Communist Party and Plaza Miranda

Jose Maria Sison | Founding Chairperson | Communist Party of the Philippines
January 26, 2021
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(This article was written by Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and now in exile in the Netherlands, as his reply to allegations that as party leader, he ordered the bombing of the Liberal Party miting de avance at Plaza Miranda on Aug. 21, 1971. The allelgation was made by Gregg Jones, correspondent of the US News and World Report, in his book The Red Revolution. – Ed) by Jose Maria Sison, late 1989

Time and again the Communist Party of the Philippines has vigorously condemned 4the Plaza Miranda bombing of August 21, 1971 and has denied having anything to do with it despite malicious efforts of the Marcos regime to put the blame on the aforesaid Party and thereby rationalize the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 and subsequently the imposition of martial rule in 1972.

The Marcos regime could not build a case even by artifice against the Communist Party of the Philippines and Benigno S. Aquino Jr. despite the regime’s tremendous and unlimited power under martial law.

When I was presented to Marcos by my military captors in 1977, he insinuated that I could get out of prison by cooperating with him and denouncing Benigno S. Aquino Jr. and a Tarlac unit of the New People’s Army as responsible for the Plaza Miranda bombing. When I was under torture and in protracted solitary confinement, the most repeated questions and suggestions of my military interrogators were those calculated to make me and the CPP own the blame for the atrocity.

Neither Marcos nor the military tortures could force me into making false testimony. There was simply no evidence against Aquino or anyone in the CPP. Neither Aquino nor any of the detained members of the Central Committee could be coerced or cajoled into making any false testimony that would sound credible.

The CPP is a highly principled revolutionary organization and decides policies and major actions through collectives. Not even the CPP chairman can decide and act on a major matter outside the Executive Committee, the Political Bureau and the Central Committee.

As a matter of principle and procedure, he cannot give orders to physically attack allies. He cannot avoid either the authority or the scrutiny of the central collectives to which he belongs as well as that of the lower collectives responsible for the personnel to be ordered to do anything of major significance or consequence.

As some people have surmised, it might be that the Senate investigation ordered by Senate President Jovito Salonga is calculated to damn Ninoy Aquino and his wife and retaliate against the expose’ of Operation Big Bird.

But I think that the US is on top of the Aquino, Salonga and Marcos factions and that this foreign power is hell-bent on discrediting and destroying the Communist Party and myself; and is trying to harmonize these factions along the pro-US, anticommunist line, notwithstanding their rivalries.

It is ny view that the US is behind all the efforts to try and condemn me by publicity and to set me up for the kill. First, the character assassination and then the physical assassination.

We should not miss the point that it is Gregg Jones’ anticommunist book that has resumed the campaign of vilification against the CPP and myself regarding the Plaza Miranda bombing.

This book was played up as something backed with “impressive evidence and logic” and its author was described as a “journalist who was driven to go to the bottom of things,” by Amado Doronilla, columnist and editor of the Manila Chronicle, at the top of the front page for four days.

In fact, the book does not offer a single shred of evidence. All the identified, identifiable and unidentified “sources of information” engage in hearsay and make speculations and extrapolations from disparate circumstances.

Anyone builds a story on a series of hearsay, too many unidentified sources and sheer biases of his own and those of others cannot be a good journalist.

Gregg Jones claims that his sources of information have lost their fear of talking about the Plaza Miranda bombing and are holding me and other CPP leaders responsible for it. And he uses the foul trick of referring to these sources as “several former top CPP officials”, “one founding Communist Party Central Committee member”, “several senior CPP officials,” “a few young Party officials,” some of the CPP Politburo members” and “six former ranking CPP officials – including four former Central Committee members …” so as to create the impression that quite a number of high-ranking CPP cadres were falling one on top the other to “confess” to him and incriminate me and the CPP.

But a close reading and analysis of the footnotes in Chapters 5 and 6 (dealing with the Plaza Miranda bombing and the experience of some Filipinos in China) show that Gregg Jones had only six favorite sources of hearsay and multiple hearsay to build his theory that the CPP and I were responsible for the Plaza Miranda bombing.

He tries to swindle not only the readers but also his “sources of information.” Sometimes, he pretends to conceal their identity but at other times in either the chapter text or footnotes he reveals them explicitly or implicitly.

Let us take these “sources of information” one by one.

1. Victor Corpus. In his letter to Pete Lacaba in 1986, Corpus said categorically that he was present in the alleged planning of the Plaza Miranda bombing. Let me quote him directly, “I was present when some leaders of the Party headed by Joma plotted the bombing of the Liberal Party (LP) rally at Plaza Miranda.”

Jones accepts this claim to be true. But at the same time, in referring to the same alleged occasion Corpus points to as the one where the Plaza Miranda bombing was planned, Jones is caught in self-contradiction and unwittingly exposes Corpus as a liar by stating:

But Sison never spelled out explicitly to his colleagues how he planned to provoke Marcos. Only later, after the Plaza Miranda bombing, did the rebel leaders in the Isabela camp understand that Sison had proposed an act of “mass violence.”

How could there have been “planning” as claimed by Corpus if “Sison never spelled out how he planned to provoke Marcos”? How could Corpus be present in any top level planning by the CPP Central Committee or any smaller organ of the CC about something outside of his jurisdiction? In early 1971 he had just come from the enemy side and had only recently tried to prove himself with the raid on the PMA armory?

Corpus merely extrapolated the notion that the CPP must have had something to do with the Plaza Miranda bombing from the fact that it is CPP policy to take advantage of the crisis of the ruling system and the splits among the reactionaries. This policy does not mean committing terrorist acts of intrigue at the expense of actual or potential allies or even at the expense of diehard enemies.

The linkage between Corpus’ betrayal of the revolutionary movement through his false testimony and his acquisition of the rank of lieutenant colonel, his New Alabang Hills house and lot, his car and other new possessions is easier to prove.

On his own, Jones makes the claim that several months in advance I met with three other persons to plan the Plaza Miranda bombing. The claim is automatically recognizable as false and as hearsay because Jones states in his footnote that he got the information from someone who had not been present in the alleged meeting but who had earlier been told by someone who had attended the meeting. It is also ridiculous that Jones gives my alleged co-conspirators and me the powers of clairvoyance and bilocation. The alleged conspirators were in different places at the time cited.

2. Ariel Almendral. He claims to have been the defense counsel of Danilo Cordero, when the latter was tried for mutiny in 1972; and to have heard Cordero and two others before and during the military court trial reveal that they were responsible for throwing grenades at the LP Plaza Miranda miting de avance or rally.

Any lawyer, any responsible journalist or any layman with a sense of law can immediately recognize the claims of Almendral as pure hearsay. Worse, Almendral tries to speak for the dead. This cannot be permitted. It is a principle of law that no one can act as the speaking medium of the dead.

This principle of law is both to protect the living and the memory of the dead. If this principle is violated and is not upheld, who is going to stop anyone from claiming, for example, that Ninoy Aquino conspired with communists in the Plaza Miranda bombing or even in his own assassination.

At any rate, according to reliable reports, Danilo Cordero was tried and convicted for mutiny and conspiring to disarm and arrest the CPP and NPA regional leadership in 1972. In the earlier course of the trial, he attacked the regional leadership and even the CPP Central Committee. Then, when he was pinned down on the specific case against him, he desperately tried to impress the jury that he was in the confidence of the CC by spinning his yarn about the Plaza Miranda bombing. Just before his execution, he retracted his story. This is what Corpus and Almendral deliberately exclude.

The two other persons who were supposed to be Manila colleagues of Cordero died as martyrs in military encounters with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

3. Ruben Guevarra. Not even while he was under military detention, from 1981 onwards, could the Marcos regime and the military get from him any testimony that could amount to evidence. Like Almendral, he has been reported to be making mere hearsay since his capture.

In a footnote, Jones himself implies that he never saw the so-called voluminous statement that Guevarra was supposed to have made while under military detention. He notes, “in addition to interviewing Guevarra, the author interviewed a senior military officer who read the statement, May 18, 1988.”

Guevarra was not brought before any military commission for a long time (more than one year) after his capture. As soon as he was presented before Military Commission No. 25, he secured the services of Atty. Mariano Sarmiento and through him as counsel protested among others his illegal detention and previous deprivation counsel and right to speedy trial.

In other words, Marcos and the military had all the chances to extract from him whatever they wanted. But obviously, whatever statement he made, if any, could not amount to evidence. Marcos and the military could not successfully invent a case against others about the Plaza Miranda bombing.

4. Ricardo Malay. Jones pretends to conceal Malay’s identity at so many points in both chapter text and footnotes but names him on one footnote and points to him through the subject matter and the dates of interview in April 1988 in Holland and November 1988 in the Philippines. He is identifiable from both the text and the footnotes of Chapter 5 and 6. In fact, Jones fails to conceal Malay as the starting point and main source of derogatory claims against Sison.

Malay is the one who allegedly supplied the hearsay upon hearsay supposedly from Ibarra Tubianosa about CPP responsibility for the Plaza Miranda bombing. He is supposed to have claimed that Tubianosa had advance knowledge of the Plaza Miranda bombing as early as July 1971.

Malay is also made to appear as the one who talked the most about the experience of some Filipinos in China and who provided the most information on ideas to bolster the speculative notion that the Plaza Miranda bombing had to be done in order to produce recruits who would carry the arms flowing from China.

People should know that Ricardo Malaya has an outlook and mental processes different from those of his relatives who have distinguished themselves in the national democratic struggle. He blames Filipino and Chinese communists for his personal misfortunes.

5. Ibarra Tubianosa. Jones makes him appear as his informant about Filipinos in China. However, in a footnote, Tubianosa is reported as having refused to confirm that he had made the hearsay regarding the Plaza Miranda bombing supposedly adduced to him by Malay. Let me quote the footnote:

When I talked to Tubianosa 14 years later, he almost used the same words, though not naming Sison. “Whoever did that bombing was a madman,” he glowered.

The CPP had earlier denounced Marcos as the mad bomber. The CPP leadership’s conviction that Marcos was the culprit stemmed from the fact that he and his confidants clearly fabricated the so-called July-August Plan “to create regional chaos” and yet they were trying to make the CPP the scapegoat for all the bombings in Metro Manila.

Incidentally, Jones by the clause “when I talked to Tubianosa 14 years later,” seeks to indicate that Tubianosa has been his source of information on the CPP and China since 1985. This is patent lie and a clumsy attempt to conceal Ricardo Malay as his source. As far as I know, Tubianosa returned to the Philippines only in 1886.

The revelations of Primitivo Mijares in his book Conjugal Dictatorship the the seventies and the public admission of then defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile during the 1986 EDSA uprising would repeatedly confirm that Marcos was the mastermind of the Metro Manila bombings in 1971 and 1972.

The foregoing alleged sources of Gregg Jones are supposed to be his best. Their statements, however, amount to nothing but hearsay and slander when these are subjected to the rules of evidence.

By a reportage of anecdotes, Jones seeks at crucial points to caricature and malign the principal leaders and organizations of the revolutionary movement.

Sison in the principal target. Jones’ line of presentation is the following: Here is Sison, advocate of protracted people’s war, but who in fact seeks to win victory in the revolution in jiffy or by “quantum leap” through an artifice of a bombing – the Plaza Miranda bombing – and through foreign supplies of arms. And then Jones gathers hearsay, gossips and speculations to support the thesis.

For the edification of all and sundry, the CPP seeks to win the revolution by arousing the broad masses of the Filipino people along the national democratic line; organizing them into aboveground and underground mass organization, broad alliances and organs of political power; and mobilizing them into campaigns for basic reforms for their own total liberation against the US and the local exploiting classes.

There is never any need for the CPP to initiate any crime like the Plaza Miranda bombing in order to be able to recruit more people for the armed revolution. The oppressed and exploited workers and peasants are exceedingly numerous and ever eager to take up arms.

Their ranks are always far more than the number of arms that can either be seized from the enemy or imported from abroad. Anyone who has revolutionary work among the workers and peasants knows that availability of recruits for the New People’s Army is never a problem.

There is never any need for the CPP to initiate a crime like the PLaza Miranda bombing in order to take advantage of the contradictions among the reactionaries. The crisis of the system and Marcos’ propensity for violence and greed produced the horrible events, from the Plaza Miranda bombing to the assassination of Aquino.

The fantastic notion that China is the geographic rear of the Philippines cannot be reasonably adduced to me. One does not have to read Specific Characteristics of People’s War in the Philippines to recognize that the Philippines is archipelagic, has no common land borders with any socialist country and must be self-reliant. Jones overestimates the value of foreign assistance and then blames a straw figure for this overestimation.

Let us now shift our attention the other detractors who take advantage of the Jones book. If General Ramos and the AFP think that there is a case against the CPP and myself, they should go to court right away. After all, under Marcos and Aquino, they have had more than eighteen years to build a case, if any. The military has failed to file any charge despite repeated announcements that it will do so and that it is still convincing witnesses to make a case.

But what they are doing on behalf of the United States and in furtherance of Ramos’ own presidential ambitions is to recycle the same old lies dished out by Marcos and the hearsay of military agents, renegades and cranks in order to split the Aquino and Salonga factions, ameliorate the image of Marcos and Ramos’ own Marcoist background and singlemindedly attack the CPP and myself through propaganda channels.

General Ramos himself should be investigated for his probable complicity in Oplan Double Strike and Oplan Sagittarius which were exposed by Ninoy Aquino.

If the Philippine Senate is not careful, it can get enmeshed in and carried away by a complex US scheme to upgrade General Ramos and downgrade both the Aquino and Salonga factions, prettify both the past record and prospect of martial rule, discredit the CPP and myself and further ensure the perpetuation of the US military bases in our country through the rise of General Ramos to the presidency.

There are more credible theories concerning the Plaza Miranda bombing. The most credible of these involves culpability of Marcos and his military accomplices, including Ramos. But the US and some local reactionary forces are determined to focus on a baseless theory against the CPP and myself.

I have urged my lawyers, Attys. Romeo Capulong and Arno Sanidad, to defend my rights and oppose the malicious claims being made against me before any congressional body or court or any other venue. All efforts need to be exerted in order to prevent the congressional hearings from becoming a fishing expedition and a means of trial by publicity

My absence from the Philippines is being taken advantage of by the US and the military which in the first place have been responsible for the cancellation of my Philippine passport, my ceaseless persecution and the continuing threat to my life.

I wish that I could be in the Philippines, without the threat of being murdered like Lando Olalia, Lean Alejandro, in order to make my own declaration and defend myself. But even if a safe conduct pass were offered to me by the Philippine Congress or any part of it, there is really no guarantee of protection for me because of the complexity of the factional strife within the elite and the informal ways of the mercenaries of the United States within the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

I have already requested my lawyers to consider the following courses of action and act accordingly.

1. Represent me in the congressional hearings which are supposed to investigate the Plaza Miranda bombing, defend my rights, oppose any trial by publicity and any claim based on lies and hearsay and demand the termination of the hearings relative to me upon failure by the military and other detractors to put forward genuine witnesses and evidence.

2. Challenge the military or any of my accusers to go to court and, if they do not, then they can go to court in my behalf in order to stop the trial by publicity, if possible.

3. Ask the congressional body to allow a foreign lawyer of mine to join them in representing me to defend my rights and see to it that due process is adhered to. His main concern will be to defend my rights under international law. There is obviously a US-Ramos maneuver to force my exclusion from the coverage of the Geneva convention concerning political asylum.

4. Propose to the congressional body that if it wishes to hear me directly, then it can authorize some of its members to meet me in a neutral place in the Netherlands or Switzerland in the presence of my Philippine and foreign lawyers.

5. Demand that a fair hearing be made before an appropriate body of the United Nations or any other international forum should it become clear that there is absolutely no due process for me in the ruling system.

6. Ask the congressional body to investigate the public admissions of Enrile during the EDSA uprising and the earlier revelations of the late Primitivo Mijares; and the findings and claims of the late Benigno Aquino, Raymond Bonner, the former Mayor Ramon Bagatsing and Col. Felicisimo Lazaro who certainly had more advantages in terms of time and resources for investigation than one sensationalist American news stringer or one posing as such more than seventeen years after the crime.

Communist Party and Plaza Miranda