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Sison: 'Photos were taken at RP community Xmas party'
Posted date: March 03, 2007

MANILA, Philippines -- It was a Christmas party of the Filipino community in The Netherlands, not the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Therefore, "it was perfectly alright for me to have kodakan [picture-taking], yugyugan [dancing] and kantahan [singing] with the Filipina movie and singing star Ara Mina, Janno Gibbs," exiled CPP founder Jose Ma. Sison said Saturday.

Sison issued the statement in reaction to statements by Armed Forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro criticizing him for "enjoying life while his supporters are rotting like hell."

Lieutenant Colonel Bartolome Bacarro, Armed Forces spokesman, said he chanced upon the pictures while browsing through Sison's Web site which also contains statements, literary pieces and other works of the CPP founder.

Sison said he was "invited as a special guest" to "the biggest festivity of the Filipino community in The Netherlands," an affair to which members of the National Democratic Front (NDF) peace panel, chaired by Luis Jalandoni, and Philippine embassy officials led by Ambassador Romeo Arguelles were also invited.

This was contrary to Bacarro's claim, as quoted in news reports, that the affair was hosted by the CPP and that "I wouldn't even say that the people in the picture are [communist] supporters. They could have been hired."

Sison said the pictures showing him with Ara Mina, singer-actor Janno Gibbs and other people at the Christmas party were posted by the Web site's editor to put "comic relief" in a page that consists mostly of "serious articles about the problems of the Filipino people and the entire world in the face of US imperialism and brutal regimes like that of [President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo]."

The pictures, he said, were intended to "show my closeness to the Filipino community and the variety of my activities and to counter the attempt of the US imperialists and the Arroyo regime to demonize and isolate my person."

Sison, who has been in exile in Utrecht, The Netherlands, for almost two decades now, is on the US and European Union's lists of terrorists, together with the CPP and New People's Army (NPA).

He claimed the military's harping on the pictures were part of "a campaign of vilification and intrigue against me" and "a futile attempt to deflect attention from the gross human violations that they have perpetrated and from the findings and conclusions of the [United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip] Alston mission and Melo Commission."

Both Alston and the commission had said most of the extrajudicial killings that have claimed hundreds of lives, mostly of activists, over the last six years could be traced to the military.

However, Sison claimed the "propaganda barrage" against him had led to "a big jump in the number of people visiting the Web site."

"I have to restrain my Web site editor from thanking the Armed Forces for unwittingly calling public attention to the Web site," he added as he invited "people in the Philippines and abroad should visit the website to make their own judgment."

He also refuted Bacarro's claim he was "enjoying life," saying his "attendance in a Christmas party does not change the frugality and austerity of my life."

Since his inclusion in the terrorist lists, Sison said, "I am prohibited from working for a wage" and has had his social benefits terminated.

He also pointed people to the Web site of the communist revolutionary movement, "to know the happy and creative political, economic, social and cultural life and the heroic and successful revolutionary struggles of the people and the revolutionary forces."

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