Initial signatories:

Current and Former Members of Congress:

Former Sen. Rene Saguisag Former Sen. Wigberto Tañada
Former Sen. Nene Pimentel Former Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III
Rep. Carlos Zarate (PL- Bayan Muna) Rep. Emmi de Jesus (PL – Gabriela)
Rep. Arlene Brosas (PL – Gabriela) Rep. Antonio Tino (PL – ACT Teachers)
Rep. Sarah Elago (PL – Kabataan) Former Rep. Neri Colmenares
Former Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III Former Rep. Teddy Casiño


Bp. Broderick Pabillo, D.D. Bp. Godofredo David, IFI
Bp. Joel Tendero, UCCP Bp. Elorde Sambat, UCCP
Bp. Rodolfo Juan, UMC Bp. Ciriaco Francisco, UMC
Bp. Alexander Wandag, ECP BP. Redeemer Yanez, IFI
Bp. Ernesto Tadly, IFI Bp. Rudy Juliada, IFI
Bp. Melzar Labuntog, UCCP Bp. Antonio Ablon, IFI
Bp. Modesto Villasanta, UCCP Bp. Alger Loyao, IFI
Bp. Ronelio Fabriquier, IFI Bp. Manuel Buenaventura, Jr., UMC
Sr. Mary John Mananzan, OSB Sr. Maureen Catabian, RGS
Rev. Mary Grace Masegman, IFI Rev. Irma Balaba, PCPR
Fr. Ben Alforque, MSC Br. Jun Santiago III, CSsR
Fr. Gilbert Billena, Ocarm Fr. Rolly de Leon, PCPR
Fr. Arvin Bellen, CMF Rev. Fr. Jonash Joyohoy, IFI
Rt. Rev. Jonathan Casimina Rev. Igmedio Domingo, UMC
Rev. Israel Painit, UMC


Atty. Edre Olalia Atty. Ephraim Cortez


Maria Isabel Lopez Maria Carmen Sarmiento
Gabriela Lluch Dalena Mae Paner

Human Rights Advocates and Sectoral leaders:

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Dr. Carol Araullo, BAYAN
Renato Reyes, Jr., BAYAN Mark Vincent Lim, CEGP




National Day of Prayer and Action for Peace and Human Rights. Bonifacio Shrine. June 12, 2017


Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP)
July 15, 2022

Ecumenical youth group Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP) decries the recommendation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to discontinue the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to NTF-ELCAC chairperson President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. The proposal was announced during the first executive committee meeting under the new administration.

“Simply put, the Marcos, Jr. regime and its militarist peace spoilers are not interested in peace,” said Kej Andres, SCMP National Spokesperson. “They would rather continue the failed militarist and violent way to deal with belligerence. They’re all wasting people’s lives as well as taxpayer’s money,” he added.

Scores of human rights have been recorded under the Duterte administration’s counter-insurgency program. From July 2016 to December 2021, about 426 politically-motivated extrajudicial killings have been committed, while more than 470,000 have been affected by forced evacuation due to militarism in the countryside. For 2022, NTF-ELCAC has been granted ₱17.1 billion, while considerable budget increases were allotted for AFP and PNP despite lack of social services.

The NTF-ELCAC, however, recommends localized peace talks, according to peace adviser Carlito Galvez.

“The government falls deaf on the fact that landlessness, extreme poverty, lack of jobs, unabated rise of prices, and other roots of armed conflict are not simply local problems—these should be dealt through national policies through a president that has strong political will,” Andres said. “Resorting to peace talks show that Marcos, Jr. and his national government is ill-capacitated to solve problems on a national scope,” he added.

Marcos, Jr. would be the first president after martial law who would not pursue peace talks between the GRP and NDFP after winning the elections. Galvez said that “all peace talks ended up to nothing.”

“The erosion of peace talks has been due to GRP’s refusal of socio-economic reforms long-sought by the Filipino people. Immediate refusal of peace talks under Marcos, Jr. this early into his rule exposes his administration’s adherence to the greedy and exploitative interests of the ruling classes,” Andres said.

In the end, SCMP calls other peace advocates and freedom-loving Filipinos to stand for human rights and socio-economic reforms that are also being advocated under the peace talks. According to Andres, “we also call everybody to heighten their vigilance against human rights violations under the Marcos, Jr. regime. Usually, the fall of peace talks would mean worsening of the human rights situation in the Philippines.

“What the people demand is genuine national peace talks based on addressing the socio-economic roots of armed belligerency in the Philippines. As peace advocates, we denounce the militarists who spoil the peace talks and we reaffirm the need to solve the armed belligerency through addressing the socio-economic roots of poverty,” Andres ended.




Kej Andres,

SCMP National Spokesperson

PATIENCE, PERSEVERANCE AND PEACE – A book review of On the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations

A book review of the Sison Reader Series Book No. 9, On the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations by Jose Maria Sison

Posted on 7/05/2022 from Arkibongbayan

Constant upheaval and irrepressible revolutions have always been a central feature in the Philippines, where the sublimely serene landscapes contrast with the intensity of political conditions amid fraught social structures. A long history of conflict has inevitably led to several peace tables, all intended to address deeply-rooted inequalities, well-seated oppression, and persistent poverty. But beyond reaching an agreement, the greatest question has been whether these agreements can really bring a sustainable peace.

That the world’s longest running insurgency has engaged in peace negotiations for thirty of its fifty years shows that peace, while elusive, is not automatically illusive. Talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) have been slow but relatively steady. So far, the parties have mutually concurred on framework agreements. With discussions now stalled over substantial reforms and political motivations, and at the dawn of a second Marcos administration, Professor Jose Maria Sison timely reminds us that the very objective of the communist war in the Philippines is ultimately, peace.

Celebrating the golden jubilee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) a few years back, Prof. Sison called upon the party to intensify the war, and at the same time, advocate for peace. Readers of the book will know that these two faces are not contradictory, but rather, two sides of the same coin.

The ninth book in the Sison Reader Series tackles a wide array of issues, under the all-encompassing theme of “on the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations”. Meaningfully, it is bookended by an interview about the 1986 elections, and another about the 2022 elections. This collection of articles and works tracks the history of and lays out the politics, as well as philosophical underpinnings, of the peace movement in the Philippines. Previously, the NDFP had published the booklet introducing “Two Articles on the People’s Struggle for a Just Peace” (2015), as part of the education series of its Human Rights Monitoring Committee. This new book is a broader, more definitive collection of his thoughts relevant to the subject, delving into substance and procedure, as well as general and specific topics.

Very few can talk about this with the gravitas and authority of Prof. Sison, the chief political consultant of the NDFP at present. As the acknowledged founder of the new communist party, which the NDFP represents at the table, he not only has the institutional memory but also the greatest personal influence over a group that has persistently clawed at pretensions of a pacific democracy. Through the years, Prof. Sison has actually emerged as one of the biggest stalwarts of the peace movement, resolutely holding on to pending collective demands and to possible post-conflict unities.

His logic, precision, and consistency, especially when speaking on the root causes of the communist revolution, lends an academic flair that will make the book a reliable reference for all kinds of scholars and students. Three of the longest articles, “History and Circumstances Relevant to the Question of Peace” (1991), “The NDFP Framework in Contrast with the GRP Framework” (1991), and “On the Question of Revolutionary Violence” (1993), give us exquisite, comprehensive narratives of conflict in the Philippines and offer incisive analysis direly lacking in textbook works. The professor in Sison shines through, as he seamlessly shifts through academic perspectives and melds social science theories with practical applications.

At the same time, his use of the active voice and personal pronouns joltingly persuade. Prof. Sison, in true Marxist fashion, dares readers to not only interpret the world, but to change it. His frequent exhortations to arouse, organize, and mobilize creates a cadence as he seemingly directs an orchestra – cadres of the red army, members of mass organizations, supporters of the national democratic movement – towards harmony in work. In recognizing that all persons can play a part in peace-building, Prof. Sison appeals to and educates a general audience. His political and polemical writings certainly deserve its space alongside foremost critical thinkers of the era.

Several interviews are included in the collection. These generally serve to clarify niggling issues that the public fixate upon. Such as, concerns over continuing clashes as negotiations are ongoing, and modes of engagement on the battlefield. Questions like these are never too simple to answer. Why does the New Peoples’ Army continue to use landmines? Why can’t ceasefires be more frequent and longer-lasting? Media will always press for straight, categorical answers, but Prof. Sison’s firm grasp of the core points allows him the leeway to invoke complex contexts even where others see it as deflection.

When asked to address those who may have the barest acquaintance with the Philippine armed conflict in “On the Revolutionary Movement in the Philippines” (2012), Prof. Sison just as well responds succinctly. Asked to sum up the situation in the Philippines, the economy, of the peace talks and of the fighting, he masterfully condenses several volumes of his writings in as little as three paragraphs. The point is, after all, to make people understand better.

And of course, the slightly controversial. In January 2012, he admitted the he is not too optimistic about negotiations under Aquino, which the NDFP had engaged two years prior. In August 2016, he lauded Duterte for the breakthrough in the peace talks, but later reconsidered when relations turn sour and peace consultant Randy Malayao is murdered. Many often deride these efforts as “mistakes” or a waste of time, but Prof. Sison conscientiously refers to the NDFP’s policy of being open to peace negotiations, the “constant policy of seeking a just and lasting peace”. This kind of patience reflects a scrutiny of peace work and experiences in the Philippines, as well as in China, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and South Africa. The dogged insistence on long-term goals rather than short term gains will only ensure that parties no longer return to war after peace agreements.

Many of the concerns are legal. In “Remedies to Obstacles or Problems in the GRP-NDFP Peace Negotiations”, Prof. Sison at the press conference launching the International Legal Advisory Team in 2011 demonstrates his essential understanding of how international laws impact what is, at first glance, a non-international, intra-state conflict. In a simple but studied introduction, Prof. Sison diplomatically emphasizes “political integrity”. In his other articles, however, Prof. Sison refers to the recognition and rights of belligerency as a basis for engagement between the NDFP and the GRP.

Where the status of belligerency is invoked, it triggers international law obligations. In consonance therewith, the NDFP precisely signed on and adheres to international humanitarian law instruments – laws of war – in its conduct, even without reciprocity by the GRP. However, the customary doctrine on belligerency, upon which the NDFP claims rights, has been seen in decline and apparent desuetude after the Second World War. Only a handful of experts have acknowledged otherwise, and as it seems, Prof. Sison could be crucial in convincing more.

His extensive discussion of the profound role of the United States also hints at an extended concept of armed conflict. In a semi-/neo-colonial Philippines, does the involvement of the US on various political aspects internationalize an internal armed conflict? Is there space in law for such “third” category of armed conflict? This also has considerable problem sets for third states and parties who have always found a place in Philippine peace processes. What are the consequence of intervening on either side?

Because the situation is ongoing and the process evolving, there are very few experts and scholars who have dared come forward with conclusive studies and predictions on the Philippine armed conflict, lest they be proven wrong in the long run. As such, it falls upon Prof. Sison to set the tone and substance in the conversation. His evaluation of prospects of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations at different points in the timeline are always canon and relevant. Obviously, there is no doubt that he is a central figure in the peace negotiations, particularly as there are only a handful of NDFP personalities not working incognito.

Thus, Prof. Sison’s refusal to concede to the lesser “state of insurgency” is expected. To treat the armed conflict as either rebellion, insurgency, or even terrorism has significant personal bearing. Prof. Sison has been labelled a terrorist in different territories, intended to make him pariah and irrelevant. Asked in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in 2002, how he felt about this, Prof. Sison merely said that he was not intimidated. Given that he still writing to us today tells that he really wasn’t, and that he remains influential – indisputably, and perhaps, irrevocably so. If any, this book is his flex of both the brains and brawn of the Philippine left and proof that Prof. Sison is not a terrorist, but a dyed-in-the-wool revolutionary.

In the latter parts of the book, Prof. Sison mulls over the possibility of him serving in the GRP government, or even being GRP president. “Crooks and butchers have become president in the Philippines,” he says, his attitude starkly more realistic than messianic.

Patience is a virtue, and so is discipline. Prof. Sison shows us the he has both in spades. Decades of exile has not dulled, but instead sharpened his senses for every bit of useful information from and about the Philippines. Writing to Bienvenido Lumbera who turned 80 in 2011, Prof. Sison led the letter from personal reminiscing to a discourse, with every page dripping in the adage: the personal is political. His own 75th birthday wish was a truly proletarian one: To stay healthy and live longer in order to further serve the people.

This book is a political guide and a personal gift from Prof. Sison for all of us interested in peace in the Philippines. In parts where his persona seeps through, it almost feels like a personal conversation. As his words lilt when sharing his life story, we really feel how his heart yearns for mangoes. And as always, for peace.

Thank you, Prof. Sison.