Welcome remarks at the book launching of Jose Ma. Sison’s books

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In behalf of co-sponsors Aklat ng Bayan Inc., Anak Pawis Party List, the All UP Academic Employees Union, CONTEND-UP and the Defend Sison Committee, I would like to welcome all of you to the launch of Jose Ma. Sison’s US Terrorism and War in the Philippines and the Pilipino version of Jose Ma. Sison and Juliet de Lima’s Politika at Ekonomya ng Pilipinas.

This launch is occurring nine days before the visit of US President George W. Bush to the Philippines, and on the same date when informal peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front have resumed in Oslo, Norway.

Although Bush will be in the Philippines for only eight hours, his visit could be more than an occasion to renew the Arroyo government’s unqualified support for the US’ so-called war on terrorism, and for Bush to announce other rewards for the Philippine government’s cheering on US international outlawry, its willingness since March this year to help fig-leaf US unilateralism via the “Coalition of the Willing,” and what’s even more crucial, its support for the US goal of total global dominance in this century in the form of US basing rights and US troops on Philippine soil. Although banned by the Constitution, administration plans to amend the Constitution are ongoing, and if realized, will very likely include deleting these provisions.

The visit can also result in a bilateral trade agreement between the US and Arroyo governments, bilateral agreements being one of the main US tactic in getting around the decisions of international organizations such as the UN.

We saw this tactic at work recently in the signing of the bilateral agreement between the Bush and Arroyo governments exempting US nationals from prosecution in the International Criminal Court, which was established to try genocide and other crimes against humanity. Although not to have signed it would have meant the Philippines’ being denied US aid, we all know that the Philippine government did not have to be forced to do so, but did so willingly.

We might yet see the same tactic at work, if not now, perhaps as part of the Bush visit fallout in the next few months, in the form of a US-RP trade agreement that would nullify the poor countries’ collective decision to reject the outrageous impositions of the wealthy in Cancun.

The Bush visit, however, will have an even more immediate impact in that it is taking place only a few weeks into the advent of the political season, which informally began October 4 last week when Mrs. Arroyo changed her mind about not running in 2004. It may even be that Mrs. Arroyo was convinced to run by her current US patron, who seems to have a proclivity rare among US presidents in his not being overly concerned with giving the impression that he’s committed to a particular candidate.

Past US Presidents have seemed uninterested on who the President of this unfortunate country will be, while, to hedge their bets, US operatives here spread their support more or less evenly among the possible winners. Subtlety not being one of his qualities, Bush has several times expressed his support for Mrs. Arroyo in both word and deed. Included among the latter are the Philippines’ being designated a major non-NATO ally, and the royal welcome Mrs. Arroyo received when she visited the United States early this year.

However, Bush’s visit itself is already sending to the elite contenders for the Presidency, to the entire political class, and to the economic masters of this country, the very same message of support for Mrs. Arroyo. But he could also say in words on October 18 what he has so far said mostly in deeds.

The peace talks, on the other hand, are being resumed, though informally, also during the beginning of the political season, when the question of how committed to peace rather than war the Arroyo government is will likely be raised by various groups. More critically, however, the talks are being resumed despite Jose Ma. Sison’s and the New People’s Army’s being listed as terrorists in the US and the European Union–a listing which Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople has admitted is politically-motivated because it is meant to “force the NDF to the bargaining table”.

As important as these two events are, what qualify this launch as an auspicious occasion are the books themselves, which are not coincidentally being launched together, their subjects being all too intimately related.

Neither terrorism nor being labeled terrorists is a new experience for the Filipino people. Although the Spanish colonial period was not without terrorism, it took the United States invasion at the turn of the century to bring the use of terror against the civilian population to new heights in the form of the massacre of entire villages, and the use of torture, assassinations, exile and long prison terms against the Filipino resistance to US colonization. Of course the resistance to US occupation was labeled an insurgency, and its members brigands and bandits–or, in more contemporary terms, “terrorists.”

Initially to secure US power over this country in furtherance of the military goals that were the means to secure sources of raw materials and markets in this country as well as the rest of Asia for US industries, and later to maintain its control over the economy, the use of terror–which may be defined as the indiscriminate use of violence in furtherance of political aims–is one of the lasting legacies of US rule in this country. Today its various forms–forced evacuations, massacres, torture, murder and disappearances courtesy of the police and the military–are part of the machinery of state repression to preserve the existing political and economic system.

US involvement in state terrorism has also been widely documented, from CIA operatives’ planning and helping execute terrorist attacks on peasant communities during the Huk rebellion, to the training of the military and the police in the arts of torture and “crowd control” from the martial law period to the present. Add to those the prospects of US troop involvement in local conflicts–in a country where experience with foreign troops has been catastrophic to human rights, the family, the communities, and the environment.

But what does anyone expect from an unjust order? The use of terror in this country has been in furtherance of preserving the political and economic system in which minority privilege reigns at the expense of the many. This is a link about which the vast, suffering majority of Filipinos are increasingly becoming aware, and knowledge of which has convinced many of them to declare their freedom from the bonds of necessity, and to take control of their destiny.

The books being launched today are among the indispensable means through which knowledge and understanding of that link can spread even further among our people. It is to the publication of such books that Aklat ng Bayan is committed, in furtherance of the great enterprise of remaking Philippine society.

I will not take up any more of your time, having used up my five minutes this evening already. Once again, our warmest welcome to all, and our thanks for your taking the time from your busy schedules to be here today.

Welcome remarks at the book launching of Jose Ma. Sison’s US Terrorism and War in the Philippines and ofJuliet de Lima’s Politika and Ekonomya ng Pilipinas, October 9, 2003, 5 P.M., Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman)

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