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September 15, 2007

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Statement on the release of Prof. Jose Maria Sison by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA)

“The enemy wants to bury us
In the dark depths of prison...
We suffer but we endure
And draw up gold and pearl
From depths of character
Formed so long in struggle.”

- Jose Maria Sison
In the Dark Depths
10 April 1978
Prison and Beyond

Professor Jose Maria Sison or Joma walked from prison yesterday, September 13, as a free and innocent man. His release after 17 days of detention is a welcome development, as it is a victory in the fight against the political persecution by the Philippine, United States and Dutch governments against Sison and the Filipino people.

Sison was detained with charges of “participation of, alternatively incitement to the intentional and premeditated murders of Romulo Kintanar, Arturo Tabara and Stephen Ong” committed here in the Philippines. The District Court of The Hague stated that “The files do not provide a sufficient basis for the suspicion that the accused, while staying in the Netherlands , committed the offences he is charged with in deliberate and close co-operation with the perpetrators in the Philippines . Neither can indications be found for the presence of grave presumptions with regard to incitement to these offences.”

We are grateful for the pouring of protests and statements against his arrest and detention. The support shown by different groups and organizations for the Chief Political Consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace Negotiation Panel is a show of support for the quest for justice and peace in the Philippines.

We call on the Philippine government to go back to the peace negotiating table and sincerely attend to the peace negotiations as a priority solution to the civil war in the country rather than politically persecute the likes of Jose Maria Sison, desperately dangle its cheap amnesty program and boast of its military solution.

The arrest of Jose Maria Sison in line with the government’s objective of crushing the insurgency by 2010 is not the solution to the ongoing civil war in the Philippines . The root problems in Philippine society need to be addressed and this can be facilitated through the defined stages of the peace negotiations.

Currently, the peace negotiations have not yet reached an agreement on the social and economic reforms which is the second phase of the four defined stages of the negotiation before the end of hostilities. It must also be noted that with the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other numerous human rights violations in the country, the Philippine government is in serious violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which was borne out of the peace negotiations.

Despite his release, the political persecution against Sison is not yet over. Wim de Bruin, the spokesperson of the Dutch National Prosecutor’s Office stated that the investigation will continue and the Dutch police will still consider him as a suspect. This was immediately seconded by the statements of Philippine government’s National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales.

These announcements are indications of further political persecution in the coming days. More vigilance is needed against a more aggressive campaign to curtail the rights of Jose Maria Sison and members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace Negotiation Panel and also the legal organizations that are openly tagged by the Philippine government as sectoral fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines .

In the quest for a just and lasting peace, the people will be made to suffer by the fascist governments but they will endure.###

For reference:

Atty. Reynaldo Cortes
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance

Imelda Tabiando
Deputy Secretary General
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance

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