Net closing on Sison

Philip Ferguson plf13 at
Mon Sep 16 15:10:46 MDT 2002

The US wants to close the dragnet around Sison
The Netherlands has closed his bank account and taken away his housing. What’s
next: extradition?

Bert De Belder, Solidaire, Workers’ Party of Belgium

With a single stroke, Jose Maria (Joma) Sison, a Philippine political refugee
in the Netherlands, is penniless and homeless. When he wanted to pay his bill
in the Albert Hein supermarket or for his dentist, he noted that his
bank account
was blocked. On the 12th
of September, he got a letter from the municipal government of Utrecht.
It was
a shock: the letter announced that his social benefits, including
housing, had
been stopped. These are all consequences of the latest “anti-terrorist” measures
of the Dutch government, issued on the request of the United States. Rumors
have it that the US may soon demand for the extradition of Sison. This combines
with an international smear campaign in the mass media against him and against
the entire Philippine revolutionary movement.

Phase 1: Demonizing the target

On August 20, the Dutch TV’s news program 2Vandaag (‘TV2 Today’) brought an
interview with Jose Maria Sison, as the US had just placed the Communist Party
of the Philippines (CPP) – of which Sison is the founding chairman – and the
New People’s Army (NPA) on its list of “terrorist organizations”, and
the Netherlands
had just blocked Sison’s bank account. The opening remark of journalist Jan
Peters Lohper: “Your hands are stained with blood”! While the voice off told
the audience about the NPA, images were shown of men in military uniform spraying
bullets on a poor farmer’s hut, and of dangerous looking, heavily armed and
hooded men. A stark manipulation, as anybody who knows the Philippines could
immediately tell that these were images of the government’s Armed Forces of
the Philippines and the paramilitary CAFGU’s!
Next you see the cover of Amnesty International’s Report 2002 . 2Vandaag goes
on to show a ‘quote’, complete with quotation marks, as if the NPA would have
a hit list of 345 people to be executed. A check on AI’s website and
with the
Asia Department of AI’s London headquarters learned that this ‘quote’
was a
pure fabrication!
Last month, a picture made the tour of the world’s newspapers. It showed
a girl
in Manila, holding a poster saying “Two faces of terror: Osama Bin Laden and
Jose Maria Sison”. The Belgian conservative paper La Libre Belgique, for one,
published the picture prominently (1). The message is clear: Sison
equals Bin
Laden, so it’s open season against him, no holds barred.
On September 16, the Manila weekly Newsbreak carried a long article against
the CPP, the NPA and Sison (2). The magazine uses the words of certain ‘dissidents’
who have turned their back on the revolutionary movement to suggest that the
United States could ask for Sison’s extradition. Because “the CPP-NPA
has repeatedly
threatened Americans with harm” and “the NPA has kidnapped foreigners”. The
article concludes: “Nothing precludes [the Netherlands] from extraditing him
to the US - should the Americans ask for him.”

Phase 2: Tightening the noose

On August 13, the Dutch government issued the ‘Sanctions ruling
terrorism 2002
III’ (3), directed at the New People’s Army/Communist Party of the Philippines
and at Jose Maria Sison. The objective: to make Sison’s life financially and
materially unbearable.
“All means belonging to [Sison] will be frozen. It is prohibited to undertake
financial services for or in favor of [him]”, according to Article 2. A couple
of days later, Sison’s personal bank account is already frozen. 
Jose Maria Sison has been an asylum seeker in the Netherlands for quite some
time. As a result of the Ruling on the Reception of Asylum Seekers, he gets
a monthly allowance for personal expenses, a social benefit for housing and
a health insurance. But in a letter dated September 10, the municipal government
of Utrecht ended all this abruptly, in application of the ‘Sanctions ruling
terrorism 2002 III’. “
“That means that you shall no longer receive an allowance for personal expenses
and you are no longer insured against illness and the financial consequences
of legal liability”, the letter explains dryly, and “you may therefore
no longer
make use of the apartment on Rooseveltlaan 778”. That’s where Joma Sison is
living with his wife Julie and his son Jasm. “We still have no solution for
the accommodation of the members of your family”, the letter continues.
In the
meantime, “we allow them to stay in the house that we had made available to
you”. So Joma is being expelled from his home, while his wife and son
can continue
to live there, but only as an exceptional and temporary ‘goodwill’ measure!

With the same generosity, the municipal government of Utrecht suggests that
Sison can challenge this decision before the minister of Finance on humanitarian
grounds, as provided for in the ‘Sanctions ruling terrorism 2002 III’. Joma
says on this matter: “Of course, there is the hypocritical provision
that I
can get these on ‘humanitarian grounds’ if I beg for mercy. If I were to ‘beg’
for the basic necessities of life on ‘humanitarian grounds’ under the terms
of the ‘Sanctions ruling terrorism 2002 III’, will I not be moving into the
trap of accepting the unjust premises and terms of the said ‘sanctions ruling’?
Are not the Dutch authorities violating my rights as a recognized political
refugee by trying to deprive me of the basic necessities of life, humiliating
and degrading me by compelling me to beg for these?”

Phase 3: Mounting a case

The (very limited) protection that Sison enjoys in the Netherlands as a political
refugee may be blown away completely if and when the United States would demand
his extradition. Currently, there is no criminal case against him in the US,
on the basis of which extradition would become a possibility. But things may
change. Coincidentally, the murder of US colonel James ‘Nick’ Rowe has been
rekindled lately. 
On April 21, 1989 – yes, more than 13 years ago! – an urban guerrilla squad
of the NPA shot Rowe in Manila. The man, a decorated Vietnam veteran,
was the
chief of the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group (JUSMAG) in Manila. This group
trained the Philippine armed forces in counterinsurgency and worked with the
CIA on a strategy to infiltrate the CPP and the NPA. Rowe appears to
have been
the control officer of those infiltrators. (4) 
Rowe is the highest US military officer to have been killed in the Philippines,
a feat that the United States can hardly stomach. With each negotiation
on the
release of political prisoners in the Philippines, the US embassy intervenes
to demand that the suspected perpetrators of the Rowe killing, Donato Continente
en Juanito Itaas, would certainly not be set free. The Rowe case may become
the pretext for the US to demand the extradition of Sison – although it remains
a mystery how a jobless professor and asylum seeker in the Netherlands could
ever be held accountable for that act. But of course, the ultimate objective
of the US is to finish a man who continues to play an important role as chief
political consultant to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines
– the
alliance of the Philippine revolutionary organizations – and as the
‘great old
man’ of the revolutionary movement. Indeed, the US has a deep disgust
for any
struggle for liberation, for this means, according to Joma Sison, “the liberation
of their imperialist exploitation”.

The Netherlands as a US puppet
On August 9, the US State Department designated the Communist Party of
the Philippines
and the New People’s Army as “foreign terrorist organizations” and implored
other governments to do the same. On August 12, the US Treasury
Department listed
the CPP, the NPA and Jose Maria Sison as “terrorists” whose assets must
be frozen.
On August 13 already, the Dutch authorities issued the ‘Sanctions ruling terrorism
2002 III’ (5). The Dutch government claims “the necessity to take prompt measures”
as a reason not to wait for “conclusions that will follow at the
European level”.
But by acting so fast, the governmental ruling contained several factual errors.
On August 23, the government already had to publish corrections
regarding the
place and date of birth of Sison! (6)
In the ‘Sanctions ruling terrorism 2002 III’ not a single word of motivation
can be found. Why to list the NPA, the CPP and Sison as “terrorists”?
Why freeze
their assets? No single reason is being given. Or is it just because the US
has asked so? In an explanation to the ruling the Dutch Foreign Minister de
Hoop Scheffer admits as much: Europe has to work “in close collaboration with
the United States”, and the names referred to for the freezing of assets “are
also on an ‘executive order’ issued by US president Bush on August 12, 2002”.
Apparently, this suffices as a reason...

Philippine Senator Loren Legarda praises Jose Maria Sison
“For more than three decades now, Jose Maria Sison and a very special breed
of Filipinos have pursued an extraordinary course that has shaped
post-war Philippine
politics and society in a fundamental way. One may not necessarily agree with
their alternative vision of Philippine society, but no one can doubt the integrity
of their patriotism or the depth of their commitment to help bring about
a more
just and a more humane society.” (7)

(1) August 17, p.9
(3) Staatscourant nr.153, August 13 
(4) James Neilson, in U.S. Veteran News and Report
(5) Staatscourant nr.153, August 13
(6) Staatscourant nr.161, August 23
August 25, 2002 Gathering of ‘Friends of Prof. Jose Maria Sison et al’, Executive
House, UP Diliman, Metro Manila, Philippines

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