CONTINUE THE STRUGGLE FOR THE RIGHTS, RESIDENCE AND BENEFITS OF PROF. SISON

By virtue of its 30 September 2009 judgment, the European Court has removed the name of Prof. Jose Maria Sison from the terrorist blacklist and has unfrozen his small bank account. The judgment has become final and executory since 10 December 2009.

It is a brilliant landmark decision which upholds fundamental human and democratic rights and protects everyone in Europe from being arbitrarily blacklisted as a terrorist and made to suffer stigmatization and severe sanctions like Prof. Sison, without being properly investigated, prosecuted or convicted for any specific act of terrorism.

But the legal and political struggle for the fundamental rights, normalized residence and social benefits of Prof. Sison continues. It remains to be seen how the European Court will decide his moral and material compensation claims against the Council of the European Union. It also remains to be seen how the Dutch government will rectify and make amends for the wrongs and injustice that it has done to Prof. Sison.

From 22 October 2002 onwards, the Dutch government used the EU terrorist blacklist against Prof. Sison in order to terminate his social benefits, deny his application for residence permit and work permit and violate his fundamental rights under the pretext of temporarily restricting them.

But by current indications, based on the answers of Dutch ministers last 10 December 2009 to parliamentary questions, the Dutch government intends to continue the unjust and severe sanctions against Prof. Sison and make empty and useless the 30 September judgment of the European Court.

The Dutch government insists that Prof. Sison is merely a tolerated alien who has the obligation to leave The Netherlands and is not entitled to a residence permit, social benefits and respect for his fundamental rights under European and other international conventions.

At this point, it is necessary and appropriate to expose the fact that based on official pronouncements and publications, the Dutch government has openly collaborated with the US and Philippine governments in using lies and false charges for a long period of time in order to oppress Prof. Sison.

The Dutch government has used the lies and false charges, supplied mainly by the Philippine government, to deny him legal admission as refugee (1988 to 2007) and his application for work permit (1998) and residence (1998, 2003 and 2008), to put him on the terrorist blacklist (2002), to terminate his social benefits (2002 onwards) and to arrest and detain him (2007).

All the lies and false charges used to oppose Prof. Sison’s application for asylum were carried in intelligence dossiers but publicized in the mass media. They were used by the Dutch government to counter the clear merits of Prof. Sison’s application, the endorsements of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Amnesty International and the 1992 and 1995 judgments of the Raad van State recognizing Prof. Sison as a political refugee under Article 1 A of the Refugee Convention and as one protected by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Dutch government made him liable even for incidents while he was in solitary confinement and under torture by the Marcos fascist dictatorship (1977 to 1986) or while he was preoccupied with his lectures abroad (1986 onwards). The subversion charge filed in 1988 was the only charge that reached a Philippine court and was dismissed by the court upon the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law in 1992. The charge of multiple murder arising from the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing was filed in 1991 and was dismissed by the Manila prosecutors in 1994. Ultimately, the Philippine secretary of justice issued in 1998 a certification that there was no pending criminal charge against Prof. Sison.

But the Dutch government stubbornly used the Dutch intelligence dossiers to make the false claim that Prof. Sison had criminal contacts with terrorist organizations and was a liability to the integrity and credibility of the Dutch state to its allies, especially the U.S. To this day, the Dutch government adheres to such unproven claims of the Dutch intelligence and yet admits that Prof. Sison has never been investigated for any specific act of terrorism.

Prof. Sison applied for residence and work permit as consultant of the Stichting NDF International Office in 1998. But the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) refused to grant the permit and went so far as to argue before the Rotterdam district court in November 2002 that Prof. Sison was a terrorist in addition to not having priorly gotten a residence permit.

Prof. Sison applied for residence (regulier) in The Netherlands in early 2003 on the ground that he is a recognized political refugee under Article 1 A of the Refugee Convention and has actually lived in The Netherlands for sixteen (16) years since 1987. The IND refused to give any explanation for refusing to grant the residence permit until early 2009 when it declared that Prof. Sison, despite threats to his life and travel restrictions on him, should have applied first for a temporary residence permit from a Dutch consular office near the Philippines.

Prof. Sison availed of the pardonregeling (amnesty regulation) by applying for amnesty and for the grant of residence permit in 2008. The IND made a negative decision in early 2003 by claiming that he is excluded by the national security provision of the pardonregeling. Legal experts point out that said provision excludes only those who have committed a specific act of terrorism against the Dutch state and that Prof. Sison has never been investigated, prosecuted nor convicted for such. The two residence cases (regulier and pardonregeling) are now pending before the district court of Zutphen.

It is of recent public knowledge how lies and false charges of murder (despite earlier dismissal of these by the Philippine Supreme Court) have been used by the Dutch government to arrest and detain Prof. Sison in 2007 and have been dismissed by the Dutch courts and the examining judge for lack of evidence to try and detain him further.

Most emphatically, the European Court has in effect exposed the lies and false tag of terrorism on Prof. Sison and the brazen injustice of such labeling, the sanctions and violations of rights at the expense of Prof. Sison and the entire cause of human rights and rule of law.

Based on the entire foregoing account, the Dutch government has maintained an unjust policy of preventing Prof. Sison from being legally admitted as refugee, from getting the residence permit on any ground, from getting remunerated work or receiving social benefits and from enjoying fully his fundamental rights. The unjust policy is based clearly on lies and false charges which are deemed valid by the Dutch government even when these are already proven to be untrue.

The International DEFEND Committee appeals to all people, organizations and institutions interested in upholding justice, human rights and rule of law:

1. To demand that the Dutch government end its policy of oppressing Prof. Jose Maria Sison, respect his rights and start rectifying the wrongs done to him by expediting the grant of residence permit to him;
2. To encourage a broad coalition of parliamentarians and respected institutions, organizations and personages to press for the foregoing demand:
3. To engage in a campaign of information, education and other activities for upholding justice, human rights and the rule of law by using the case of Prof. Sison as an example; and
4. To hold forums and mass meetings and issue publications for the foregoing purposes.

It is a big shame that the Dutch government has closely collaborated with the U.S. and Philippine governments in using lies and false charges against Prof. Sison. This is the same method that has been used to justify extrajudicial killings, torture, abductions and other forms of gross and systematic human rights violations in the Philippines committed under the pretext of combating terrorism.

In making amends for the wrongs done to Prof. Sison, the Dutch government can disassociate itself from the lies and false charges supplied to it by the Philippine government , demonstrate respect for human rights and end the policy of oppressing Prof. Jose Maria Sison. It must face up to the fact that it has collaborated with the US and Philippine governments in trying to suppress the fundamental rights of Prof. Sison to hold and express his opinion and ideas and to travel freely.

It is best for the Dutch government to encourage both the Philippine government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to move forward in their peace negotiations and agree on basic social, economic and political reforms to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace in accordance with The Hague Joint Declaration of 1992.

In such spirit, it is better for the Dutch government to respect the fundamental rights of the NDFP panelists, consultants and staffers and let them work freely and effectively for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations than to harass, intimidate and stigmatize them as terrorists in what has been widely perceived as an attempt to blackmail and pressure the NDFP towards capitulation to the GRP.

International DEFEND Committee