Interview With Sison

50 years of CPP

Harsh Thakor

[The Communist Party of Phillipines (CPP) recently observed 50th anniversary of reorganised Communist Movement. A special meeting was organised in Utrecht to mark the occasion—completion of 50 years of reorganised Communist Movement in the Phillipines. Some 400 distinguished persons and 20 different nations atteneded the historic meet. Harsh Thakor spoke with chairman Jose Maria Sison in his National Democratic Front Office in Utrecht on December 27th and December 31st, 2018. Excerpts ]        

HT  : What led to the re-organisation of the Communist Party of Phillipines in 1969?

JMS : The general secretary Jesus Lava was completely isolated from any mass movement. He adopted policies that first liquidated the remnants of the old people's army by calling on the armed units to turn themselves into organisational brigades, and subsequently also the party by adopting in 1957 what he called the single file policy of dissolving every party collective and ordering party members to form single filer to which he sent his political transmissions from his Manila hideout. He had no significant connections with any mass movement nor with the remnants of the people's army which continued to exist as roving rebel bands in the plains of some central provinces of Central Luizon.

The single event that broke the long period of reaction was the demonstration of 500 students mostly from the state university, to oppose and stop the anti-communist witchhunt in 1961. The young proletarian revolutionaries initiated the mass peasant action, without direction from the underground remnant of the old merger SP-CP party. Following their success, they expanded their study and organising activities from the University of Philipines to other universities, and gained leadership over students and campus publications. The young proletarian revolutionaries linked up with veteran cadres and masses in progressive trade unions and peasant associations. The mass movement of the youth, the workers and peasants grew steadily. The Kabataaang Makabayan was formed in 1964 as a comprehensive mass organisation of students, workers, young peasants and young professionals. They became most active in promoting the study of the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, and in creating Party groups within the mass organisations and party branches and localities to serve as the revolutionary core of the mass movement.

The Lava revisionist renegades wished to impose their line of indefinite parliamentary struggles on the proletarian revolutionaries and the people. Their line was engendered by their own bourgeois subjectivist and opportunist world outlook and encouraged by the line of Soviet revisionists. The 2-line struggle between the Lava revisionist renegades and the proletrain revolutionaries became so intense that the former wished to inflict physical harm on the latter. The task of demarcating from the counter revolutionary revisionists and to wage a relentless campaign against them was the order of the day. Preparations began with consolidation meetings of the proletarian revolutionaries and mass activists and drafting the documents of re-establishment : "Rectify errors and Rebuild the party and the CPP constitution and Programmes for a People's Democratic Revolution". The Congress of re-establishment had only 12 delegates representing only a few scores of party members and candidate members in the trade unions and youth movement. Soon after the re-establishment of the party in 1968 the proletrain revolutionaries linked up with the majority of the remnant people's army with rural mass base of 80000 peasants, in the 2nd district of Tratiac in Central Luzon.

In the urban and rural areas, the reestablished party inherited the fine revolutionary tradition of the proletariat as well as the senior and middle aged cadres of long drawn workers and peasants movement. The mass organisations of workers, peasants and youth condemned both the Lava revisionist group and the Sumolong gangster Clique. The Lava revisionist renegades prated about parliamentary struggle as the main form of struggle but it was the proletrain revolutionaries who actually continued to lead the legal democratic movement.

The CPP had waged rectification movements to overcome major errors in ideology, politics and organisation. It successfully waged the Second Great Rectification Movement from 1992 to 1998 as an education movement in Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to criticise and repudiate major subjectivist and "Left" and Right opportunist errors in the period of 1981 to 1992.

It debunked the subjectivist notion that the Marcos fascist dictatorship had made the Philippine economy industrial capitalist. This subjectivist error gave rise to Right and ¨Left¨ opportunist errors. The Right opportunists advocated a united front without the leadership of the revolutionary proletariat and kowtowing to the anti-Marcos reactionaries, while the "Left" opportunists rejected Mao's strategic line of protracted people´s war and promoted adventurism and the premature regularisation of the NPA at the expense of mass work.

A major element was the contrast between concentration and dispersing of forces. Often there was a weakness to abolsutely concentrate forces and not disperse. There was also over caution of penetration of spies.

 The CPP does not participate in the reactionary elections because it is outlawed as a party in rebellion.

HT  : What was the cause or significance of the 2nd rectification campaign?

JMS : From 1988 the mass base was diminishing and right opportunism was in ascendancy. 50% of party members had capitulated to right or left opportunism. Many even rejected Mao. Thus the party literally had to be ressurected to be saved from death. The biggest liquidator was Ramos. Again mass work of NPA was restored.

The Second Great Rectification Movement criticised, repudiated and rectified the Right opportunist error of taking out the leadership of the communist party and the working class from the national united front supposedly to attract more people and make the united front the main weapon of the struggle; and several trends of "Left" opportunism, the most damaging of which over-stressed the verticalisation of the NPA at the expense of horizontal deployment of the NPA for mass work and which upon failure resulted in blaming those tagged as deep penetration agents as causing the failure and subjecting them to punishment without due process.

As a whole, the CPP learned well from the Second Great Rectification Movement by developing the balance between armed struggle and mass work and the centre of gravity in a relatively concentrated force (e.g., command platoon of a company or the command squad of a platoon) and the relatively dispersed force for mass work (two-thirds of a formation deployed on a wider scale). The line for the NPA is to wage intensive and extensive guerilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base. But the erroneous currents of conservatism and roving rebel bands, which neglected the waging of guerilla tactical offensives by overemphasising mass work by armed propaganda teams, afflicted some regions for extended periods, especially in Luzon and the Visayas.

The plenum of the Central Commitee in 1980 encouraged the opponents of "Left" and "right" opportunism to espouse urban insurrectionsim and parliamen-tarism, respectively, by allowing both opportunistic trends to spread doubts about the strategic line of people's war. The Politburo meeting favoured both types of opportunism. The left opportunists were lumped together and rejected both liberal democrats and the anti-Marcos reactionaries as 'bourgeois reformists' along the line of monopolosing victory in the anti-fascist struggle which was anticipated as forthcoming.

By 1990-91 the Left and Right Opportunist line was forced to retreat. Earlier it made a concerted effort in disrupting the massline . They tried to exploit the crisis faced by the central leadership by trying to usurp power and promote the counter-revolutionary rightist line.

Later in 1990, the political bureau nullified the erroneous concept of "strategic counter-offensive" and put a stop to implementation. The Military Commission and the political department of the NPA, of the central commitee held the National central conference of Political work in March-April 1990 supporting the proletarian revolutionary line.
A major campaign for educating cadres on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung thought was launched with many classic works reprinted for educating cadres.

HT  : What has been the role of the New People's Army (NPA)?

JMS : The CPP founded the New People's Army on March 29, 1969. It started with only 9 automatic rifles and 26 other inferior firearms for the initial 60 Red fighters in the second district of Tarlac province.

The NPA is the main weapon of the people for defeating the enemy and winning the revolution. Without it, the people have nothing. It carries out three integral tasks: revolutionary armed struggle, agrarian revolution and mass base building. It carries out a war of fluid movement and avails of the tactics of concentration, dispersal and shifting as circumstances require. It follows the strategy of protracted people´s war, with three probable strategic stages: defensive, stalemate and counter-offensive.

The NPA applies the principle of centralised ideological and political leadership and decentralised operations, which is very appropriate to the archipelago character of the Philippines even as the Party central leadership issues operational guidelines for the national, regional and lower levels to implement. Currently, the NPA is victoriously carrying out extensive and intensive guerilla warfare on the basis of an ever widening and deepening mass base in order to advance from the strategic defensive to the strategic stalemate.

Now, the Red fighters run into thousands and their units operate nationwide in 110 guerrilla fronts in 73 out of 81 provinces. The full time Red fighters are augmented by tens of thousands of members of the people's militia and hundreds of thousands of members of the self-defense units of the mass organisations. These are active auxiliaries as well as reserve force for the NPA.

HT  : How did the CPP carry out ideological education ?

JMS : The CPP educated tens of thousands of Party cadres and members in the theory and practice of MLM by providing them with three levels of Party study courses: basic, intermediate and advanced. These cadres are the ever growing hard core of the revolutionary mass movement, institutions of various kinds and specialised fields of work. Party education is meant to enlighten and inspire the Party cadres and members among the toiling masses of workers and peasants as well as among the middle social strata of the bourgeoisie.

The basic Party course provides Party cadres and members with a knowledge of Philippine history, the basic problems of the Filipino people and the people´s democratic revolution; the intermediate Party course on building the Party, the people´s army and the united front with a comparative knowledge of successful revolutions led by the proletariat; and the advanced Party course with a comprehensive knowledge of materialist philosophy, political eco-nomy, scientific socialism, the strategy and tactics of proletarian revolution and the international communist movement.

The CPP has contributed greatly to the world treasury of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism by issuing ideological and political documents and bylined works written by CPP leading organs and cadres for declaring the position of the Party on theoretical and practical issues, for building and developing the Party, the people's army and the united front, for criticising and rectifying errors and shortcomings and for analysing and opposing imperialism and reaction in the Philippines and abroad. Many of such works have attained the level of texts for theoretical or doctrinal study.

HT  : What is your view of the state of the world today?

JMS : We feel USA Imperialism in sabotaging effort is on the strategic decline and acute contradictions are intensifying. The resistance of China to US, is of great political significance challenging hegemo-nic interests. The Kurdish struggle has important implications on International relations. Inter-imperialist contradictions have to be utilised. Today fascism of a new character is in ascendancy worldwide and will take different shapes in countering it in imperialist countries. We may have to support non-Marxist but progressive left sections in Europe. A major feature in third world countries is the emergence of neo-liberalism that could even be more lethal than conventional fascism. Neo-Liberal states cover their proto-fascist nature like in Latin America and Asia, functioning like dictatorial states. It is hard to conceive of formal dictatorship like the time of Marcos emerging in the Phillipines, but morally Duterte govt is fascist. Even if officially not banned, morally the CPP is banned. The deep seated tradition of the church promoted liberalism to combat outright fascism. Sections of Church even supported the revolution.

HT  : How do you see future of revolution in CPP?

JMS : Very positively. We are determined to defeat the fascism of Duterte. Today the CPP contains 75,000 members and leads a mass movement of over one million people which is outstanding and is penetrating all spheres of society. After the CPC in many ways the CPP is the pioneer of executing massline in the post-Mao years. A very important factor is defending the theory of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and understanding why the Cultural Revolution ushered a 3rd stage in Marxism.

The CPP has excelled in leading the armed revolution that is among the longest running, strongest, and continuously growing armed revolution for national liberation, democracy and socialism in the world.

What makes the Philippine revolution most outstanding currently is that it has overcome a long running fascist dictatorship and a long series of strategic operational campaign plans of US-lining pseudo-democratic regimes to destroy it. The revolutionary forces and people have become strong precisely by fighting all the series of strategic operational plans that have been undertaken by the US with the collaboration of the Filipino puppet regimes. They have also combated and prevented all attempts of modern revisionism, reformism and opportunism to undermine and weaken the armed revolution.

Vol. 51, No.32, Feb 10 - 16, 2019