An Interview with Jose Maria Sison, Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines
Commissioned by the kites Editorial Committee
Original Release: October 2022 / Re-Edited: Late December 2022
In September 2022, kites had the pleasure of interviewing Jose Maria Sison, the Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), just over three months before he passed away on December 16, 2022. The CPP was founded in December 1968, and went on to found and lead the New People’s Army in the people’s war that was launched in March 1969. In 1974, Sison was captured by the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship and faced years of torture and solitary confinement before being released in 1986 after the overthrow of Marcos. In 1988, Sison was forced to seek asylum in the Netherlands after the Philippine reactionary government canceled his passport while he was abroad on a speaking tour.
Sison obtained recognition as a political refugee from the Dutch Council of State in 1992. Since then, he was protected under international law by the principle of non-refoulement under the Geneva Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, thus preventing his deportation to the Philippines or any third country.
While the people’s war continued and its underlying causes worsened, Sison faced repeated attempts at legal harassment and repression during his forced exile: he battled and defeated in the Dutch court system trumped up charges of multiple murders that were filed against him in 2007—charges that were instigated by the US-Arroyo regime in the Philippines. Sison later won a separate case before the European Court of Justice to have his name removed from the EU terrorist list, where it was placed in 2009.
As Sison told kites in preparation for this interview, “I am legally clean and there is no hindrance to my freedom of thought and expression.” In defiance of the many attempts to suppress his political activity, Sison served in the capacity of Chief Political Consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and remained highly active as a public intellectual against imperialism and in defense of the socialist cause until the very end of his life, as this interview attests to. Sison lived in Utrecht, Netherlands, his place of forced exile, with his comrade-in-arms and long-life partner Julie de Lima, surrounded by a community of supporters and friends of the Philippine national democratic movement.
This interview has been further edited since its original release in October 2022 to bring it more in line with the video interview (being released imminently), which diverts from and adds very slightly in a couple places from the original interview text we received. We made the choice that the final publication should reflect more closely to the video interview given rather than the written transcript we received. The added benefit of these new edits is that this interview transcript is now much closer to verbatim what was spoken in the video, thereby making the video a strong accompaniment to listen along with while reading this interview.Continue reading “On “foreign monsters” and the people’s war that persists“