JOMA CONFIDENT OF DUTCH SUPPORT

Manila, Feb. 2, 2003 - Self-exiled communist leader Jose Ma. Sison is confident the Dutch government cannot expel him to face charges of murder in the Philippines.

In a statement, Sison claimed he cannot be sent home since he is a "recognized political refugee" under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

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.

He also pointed out the absence of extradition treaty between the Netherlands and the Philippines which will make it difficult for both governments to work out an arrangement to send him home.

However, Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople claims the Dutch government has assured full cooperation by turning over Sison. The CPP founder stands accused of the murder of Cagayan Rep. Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his bodyguard on June 12, 2001.

Sison, who is in self-exile in the Netherlands in the past 16 years, said the criminal raps filed against him by the Philippine police were "trumped up" charges.

He said the arrangement by the Philippine government with Malaysia to send back former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Nur Misuari will never work since the Malaysian government arrested the renegade Muslim leader for violating immigration laws in 2002.

Unlike Misuari, Sison claimed he enjoys legal protection from the Dutch government in his status as a political refugee, notwithstanding the terror tag on him by the 15-nation European Union (EU) last year.

The terrorist designation on the communist leader led the Dutch government to suspend his monthly stipend as a refugee, as well as his social, health and housing benefits.

Sison said he will appeal his case before the EU this month to drop him from the list of foreign terrorists.

Shortly after the communist New People's Army (NPA) guerrillas admitted carrying out the Jan. 23 assassination of former NPA chieftain Romulo Kintanar, government lawyers filed criminal charges against Sison for the killing of Aguinaldo and his bodyguard.

Police said Sison personally ordered the hit by issuing orders to the NPA using his pseudonym Armando Liwanag.

But the self-exiled CPP leader laughed off the charges and went on to boast that his lawyers in the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) in Manila "can easily debunk these (criminal charges filed against him) in any serious investigation."

Sison maintained the murder charges filed against in the Aguinaldo killing were "patently false and so clearly politically-motivated."

He further charged that the government pursuing criminal charges against him would be in bad faith in the peace negotiations. (Star)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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