Note: This interview is the basis of Claudio’s direct and indirect quotations from Prof. Sison in the former’s article, “Ninoy networked with everyone, Reds included” in GMA News TV on August 18, 2010
1. Was there ever an alliance between the CPP-NPA and Ninoy Aquino? If so, could you comment on the extent of this alliance?
JMS Answer: There was no formal alliance between the CPP-NPA and Ninoy Aquino. By absence of formal alliance, I mean that there was no written instrument of alliance (document) and there was no organizational form to embody the alliance. But there was an informal and objective alliance. The CPP and NPA and Ninoy were informal and practical cooperators against the Marcos regime from late 1968 onwards up to his assassination by the military minions of Marcos and further on with his wife as ally after his assassination.
Even before the CPP was reestablished in 1968, Ninoy had maintained a certain amount of good relations with the old people’s army units headed by Bernabe Buscayno in Tarlac. Independently, I became friends with Ninoy in late 1967 through his young Senate aide Raul Roco who was then my neighbor in Sta, Mesa Heights. Ninoy had come to my house but I was not at home. Raul eventually brought me to Ninoy’s house in Times St. Ninoy and I exchanged ideas about the political situation. Cory served coffee.
I was then publicly known as chairman of Kabataang Makabayan, editor of Progressive Review and friend of most of the congressmen known as the Magnificent Seven opposed to the US war of aggression in Vietnam and the Philcag. Ninoy had no idea then that I and others were preparing for the reestablishmwent of the CPP and the founding of the NPA.
2. Would you recall why Ninoy sought you out for the first meeting? What did you talk about?
JMS Answer: Ninoy proposed that the two of us would make a hunger strike against the Marcos regime and make demands for reforms. I thanked Ninoy for the proposal but I declined because at that time I was extremely busy with labor, peasant and youth mass organizing. I did not tell him that I was kept most busy by the rectification movement within the old CPP against the Lava dynasty and the Taruc-Sumulong gangster clique and with the rebuilding of the CPP.
3. Below is an excerpt from a telegram sent by the US Embassy in the Philippines to the State Department. It is dated September 18, 1972. Would it be possible for you to react to it?
“In private conversations with two Emboffs Sept 12, Senator Aquino said that on Sept 7 he had met with Sison and several other members of CPP/ML Central Committee in house in suburban Makati. At meeting, he was presented with proposal to join broad opposition front including part of Liberal Party, CPP/ML, and other radical groups. According to Aquino, this proposition was premature since situation had not yet reached that stage of deterioration which would prompt him to take such a move. He did, however, agree to provide CPP/ML with statement of program and principles on which he invited their comments with view of established basis for possible future cooperation. He did not, however, show Emboffs copy of paper or discuss its contents.”
JMS Answer: It was Julius Fortuna (not me) who met Ninoy Aquino in the house of a big businessman (whose daughter was an activist) and who represented the NDF Preparatory Commission, the CPP and NPA and in effect or in a manner of speaking me. I did not meet Ninoy but it is highly probable that Julius told him that I sent Julius to him. Up to now, I do not understand why Ninoy told Enrile and others that I met him. I could only surmise that it was his way of stressing the importance of the meeting. Indeed, Julius discussed with Ninoy how to make a broad united front more effective against the Marcos regime.
4. I interviewed Rudy Salas and he claims that it was Aquino who introduced you to Dante. Is Salas correct?
JMS Answer: Rudy Salas was not in a position to know the details of my communications with Dante. It was Arthur Garcia who was closely assisting me. Ninoy did not introduce me to Dante.
5.Why did Yap help you arrange the trip to Tarlac? Was this because of a request from Ninoy?
It was Arthur Garcia. It was Rep. Jose V. Yap who at one time helped to arrange my trip to his province. The stories about Ninoy introducing me to Dante revolve around the trip arranged by Yap.
JMS Answer: Not because of a request from Ninoy. But because of a request directly from Dante (Bernabe Buscayno) to Mang Apeng Yap and I agreed through Arthur Garcia. You must understand that Mang Apeng has his own weight in dealing with progressives. He comes from a traditionally Huk town (Victoria, Tarlac) and has relatives who belonged to the old movement.
6. I would just like to know how Arthur Garcia knew Dante. Also, did Aquino provide any material support to the movement? Did he help finance or arm the NPA?
JMS Answer: Dante himself was interested in contacting me and the KM. He was happy when Arthur Garcia made contact with him through some activists in Tarlac. I did not have any direct contact with Ninoy Aquino regarding any material support from him. I can only cite his public statements directly or indirecttly supportive of the people’s resistance to Marcos. I cannot offer to you anyone who might have some direct personal kowledge regarding any material support from Aquino.
7. Salas claims that Aquino helped open up the Isabela region to the NPA via his connection with Faustino Dy. Is this a claim you can confirm?
JMS Answer: At that time Faustino Dy was indeed pro-Ninoy against Marcos. But it was not Ninoy who introduced the NPA to then Cauayan mayor Dy. It was Ka Ruben Tuason, a peasant leader and member of the CPP Central Committee, who introduced the NPA to Dy. Ruben and Dy had been boyhood friends in Tarlac. Prior to the introduction of the NPA to Dy, the CPP had already deployed a team of cadres headed by Ka Eddie Layug to do expansion work initially among the ex-Huks in the NARRA and forest region of Isabela. I had the honor of giving political education to the said team of cadres in Tarlac before it was dispatched to Isabela.
8. In my fieldwork in Hacienda Luisita, residents told me that the hacienda served as a safe haven for NPA troops in the 1970s. Can you confirm this? If it is true, did Aquino play a role in opening up Luisita? JMS Answer: Hacienda Luisita is a big place of several thousands of hectares. It was an area of mass work by the NPA. The peasants and farm workers welcomed the NPA. Ninoy did not have to open the place for the NPA. But certainly it was helpful that Ninoy was not known to be hostile to the NPA. His local loyalists did not run to the military to report the presence of the NPA