Carol Pagaduan-Araullo | Sweet Victory for Joma

Streetwise / Business World

Posted by Bulatlat

The International Committee to DEFEND Filipino progressives in Europe announced yesterday the second landmark decision of the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) on the terrorist listing of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, publicly-acknowledged leader of the revolutionary movement in the Philippines. The European Court annulled all decisions and a regulation of the Council of the European Union (EU) that had maintained Professor Sison in its so-called terrorist blacklist.

It is nothing short of sweet, unadulterated victory for Joma and his family, the world-wide network that championed his rights against the persecutory terrorist listing by the Council of the EU, the governments of the US, the Netherlands and other countries, and all who fight for national freedom and social liberation who have been unjustly and maliciously labeled as “terrorist.”

The ECFI decision’s immediate effect is to unfreeze Mr. Sison’s small personal account that has been misrepresented by the Philippine and Dutch governments as a conduit for international support to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) that he had founded. It also restores his freedom to engage in financial transactions. For starters, it will allow him to finally seek employment and earn a gainful living, a basic right denied him by the Dutch government since it refused to grant him asylum.

The court decision also provides solid backing for Joma’s legal moves to claim back the social payments for living allowance, housing, health insurance, and old-age pension which have been withdrawn from him since 2002 by the Dutch government, citing the EU Council’s blacklisting.

According to Dutch lead lawyer Jan Fermon, the removal of the Mr. Sison’s name from the blacklist is the essence of the ECFI judgment. Thourt found that the Council of the EU had unjustly maintained him in the so-called terrorist blacklist without any concrete evidence for any specific act of terrorism. The ECFI finding that there is no basis whatsoever for freezing Professor Sison’s accounts on the grounds of terrorism means he can no longer be maintained in the EU’s blacklist either for punitive or preventive reasons.

Specifically, the ECFI rejected the claim of the prosecution that judicial proceedings in the Netherlands, where Mr. Sison had applied for political asylum and a residence permit, were sufficient ground for his terrorist listing. To wit: “The Court finds that the procedures before the Raad van State and the Rechtbank clearly do not involve any ’conviction’ of Mr. Sison, nor do they amount to decisions to ‘instigat[e] … investigations or prosecut[e] for a terrorist act’. In fact, they were solely concerned with the review of the lawfulness of the decision of the Secretary of State for Justice refusing to grant him refugee status and a residence permit in the Netherlands. ”

The latest favorable ruling by the EU Court reinforces its July 11, 2007, annulment of the freezing of Prof. Sison’s funds “on the grounds that that decision had been taken in breach of the rights of defence, the obligation to state reasons and the right to effective judicial protection.”

Moreover, the ECFI recognized during the oral arguments the fact that the Dutch prosecution service, since March 2009, had already terminated its investigation into charges that Mr. Sison had ordered the killings of two former NPA commanders, for lack of evidence.

This decision was also in accord with earlier rulings by Dutch judicial authorities that found no probable cause against him and had ordered his release from detention while under investigation in September 2007.

According to DEFEND, “The termination of prosecution is relevant to the case before the European court. It shows the lack of concrete evidence for the allegation that Prof. Sison … is culpable for any violent act of the New People’s Army, despite the close collaboration of Dutch and Philippine political authorities for several years in trying to criminalize him.”

For seven long years, Joma has been unjustly punished by his being listed as a “terrorist.” He was prohibited from having legal residence, earning an income, receiving a living allowance, holding a house, having sufficient insurance coverage, receiving old-age pension, and traveling freely.

By this victory, Professor Sison and his lawyers have shown how it is possible to turn the tables on the political clout and legal machinery of the EU and The Netherlands, with the backing of the US, that was ranged against a revolutionary leader they had singled out for persecution and neutralization.

Joma and his defenders have prevailed by invoking basic human rights as enshrined even in the liberal bourgeois constitutions and other statutes of the EU and individual countries.

Joma’s legal victory must be celebrated by all freedom-loving peoples and be the occasion for renewed efforts to demand that the Dutch government and Council of the EU stop being a party to false charges against him and being complicit with the Philippine and US governments in his political persecution. (Business World / Posted by Bulatlat)

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