As a revolutionary thinker, he constantly studied, struggled, and linked theory and practice toward genuine higher learning, not for himself, but for all oppressed peoples across the world.
Asia Pacific Research Network joins people’s organizations, grassroots movements, and civil society groups across the world paying the highest tribute to the late educator, activist, and thinker Professor Jose Maria “Joma” Sison.
Known to many as Prof. Joma, he is a Filipino revolutionary and political theorist who has had a significant influence on social and political movements in the Philippines and beyond. He is best known as the founder and former chairperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party that has been active in the Philippines since 1968. He was instrumental in the establishment of social and political movements and organizations in the Philippines. This includes the National Democratic Front (NDF), a coalition of leftist organizations that seek to bring about political and social change in the country.
Prof. Joma’s analyses in the form of essays, statements, and books have provided activists, researchers, and progressives with the sharpest tools to dissect the roots of social problems.
His magnum opus, the Philippine Society and Revolution or PSR, provided Filipino activists and revolutionaries—from the dictatorship of Marcos Sr. onwards—the most critical outlook on economic, political, and social issues.
The ideas laid down in PSR have shaped Philippine politics since its first publication. But Joma did not only provide analysis but offered a process towards meaningful and progressive social change.
Professor E. San Juan Jr. has called the book Joma’s “signal accomplishment,” stating that only with PSR did “the Filipino masses finally acquire a counter-hegemonic voice, freeing the energies of its long-repressed incarnate Geist, and enabling the rekindling of revolutionary agency.”
His studies of Philippine society have not only been widely used to analyze the socioeconomic situation of the country but also the strategy and tactics to change the system. Prof. Joma’s ideas and activism have had a significant impact on the development of the Philippine Left and on social and political movements in the country. He has been an influential figure in the Philippine communist movement and has played a key role in shaping the ideology and strategies of the CPP and other left-wing groups in the country.
His ideas and activism have also had an impact beyond the Philippines, particularly in other countries in Asia. It inspired continuing social movements in Asia like India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nepal, and many others. He has been a leader in the international communist movement. He has been involved in building connections and cooperation between communist parties and progressive movements in different parts of the world.
Prof. Joma’s writings have been widely read and debated in Asia and beyond. Despite having detractors from both neoliberal apologists and right-wing groups, his significant influence on Asian society and politics is undeniable.
As a founding chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggles, he helped unite anti-imperialist movements, political parties, and mass organizations across the world to raise the banner of the struggle against global capitalist hegemony. Hence, he is revered by many revolutionary figures from different countries and political leanings.
Joma and the people’s right to liberation
Prof. Joma did not only analyze the problems and social ills of the Philippines and the world but professed socialism and equitable society. Most importantly, through theory and practice, he helped advance the people’s right to liberate themselves from fascism and imperialist aggression.
The right to liberation, also known as the right to self-determination, is the right of a people to determine their own political status and to freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development. This right is recognized in international law and is reflected in the United Nations Charter and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and specifically in the Algiers Declaration.
As a revolutionary, Prof. Joma is known for his strategic thinking and ability to mobilize and organize peoples towards a common goal. His contributions to the struggle for liberation have been wide-ranging, and have included efforts to promote social and economic equality, to challenge the political and economic dominance of elites, and to defend the rights of workers and other marginalized groups.
He has been credited with developing the “people’s war” strategy, which advocates for the use of guerrilla tactics to overthrow the government and establish a socialist state. For this, his contributions to the strategies for liberation have been recognized both nationally and internationally.
Prof. Joma considers the Universal Declaration on the Rights of the People adopted in Algiers in 1976 as a manifesto of great historic significance that continues to inspire movements all over the world. According to him, it remains relevant in “upholding, defending and advancing the equal right of all peoples to liberty.” Such right to liberation includes the right to free themselves from any foreign interference and to choose their own government, fight for their liberation, and the right to benefit from other peoples’ assistance in their struggle.
In essence, Prof. Joma defended the individual and collective rights that allow peoples to determine their own destiny. As a true internationalist, Joma called for the strengthening of ties of solidarity and resistance between the Filipino people and peoples all over the world.
An inspiration to researchers and activists
Prof. Joma, like many revolutionary thinkers, is one great example we can draw inspiration from. He constantly studied, struggled, and linked theory and practice toward genuine higher learning, not for himself, but for all oppressed peoples across the world.
Through his works, he did not only inspire but equipped movements with knowledge of how to radically examine socio-political and economic relations that perpetuate oppression.
To his death, Prof. Joma stayed true to the people’s aspirations and leading role in shaping society. This is the ultimate example to follow for researchers and activists: to gather, use, and develop knowledge for the people and link arms with them to advance the struggle for meaningful social change.#