JOMA WILL BE SENT HOME -- OPLE

Manila, Jan. 31, 2003 - The Dutch government has promised Manila that it would ship home exiled communist leader Jose Ma. Sison to face charges of murder, Foreign Secretary Blas Ople said yesterday.

Ople made the statement as the Department of Justice (DOJ) also announced a draft proposal for an extradition treaty with the Netherlands is being prepared.

Ople disclosed that State Secretary for European Affairs Atzo Nicolai of the Netherlands said "the Dutch public is losing interest in Mr. Sison's antics" and expressed support for the Philippine government's request to turn over the self-exiled communist leader.

He said the Dutch government has assured full cooperation by turning over Sison, who has been charged before the DOJ with double murder for the assassination of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his bodyguard on June 12, 2001 in Tuguegarao City.

Sison, exiled in the Netherlands for the past 16 years, had said the criminal charges filed against him by the Philippine National Police were "trumped up."

Sison, as the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is seeking asylum before the Dutch government claiming he was being politically prosecuted in the Philippines.

After the spate of terror attacks worldwide, Sison was included in the list of "terrorists" by the European Union (EU), following the US move to include the CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army (NPA) in the list of foreign terror organizations.

Sison said he will file a petition next month urging the EU to drop him from the terror list.

"I told Mr. Nicolai that we hope that they could be retained in the list in the face of the campaigns of Mr. Sison and his sympathizers for their removal from the list," Ople said.

"I informed him that the NPA continued to pursue its terroristic activities with the recent assassination of (former) NPA leader Romulo Kintanar," he added.

Ople said the retention of Sison and the CPP-NPA in the terror list would pressure the communists to negotiate peace with the government.

"The European Union has labeled Mr. Sison a terrorist because his acts make him one. The facts clearly speak for themselves, " he said.

Ople said he briefed EU members on the peace process with the communist guerrillas and in return, was given assurance to assist the Philippine government on peace initiatives with the rebels.

DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong, for his part, said the draft extradition treaty with the Netherlands will be forwarded to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for perusal.

"I think it will not be difficult to work out a proposal which we will work with the (DFA). The DOJ is supposed to make some studies on this (draft extradition treaty) and make a proposal," he said.

Datumanong pointed out that the process will also involve the Senate which would ratify the treaty.

The DOJ earlier said a special agreement can be worked out for Sison to be returned to Manila and face charges here. (Star)


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