Joma sings own poems on CD album to be released August
By Vi Massart, STAR chief European correspondent
The Philippine Star
PARIS — Communist leader Jose Ma. Sison has gone solo — in releasing a music album, that is.
Two years after Sison and his friends released a CD compilation of revolutionary songs, the poetry of the self-exiled chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) that he has himself rendered into song will come out in CD format this August.
Entitled "Joma Sison Sings His Poems," the communist leader describes the 15-song CD as having a "lyrical and art form."
Sison told The STAR in a phone interview last Friday that he has just finished the tracks for the album.
A poet since his college years at the University of the Philippines, Sison, 67, said the first cut was recorded live in a 2004 concert with friends - "Pag-Ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa" (Love for the Motherland), the same title of a poem by national hero Andres Bonifacio.
"But this one is a solo," Sison proudly pointed out, adding that professional musicians worked on the album.
An avid videoke singer, Sison said he has always loved singing apart from being a afficionado of the cha-cha and ballroom dancing in Filipino-Dutch circles in Utrecht, the Netherlands where he has been exiled since 1987.
The communist movement, through its armed wing the New People’s Army (NPA), has been fighting the government for 37 years — Asia’s longest-running insurgency.
President Arroyo earlier ordered that P1 billion be set aside in funds to finance combat operations aimed at wiping out the NPA, which has been tagged by the United States and the European Union as a terrorist organization along with the CPP for the bloody campaign it has waged against the government.
Sison scoffed anew at Mrs. Arroyo’s threat to file charges against him for murder before the courts in Utrecht, insisting there is no extradition treaty between the Netherlands and the Philippines.
"Besides, the Dutch government has no jurisdiction over affairs that involve or which happened between Filipinos in the Philippines," he added.
"What is the legal basis of the Philippine government filing a case against me in Utrecht?" he asked.
Sison declared his team of lawyers headed by Romeo Capulong of the Public Interest Law Center would have the case thrown out for lack of legal merit in the Philippines.
He said that Capulong will be assisted by five women lawyers headed by Rachel Pastores. Calling them "my five angels," Sison noted: "Not only are they brilliant but they are also pretty."
Asked how he survives in the Netherlands without a regular income since the Dutch government withdrew subsidies for the exiled leader after he was tagged by the US State Department as a terrorist, Sison quipped that he is now largely dependent on his wife, Juliet de Lima.
Sison’s two adult children possess Dutch citizenship and by virtue of their legal status as European nationals, the Philippines will find it extremely difficult to have their parents expelled from the Netherlands where they are considered refugees on European soil.
When reminded that, at least on paper, he is a millionaire based on a US judge’s decision to award him compensation in a civil suit he filed against former President Ferdinand Marcos whose dictatorial rule the CPP-NPA fought, Sison said the Philippines is unlikely to pay him any compensation during his lifetime, or while he is still included on the US official terrorist list.
He reckoned his heirs would eventually benefit from the money.
Sison stands to receive $1 million from funds originally earmarked for the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, a part of which has been set aside for compensation to human rights victims under the Marcos regime.
"That’s because the lower and the upper chambers (the Senate and House of Representatives) cannot argue on the exact amount to give to CARP… I don’t think even my wife, Julie, who is one of the official beneficiaries of the 9,500 Marcos human rights victims would receive anything at all from this government," Sison said.
Sison also "categorically denies" ordering the executions of communist leaders Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara as claimed by their widows.
He branded their testimonies as false and without factual basis.
"They have no direct knowledge of my connection with the respective deaths of their husbands," he stressed. "I met these women some 30 or more years ago and the last time I met their husbands was almost two decades ago."
Kintanar, former NPA chief, and Tabara, former member of the CPP military commission and political bureau, were assassinated on Jan. 23, 2003 and Sept. 26, 2004, respectively.
Sison said that while he is the "political consultant" of the CPP’s political wing, the National Democratic Front, he is "in no position to single out any person nor have the power to give orders to the NPA to liquidate anybody."
When asked if Armando Liwanag, the CPP chairman and the nom de guerre attributed to Sison, could have issued the order for the killings of Kintanar and Tabara, Sison asserted that "the CPP has a central committee, which decides collectively."
"And besides, it is a matter of public knowledge that the central command has admitted to the killings as these two were facing charges for being involved directly in the anti-informer campaign," he pointed out.
‘No treaty in the works’
Sison doesn’t believe that an extradition treaty between the Philippines and the Netherlands is in the works.
He also reiterated he has been "challenging the Dutch to file charges against me in connection with the US terrorist listing."
Sison recalled the first hearing in Luxembourg was held last May 30. "The European courts upheld my petition — that I am considered a refugee even if the Netherlands does not officially recognize me as one and I cannot be expelled to the Philippines because I run the enormous risk of being tortured or killed by Philippine authorities."
Sison alleged that Mrs. Arroyo’s motive for the murder charges was merely to ride on the "anti-terrorism bandwagon" of US President George W. Bush.
"Gloria will do anything that will allow her and her henchmen composed of (Executive Secretary Eduardo) Ermita, (Presidential Chief of Staff Michael) Defensor, (National Security Adviser) Norberto Gonzales, (Justice Secretary) Raul Gonzalez, (Armed Forces chief Generoso) Senga and (Philippine National Police) chief Arturo Lomibao to capitalize on the US anti-terrorism bandwagon," Sison said.
"Look, she even had one of her closest friends arrested on some old rebellion charge," he noted.
When asked which friend he meant, Sison spoke of the long-standing friendship between Mrs. Arroyo and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, one of the "Batasan Five" congressmen who were accused of rebellion.
Sison said Mrs. Arroyo and Ocampo, a left-leaning lawmaker, have known each other since the ’70s and are quite close.
"They have a history of close association that stemmed from their membership days in APCU (Association of Philippine-Chinese Understanding)," Sison said.