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September 18, 2007

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After Prof. Jose Ma. Sison's Release: Step up vigilance against further political persecution

As we applaud the release of Prof. Jose Ma. Sison from the Dutch detention center on September 13, 2007, we call on all peace-loving Cordillerans and Filipinos to remain vigilant against further political persecution of Prof. Sison and all Filipino progressives in the Netherlands. He was released upon order of the District Court of The Hague, with no sufficient evidence against him against the charges.

Prof. Sison is a key figure in the national democratic movement of the Philippines and the international anti-imperialist movement. He chairs the International Coordinating Committee of the International League of Peoples' Struggle (ILPS), of which the Cordillera Peoples Alliance is an active member. The ILPS is an anti-imperialist, democratic formation that promotes, supports and develops the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of the peoples of the world against imperialism, and specifically including indigenous peoples' struggle for self-determination and defense of their ancestral lands and territories. He is not a terrorist or criminal as what the AFP and Arroyo regime, US, EU and Dutch governments claim in demonizing him.

Who is Prof. Jose Ma. Sison?
Despite having a comfortable and secure life as the son of a landlord in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, Sison chose to be a revolutionary and fight for the interest of the oppressed, until he founded the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1968, leaving behind the privileges he was born into, including his personal interests. His class origin did not rob him blind of the hardship of the Filipino people. He graduated cum laude (AB in English Literature) from the University of the Philippines in 1959, where he also obtained his Master of Arts in Comparative Literature. He also taught at UP, Araneta University, and at the Lyceum of the Philippines.

He was arrested and detained for 9 years under the Marcos dictatorship, where he was subjected to all sorts of torture, such as 3 years of solitary confinement. He was released under the Aquino administration since the two subversion and rebellion charges against him were nullified. Later still during the Aquino government, his passport was cancelled, and the threats to his life mounted. In spite of these, he never abandoned his principles and conviction to struggle for the rights of the Filipino people. He sought political asylum in the Netherlands and has lived a simple life therein for 20 years now.

A renowned poet and writer, Sison has published commendable literature such as At Home in the World with critically acclaimed novelist and Filipino activist Ninotchka Rosca, poems such as Prison and Beyond (SEA Write Award, 1986; National Book Award for Poetry, 1985), among others, and poems Sometimes, the Heart Yearns for Mangoes, The Guerilla is Like a Poet, The Coming of the Rain etc.

Prof. Sison is not a terrorist, but one of the few individuals who gave up personal interests to pursue a life of struggle for peace and social justice for the oppressed Filipino people, and he continues to do so to this day, battling decades of political persecution.

Behind the arrest
Indeed, Sison's arrest and continuing political persecution cannot hide imperialist interests manifested by the connivance of the Philippine, US and Dutch governments. The Dutch government maintains the trumped-up charges against Sison despite the order from the District Court of The Hague maintaining insufficient evidence against the charges. Sison also remains in the "foreign terrorist" list of the European Union, US and Canadian governments since 2002. Yet, his release is indeed a slap onto the arrogance of power of these imperialist states. The Dutch government has long denied Prof. Sison the refugee status he is entitled to, despite the decision from the Raad van State declaring Sison qualified and entitled to refugee status. The Dutch state immediately declared Prof. Sison a terrorist shortly after the US government did on August 12, 2002.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry admits in its website that the Sison's inclusion in the terrorist list, along with the CPP-NPA, was done in compliance with the request of the US, adding that the only burden in the Philippines-Netherlands ties is the "presence of the communist leadership in Utrecht". The Dutch government has significant economic interests in the Philippines, as it is the 5th largest foreign investor based on the 2001-2006 foreign direct investments of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In 2006, 27 Dutch firms were enlisted in the top 1,000 corporations in the county.

The Netherlands is the second most reliable ally of the US in Europe, next to Great Britain. The Philippines meanwhile is the US' main ally in South East Asia.

Sison's arrest may have been overcome, but we do not discount the fact that in coming days, Sison will again be arrested, as the Philippine, Dutch and US governments are hell-bent on its "war on terror", thereby stepping up its supposed anti-terror rampage by politically persecuting the likes of Sison, who is the Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). However, let us be reminded that the trumped up charges been dismissed time and again in Philippine courts including the Court of First Instance in Europe as these have no legal basis.

On the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the GRP
Government sincerity in the peace talks is once more put into question when it pleaded the Dutch and US governments for the arrest of the NDFP Political Consultant, and earlier, branding as terrorists individuals, groups or organizations advocating for just and lasting peace in the Philippines. The Arroyo government has no interest in peace as it always sabotaged the peace talks with the NDFP. The essence of the peace talks brings us back to the existence and intensity of armed conflict in the Philippines, which the peace negotiations intend to address based on joint agreements entered into by the NDFP and Philippine government, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the Hague and Oslo Declarations, which, based on experience has been consistently violated by the Philippine government especially the Arroyo regime.

The plight of the oppressed peoples around the world is intensifying with the onslaught of imperialist globalization manifested in economic, social and cultural conditions, including the very grave state of human rights. In the Philippines as a matter of fact, the state has seemingly dislodged all knowledge it has on the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. If the Arroyo government thinks this is not true, then it has to show sincerity in resuming the peace talks with the NDFP and move forward to the second substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms, to political reforms before the last stage on cessation of hostilities and disposition of forces, as we challenge the GRP/AFP to respect and implement CARHRIHL and human rights.

Thus, we intensify our call to the Arroyo regime, together with the US and Dutch governments, to stop political persecution of Prof Sison and all Filipino progressives in the Netherlands; for the Arroyo regime to stop political persecution and killings in the Philippines. We unite with the peoples of the world in the struggle against imperialism, and call on all freedom and peace loving Filipinos to be vigilant against the attacks to our basic rights and freedoms. As said, Evil prevails when good men do nothing. ###

September 18, 2007
Baguio City, Philippines

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