The decision by a European court to remove Jose Maria Sison’s name from the EU’s terror list will remove restraints on his movement, allowing him, he said, to function properly as chief political consultant of the NDF. He said the delisting will have positive implications for the future of the negotiations.
By ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
MANILA — For Jose Maria Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines negotiating panel, the recent ruling by a European court removing his name from the European Union’s list of “foreign terrorists” is not simply a victory before a European court of law. It is, he said, also a victory against the United States and Philippine governments.
Sison has lived in exile in the Netherlands since 1987. As an asylum seeker, he was regularly receiving a small amount of money as social benefits. His inclusion in the EU list of “foreign terrorists” in 2002 led to the freezing of his social benefits, among other effects.
The Sept. 30 ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Court of First Instance annuls all decisions by the Council of the European Union that led to the freezing of his social benefits, not the least of which was his inclusion in the EU terrorist list.
“I have scored a significant victory and prevailed over the malicious intent and purposes of the US and Philippine governments,” Sison said in an e-mail interview with Bulatlat. “Together with the Dutch government, they were most responsible for putting me in the EU blacklist. They did so in order to demonize and stigmatize me personally as well as the entire national-democratic movement of the Filipino people,” he said.
“They also did so in order to put me and the entire NDFP negotiating panel under duress,” Sison said. “They had the malicious intent of pressuring the NDFP toward capitulation and pacification. They wanted to lay aside the people’s demand for basic social, economic and political reforms as the way to establish a just and lasting peace.”
The Philippines is the main US ally in Southeast Asia, while the Netherlands places second to the UK in being a major US ally in Europe. The US was the first to include the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) and Sison in its terrorist list. The Dutch government followed suit and it even supported the inclusion of Sison in the EU list in 2002.
Sison is the founding chairman of the CPP. He was the CPP’s highest-ranking leader 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 1988, he found himself having to apply for political asylum after the Aquino government canceled his passport while he was in Europe on a speaking tour. He has since lived in the Netherlands as an asylum seeker.
His application for refugee status was rejected thrice by the Dutch government on the ground that he directed the NPA, which was allegedly responsible for several “acts of terrorism” in the Philippines. The first two rulings refusing his application were annulled by two decisions of the Raad van State in 1992 and 1995, but the third one was upheld by a 1997 ruling of the Rechtbank.
In 2002, the CPP-NPA was included by the US Department of State in its list of “foreign terrorist organizations.” Sison was also listed as a “foreign terrorist.” The Dutch government listed the CPP-NPA and Sison in its own terror list a day after the US listing. The Council of the European Union followed suit later that year.