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CPP founder Sison elated at delisting from EU terror list

By Norman Bordadora Inquirer
Posted date: July 12, 2007

MANILA, Philippines - Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison, who is chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF), expressed elation over a European court's decision annulling his inclusion on the European Union's (EU) list of foreign terrorists.

"I am elated by the judgment of the ECFI (European Court of First Instance), especially because I had not expected it to be favorable. I thank the lawyers who worked so hard and for winning a landmark decision," Sison, who lives in exile in The Netherlands, said in a statement.

NDF peace panel chairman Luis Jalandoni said the ECFI decision was a victory for Sison, the NDF, the Filipino people and "all the foreign friends who have supported Professor Sison in his fight against the terrorist listing."

"The people must continue to be vigilant and militant in defense of the rights of Professor Jose Maria Sison because the US, Philippine and European authorities wish to keep him in their respective terrorist lists, despite the fact that he has never committed any act of terrorism in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world," Jalandoni said.

The Luxembourg-based ECFI on Wednesday annulled Council Decision 2006/379/EC issued on May 29, 2006 that included Sison in the EU's list of foreign terrorists.

The EFCI said the council decision violated Sison's rights to defend himself and to effective judicial protection, as well as the EU's obligation to state its reasons.

It also said Sison had never undergone a criminal investigation by any competent judicial authority or court hearing on any terrorist act.

The court also ordered the council of the EU to bear the legal costs of Sison and the National Democratic Front (NDF), which was an intervenor in the case.

The judgment did not, however, include compensation to Sison for the termination of his social benefits such as his living allowance, health insurance and old age pension, or for moral and material damage.

But the Committee to Defend Filipino Progressives in Europe (Committee-Defend), a group devoted to looking after the legal and social welfare of Sison and other political exiles in Europe, said the decision paves the way for the CPP founder to claim compensation in The Netherlands or in further litigation in the European court.

The group said the ECFI judgment also applied to the council's latest decision to list Sison as a terrorist on June 28, 2007, "because this decision has exactly the same infirmities and is also violative of the rights of Professor Sison."

Jalandoni quoted Sison's lead lawyer, Jan Fermon, as calling the new list a "scandalous attack against the rule of law."

He also said the new EU list "distorts the decision of the Dutch Council of State of 1992 and 1995, falsely claiming that this council of state said that [Sison] is to be considered a terrorist, which the Dutch Council of State actually denied."

What the Dutch Council of State stated, said Jalandoni, was that Sison "is a political refugee."

He also said the ECFI ruling means a campaign waged by the Arroyo government through then foreign secretary Blas Ople in September 2002 to have Sison and the New People's Army included in the terror lists of other countries "was all a waste of people's tax money to give fabricated information."

The decision removing Sison from the list of foreign terrorists was penned by Judge J. Pirrung, president of the Second Chamber of the ECFI. The other members of the panel of judges were N. J. Forwood (Rapporteur) and S. Papasavvas.

Sison was represented by an international team of human rights lawyers, headed by Jan Fermon of Belgium and including Hans Schultz of Germany, Antoine Comte of France, Dundar Gurses of The Netherlands, Thomas Olsson of Sweden, Mathieu Beys of Belgium and the Philippines' Romeo Capulong.

"The tactic of blacklisting Professor Jose Maria Sison is calculated to pressure the NDF to capitulate in its peace negotiations with the Manila government. But it has served only to paralyze said negotiations," Committee-Defend.

The European court decision removes only Sison from the European Commission's list of foreign terrorists.

The CPP and its armed wing, the New People's Army, being underground organizations, did not seek delisting and thus, have yet to be removed from the EU's list of terrorist organizations.

Sison and the two underground rebel groups also remain on the US' terror list.

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