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'Come home, Joma'


MORE MEDIA THREATS – I got word that another media man in General Santos City, Boboy Mascardo, got threats after he emotionally delivered a eulogy at the funeral of the recently assassinated Publisher Chris Guarin a few days ago. A text message told him that he was so bold in that speech and he would be “next” (to be eliminated). Then the other night, a motorcycle parked in front of his house, joined by a tandem rider and then sped off when they were accosted.

I understand the PNP is now helping out. It’s revolting to see how the murderers still felt so bold to push their lucks too far. They are not cowering for fear of arrest. On the contrary, they are still in the prowl hoping to wipe out witnesses. What impunity! In the meantime, Boboy Mascardo continues to find ways and means to protect himself. He should be properly armed otherwise he’ll be a sitting duck.

I suggest the NBI should now come in and assist the police.

JOMA COMING HOME? - Some reports are starting to spread that Jose Ma. (Joma) Sison, the guru of the Communist Party of the Philippines who has been residing in Utrecht, the Netherlands is coming back to the Philippines. This is welcome news. This can only mean that there is some possible quiet “breakthrough” in the “off and on” peace talks between the CPP/NPA/NDF and the Philippine government.

I had visited Joma and the rest of the “exiles” in Europe many times during the years I was involved in the peace negotiations. Together with Luis Jalandoni, Fidel Agcaoili and the rest of their cohorts, Joma held sway (or so it seemed) over the last-remaining bastion of communism in this part of the world. I am sure all of them had been yearning to come home and live normal lives with their families in their own homeland.

What is holding them back from coming home, I suppose, are the unresolved issues surrounding the almost never-ending peace talks between the CPP/NPA/NDF and the Philippine government. Short of a final settlement, Joma himself will not want to return to the country, even though how much he yearns for it. Then there is the matter about the alleged dangers he has to face here at home due to past incidents reportedly attributed to him.

AN ENIGMA - The enigma that goes with Joma is an enigma in itself. From a young revolutionary to a still fiery (and wily, some say) but already aging fighter, he has kept the revolutionary fire burning even far from home. There are speculations that he has lost his grip on the controls of the organization and that home-based revolutionaries, like the Tiamsons, etc are the ones in the driver’s seat and in control of the domestic forces. Nonetheless, the Joma mystique continues to mystify everyone.

Joma is not the bloodhound or the terrorist many still believe he is. He is an ideologue (a demagogue to some). Bespectacled he has always been, he is good at the dance floor with his dancing shoes. His winsome disposition and easy smile veil his hard-line stance on certain principles and advocacies. During negotiations and when things got rough hitting an impasse, he came around and helped craft mutually acceptable language or arrangements that eventually moved things forward. Although he claimed he was merely a consultant, his interventions sealed some consensus points that were hard to come by were it not for him.

A LOT OF BULL...It’s a pity that such a man is still outside the mainstream and still doggedly continues with his “fight”. Despite how hard and seemingly insurmountable the odds are for him and his cohorts. But this report that he is coming home to a waiting position in the cabinet, to me, appears to be a lot of bull. Power-sharing, not the least of the CPP’s aspiration, in the guise of a cabinet position for Joma is ridiculous and preposterous.

This is spiced up by reports of the alleged “integration” into the AFP of NPAs. This is not workable. To be fielded as “forest protectors” or forest rangers are more like it for the NPAs -- assuming there is an imminent settlement. Any peace settlement must have as its component a demobilization program where the armed rebels shift from their “fighting” mode to a peaceful transition with some meaningful livelihood for them so they can start normalizing their lives with their families. This is easier said than done. But that’s the trajectory of every peace settlement.

But again, I am speaking in hypothetical terms because the peace talks are nowhere near this stage where discussions are on the end-game topic of demobilization, demilitarization and reintegration (DDR). We are still far from that. Hence all this recent talks are all hot air, if you ask me.

REALITY CHECK - For Joma to come home and visit the Philippines, even when talks are still moribund or are still in the doldrums is the best thing that can happen. Luis Jalandoni and wife, Connie had been shuttling here several times and there were positive vibes that came at their wake.

It’s always good to have one’s feet on the ground and for Joma, he had been away for so long that a look at the local scenario may bring wonders. It may also serve as a reality check for him.

Who knows! I suggest my friend Europe-resident former journalist Fidel Agcaoili does the same. So we can down together a few more SanMigs while he is here. And he can rejoin us and return to his love: being a journalist. As I have done myself now.i

By Jess Dureza

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