A lot of stuff has been said about Filipino revolutionary, writer, poet and intellectual Jose Ma. Sison. There has been quite a number of disparaging remarks hurled against Joma and the movement he belongs to.
In the interest of fairness and accuracy, it is important to clarify some misconceptions about Joma.
1. JOMA IS LIVING THE LIFE IN THE NETHERLANDS – Heck no! The guy is a refugee and has been living simply, for the last two decades. He is poor based on European standards. What’s worse is that his bank account has been unjustly frozen by the Dutch government on the false allegations that he is a terrorist. Joma can’t even receive honorarium when he is invited to give lectures in Dutch universities. It’s not true that he is living comfortably in the Netherlands while his comrades are dying in the Philippines. A radio commentator once said that Joma’s apartment is luxurious and overlooks a lake or a pool. To those familiar with the Sison residence, that body of water being referred to as a a lake or a pool is actually a canal. The Sison apartment is small, modest by any standards. It is not by any stretch of the imagination a “mansion” as some quarters have claimed. None of these people claiming Joma’s luxurious lifestyle have actually any first hand knowledge of the dire living conditions faced by refugees in the Netherlands. The allegations of lavish living are simply unfair and unsubstantiated by facts.
2. JOMA SHOULD FACE TRIAL TO CLEAR HIS NAME- “Try him.” This was the battle cry of a prominent broadsheet. Says the paper, this is a chance for Joma to put to rest the allegations of incitement to murder. If militants want Gloria Arroyo to stand trial in an impeachment court, why can’t they ask the same with Joma? Well, there’s just one thing problematic with this assertion. Unlike Gloria Arroyo, the charges against Joma are not supported by hard evidence and are based on recycled allegations that have already been dismissed by the Supreme Court. To try Joma on the basis of these false allegations which the highest Philippine court has already discredited is tantamount to political persecution. That would not be serving interest of justice. That would be serving the interests of the fascists in the Philippine government.
3. JOMA SHOULD JUST GO HOME TO THE PHILIPPINES- More than anyone, it is Joma who wishes he could go home. Siya ang nangungulila sa sariling bayan. But there are stumbling blocks to his return. The Philippine government canceled his passport in the late 80’s. That’s what made him seek asylum in Europe. Furthermore, Joma is faced with serious threats to his life in the Philippines especially under the murderous Arroyo government which has been responsible for extrajudicial killings and abductions of activists. Lastly, Joma plays a vital role in the peace process and his being in the Netherlands facilitates that role. Previous regimes have not made it possible for Joma to return. There might have been an opportunity for him to come back had the peace process progressed in 1997-98 but this was not the case.
4. THE ARA MINA INCIDENT – Well this is indeed a cheap shot. Joma was invited to a party of Filipino migrants. Joma usually integrates with the Pinoy migrant community based in Holland so going to this affair wasn’t extraordinary. Ara Mina was there. Joma danced. Big deal! It was a Christmas Party. This is not like the drunken debauchery at the ISAFP Christmas Party last year reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Most of the intrigues sown against Joma are meant to confuse the public and to drive a wedge between the exiled leader and the progressive movement. Those insisting that Joma is living the life while his comrades are dying in the Philippines are thinking that this would cause demoralization among activists while demonizing Sision in the eyes of the public.
None of these allegations have dwelt on more substantial issues like human rights, the peace process and political persecution. Perhaps the accusers are simply afraid of going into the issues that matter. Perhaps they’re simply afraid of the truth.