JOMA SISON IS COMING HOME
Finally, the man himself is coming home, or so he is saying. Good. For the longest time, since 1986, Joma Sison had lived a life of comfort in exile in Netherlands while his faithful communist comrades and followers were left behind in the Philippines fighting and dying for an ideology now largely rendered obsolete, if not dead. This ideology, of which Sison was (and remains to be) its leading light, had served as the foundation of an insurgency movement which waged a vicious and deadly war against the government from the late 60s to its peak in the 70s, onwards to this day. This war left in its wake tens of thousands dead , not to say about other casualties and destruction it inflicted in the wider realms of society. Today, it is acknowledged as one of the longest running insurgencies in the world. Over the years, the rebels themselves have slowly degenerated into banditry and terrorism, though official statements are put out from time to time as if to reassure that the movement has not become a plain bandit organization but remains to be one guided by a noble cause.
What has become his true role in the movement is all too blurred now as sometimes he speaks like the commander in exile, sometimes a spiritual leader of sort, at times an elderly adviser. It must be frustrating being a communist ideologue when all communist countries save for one or two have all but abandoned the cause and the core principles and have turned more capitalist than communist in essence. In fact, you have to wonder why he was in Netherlands all these years not in some hard-core communist country like North Korea, for instance; didn’t he see the utter irony?
From his most recent statements, though, you do not see someone who has mellowed down one bit or has changed in his beliefs in any way. He sounds every bit a communist, as hard-core and die-hard as he was before. If not for his age, he would still be the communist fire-brand that he was with that patented clenched fist up in the air, agitating as fervently for a revolution to topple the government and in its place a communist government installed.
Should he really come home, I suppose he would be profoundly disoriented. After all, he was either in prison or exile, an enemy of the state, for most of his life. He is coming home to a country vastly changed since he left, even more so from that in the late 60’s when he first organized and launched the underground movement. He is coming home to a people who once saw in communism a ray of hope against the rotten social order, but now has a totally changed view. How the nation will welcome him, we will find out. Will he be the long lost hero coming home to the warm embrace of the people? Or the long lost heel coming home to their dread, a pest better shooed away or swatted down?
How his coming home will be helping the new President, I have no idea. It seems more like taking a rock with which to bang his head. Already, the Communist Party of the Philippines has issued statements that tend to discourage rather than encourage engagement. It’s certainly a bold gamble for the President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. If this gambit will pay off in terms of a permanent truce, well and good. I am not betting on it.
To be sure, a lot of Filipinos would be disoriented too if finally they see Joma walking in the corridors of power and rubbing elbows with the powerful. For too long he was a symbol of rebellion, if not always in good light, a symbol nonetheless representing anti-government/anti-Establishment. You have to wonder though how the traditional enemies of communism especially those in the armed forces would regard a Joma, no more the rebel. It was them after all who took the brunt of the fighting to defend the republic from their ambition and in so doing thousands of their brothers in arms fell.
For now, I just wish to take just one issue with him: the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing. Did he or did he not? That dastardly act certainly triggered a long, long chain of violent repercussions which ultimately shaped this nation’s current history— for good or for bad. He still denies the accusation to this day, of course, repeating the old tale that President Ferdinand Marcos did it out of his evil nature. For sometime too, the public believed that, until, years later, one of the bombing victims himself, Jovito Salonga, pointed his accusing finger to Joma, to the shock of the public, and much later, with Victor Corpuz, a former fellow ranking communist leader himself, confirming so.
Not so many people know, but Joma Sison is actually listed as one of the beneficiaries in that Hawaii court decision awarding billions of dollars to thousands of so-called Marcos human rights violations victims. Thus he also automatically qualifies as one of the beneficiaries of the P10B compensation for human rights violations victims during Martial law as passed by Congress just recently. He therefore is bound to collect a very considerable sum of money as human rights violations victim. Joma Sison, as human rights violations victim? really, I cannot wrap it around my head.
Right now, I could visualize a rather awkward reunion between him and the old anti-Marcos forces, composed mostly of the Yellows. For sure, they are united in one thing, in their hostility to the Marcoses. But otherwise, they would rather kill each other.