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Dutch court orders frozen bank accounts of NDF unblocked

By LOUI GALICIA
ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

The District Court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office to unblock the bank accounts of National Democratic Front (NDF) officers and others that were frozen in September in connection with the arrest of Jose Maria Sison last year.

In a hearing held at the Palace of Justice June 5, complainants including Luis Jalandoni, Connie Ledesma, Fidel Agcaoili, Dan Borjal and Jose Maria Sison and wife Juliet filed a motion asking the court to order the Prosecutor to unblock the bank accounts and to return the data and digital files that are still in the Dutch office’s possession.

"The prosecutor decided today that all the accounts are being unblocked from tomorrow, all the accounts of the complainers who are related to Mr. Sison," Marcel van Wezel who is one of the five lawyers of the NDF and other complainants told ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau in an exclusive interview.

Simultaneous with the arrest of Sison, Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair, last August 28, raids were conducted in his apartment, the NDF office in Utrecht and five houses of Filipinos.

PCs, laptops, CDs and documents were taken by the police from the raided establishments and in September, the NDF's bank account and the personal accounts of Agcaoili, Juliet and other NDF members were blocked.

Months later, the PCs, laptops and some CDs were returned but not all NDF files and until this hearing the bank accounts remained frozen.

Van Wezel said that the blocked accounts were suspected of being connected to Sison.

"They thought that all the amounts of money in the accounts are belonging to Mr. Sison," van Wezel said in the exclusive interview.

Agcaoili was very angry because, he said, that he and the other complainants do not have anything to do with the murder charges against Sison.

"Ang reklamo namin, hindi naman kami akusado o sinasabing akusado pero bakit yung aming mga account eh kasama sa blocked. Aming mga papeles at documento eh kasama sa pinagkukuha, eh ano ang batayan?" blurted Agcaoili to ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.

"Ngayon nag-file ng kasagutan ang prosecutor. Ang sabi nila ang punto eh kasi tinitignan nila lahat ng mga possibilities in relation ke Joma sa ganito, mga ganyan dahil sa kanyang pagkakalagay sa terrorist listing kaya lumalawak ang kanilang pag-iimbistiga," added Agcaoili.

Agcaoili also complains that it took nine months for the hearing to be held because of several postponements.

Sison agrees that the Prosecutor has no right to freeze the accounts, not even his wife's account.

"They have nothing to do with the charge of inciting murder on Kintanar or even insinuation. Wala namang evidence ‘yong money landering, etc. Wala namang grounds," Sison said.

Sison complains that the only real bank account blocked that belonged to him is his joint account with his wife and even this has no connection to the murders of Kintanar and Tabara.

"Sa lahat ng bank accounts na dinakma, ang bank account lang na tunay na akin eh ‘yong joint account namin ni Julie na doon na nakapasok ang aming Japanese yen na kinita namin bilang honoraria nung nasa Japan kami nung 1986 and then ‘yong bayad ng German publication house and American publication house. Binigyan ako ng several thousands of dollars for manuscript preps and royalties. Eh 1988 ‘yon so anong kinalaman sa 2001 and 2003," said Sison who is also chief political consultant of NDF in stalled peace talks between the NDF and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

"Asan ‘yong ‘limpak limpak na pera kay Sison dahil sa mga revolutionary tax’? Eh wala. ‘Yong mga bank accounts na kinuha eh pag-aari ng mga foundation at individuals na walang kinalaman sa akin, independent of me and I have no control" Sison said.

No decision yet on return of confiscated materials

Although the court's immediate partial decision was a victory for the NDF, no decision has been issued yet with regards to its other complaint which is the return of the confiscated materials.

Pendong Jalandoni, son of the NDF chair Luis Jalandoni and also one of the five lawyers of the NDF and other complainants, said he is disappointed that there was no outright decision on the confiscated materials and thinks that the Prosecution is fishing for some other information.

"First of all, the people they raided. There's no indication of any links or association with the criminal acts suspected si Prof. Sison of. Secondly, it's a big fishing expedition and they took more things than necessary," the younger Jalandoni said.

He said that documents such as the Permanent People's Tribunal's files from last year have no connection to the murder charges against Sison which took place four years ago.

"Those were documents related to events that took place four years after the murders so if there was a murder, it is very very unlikely na related pa ‘yan or there will still be communications four years after," Pendong said.

He also thinks that the Dutch Prosecution office was gathering information about the Philippine Left because even the documents relating to the peace talks were seized and not returned.

Agcaoili confirms that there is a big bulk of files from the Joint Monitoring Committee between the NDF and GRP containing about 20 to 25 folders of materials against the Philippine government that remained in the Prosecutor's hands.

"They confiscated all documents regarding peace talks. So very obvious that the reason for them to confiscate was not to find evidence on a murder case but to get information about the left opposition in the Philippines and to collaborate with different intelligent agencies," Pendong said.

Pendong thinks that there is a very big political game at play.

"The outcome is clear that the Dutch government does not want to return or destroy those documents that clearly have nothing in relation to the murder case and it's clear to me the political meaning of this persecution," he added.

"They have shown some willingness to return some hard copies but the data, the digital information they're not willing or destroy or even say they will not even give to Philippine authorities or other security agencies in the world," said Pendong.

Pendong's father, who looked very tired after the more than three hours of hearing of the Dutch court can only say one thing.

"This blocking and seizing of material and blocking of account are unfair and unjust and should be undone right away," Jalandoni said.



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