Prof. Jose Maria Sison has a well-grounded fear of persecution

By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Chairperson, NDFP Negotiating Panel

It is outrageous for the GRP delegation consisting of Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo, Presidential Chief of Staff Norberto Gonzales and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles to declare that Prof. Jose Maria Sison "need not fear political persecution in the Philippines".

GRP President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Foreign Secretary Romulo know fully well that Mr. Norberto Gonzales recently proposed the assassination of Prof. Sison at a high level meeting on security and argued that such assassination would put an end to their problems. A reliable source who was present at the aforesaid meeting conveyed this information to the NDFP Negotiating Panel last month.

Moreover, the fact that 45 leaders and members of Bayan Muna party have been killed since the Arroyo government has assumed power is proof enough that those who oppose the regime are not safe. Add to this the summary execution of members of Anak Pawis and other progressive parties as well as human rights advocates such as Eden Marcellana, and the killing of workers at Hacienda Luisita. From all these, it becomes obvious that Prof. Jose Maria Sison, founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines and one of the sharpest critics of the regime and the military, will be risking his life if he returns to the Philippines.

The highest administrative court in the Netherlands, the Raad van State (Council of State) decided on 21 February 1995 that Prof. Sison has a well-grounded fear of persecution and is therefore a political refugee according to Article 1A of the Refugee Convention and that he is covered by the absolute protection of Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (EVRM). This means that he may not be deported – directly or indirectly – to the Philippines. This 1995 decision of the Raad van State reiterated its earlier decision of 17 December 1992.

Amnesty International and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) likewise testified that Prof. Sison has a well-grounded fear for persecution.

We also point to the fact that the one-million-peso reward issued by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines in 1989 for the capture of Prof. Sison has not been revoked, despite the fact that the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) of 1995 forbids such a punitive action against all negotiators, consultants and staff of the NDFP in the peace negotiations.

Those who recall the brutal assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino upon his return to the Philippines in August 1983 and those who know the record of the current Manila government cannot in conscience urge the Dutch government to violate its treaty obligations, negate the absolute protection of Article 3 of EVRM, disregard the Raad van State decisions, and illegally force Prof. Sison to return to the Philippines.

Such an act will totally destroy the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations.

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