BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
August 29, 2007 – 2:27pm
MAKATI CITY — About a hundred activists belonging to various organizations under the banner of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) rallied here earlier today to protest the arrest of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant and International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) chairman Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht, The Netherlands yesterday.
Based on a statement issued by Sison’s lawyers in The Netherlands, Jan Fermon and Michel Pestman, he had reported to the Utrecht police 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. However, Fermon and Pestman said, Sison was whisked away — without the knowledge of the lawyer who accompanied him to the police station — to the National Penitentiary in Scheveningen, The Hague where he is now detained.
According to a statement released by the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office, Sison was arrested for ordering the killings of former Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) leaders Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Sison had been accused by the Philippine government also of ordering the killings — which were both owned up by the NPA — a few years back, but he has denied the accusations.
“Sison’s arrest is an obvious scheme to harass him and prevent him from speaking out against the Arroyo regime,” League of Filipino Students (LFS) chairman Vencer Crisostomo told reporters during the rally.
The NDFP leader’s arrest comes shortly after the Supreme Court’s dismissal of trumped-up rebellion charges against him and several other personalities in connection with the 2006 alleged “Left-Right conspiracy” to unseat the Arroyo administration. It also comes just barely over a month after the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance annulled Sison’s inclusion in the Council of the European Union’s “terrorist list” for lack of basis.
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).