Saturday, February 25, 2017

F Sionil Jose, National Artist for Literature on Duterte and the new 'Philippine Revolution'


National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose, 91 years old, has lived through 15 Philippines presidents, from Manuel Quezon to Rodrigo Duterte. 

His novels, which have been translated into more than 20 languages, are about class struggles in the country. 
He’s never met Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, but believes the former Davao mayor can do great things for the country.
We visited him recently at his bookshop, Solidaridad in Ermita, Manila, and asked him what he thinks about the current state of politics in his country.
What makes Rodrigo Duterte special?
If you study our politics very well and our history, all these years government has been manipulated by wealthy Filipinos, see. And remember this is the first politician that does not have “the open support of the oligarchy”. If you were present at that State of the Nation Address, remember he pointed to all those politicians, I owe nothing from you. So keep that in mind, this is the first non-oligarchic president.
Are these exciting times for the Philippines?
I believe this is the beginning of a Philippine revolution. Now, you go back into our history and much of our problems are due to the fact that we have been colonized. The colonization, first by the Spanish, and then the Americans, and then the Japanese. And now we are colonized by our own elite. All these auguries were already evident in 1896.
Is it right for Duterte to make his war against drugs a priority?
It’s not so much prioritizing. It looks as if he has prioritized it but if you look carefully at what is happening. First, he wants to establish peace conditions. The Communist rebellion has become irrelevant. The problem in the South is more dangerous. So that is why immediately upon assuming power, he initiated peace negotiations with both groups. Because you cannot develop without peace in the country, and that peace has also been disturbed so much by criminality, and much of that induced by drugs.
When will this “revolution” be over?
This is not going to be done in two or three years. Just look back. The Vietnamese revolution took how many years? The Chinese revolution started in the 1920s, you see. The French revolution, maybe a shorter period. But almost all of them take years, maybe one generation.
So you think Duterte shouldn’t stop his war against drugs?
He should not stop. What should be done is see to it that this so-called collateral damage is diminished. Yan ang malungkot eh, if something happens to him, he dies or assassinated, then you put the revolution on hold. At naumpisahan na, sayang, ituloy na yan.
 What’s your advice to his non-supporters?
The first thing they should do is to recognize that the revolution has started, and the second thing they should do is recognize that that revolution is long in coming and that it is a necessity.  - Read full story on CoconutsManila

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