4 Supreme Court aspirants say Interpol cannot arrest Joma

4 Supreme Court aspirants say Interpol cannot arrest Joma

Four Court of Appeals associate justices say international legal conventions on political refugees protect the Communist Party of the Philippines founder from arrest over a murder case filed in 2007
JC Gotinga
Published 3:29 PM, September 11, 2019
Updated 3:29 PM, September 11, 2019

POLITICAL REFUGEE. Communist leader Jose Maria Sison continues to live in The Netherlands. File photo by Rappler

POLITICAL REFUGEE. Communist leader Jose Maria Sison continues to live in The Netherlands. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Four associate justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) said the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) cannot arrest Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison because he is covered by international legal conventions as a political refugee.

CA Associate Justices Ramon Bato Jr, Japar Dimaampao, Mario Lopez, and Ricardo Rosario faced a panel from the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on Wednesday, September 11, which interviewed them on their bid to be nominated as candidates for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (SC).

“Exiled Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Joma Sison said that he cannot be arrested by the Interpol because he is a recognized political refugee, following the statement of the President that the PNP (Philippine National Police) is now in coordination with Interpol. Is he really protected by the refugee convention and the European convention on human rights?” asked Franklin Demonteverde, ad-interim Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) representative to the JBC.

Lopez answered that Interpol “cannot simply arrest” Sison because he is protected by the 1951 Refugee Convention.

“And being a protected person under that convention, they are given the rights just like a person who is on asylum, and I would consider him as subject to that asylum principle under the international law. And that personality which they enjoy cannot be derogated by our Philippine authority,” Lopez added.

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Dimaampao replied that Sison “can invoke that Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the right of a person to security or liberty.”

Bato said he agreed with Lopez, and Rosario said he shared Dimaampao’s view on the issue.

“Two versus two,” quipped Demonteverde after the 4 magistrates gave their answers that cited 2 different international conventions to express their reservations about the PNP’s move to have Interpol arrest Sison.

On Tuesday, September 10, PNP chief General Oscar Albayalde said they will ask Interpol to issue a red notice against Sison, after a Manila court ordered his arrest on August 28 over a multiple murder case filed in 2007 related to an alleged “purge” of communists from 1985 to 1992.

“A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action,” the Interpol website states.

“Interpol cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest someone who is the subject of a red notice. Each member country decides what legal value it gives to a red notice and the authority of their law enforcement officers to make arrests,” it further says.

The 1951 Refugee Convention outlines the rights of persons granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum.

Sison is under political asylum in the Netherlands.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, signed in 1966, lists fundamental freedoms and rights including the right to due process and a fair trial.

National Democratic Front chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili has cited the European Convention on Human Rights, signed in Rome in 1950, as protecting Sison from arrest by the Interpol.

The JBC is conducting a series of interviews of aspirants to two posts in the Supreme Court that will be vacated by SC Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza who is retiring on September 26, and SC Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, retiring on October 26.

Each interview session runs for about 3 hours, during which applicants are asked questions on legal issues by the JBC panel. – Rappler.com

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