Revolution #100, September 9, 2007

Philippine Revolutionary Arrested in The Netherlands

Free Jose Maria Sison!

On August 28, Philippine revolutionary Jose Maria Sison was arrested in The Netherlands for supposed “criminal” activities that took place in the Philippines while he was in exile in The Netherlands.

At the same time, Dutch police raided, kicked down doors, searched without warrants, and ransacked houses of other Filipinos living in The Netherlands, as well as the International Information Office of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

As news of Sison’s arrest spread, protests were called immediately in the Philippines, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, the United States, Australia, Belgium and other countries.

“Criminal” Charges on the Heels of a European Court Ruling Against Branding Sison a “Terrorist”

Jose Maria Sison was the chair at the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). He was imprisoned and tortured under the Marcos regime during the ’70s and ’80s.  After being released from prison but then hounded by the government of the Philippines, Sison has lived in the Netherlands for nearly two decades.  He is currently the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

In 1969, a revolutionary people’s war was launched in the Philippines under the leadership of the CPP. This struggle has involved hundreds of thousands of people at different times. The New People’s Army (NPA) is the revolutionary armed force fighting that war. The (NDFP) describes itself as “the revolutionary united front organization of the Philippine people fighting for national independence and for the democratic rights of the people.”

Sison's supporters have called the criminal charges trumped-up. A statement, “Free Jose Maria Sison,” from the International Committee Defend said that “The arrest of Professor Sison came after the Philippine Supreme Court dismissed several politically-motivated cases filed against him and several others. The case filed against him by the Dutch police [is] similarly politically motivated.” The statement added that “The Philippines, Dutch and U.S. are using judicial proceedings to put political pressure on the NDFP to surrender to the Manila government.”

U.S.-puppet regimes in the Philippines have hounded, persecuted, and tortured Jose Maria Sison for decades. As noted, under the fascist dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippine government subjected Sison to arbitrary detention from 1977 to 1986, and to physical and mental torture including waterboarding, beatings, more than five years of solitary confinement, prolonged deprivation of basic necessities as well as medical and dental care, and repeated death threats.

The arrest of Jose Maria Sison in The Netherlands on supposedly criminal charges follows closely on the heels of a ruling by the European Court of First Instance (ECFI) on July 11 of this year that overturned a decision by the Council of the European Union to maintain Sison’s classification as a “terrorist.” This earlier—and overturned—classification enabled the authorities to constantly harass Sison: to prevent him from working, to deprive him of social benefits to which he is legally entitled, to slander him, and to incite the public against him in a way that puts his physical integrity at great risk.

After the ruling by the ECFI overturning the designation of Sison as a terrorist, Luis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines cautioned that "The people must continue to be vigilant and militant in defense of the rights of Professor Jose Maria Sison because the U.S., Philippine and European authorities wish to keep him in their respective terrorist lists, despite the fact that he has never committed any act of terrorism in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world."

That turned out to be a prescient warning, as less than two months later the persecution of Sison took the form of criminal charges and his arrest on August 28.

The Hounding of Sison

After the fall of the hated Marcos dictatorship, the regime of Cory Aquino released Jose Maria Sison from military detention on March 5, 1986. Charges of subversion and rebellion against him were nullified through the dissolution of military commissions that served as organs of repression under Marcos. Sison joined the Asian Studies Center of the University of the Philippines in April 1986 as a professor and, in September 1986, he began a series of university lectures and solidarity speeches in Oceania, Asia, and Europe on the situation and prospects of the Philippines.

Philippine military authorities publicly attacked Professor Sison’s lectures and pressured the Aquino regime to cancel his Philippine passport. In September of 1988, Sison’s Philippine passport was canceled. He applied for political asylum in The Netherlands in October 1988. While Sison was in The Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Justice used false claims against him by the Philippine government as the basis for issuing a negative decision on his asylum application in July 1990.

In 1992, the highest Dutch administrative court annulled that decision. The court recognized Professor Sison as a political refugee and criticized the Ministry for using secret intelligence dossiers against him in contravention of the principle of fair administration and for delaying for more than four years the approval of his asylum application. (For a history of the persecution of Sison, see “Chronology of the Persecution of Prof. Jose Maria Sison by the Philippine, U.S. and Dutch Governments,” by the International DEFEND Committee, August 18, 2007, available online.)

Despite the ruling by the Dutch administrative court, authorities in The Netherlands have continued to harass Sison, refusing to allow him to work, and continuing to make his political activity, and his very survival, difficult. And now this has all gone to a new level, with these outrageous charges filed and the wholesale raids that went with them.

Revolution in the Philippines Is a Just Cause

The Philippines is a nation ravaged by imperialism. One form this takes is inhuman exploitation of millions of Philippine children. A study conducted in the late 1990s identified that more than one child in six, almost four million of twenty-two million children in the Philippines, toiled as child laborers. More than two million of these children worked in especially hazardous environments, including digging underground and hauling ore in the strategic and profitable copper, gold, chromite and nickel mining industries. (“Children in Small-scale Mining: Sibutad, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines,” by Dulce P. Estrella-Gust, included in the anthology Child labour in small-scale mining: Examples from Niger, Peru & Philippines, edited by Norman S. Jennings) Millions of other children in the Philippines work on pineapple, banana, rubber, and sugar plantations, as domestic servants, in manufacturing sweatshops, in the fishing industry, diving for pearls, and as laborers on the docks. 1.5 million children in the Philippines are homeless.

A succession of pro-U.S. puppet regimes has acted as comprador administrators for this kind of imperialist super-exploitation of the Philippines’ people and resources. Under the direction of the U.S. government, they have brutally and violently suppressed every protest and rebellion against these conditions. It is in this tradition that Kristie Kenney, the United States ambassador to the Philippines, invoked the so-called “war on terror” and the supposed safety of Americans in applauding the arrest of Sison. Even though the European Court had overturned the designation of Sison as a terrorist, Kenney told a Philippine newspaper, “As you know the United Nations, the European Union and the Philippines have all labeled the NPA a terrorist group…we work very hard to prevent terrorist groups from getting financing and all our citizens safe.” (Quoted in “Dutch envoy: There’s basis for Sison’s arrest,” by Alcuin Papa, Juliet Labog-Javellana, Cynthia Balana, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8/30/07).

The decades-long persecution of Jose Maria Sison, and his recent arrest in The Netherlands, are crimes orchestrated by U.S. imperialism and their Philippine puppets in the service of violently maintaining an oppressive and exploitive world-wide system of imperialism. It is aimed at the people’s right to resist this domination and, ultimately, to make revolution against an unbearably unjust and tyrannical system. Jose Maria Sison must be set free, and the U.S., Philippine, and Dutch governments must stop subjecting him to fascist attacks.

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