Tribute to Jose Maria Sison (1939-2022)

ILPS in Canada pays its highest respect to Jose Maria Sison as he passed away on December 16th, 8:40pm Philippine time at the age of 83. Joma, as he was often called, was a writer, poet and a revolutionary in every sense of the word. His dedication to the Filipino people and the toiling masses worldwide will continue to inspire all those who will continue to fight in his honour for a world free from imperialism and all reaction!

Joma’s contributions to the world proletarian movement are many. In 1968, he founded the Communist Party of the Philippines after a long struggle against the old party and revisionism. His 1971 work, Philippine Society and Revolution, applied historical materialism to the conditions of the Philippines, provided an analysis of its semi-feudal and semi-colonial conditions, and provided a roadmap towards the liberation of the Filipino people from US imperialism.

Joma was also a staunch proletarian internationalist and recognized the need to rebuild the peoples’ global movement against imperialism, after the restoration of capitalism in some former socialist countries. In 2001, he helped found the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, sitting as its chairperson from 2004-2019. Joma frequently delivered solidarity messages to organizations in the ILPS in Canada in his capacity as ILPS Chairperson, which contained insightful comments about the world situation and the tasks of the people’s movements.

His life as a revolutionary did not come without a cost. He was imprisoned in 1977 by the fascist dictator Ferdinand Marcos for 9 years from 1978 – 1986. During this time he did not relent in his pursuit of a transformed Philippine society. He continued to write and agitate while in prison, smuggling his works and essays to the outside. Upon his release he had his passport revoked and was exiled from his homeland in 1988 to the Netherlands.

Later in his life, in 2002, the US, Canadian, and EU government tagged Joma as a “terrorist”, and there was an international campaign, including participation from Canadian organizations, to defend the rights of Joma. While Joma was able to challenge these trumped-up charges in the EU after a long struggle, he was never able to travel outside of the Netherlands. Furthermore, Joma is only one of many revolutionaries and strugglers continue to be targeted by baseless charges of “terrorism” for their unrelenting advocacy for the oppressed.

Yet his connection to the Philippines and the Filipino masses was resolute. For decades he was the chief political consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in peace talks negotiations with the Philippines State. In this role, Joma was uncompromising in his advocacy to legitimize the ongoing armed struggle in the Philippines as a necessity for real and comprehensive changes to Philippine society.

His life’s work, his unwavering love for the Filipino people, and his devotion to the working peoples of the world will continue to reverberate among all those struggling for justice and liberation. Mabuhay Ka Joma! Ka Joma Lives ! 

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