A tribute to Jose Maria Sison

By Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA

On the occasion of your 70th Birthday and 50 years of brilliant, dedicated and courageous struggle on behalf of the world’s oppressed and exploited, the comrades of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA give you our warm embrace and our Red Salute!

While you are largely aware of the basis for the deep comradely respect, admiration and feeling that I and our organization have for you, allow me to share some thoughts with those present with you for this great celebration.

To the forces of reaction—the imperialists and their comprador puppets — Jose Maria Sison is the worst kind of terrorist. For he threatens their paradise on earth based on exploitation, oppression and plunder of the overwhelming majority of mankind.

For us, for the billions of toiling masses of humanity, Jose Maria Sison is the best kind of hero. He tirelessly and eloquently represents the just aspirations of the Filipino people for a full and equal role among nations; he also fights relentlessly in the interest of the working class and the oppressed everywhere and for the elimination of the system of exploitation of man by man from the face of the earth. He remains one of the modest giants of our movement for global justice and for peace — for socialism and communism.

In many ways, Jose Maria Sison is a real flesh and blood Filipino “Zorro.” Born into a wealthy landowner family which had its share of both patriotic heroes who fought for the liberation of their country and puppet-comprador elements who served the Spanish and then the U.S. colonial masters, Joema was a brilliant student who had the opportunity to choose a life-path of elitist privilege in the highest ranks of Filipino society, based on subservience to U.S. imperialism. Instead, he chose the difficult and extremely dangerous path of revolutionary leader of the oppressed and exploited Filipino masses. And, unlike the fictional Mexican character, Zorro, who functioned as an heroic individual in the fight for justice for the masses, Joema Sison recognized early on that it is the working class and the peasant and other patriotic masses among the oppressed who are decisive in making human progress in our time.

On this basis, he mobilized students and intellectuals at his point of political origin, became a trade union functionary in the working class movement and joined the already heavily compromised old Filipino communist party. With his outstanding revolutionary qualities, including his willingness to wage principled struggle against both left and right opportunism, Jose Maria Sison quickly rose through the ranks in all these areas of work. Accordingly, Joema mastered Marxist theory—especially the teachings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. He particularly focused on Mao’s teachings in the period leading up to the victory of the Chinese national democratic revolution in 1949, as Philippine conditions had so much in common with the pre-revolution Chinese political landscape. Armed with scientific socialism, along with his wife, Julie, a formidable revolutionary in her own right, he undertook to make a comprehensive and concrete analysis of Philippine conditions so as to provide a solid foundation for the new people’s movement there.

Summing up the recent experience of the mass movement within the Philippines and drawing strength from the Chinese and Albanian led political struggle against Soviet-led modern revisionism internationally, Joema led in the founding of the new anti-revisionist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in late 1968, and to the founding of the New Peoples Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front shortly thereafter.

The results were a powerful revolutionary movement that within a few short years threatened to topple the Marcos regime. Ferdinand Marcos resorted to martial law to stay in power. This resulted in further isolation of the Marcos crony regime even from the rest of the Filipino ruling class and led to his ouster in the People Power revolt that swept Cory Aquino into the presidency in early 1986. It also brought Joema out of prison after a decade during most of which Marcos had held him in solitary confinement.

Showing incredible courage and determination, Jose Maria Sison immediately resumed his untiring efforts on behalf of Philippine national liberation and socialism. While on a foreign tour it was decided that it was too dangerous for Joema to return and he went into exile in the Netherlands. There, among other duties, he has served as the chief political consultant to the NDF in its formal though intermittent negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) under a series of U.S. imperialist puppet regimes. At its Second International Assembly in 2004, the ILPS elected comrade Sison as its Chairman, a post he continues to hold. In this capacity, he has helped point the way forward for workers and oppressed peoples in many places: from Katrina survivors and immigrant workers in the USA to Iraqi Resistance fighters against the US imperialist occupiers of their country.

As Sison biographer and personal friend, Ninotchka Rosca, has observed: “In the midst of whatever adversity, Jose Sison constantly gives Filipinos a reason to affirm and celebrate themselves as a people. The governments of Europe, the United States, Canada, and the Philippines keep trying to bury Jose Maria Sison and only succeed in having songs sung in his praise.”

In this era of Leninism, the era of imperialism and unfolding proletarian revolution, Joema Sison’s struggle and the struggle of the Communist Party of the Philippines that he so ably founded and led, is our struggle. Now the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples face tremendous challenges and opportunities as we experience the ever deepening world capitalist economic crisis. In this setting, his leadership, revolutionary determination, vision and courage are more important than ever.

Finally, on a more personal note, Joema’s internationalist support for our organization has strengthened our organization for the revolutionary battles of today and tomorrow. In our common struggle and in dedication to Jose Maria Sison’s 50 years (and counting) of outstanding revolutionary leadership, we of the Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA pledge to continue our involvement with the just cause of Philippine national democratic revolution and to intensify our struggle within “the belly of the beast” for the great communist future to which comrade Sison has dedicated his life.


Ray O. Light
General Secretary
Revolutionary Organization of Labor, USA