Q and A with Jorge Madlos: “We were wrong in our political line”

2nd of three parts

NDF Mindanao spokesperson Jorge Madlos, a.k.a. Ka Oris. Mindanews File Photo by Gigi BuenoSAN AGUSTIN, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/07 January) – Jorge Madlos aka Ka Oris explains what happened to the revolutionary movement between the first Aquino administration and the second Aquino presidency.

Q:        Where are we now in terms of, well, just before EDSA, the movement was very strong here in Mindanao. Then it fizzled, there was the great divide, etc.. If we compare it to the  1980s, where are we now? Or is it comparable?

A:        In the mid 1980s, it is true there was an upsurge because it was martial law then and there was a momentum among the people to oust the dictatorship.  Nakasabay ang revolutionary movement sa maong aspiration sa katawhan (The revolutionary movement shared the same aspirations of the people).

Q:        The same aspirations. I was asking you about the level from the 1980s

A:        The level reached in the 1980s was high. The NPA was strong, the mass movement was strong but underneath it, the ideas were not consolidated. We were a Marxist movement but our consciousness was very low. So many ideas came in – reformism within the party, modern revisionism, among which was the idea to shorten the protracted people’s war to win immediately. So we were misled by the upsurge. Some said, ‘this is it. This will continue’ so there was an urge to keep the pace faster, so there was a tendency for military adventurism. Grabe subsub ang banatan sa Sparrow sa syudad  [The Sparrow units  (the urban liquidation squad) launched major attacks in the city]. All these things which were not really reflective of the real strength. So military adventurism was short-term. It fizzled down immediately because that was not supposed to be done. The mass base should have been consolidated first.

Q:        There was no quality at that time

A:        There were even attacks that were not balanced politically correct or wrong, both in Davao. In short it was military adventurism that contributed to the downfall in the next half of the phase from 1985 to 1990. The movement collapsed with the (rise of the) Cory (Aquino) factor.   Here we were wrong in our political line which was military adventurism and urban insurrectionism. Because of that, the movement fizzled down, and when it did, it opened up a secondary problem: why did it collapse? Everyone was wondering why and wanted to know why. A reason was found but this led to what is now referred to as Kahos (Kampanyang Ahos). So we were thinking the failures in the (NPA) and the mass movement were because of Kahos but this was wrong. It was because we were wrong in not having consolidated the movement.

Q:        So it’s not really Kahos.

A:        It wasn’t Kahos.

Q:        Partly Kahos.

A:        Kahos was a big factor. Many cadres were missing or were killed. The damage was huge. We had the wrong line plus Kahos so our forces in Mindanao dropped to 50 to 60%.

Q:        That huge.

A:        Yes. That huge. Good enough, the CPP did a summing up. It was Jose Maria Sison who  pointed out that there is really something wrong with your political line so Sison forwarded papers saying you better review your Kahos, you better review everything, you better review your urban insurrectionism, partisan,  and all these things. Although Sison  is outside (the country), we found out that what he wrote is correct, what should be done. Although his role is only as consultant, it was he who pointed out what is to be done. So the rectification movement suggested by Joma was launched in 1992-1993. In Mindanao it was April 1993. Nationwide it was in 1992. In Mindanao, the rectification movement started formally in April 1993. Since then, the movement continued to drop.

Q:        So when did it bounce back? When did it peak?

A:        When Estrada was ousted.

Q:        Arroyo time.

A:        After Erap’s downfall, came Arroyo. The movement started to pick up. When it wasstarting to go up, Arroyo’s popularity was going down. Our return was co-terminus with Arroyo’s OBL (Oplan Bantay Laya). When OBL started, that was also when we started to peak.

Q:        Because of OBL

A:        Of course it’s not the biggest factor. The biggest factor was we were already following the correct line. So since our line was corrected, it took us almost a decade

Q:        You lost so many people

A:        The damage was 70%. In regions with forces numbering 1,000, only 200 were left. It was              not because the enemy was good, it was because we were bad.  Something was wrong with us .
Q:        What year was this?

A:        2001. Since then, the movement was going up. As the OBL was intensifying, the movement was also intensifying. Five to six years of the Arroyo administration, we were picking up as the OBL was picking up. They even launched the 2nd OBl which was even more brutal.  The NPA became even stronger.

Q:        We’re now in 2010. We have just gotten rid of the unpopular president, we’re supposed to have a highly popular president, another Aquino, the peace talks will resume, there is already a date, on February 15 to 17. Are you optimistic about these developments?

A:        The so-called popularity of the Aquino government is relative. Of course nobody can say it will surpass the popularity of Cory (Aquino, mother of incumbent President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino, who was also President, from 1986 to 1992) despite the many justifications behind the survey because it was the Cory period where the Marcos regime collapsed. Nobody can refute that. That Aquino regime (post-Marcos) was the most popular. Noynoy is just borrowing the popularity from his father and mother. I would say if the mother Aquino failed to solve the problem that we are inheriting now, it almost follows that Noynoy cannot solve this problem. It doesn’t mean that we are not willing to talk with him because he cannot solve this problem. We have to because as a revolutionary movement, we have to exhaust all means if only to give solution to our problems but a revolutionary movement has always to be cautious so it’s nice (not to be)  over optimistic about it but we should not be also pessimistic about these things. We have to view this in a balanced way. Okay, let’s give peace a chance, let’s give a peaceful solution a chance and a reasonable way so in spite of that, we say Noynoy is  just a product of Cory who also failed to address the basic problem. How much more a son? Yet, let us try to talk about these things.

Q:        Is there a 2010 estimate already of the armed strength in Mindanao?

A:        We have 42 fronts now from 39 last year.

Q:        Before EDSA, how many fronts were there?

A:        There’s more now than before EDSA.

Q:        Where are these 42 fronts now?

A:        All over Mindanao.

Q:        Including ARMM?

A:        Except Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur. Cotabato areas we have.

(Tomorrow: “We can stop them only to a certain degree”)

First Part: “This is where I am happy, this is where I belong”