SISON: ACTIONS VS NDFP PANELISTS COULD DESTROY PEACE TALKS
Even as he is still elated over his latest victory in the Dutch courts, NDFP chief political consultant and ILPS chairman Jose Maria Sison is calling on all supporters of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations to protest what he described as the “unjust actions” by the U.S., Philippine and Dutch governments.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Vol. VII, No. 35, October 7-13, 2007
Even as he is still elated over his latest victory in the Dutch courts, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant and International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) chairman Jose Maria Sison is calling on all supporters of the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP to protest what he described as the “unjust actions” by the U.S., Philippine and Dutch governments.
“The unjust actions already taken against me and the panelists, other consultants and staffers of the NDFP negotiating panel are meant by the U.S., Philippine and Dutch governments to put the NDFP Negotiating Panel under duress for the purpose of pressuring it or scuttling the entire peace negotiations,” Sison said in an e-mail interview with Bulatlat over the weekend. “The advocates of a just peace must take a stand and denounce the unjust actions and the malicious calculations behind these.”
Sison was referring to his arrest in Utrecht, the Netherlands on Aug. 28 for allegedly ordering the murders of former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) leaders Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara in the Philippines in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and the raids on the NDFP International Office and the houses of several NDFP consultants and staff.
Sison had reported to the Utrecht police station on Aug. 28 after receiving an invitation supposedly regarding new information on a complaint he filed way back in 2001. He was asked to go to a room where he was supposedly going to be asked a few questions.
But he was whisked away without the knowledge of the lawyer who was accompanying him at that time, and was subsequently hauled off to the Dutch National Penitentiary in Scheveningen, Den Haag where he was left to languish in solitary confinement for 17 days.
On the same day that Sison was arrested, the NDFP International Office was raided and its computers were taken. Dutch police also raided the homes of several NDFP consultants.
Sison was released last month from detention after the Rechtbank of Den Haag ruled, citing lack of evidence against him in the case on the Kintanar-Tabara deaths, that there was no cause to keep him further in pre-trial detention.
The Dutch Prosecutor’s Office promptly filed a petition before the Dutch Court of Appeals to have Sison placed back in pre-trial detention. On Oct. 3, the Dutch Court of Appeals threw out the appeal.
“The wording of the Decision is very interesting, even better than the Rechtbank’s,” said Michiel Pestman, Sison’s lawyer, in an e-mail message received by Bulatlat.
In its decision, a copy of which was also received by Bulatlat, the Dutch Court of Appeals stated that there is no direct evidence linking Sison to Kintanar and Tabara’s killings. It also questioned the reliability of the witnesses’ statements against Sison, stating that their declarations “contain a high degree of indefiniteness in time.”
The Dutch Court of Appeals likewise described the witnesses’ statements against Sison as “perhaps” having a “political context.” It stated that these declarations “cannot just simply be taken as reliable” considering the present “political constellation” in the Philippines.
“On top of that the Court expresses its doubt about Sison’s ability to fully exercise his right to cross-examine the Prosecution witnesses, which is an implicit reference to the human rights situation in the Philippines and the dangers faced there by Sison’s defense lawyers,” Pestman said.
Sison has repeatedly denied allegations that he had a hand in the killings of Kintanar and Tabara. The CPP-NPA leadership in the Philippines owned up to both killings, citing what it described as Kintanar and Tabara’s “crimes against the revolution.” He has in a statement described the Dutch Court of Appeals decision on his case as “a triumph of justice.”
He is optimistic that the charges against him in connection with the Kintanar-Tabara deaths will eventually dismissed.
“The charge cannot prosper because I have nothing to do with the deaths of the military and police agents Kintanar and Tabara as well as with the independent judicial process of the People’s Court in the Philippines,” Sison told Bulatlat. “Therefore there can never be any direct and sufficient evidence against me. Moreover the Kintanar and Tabara incidents are acts of rebellion according to the Philippine prosecution and acts of revolution according to the revolutionary forces.”
The killings of Kintanar and Tabara are included in the rebellion case filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) last year against Sison and more than 50 other personalities –- including Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Rep. Crispin Beltran –- in connection with an alleged “Left-Right conspiracy” to topple the Arroyo regime. This case was dismissed by the Supreme Court.
The CPP-NPA leadership in the Philippines, in a number of statements, described the killings of Kintanar and Tabara as “acts of revolution.”
His next legal move, Sison said, would be to build up his legal defense by cross-examining the witnesses against him through his counsel.
Sison is known as the founding chairman of the CPP. In 1968 he led a group that broke away from the leadership of the Lava brothers in the old Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) and re-established the CPP.
Under Sison’s leadership, the CPP rapidly gained strength and together with the NPA, its armed component, it developed into one of the strongest organized forces opposed to the U.S.-Marcos regime during the martial law years.
He was the CPP’s highest-ranking leader from its reestablishment until he was arrested by the Marcos dictatorship in 1977.
Released in 1986 by virtue of then President Corazon Aquino’s general amnesty proclamation for political prisoners, Sison got involved in a number of legal political activities and even delivered a series of lectures at his alma mater, the University of the Philippines (UP).
In 1987, he found himself having to apply for political asylum after the Aquino government cancelled his passport while he was in Europe on a speaking tour. He has since lived in the Netherlands as an asylum seeker.
In 2002, the CPP-NPA was included by the U.S. Department of State in its list of “foreign terrorist organizations.” Sison was likewise listed as a “foreign terrorist.” The Council of the European Union followed suit later that year.
On May 29 this year, the Council of the European Union decided to retain Sison in its “terrorist” list. This decision was annulled by a July 11 verdict of the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance (ECFI). Bulatlat