By Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
31 August 2011
A 2007 cable from the United States embassy in Manila quoted then Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo as saying that the Philippines had been working for several years with the Dutch government to build a case against exiled Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison.
The unclassified Sept. 4, 2007 memo was sent to the US State Department by then US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, and recently released by Wikileaks, the online whistle-blower.
Kenney said that Romulo had visited her residence for a private breakfast on Sept. 3, during which he expressed elation at the recent arrest of Sison by Dutch authorities.
“(Romulo) said he and Cabinet colleagues had been working with the Dutch for several years to make sure the case they built was good. They were delighted to finally have Sison behind bars. Romulo said that given the US interest in prosecuting terrorists, he hoped we’d be prepared to assist the Dutch with the case, if the Dutch so requested,” Kenney reported.
On Aug. 28, 2007, Dutch authorities arrested Sison, who was living in exile in Utrecht, on charges filed by the Philippine government for the alleged murder of his erstwhile allies Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara, former New People’s Army commander and Alex Boncayao Brigade head, respectively.
The NPA is the guerrilla arm of the CPP while the ABB is a breakaway group from the NPA.
Sison was, however, released from prison two weeks later. The Dutch government later said there was not enough evidence to charge Sison for the deaths of Kintanar and Tabara.
In April 2009, then National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales said the Philippine government would press Dutch authorities to “expel” Sison and send him back to the Philippines to face murder charges.
“Sison may be free now from the suit against him in Dutch courts but not from the arm of our own justice system,” Gonzales said.
Late last year, Sison told the Inquirer he hoped to “go home soon.” That is, “if the peace talks under the Aquino administration would succeed.”
“I still have role here as peace negotiator in a foreign neutral venue according to the (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees),” said Sison, who has been based in Utrecht since the mid-1980s.