On August 28, Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), was arrested in The Netherlands by the Dutch police allegedly for two executions enacted by the New People’s Army half a globe away. Sison’s arrest also served as a pretext to raid his colleagues’ homes and the office of the National Democratic Front (NDF). Sison is accused of ordering the killings in 2003 and 2004 of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, ex-CPP leaders, who, according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, were gunned down in the Philippines, on Sison’s command.
Sison has denied any operational role with the New People’s Army rebels since leaving the Philippines in 1986, and calls himself a political consultant for the Dutch-based NDF of the Philippines, which has been involved in off-and-on peace negotiations for many years with Manila.
A staff member of the NDF’s negotiating team dismissed the allegations against Sison for the murders saying, “They are all fabricated charges.”
The New Patriotic Alliance, or Bayan, condemned the arrest of Sison and raids on his group’s offices as attacks on civil liberties. “This bodes ill for the peace process,” the group said. “The arrest was most probably undertaken with the knowledge and prodding of the (Gloria Macapagal) Arroyo government which is out to sabotage all hopes for peace talks.”
Gabriela Network (GABNet), the Philippine-US women’s solidarity mass organization, denounced the arrest as an extension of the Macapagal-Arroyo government’s policy of political repression of Filipinos working and living in countries abroad. GABNet characterized the arrest as yet another attempt by the Macapagal-Arroyo government, in cooperation and in subservience to imperialist globalization, to stifle the patriotic concerns of 10 million overseas Filipinos and solidarity allies of the Philippine people’s movement.
The Sison arrest is yet another example of the ongoing assault by the Arroyo regime on the people’s right to dissent and to organize. This assault has seen nearly a thousand men and women murdered; rebellion charges filed against members of Philippine Congress; and three NLG lawyers (among others on a “terrorist watchlist”) linked to the Taliban by the Philippine government.
The baseless accusations and now the arrest of the exiled founder of the CPP, Jose Maria Sison are just further evidence of trumped up war against those who challenge the Arroyo regime and reinforce the need to stop the repression now.
The NLG urges the Dutch government to free Jose Ma. Sison and drop all charges against this beloved people’s leader. We call on those in the U.S. to express their condemnation of the arrest and solidarity with the people’s movement in the Philippines by joining rallies, sending letters and faxes to the Dutch embassy and joining in the on-going discourse on the legality of the Dutch action in the context of international law and governance.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is a progressive bar association in the United States working in the service of the people. Its national office is headquartered in New York and it has chapters in nearly every state, as well as over 100 law school chapters. In 2006, NLG lawyers participated in a delegation of women lawyers to the Philippines, which produced the report Seeking Answers available at http://nlginternational.org/com/main.php?cid=9.