(2017-12-09) Jose Maria Sison may lose his political asylum status once the court declares the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist organizations, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Once the court outlawed the CPP, the Philippines can transport Sison back to the country and make him answer for his crimes, Cayetano said.Sison has been living in the Netherlands since 1987.
“There is no asylum for terrorism, so if it can be proven that they are not in fact legitimate victims of persecution but are terrorists, then a country can decide to reverse the granting of asylum,” Cayetano said in a chance interview at the sidelines of the Philippine-Cambodia 2nd Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Manila.
The Department of Justice recently ordered the Office of the Prosecutor General to file a formal petition before a regional trial court seeking to declare the CPP/ NPA terrorist groups.
Under Section 17 of Republic Act 9372, or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, the DoJ needs to seek clearance from the court before an organization, association or group could be declared terrorist.
Analyst Ramon Casiple shared the same view, noting that a court ruling outlawing the CPP-NPA could result in the cancellation of Sison’s political asylum status and even his passport.
Even if there is no existing extradition treaty between the Philippines and the Netherlands, the Dutch government, Casiple said, could go after Sison once the court legally declared the CCP as a terrorist group.
The Dutch government has its own anti-terrorism law and the CPP founder would be considered violating that law, added Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.
Duterte in a speech Thursday criticized Sison for living the good life in Utrecht while members of the NPA struggle daily in the mountains.
The President also dared Sison to leave his “sanctuary” in The Netherlands and bring the fight in the Philippines.
Casiple said the move of President Rodrigo Duterte to tag the CPP as a terror group showed that he has lost confidence on communist leaders because of their recent actions and pronouncements.
He cited the order of the CPP leadership to intensify offensives against government forces when the military was preoccupied with the crisis in Marawi City.
The analyst added that the CPP even used the declaration of martial law in Mindanao as justification for the attacks even if it was clear that the group was not the target.
Cayetano said Sison wanted to make it appear that he has a legitimate ideology and that he is fighting for a belief without using force.
“Have you ever heard Joma Sison told his group not to attack or bomb the plantation, mines and cell cites in the country? You never heard him say that because that is part of their strategy and that makes them liable for terrorism,” the Foreign Affairs chief said.
Sen. Francis Escudero meanwhile called on the police and the military to strictly observe the provisions of the HSA because these set the procedures on the tagging of a group as terrorist. The HSA also creates an anti-terrorism council and grievance committee to implement the law.
“Any offense committed under HSA necessitates stronger evidentiary requirements. You can’t just file murder, illegal possession of firearms or any non-bailable offense,” he added.
Escudero said that while the declaration removes the possibility of peace talks, the government should still pursue peace and bring the armed conflict to a permanent and just closure.